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When you invest in a solar power system, you become your own power company.
You use all the energy nature provides and make up the rest with a generator
or grid power. Even if you have grid power now, you don't want to be completely
dependent on a single power source. You should diversify your power portfolio
by investing in some of the following alternatives.
All of the above power sources can be used together or separately
to power your home.
Thanks to the latest advances, Solar, wind, and hydro electric systems
are more reliable and easier to manage. And now along with today's
tax incentives and state subsidies, renewable energy systems are
more affordable than ever.
Like nature, renewable energy systems come in many shapes and sizes.
The best system for you balances the energy resources available
at your location with your family-size and lifestyle.
Like Hydro, man has harnessed the power of the wind for centuries.
Large wind farms are helping power America's grid already.
Wind turbines produce double the electricity from just a slight
increase in wind speed, so a clear windy site is essential. Wind
speed increases with height, so turbines on tall towers produce
much more power with less damage from tree and building turbulence.In
off grid homes, wind energy is most commonly used to supplement
more reliable solar power.
solar electric (PV) cells convert 15 to 20% of the sun's massive
energy into DC electricity. After assembling 36 to 72 PV cells into
solar modules, each module's power is rated in watts. How much energy
is actually produced each day depends on the total power output
of your solar array and how many hours of sunlight your site receives.
Most PV panels carry 25 year warranties, are extremely reliable,
and will probably last beyond our lifetimes.
Hydro- Hydro Power has been used
for centuries to grind grain and pump water. Man has used Hydropower
to generate electricity almost since the invention of electric lights!
If your property has a fast running stream or river, you can harness
some of its energy with a small hydro turbine. A portion of the
flowing water is channeled into a pipe that flows downhill to spin
a turbine at the bottom. The higher the hill, and the more the water
flow, the more power you can produce.
gasoline, propane, even Biodiesel powered generators produce AC
electricity to recharge batteries, and temporarily power offgrid
homes when the weather is bad.
Generators don't solve the problem of high fuel costs or environmental
impact, so they should not be used as an alternative to a complete
renewable power system. At least by buying a high quality unit,
it will start easier when its cold, last longer,run quieter, cleaner,
and recharge your batteries faster with less fuel.
Grid- The grid is the vast network
of power lines that brings AC electricity from the large power plants
to most American homes. ON grid means you can buy or sell power
back to the grid. OFF Grid means you have no direct connection to
the grid. A small percentage of grid power today already comes from
renewable sources: mainly huge hydro projects. For your home power
system, the grid can be used like a battery to store excess renewable
energy produced in the day, to be used again at night.
Batteries- store DC electricity
as a chemical reaction. Usually stores enough energy to run a home
for about 5 days by itself. Must be recharged from other power sources.
Groups and wires together the electric control and safety equipment.
SolarRay's custom wired Power Boards put most of the system in "One
Place, done right the first time."
the power sources above from overcharging the batteries. Usually
each power source has its own controller. Many charge controllers
can extract more power from your solar array, recharge batteries
more fully, and make batteries last longer.
DC Power Center organizes all Power Sources, Controllers, Inverters,
DC loads, Meters, & Batteries. It can carry up to 1000 amps
of DC current in some cases. It contains special DC breakers,
Fuses, and switches that keep every part of your system safe.
inverter is the workhorse of your power system. It converts
low voltage DC power into regular AC for most of your home's
needs. Most modern inverters can reverse the power flow as
well to recharge your batteries from an AC source like a generator
or the grid.
The Meter shows how
much energy is stored in your batteries, and how much energy
you are producing and/or using. Operating a solar power system
without a meter is like driving a car without a gas gage or
speedometer. A good meter will extend the life of your batteries
by helping you ensure they stay charged.
Batteries are absolutely
necessary in off grid solar systems to store electricity
for night time. An off grid home will have 5 to 7 days of
storage in the batteries, while grid tie systems may have
no batteries at all. In On Grid homes, batteries are only
used to power loads if there is a blackout. Batteries are
the "weakest link" in a modern solar system. They're
heavy, full of lead and sulfuric acid, require regular maintenance,
and will wear out sooner than any other component.
The AC Load Center
organizes & protects all AC electric wiring in the home.
AC power from the grid or generator and to your house circuits
is routed through the Load Center. Just like the grey box in
your conventional home, this is where you can shut off power
to certain rooms. The load center also shuts off power automatically
if the current exceeds safe limits.
The House: A lifestyle powered
by renewable energy is simple: its easier, cheaper, and more environmentally
friendly to save energy than to add more solar power. By making
smart buying decisions, learning easy tricks for extending your
resources, and having your system designed by a pro, you don't have
to sacrifice all of the modern amenities you've come to love and
depend on. Just think Efficiency!
Lighting: Turn lights off that
aren't needed, and use efficient compact fluorescent bulbs to cut
your energy use by 75%. Less efficient Halogen Bulbs still offer
excellent lighting for artwork, while super efficient LED bulbs
make great flash lights and night lights.
Heating & Cooling: Passive
solar designed houses, gas wall heaters, and wood stoves don't need
any electricity. Radiant floor heating can be efficient, but only
if it is designed right! Air conditioning is not cost effective,
except for high efficiency evaporative coolers.
Water Pumping: Water supply
can be your most important power use. Water systems consist of rain
catch cisterns with small DC pumps up to special solar powered deep
well pumping systems.
Refrigeration: Propane refrigerators
don't use precious electricity, but do use fuel. Converting a small
deep freeze into a refrigerator can be both low cost & high
efficiency. Energy Star rated models (AC or DC) can run on solar,
if the system is designed for it. Freeze Ice in the winter to cut
the run time of any refrigerator. Avoid any 70s vintage refrigerators
in Avocado Green.the system is designed for it.
Kitchen Appliances: Hand tools
rule, and many appliances like a blender or a microwave are on for
just minutes a day, so they can run on solar power. Appliances with
heating elements that are on for longer periods of time like toaster
ovens take too much power for too long.
Household Appliances: Once
again, hand tools still work well, and devices like sewing machines
and vacuums just are not on enough hours a day to cause trouble.
Washers and dryers are feasible if washing a few loads per week,
but electric heated hot tubs are power hogs!
Electronics: I pods, Cell phones,
CD players, & Laptop computers can operate easily on even small
solar power systems. New LCD screen TVs use much less energy than
regular TVs. Home Theaters, and desktop computers left on 24/7 will
cost you a small fortune to solar power..
Power Tools: Drills, sanders,
and jig saws are no problem. Even circular saws and air compressors
can run on moderately priced systems for short periods of time.
Bigger tools require bigger inverters. Tools like Cement Mixers
that are on all day can eventually drain the batteries.
Electric Vehicles: can be charged
from solar or wind power for a true zero emission vehicle. Sizes
range from electric bicycles, & motorcycles to small trucks.
So,what does it all cost?
Cost depends directly on how much energy you need. How many loads
you have on and how long they stay on determines your total energy
use each day. Just look at your current electric bill to see how
many KwH you use a day, or use our
Solar Sizer to add it all up. Then,
you can look at our
Guaranteed Complete Systems to get an idea of cost. Once you're
serious, we can prepare an itemized quote just for you. Go to our
Online Catalog if you're
ready to get some parts, or learn more about renewable energy with
our Tech Guides.