Going off the electrical grid can begin as an environmental or political ideal, but in practical terms, 2017 is the year to turn ideas into reality. For those brave pioneers who tried to free themselves from utility companies in years past, the available options today will seem like Utopia. While many details must be considered, your off-grid plan needs two major components: the photovoltaic (PV) panels and the storage batteries.

Plan

When deciding to make the leap to off-grid power, plan carefully. Calculate your power consumption needs, how many PV panels you will need to meet those needs and how many batteries (and of what type) you will require to store power for sunless days and overnight use. The first consideration is how long you expect batteries to sustain you and your family:

  • Overnight and cloudy days?
  • Through a snowstorm of three or four days?

A 24-volt battery bank could help you along through overnight or morning cloud cover, but if you are hoping to stretch batteries out to three or four days, you will need greater capacity.

You can find load calculators online. Take into account future growth in your family, so if now you have adorable toddlers, you can plan to have enough electricity to meet the needs of power-hungry teens.

The power consumption calculation guides you to battery selection. You have many choices in solar batteries these days, and prices are falling:

  • Tesla Powerwall — using lithium-ion batteries for maximum efficiency
  • Iron Edison — using nickel-iron batteries
  • Adara — lithium-ion energy storage systems

Plan carefully, because batteries are still expensive, though environmentally far friendlier than using a gasoline-powered generator to keep the lights on when the sun is off duty.

Solar storage batteries work best when kept warm (80 ℉), so if you know you are going off-grid for your mountainside winter vacation home, expect to need more batteries than if you were planning an oceanfront installation for summers only.

PV Panels

PV panels can power your home’s entire ongoing needs and are the source for power storage sent to the backup batteries. In off-grid systems, the PV panels need to maximize energy collection, so you may find that rooftop panels are only a start. You may want to consider additional ground or pole mounts, or even panels that can rotate to capture as much sunlight through the day as possible.

Solar Charge Controller

Getting the power from the PV panels to the batteries requires a solar charge controller. The controller acts as a sort of one-way valve, preventing battery power from running out to the panels on cloudy days and keeping the batteries fully charged by the panels during sunny days.

A solar charge controller can either be a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) or Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) controller. The MPPT is superior, but more costly since it matches PV panel output to the battery bank’s capacity. A PWM controller is the more traditional, less expensive, solution.

Batteries

Though called “solar batteries,” the technology behind power storage is not exclusive to solar energy. All batteries store and deliver power as Direct Current (DC), rather than the Alternating Current (AC) our everyday appliances, computers, and devices demand. This means the flow is not directly from batteries into your home; you need an inverter, or possibly even two.

North American electrical current is 240 volts that are stepped down to 120 volts; some appliances (a stove, a clothes dryer) may use 240-volt AC, while everything else in your home requires 120-volt power. While some inverters can be ganged to provide 240 volts, you may find a simpler solution by creating two separate power feeds from the batteries.

Professional Partner

Before embarking on an exciting adventure in off-grid living, partner with seasoned solar professionals. Contact Golden Solar today to learn more about the many facets of off-grid solar power. You can avoid costly mistakes by tapping the knowledge and experience of the experts at Golden Solar.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Elon Musk has always been considered a genius when it comes to envisioning new technology. The knock against Musk is that he has always had issues bringing that technology to life and making it practical for everyone. His company Tesla puts out electronic cars that are not affordable enough for the general public, and his space travel company Space X only caters to billionaires.

When Tesla announced a few years ago that it was going to change the residential housing market with its new solar roofing panels, there were a lot of skeptics. But it looks like Musk and Tesla may have a home run with this new roofing product, and Musk may finally be recognized as the innovator he has always tried to be.

What Are Solar Roofing Panels?

Solar roofing panels are solar energy collection devices made of smoothed glass and shaped to look like standard roofing tiles. An entire solar roof from Tesla comes complete with a battery storage system and a power distribution element.

A solar roof is meant to replace the need to buy electricity from the local utility or at least cut down on the need for grid electricity significantly. Tesla is making a wide variety of tiles that mimic the current array of asphalt, wood and clay tiles to give consumers a common frame of reference. In a bold move, Tesla is offering a lifetime warranty on their solar roofs that is good for the life of your home – or infinity. Tesla does not state whether the warranty is transferable from one homeowner to the next.

Why Are People Talking About Solar Roofs?

If Tesla does allow the solar roof warranty to be transferred from one owner to the next, then that could be a significant selling point for any homeowner. Solar roofs, as with any other type of solar installation in a residential setting, are expected to raise property values considerably, and a transferable lifetime warranty only makes the deal sweeter.

A big reason why solar roofs are getting so much attention is because they are said to be, in the long run, more affordable than standard roofs. As an example, covering a 2,000-square-foot home in New York State with a solar roof would cost around $50,000. As with many solar products, solar roofs come with tax investment credits that make the product less expensive. In a span of 30 years (the course of a normal mortgage), that roof will generate approximately $64,000 in electricity.

That number works out to around $178 per month in electricity costs, which can seem high in any part of the country. But if you convert your entire home to electricity, from the furnace to the central air system, then you would recognize an incredible savings on your energy costs.

How Is The Solar Roof Changing The Residential Roofing Industry?

You would think that a roof with a lifetime warranty would be making residential roofing contractors nervous, but the solar roof still has some hurdles to get over before it becomes widely used. For one thing, the entire roof is not made of solar panels, which means that the consumer will have to pay to have expensive glass tiles installed to give their roof a consistent look.

A solar roof is the next step in alternative energy products, and the Tesla roof is only the first entry in that arena. The introduction of the Tesla solar roof is an indication to residential roofing contractors that the market is shifting, and contractors will need to do their homework on solar products if they want to stay competitive.

