Friday, August 13, 2010

Part Two Of Our Alternative Energy System

Off The Grid Homestead, Peaceful Forest

Setting up a solar system for your electrical power does not have to cost you thousands of dollars. For one thing if you start small and stay connected to the grid you can lower your power bills by not having to pay for so much coming from the grid. We have a friend who supplies his power to his televisions, computer, lights and stereo from his solar array and a small wind turbine. So if the power goes out he still has those items going. And he has a pellet stove that has the electric fan so he can plug that into the power coming from the solar system for heat if needed.

350 watts of power!

When we started here in 1999, we had a very small system. One 50 watt solar panel, a tiny charge controller, two fork-lift truck batteries and an automotive inverter bought from a truck stop. If our batteries were low and needed charging, we had no generator and would just pull our old car up to the house and hook it up to the batteries. Not hard to do, but not real efficient either. But it worked.

Meter and Charge Controller

Now our system has grown steadily, but slowly since then. We now have  five panels and  they are on the barn roof. Every morning they are getting good sun. That is key to a solar system, that your panels are in the best position to get the most sun for the longest period most of day, all seasons. Not easy as the sun moves and there are periods where they get the sun longer in the afternoon than real early in the morning. The funny thing about these panels is that they just work. They don't make any sounds or do anything noticeable, yet they are responsible for running my laptop all day long. I think they are awesome and am proud to be using wasn't that many years ago that I lived in a very fancy, luxurious home in one of those upscale neighborhoods. When I think of how far I have come.............I am so proud!

Our Inverter

The inverter is where the DC power is converted to AC for use with your appliances and lights, etc. The charge controller controls how much power comes into your batteries. You do not want to overcharge them as that would ruin them. The controller is your monitor. The meter next to the charge controller is what we use to see where our power is at, when we have to charge the batteries or if the sun is bringing in any power. We can also use it to check anything new we are adding to our system such as a light or a bread machine or a washer. We can tell how much power that gadget uses.

24 Exide batteries is essential to our system!

I don't want to flood you with information here. These are the basics of our system though we have some other components such as the combiner box and our generator also. Our generator is not the type you use for camping or in regular homes when the power goes out. It is a special DC only one built for off-the-grid homes. If you are still interested please check my site Solar Baby and I will be detailing our system there in a few days. If you would like to start researching yourself, please check my Energy Learning Center on Solar Baby. Any questions?

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
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