SOLAR ELECTRIC PANELS
DESIGN - INSTALLATION - COSTS
BACK-UP SYSTEM - SEPARATE 12 VOLT SYSTEM
"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!
I hope we don't have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
- Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
We had planned to have a system utilizing both electricity from the utility company and from our PV system. However,the local electric company wanted $5,000 to run the power in to us. That's after WE dug a four foot deep trench a quarter of a mile long for the cable. We said "no, thank you."
We are now "off the grid" -- relying totally on our own system of solar panels, charge controller, batteries, and inverter to generate electricity. The system works fine and, frankly, it's a good feeling to be independent from the power company and to be helping our planet by not contributing to the pollution from burning coal and natural gas used to produce conventional electricity.
From the power generated by our twelve solar panels (shown above), stored in twelve batteries, and converted to 110 AC household current with an inverter, we can run all of our city gadgets (though not all at once):
stereo receiver, CD/DVD player
computer, printer/scanner, and satellite modem
coffee pot and coffee bean grinder
1/2 horse power pump to bring water to our house from the storage tank
small electric concrete mixer to build the foundations for the greenhouse and straw bale house
and mix earthen plaster and lime plaster for the house
and other things...
"The amount of sunshine energy that hits the surface of the Earth
every minute is greater than the total amount of energy that the world's
human population consumes in a year!"
Source: "Home Power Magazine" -- a must have magazine!
(visit Home Power's web site)
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INSTALLING THE SYSTEM
Solar panels have come WAY down in price since we bought ours.
As of early 2014, solar panels can be purcheased for as low as 66 cents a watt.
We paid $4.27 a watt for ours twelve years ago.
- NOW IS THE TIME TO GO SOLAR -
IMPORTANT PV LINKS
(One of the best places to buy solar equipment - these guys know their stuff)
(For UK residents, this is THE place to go for buying equipment and getting it installed and also vital information
on new government programs that pay you for the watts you produce with your solar panels)
(excellent article on solar electric systems)
On cloudy days when the sun does not charge our batteries, we have a wind generator to charge our batteries. On those days when we have neither wind nor sun (very rare in the Arizona desert), we have a 2,800 watt Makita gasoline generator to provide our electricity.
The generator is wired to our inverter so that it provides both power to our house and charges up our batteries at the same time. We have used the generator mostly when one of us is "bad" and leaves something on in the house or uses their computer too many hours in the day for the power we have available and when we get a bad spell of cloudy weather.
SEPARATE 12 VOLT - DIRECT CURRENT SYSTEM
Since appliances, motors, and electronic devices all run more efficiently on direct current when compared with their AC counterparts, we have installed a separate 12 VDC system for the applianes we have which run with DC current. This system consists of one 40 watt solar panel and a large capacity, deep-cycle storage battery to provide direct DC power. The system currently supplies power for three of the five DC pumps which circulate water in our hydronic heating system and a large DC exhaust fan for the greenhouse. The pumps only use 10 watts each, but each pump is capable of moving an amazing three gallons of water a minute. The fan only uses 16 watts, less than half the wattage necessary to run an AC fan of the same size.
Click here for a detailed diagram of this system which also includes a charge controller, on/off switches and fuses, a 12 volt timer, and a battery desulfator.
At night, light from the power of the sun during the day.
PV systems are wonderful.
© 2001-2014 by Jim Phypers