Finally, a Clear Explanation of an Off-Grid Solar System

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AMERESCO SOLAR Expert Breaks It Down For Us…

 

Let’s admit it:  The idea of installing a solar electricity system to your home or cabin can be daunting.  Which often causes off-grid homeowners to resort to getting a generator instead.  A generator however, requires fuel and periodic maintenance.  It also makes exhaust and noise.  Solar is silent.  Solar requires no routine maintenance.  Solar does not need fuel and does not produce exhaust.  Solar also works very well in conjunction with a generator and the two together provide back-up and security.

 

So with the help of Mark Wiener, a solar expert at WWW.AMERESCOSOLAR.COM, let’s take a second look at solar, and try to make it a little easier to understand, shall we?

 

The two primary factors when considering solar are:  Budget and Power requirements.  To figure out your power requirements, one must understand WATTS, VOLTS and POWER USE OVER TIME.  

 

Here’s an example:  Let’s say a remote cabin needs a well for water.  In turn, a pump to get the well water to the cabin is useful.  So, one of the first tasks for most cabin builders is to determine what size water pump is needed.  This is best accomplished by the well driller.  Most well pumps are submersible and run on 240 VOLTS AC.  Most well systems are called PRESSURE SYSTEMS where the pump cycles ON and OFF with water demand and pressurizes a water storage tank.  Water from that tank can be directed to outlets such as sinks and showers and toilets.  When no water is needed, the pump does not run.  The more water to be used, the more the pump will run.  For example, let us say the well needs a 1 HP pump which is about 1000 WATTS and that pump will run about 2 hours a day providing water for showers and sinks and so forth.  That means (1000W)(2 hours per day) = 2000 WATT-HOURS per day.

 

Next, let’s say the cabin has four 16W 120 VOLTS AC (VAC) LED lights and the lights are ON about 6 hours per 24-hour day.  That means (4)(16W)(6 hours per day) = 384 WATT-HOURS per day.  So the total for the cabin is 2384 WATT HOURS per day.

 

At some point, the cabin owner must add up the TOTAL WATT HOURS per day and know the VOLTAGE for every electrical device they plan to run.  Then, depending on location and climate, a qualified, solar professional can decide what equipment is needed to run the electrical loads.  Qualified solar installers can be found at www.nabcep.org.

 

When the cabin owner gets together with the solar installer, they can either discover how much power the budget will allow or discover the budget for the power insisted upon.  They can also decide where to put solar panels.  Maybe on the roof or maybe on a separate mount so the roof is not affected.

 

In the photograph above, the remote home has a TOP OF POLE SOLAR MOUNT with 8 Solar modules.  Figuring on solar modules factory rated at 300W each, an 8-module solar array, for an average summer day in the US can collect about 10,000 WATT-HOURS per day.  Those WATT-HOURS must be stored in batteries for use.  Again, the qualified solar installer can advise how large a battery is needed.  Prices vary and installers vary but a typical cost of equipment including a generator and 8 solar modules with batteries and associated electronics, not counting installation could be around $15,000.

 

A solar system that works with a generator means the generator does not have to run as much, if at all.  This creates a quiet environment, saves fuel and puts less hours on the generator for longer generator life.  Other than generators, AMERESCO SOLAR has everything an installer would need for a quality, solar installation.

 

Click here to see a spec sheet for a remote home power center capable of providing a maximum of 8000W at 120/240VAC.  This is enough power for most well water pumps, a refrigerator-freezer, lights, fans, TV and Satellite receiver, microwave oven and some smaller power tools like an electric drill or circular saw or the chargers for battery powered tools.  It can accept the power from up to 2 dozen, 325W solar modules.

 

Well, now that you understand solar a little bit better thanks to the above explanation from Mark Wiener of WWW.AMERESCOSOLAR.COM, you’re probably wondering what the next step would be to get started.  Since AMERESCO doesn’t sell direct to the homeowner, Mark suggests that you now find an NABCEP approved installer – Qualified solar installers can be found at www.nabcep.org – and then have that installer contact AMERESCOSOLAR directly.  Installers in the middle USA can call Matt Moore at our TX office at 281 378 2309 mamoore@ameresco.com, and installers in the West USA can call Rebecca Sanchez in our CA office at 508 598 4603 rsanchez@ameresco.com, and installers in the East USA can call Mark at 724 745 3518 mwiener@ameresco.com

 

 

NEXT UP: COZY OFF-GRID CABIN IN THE GREEN MOUNTAINS

 

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