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 power plan needs two major components: the photovoltaic (PV) panels and the storage batteries.
PlanWhen 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?
- Tesla Powerwall — using lithium-ion batteries for maximum efficiency
- Iron Edison — using nickel-iron batteries
- Adara — lithium-ion energy storage systems
PV PanelsPV 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 ControllerGetting 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.
BatteriesThough 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 PartnerBefore 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. The post Off-Grid Freedom Is Yours appeared first on Golden Solar.
Tags: Off-grid solar