As with his other ventures, Musk has once again created a product that is only accessible to people with considerable financial means. While that is a nice market to work in, it does limit your possibilities for growth. This is especially true when your product carries a lifetime warranty.

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

We’ve all heard the term “living off the grid.” But what does it really mean, exactly?

For most, living off the grid means living with no tethering to the electrical grid. But that’s just one aspect of this life choice. To be truly “off the grid” means to be 100 percent self-reliant. Your water supply, food, heating, and sanitation all function without drawing from the electrical grid.

In for a Penny or a Pound?

If you’re thinking about going completely off the grid, you’re going to need a great deal of planning to pull it off. That is if you’re going the whole hog.

Your plan may encompass nothing more than ditching the monthly electrical bill. You could be planning to keep water and sewer services, and still making weekly runs to the grocery store. If this is your approach, then your planning can be much less comprehensive.

Living Quarters That Work Well Off-Grid

Large, sprawling mansions don’t work well off the grid because of the enormous amount of electricity they eat up. If you’re going off-grid, you’ll want to look at a small home (or tiny home), a compact log cabin, an RV or a yurt.

Any of these shelters will work well off-grid. It would mean some serious downsizing for most people and provide a whole different set of challenges for families with children. But it is doable.

Motivation for Getting off the Grid

Putting aside the obvious savings, there are other benefits to getting off the grid. NASA projects that climate change will impact the way we live in the coming century.

Emissions drop globally when people switch to renewable energy and remove themselves from the grid. Residential solar panels can offset tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Use of personal wind turbines can offset greenhouse gases when used over a long period of time, such as 30 years or more.

Good Idea or Not?

Going off-grid has its advantages and disadvantages. Having your own renewable energy system, like solar panels, can produce enough energy for living a (mostly) normal lifestyle. Solar is an alternative to fossil fuels that is sustainable.

In some states, these systems are not eligible for tax credits or rebates. You’ll also need a battery bank large enough to provide your energy needs when your solar panels can’t do their thing, such as during the night.

If you’re up for it, go for it!

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of alternative, sustainable energy being used today. It provides hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses with clean, renewable energy. It saves you money in the long run and helps protect the environment. However, most people aren’t aware of the many lesser known benefits to switching to solar energy. Here are a few.

Solar Energy Costs Get Lower and Lower

Some may think that one of the biggest obstacles to investing in solar energy is the initial cost of the solar cells. However, it’s important to note that solar power isn’t as expensive as it used to be. In fact, it’s becoming more and more affordable by the year. According to a Berkeley Lab report, the price of photovoltaic panel installation has dropped more than 50 percent since 2009.

These prices continue to drop each year. There has never been a better time to invest in solar panel technology.

Solar Energy Can Reduce Electricity Prices

By installing and using solar panels in your home and business, you help reduce the load on the electrical grid. This not only reduces the environmental burden, but it also helps cut the wholesale cost of electricity.

This is possible because solar energy is produced throughout the day when energy consumption is greatest. The surplus electricity that is produced goes back into the grid and helps meet demand. The resulting benefit can be dramatic.

U.S. Department of Energy data reveals that negative wholesale prices of electricity in California coincided with rising solar power generation. Evidently, solar power can even lower electricity prices benefits everyone in the community.

Solar Energy Helps Create Jobs

Job growth is a driving force of the American economy, and the solar energy industry has helped to boost that growth tremendously. The solar workforce increased by 25 percent in the last year alone and shows no sign of stopping. By investing in this rapidly growing industry, you can take part in helping job growth as more and more people switch over to solar power in the coming years.

When it comes right down to it, there is a lot to gain by switching over to solar-powered clean energy. A single change can help save the earth, save money and increase job growth in the country. It’s hard to find a better deal than that.

Stay tuned to Golden Solar for more industry news, trends and tips.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

With so many solar energy companies to choose from, it can be difficult for the average consumer to tell the difference between a true expert and a charlatan looking to cash in on a trending industry. Fortunately, for people living in Colorado, Golden Solar has a set of solutions that makes sense for both the planet and your wallet.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Financing

Many solar providers, particularly some of the larger nationwide companies, use some form of leasing agreement in their pitch to minimize upfront costs, therefore making it seem more budget-friendly on paper. However, as with many things in life, the devil is in the details. By leasing the equipment over the long-term, the only tangible financial benefit you reap is strictly through savings on your energy bill. While that is still a wonderful perk provided by a solar panel system, it’s merely a fraction of the potential benefits you would otherwise enjoy.

In a lease, the solar provider retains ownership of the equipment for the duration of the contract, thereby absorbing all of the up-front tax benefits that would ordinarily go to you, the consumer. Also, if you choose to sell your home before the lease has expired, you would need to either pay off the lease or the new homeowner would assume the lease for themselves. Neither of those propositions would be especially attractive.

Thankfully, leasing solar equipment isn’t the only means of financing a system. When you choose Golden Solar, you have the option of either outright buying your solar panel system or financing it through Dividend Solar’s EmpowerLoan program. Whether you purchase your equipment or finance it, you maintain full control of your system and enjoy all of the financial rewards. Depending on the terms of the respective options, using a program like EmpowerLoan could effectively double the financial benefits of your solar panel system in comparison to a long-term lease of the same equipment. An outright purchase of the system can nearly triple those benefits over that same 20-year lease.

Golden Solar Makes Sense

For a long-term investment that is good for your finances and the environment, Golden Solar simply makes sense. Between their expertise, professionalism and attractive financing options, Golden Solar will prove that going solar can benefit both you and the planet.

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone