Energy Blueprint - The Off-Grid
Energy Blueprint - The Off-Grid
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 1 The Off-Grid Energy Blueprint How to Harness The Power of 100% Free Solar Energy By Sam McCoy
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 2 CONTENTS Introduction What are the Benefits of DIY Solar Power? 3 Chapter 1: Solar Electricity Basics 5 • What Type of Solar System is best for my Home? 5 • The Three Types of Solar PV Systems 6 • How Much Power will my Solar Panels Produce? 8 Chapter 2: Choosing the Right Solar Power System 10 • Is my Roof Up to the Challenge? 10 • 5 Ways to Mess up your Solar Panel Layout 11 • 4 Important Solar Panel Buying Tips 13 Chapter 3: DIY vs.
Professional Installation 15 • Are you up to The DIY Solar Power Challenge? 15 • 7 Things to Know for a Safe DIY Installation 16 • 10 Important Questions to Ask a Professional Solar Power Installer 17 Chapter 4: Solar Power Buying Guide 19 • How much is it going to Cost? 19 • Reduce your Energy Needs Now - - 20 • Using Federal, State and Local Incentives to Help Lower Overall Costs 22 • How can I Finance my Solar Power System? 23 Chapter 5: Grid Connected PV System Installation 25 • The Pros and Cons of Owning a Grid Connected PV System 25 • 5 Steps to a Grid Connected PV System 26 • What the Heck are Safety Disconnects and why they are so Important? 27 • AC/DC—Not the Band; the Power Supply 28 • Do I Need a Battery Backup? 29 Chapter 6: Off Grid PV System Installation 31 • The Pros and Cons of Owning an Off Grid PV System 31 • 7 Steps to an Off Grid PV System 32 • Should I Buy a Backup Generator? 34 • Tips and Techniques for Maximizing Battery Life 35 Chapter 7: Non PV Solar System Installations 37 • DIY Solar Water Heater 37 • Tips for Building your Own Solar Heat Collector 38 • Five Steps to Installing a Solar Tube Skylight 40
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 3 INTRODUCTION WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DIY SOLAR POWER? The amount of solar energy that strikes the earth in any given minute is equal to the same amount of power the entire planet consumes each year! Maybe that’s why solar power is one of the most promising sources of renewable clean energy. And with energy prices on the rise and growing concerns over the state of our environment, alternative energies like solar power are becoming more and more attractive to homeowners.
With advantages like clean power and a significant reduction in power bills, it’s no wonder why so many homeowners are choosing to install their own DIY solar power plant to power their homes—and change their lives for good. Installing your own solar power has many benefits such as: • Super savings on your electric bill. And in some cases, it may eliminate the need for a power bill all together. In best case scenarios, you may produce more power than you need, where you’ll end up selling it back to the power company for a profit. • Solar power doesn’t hurt the planet. According to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average four-person family home generates between 83,000-100,000 pounds of greenhouse gases each year when using conventional power sources like coil, natural gas and oil. That’s as much greenhouse gas that’s released by driving your car 100,000 miles! Solar power significantly reduces our homes greenhouse gas production and does it for decades at a time.
• Blackouts/brownouts no more. When you haven’t got a need for power from the grid, problems like power outages from storms, downed power lines or heavy use are a thing of the past • Solar power helps your country. By purchasing your solar power goods from local companies, you can bet that manufacturing prices go down while GDP goes up. And by reducing our need on foreign oil and other overseas energies, we make our country
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• Solar power systems last. Generally, a solar power system will last 25-30 years without major upgrades or power failures. • DIY solar power has a great ROI. If you’re looking for a good return on your investment, it’s hard to beat a solar power installation. With the right rebates and tax incentives, DIY solar power costs can be recouped in 4-5 years. That translates into decades of guilt- free and cost-free power for your home.
• Solar power can help to increase your home’s value. With increased energy efficiency, little to no utility bills and power access 24/7—even through stormy weather—the value of your home is significantly increased. • Little maintenance is required to keep up a home solar power supply. And if your home is connected to the grid, you don’t have to worry about the power going on and off when rotten weather doesn’t let your solar panels do their job. • Easy to install. Many systems are “plug and play” meaning that once you install the panels and components of the system, you just need to plug in all the wires for the system to be up and running.
Simple installation processes mean that overall costs go down too.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 5 CHAPTER 1 SOLAR ELECTRICITY BASICS What Type of Solar System is best for my Home? With so many different solar power systems on the market, it’s no wonder it’s such a tough job to pick and choose the right solar design for you and your home. There are many different factors that can help decide whether or not your solar power system is a success. And without the right plan of action, you can bet that your DIY solar power system is going to be more like a DIY solar power flop.
Learn the basics of solar power first and help better understand what type of solar system is best for you and your home.
What is the PV Effect? The word “solar electricity” is really a misnomer. Solar power comes through the atmosphere every day and doesn’t “electrify” us. For electricity to be produced from solar radiation, it must be changed into electricity from its radiation form through a medium. This amazing effect can only take place when solar radiation strikes the medium of a photovoltaic cell. For a PV cell to work, a bit of polycrystalline silicon is applied in varying thicknesses to a substrate where conductive wires are added to each end of the now formed photovoltaic or PV cell. Once sunlight hits the cell, solar radiation is converted into electricity and travels through the two wires where it can then be used instantly—or stored away for later use.
This is known as the PV effect and its finer details make for a pretty boring dinner conversation. Solar panel companies make solar panels by connecting a series of PV solar cells together. When several solar panels are wired together, it is called a solar array. When several solar arrays are hooked together and are connected to other components, it can then be called a solar energy system.
Yet without the PV effect, our society as we know it would come to a screeching halt. It would mean the end of solar powered calculators, remote highway signs and most importantly every single satellite in space! The PV effect accounts for quite a bit of the world’s power needs and as science continues to research this phenomenal effect, thinner, better and cheaper solar panels will soon be on their way.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 6 The Two Types of Solar Panels There are two basic types of solar panels that are used for a home-based solar power system: • Crystalline Silicon- A crystalline silicon panel is typically the most common form of PV solar panel power.
It is often square or rectangular in shape and tends to be about 2-4 inches thick. Covered with a protective glass covering, these panels are the most efficient on the market—but also the most costly. Polycrystalline silicon solar panels are a bit cheaper than the single crystal version, but polycrystalline cells make up for it by being a little less efficient at gathering solar energy than their single crystal cell counterpart. Solar conversion ranges from 25-30%.
• Thin Film- This newer solar panel technology is becoming more prevalent as it gets more efficient. With conversion rates at around 10-20%, they won’t produce as much energy as a crystalline cell but they certainly are much cheaper—and more flexible too. Some thin film comes in long rolls that can be adhered directly to a metal roof for instant solar power production. The Three Types of Solar PV Systems Now that you know a little bit about the two types of PV panels that are most commonly used to power home based solar systems, we can talk about what type of solar power system is best for you and your home.
A solar PV system is comprised of more than just a few solar panels. The typical PV solar power system uses a combination of equipment to use and store the power generated from the PV panels—but we’ll talk about that later on. For now, we’ll focus on the following three solar PV systems and what they do.
Grid Connected This is probably one of the most common PV systems used in suburban systems. A grid connected system is just as its name implies—it’s hooked up to the main electrical grid. This allows the solar power system to more or less compliment your existing power supply. The typical grid connected solar power system consists of the following materials:
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 7 • PV Solar Array- A series of wired PV solar panels • AC/DC Power Invertor- Converts the DC power generated from the PV array into AC power • Service Panel- A service panel or breaker box is located between the main junction box and the invertor • Power Meter- Used to display how much power the system produces and how much power the home is using at any given time • Safety Disconnect Switch- This safety feature prevents solar power from energizing the grid during a power outage Battery Backup Grid Connected The only real difference between a grid connected system and a battery backup grid connected system are the batteries and a charge controller.
These are used to store excess energy produced by the solar array. The power stored in these batteries is often used during the evening when solar panels produce no power. Battery backup also works great for when the main grid has a power outage. This type of system is a little more complicated than a grid connected solar system without battery backup and consists of the following materials: • PV Solar Array- A series of wired solar panels that produce electricity • AC/DC Power Invertor- Converts solar DC energy into an AC power supply • Battery Bank- Used to store excess energy from the solar array • Charge Controller- Prevents the batteries from overcharging • Service Panel- Houses the wiring connections and breakers between main breaker box and the invertor • Power Meter- Tells you how much power is being used, generated and stored in the batteries • Safety Disconnect Switch- Stops power from traveling to the grid when the main grid power is out
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 8 Off Grid These solar systems are not connected to the main power grid and are most common in areas where the utility grid is nonexistent or connection costs exceed the price of an off grid system. An off grid solar system supplies the entire structure with power while a battery backup is used to supply the structure with power during the night when the solar panels aren’t generating power. Diesel or other fuel powered generators are often used as a backup power source for the off grid solar system.
An off grid solar system consists of the following materials: • Solar Panels-Used to generate power from the sun • AC/DC Power Invertor- Converts DC power from the solar panels to AC power for the home • Rectifier- This is sometimes used to convert AC power back to DC power (or back again) to help the off grid system store and use energy more efficiently • Charge Controller- Prevents the battery bank from overcharging • Service Panels- Two junction boxes may be needed when using an alternate backup source of power like a generator • Power Meter- Displays the power generated, stored and consumed How Much Power will my Solar Panels Produce?
The big question when deciding on what type of solar PV system you are going to use is how much power will it produce. While there is no definite answer, you can use this information to help you get a good idea about how many solar panels you’ll need to power all or part of your home. Since solar panels are assigned a rating based on maximum wattage they produce under ideal conditions, it can be misleading how many solar panels you’ll really need. The exact power produced by the panels won’t be truly known until they are installed and metered. That’s because a solar panels efficiency can be affected by many different factors such as roof tilt, panel orientation, shading, dust and even the wiring that is used to bring power into
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 9 the home. In ideal locales where sunlight conditions are at their best, you can expect a 1-kilowatt system to produce around 1,500 kilowatt hours each year—give or take a few hundred depending upon how many cloudy days affect solar output. That’s really only enough power to offset the average homes electricity needs by about 15% or less. Typical grid connected systems— since their power supply is offset by the utility company—use a 2-3 kilowatt system.
This allows the solar system to help cut your utility power consumption in half. Off grid systems that power an entire home use a combination of higher kilowatt systems (3 or more) and energy saving devices like gas powered refrigerators or LED lighting to help keep the homes power needs as low as possible (we’ll discuss energy saving techniques in a later chapter).
Many solar power suppliers now provide customers with power estimates for their solar panels. Information like roof pitch, location and panel orientation can severely affect power output, so these factors must be taken into account by the supplier when estimating solar panel power output. One of the best ways to ensure your solar PV system is going to do its job correctly is by determining how much power (in kilowatt hours) you and your home consume on a regular basis. This information can easily be found right on your existing utility company’s bill or website. You can also record your power meter reading from the beginning of one week until the next.
Multiply those readings by 52 weeks to find your annual energy consumption rate to find out how much power your solar power system is going to need.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 10 CHAPTER 2 CHOOSING THE RIGHT SOLAR POWER SYSTEM Is my Roof Up to the Challenge? The majority of solar PV arrays are placed on the roof of the structure. This allows for the proper tilt and orientation as well as ensures that the solar panels are up and out of the way where they are less likely to be damaged. While not all solar arrays are installed on the roof, if you plan on installing them on your roof, there are a number of roofing requirements that should be met prior to installation.
Roof Pitch Typical roofing pitches have a 6 inch fall for every 12 inches of roof. This roof pitch may be too steep for some locations. In areas closer to the equator, the angle of sun tends to be at a more pronounced angle, requiring the panels to be tilted. Too steep of a roof pitch can also cause solar panels to not perform up to their highest levels. Roofing Panel Tip #1: Always be sure you solar panel dealer lets you know the optimal pitch for your solar panels. Asphalt Shingles The main problem with a solar array being placed on the roof is that it requires a lot of mounting hardware.
That usually means that you’re going to cover up a large section of asphalt shingles. So what happens when your roofing shingles need to be repaired or replaced? You’ll have to remove the solar panels to fix your shingles.
Roofing Panel Tip #2: It’s a wise idea to replace aging asphalt shingles before you install a PV array on your roof. In most cases, an asphalt shingle roof will last around 25 years—the same length of time PV panels typically last. Support Depending upon what type of solar system you’re going to install will depend upon whether or not your roofing support structure is up to the challenge. Typical solar PV panels can weigh
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 11 as much as 3-5 pounds per square foot—or about 20-50 pounds per panel.
Many older roofing systems just won’t be able to take all of that additional weight. And throw in the fact that rain and snow loads can double or triple that weight and your roof could be in for some serious troubles. Roofing Panel Tip #3: You may need to beef up older framing members to support the extra weight of a roof-based solar power system. When in doubt, install your solar panels safely on the ground.
Homeowners Associations While your roof might be ready for solar panels, your neighbors might not be. While most homeowners associations don’t consider solar panels to be under their regulation, more conservative areas just might have something to say about the matter. When solar panels are visible from the road, a neighbor’s house or they’re installed on a historical structure, you could be in violation of your HOA terms of agreement. If you don’t have permission, you may be forced to take them down.
Roofing Panel Tip #4: Always contact your homeowners association if your home is in a deed restricted community.
A quick call to your local building department can also help you to find out the bigger picture about roof-based PV arrays and if they’re right for your home or business. 5 Ways to Mess up your Solar Panel Layout Now that we know your solar panel electrical productivity can be altered by their pitch and placement, you’ll want to ensure that the layout works in their favor. Whether you’re placing them on your home, garage or on the ground, you can bet that if you do one (or all) of the five following things when you layout your solar panel array, it’s not going to work as well as predicted.
Not the Right Orientation One of the most important parts about a solar array layout is the orientation it has relative to the suns position in the sky. In other words, if they aren’t facing the right direction, then they won’t work as well (or not at all). The best direction to place a solar array is so that the panels
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 12 face a southerly direction. North, east and west facing solar panels are not recommended. If your roof doesn’t face a southerly direction, you may want to place them on a garage, on the ground or on the south side of your home as a window awning.
Not Enough Space Besides facing the right direction, you’ll need a lot of space for your solar panel array to function correctly. You’ll need a minimum of 100 square feet of space for every kilowatt of energy produced. If you’re using the less efficient thin film solar panels, then you’ll need to double the amount of space you’ll need to around 180-200 square feet per kilowatt. Some homeowners maximize their space by placing the panels in various locations around their property. But be careful as to how far apart you space your solar panel array. Additional wiring will sap away electricity, making your well positioned array not as efficient as a cluster of panels would be.
Too Much Shade When a solar panel is in the shade, it doesn’t work as well as it should. And if your solar array is shaded for just a few hours a day, it can cut energy production down significantly. Trees, roofing ventilation stacks and even skylights can all cause shade to fall onto your solar panels. Keep your solar panels out of the shade and increase your power supply. Too Much Tilt Roofing systems can affect the tilt of your solar array, but with the right mounting system, the proper tilt can be created for nearly any solar panel. But more often than not, as the sun passes through the sky, the solar panel will not be at the appropriate tilt for some part of the day.
To combat this effect, a solar tracker can be installed so that the panel remains in the optimal solar collecting position throughout the day.
Too Old Your roofing materials are aging as we speak. Some asphalt shingles are designed to last for decades, but they can cost a pretty penny and are often substituted for cheaper asphalt shingles. And if you’ve got inferior shingles on your roof, you might find out that you need to
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 13 replace them right after your solar panels have been installed. You may want to replace your entire roof (or just the area under the solar array) with 25 year shingles to ensure they last as long as your solar array.
4 Important Solar Panel Buying Tips Whether you’re buying a solar power system from a dealer or you’re putting together your own solar power system from scratch, there are a number of important issues that homeowners should be aware of before purchasing their solar panels and equipment. Use the following four solar panel buying tips and get the most out of your solar panel purchase. Permits One of the most overlooked, yet most important aspects of installing your own solar power system is getting permission to do so from your local building department. In most cases, a permit will be required to install and connect a solar power system to your home or the grid.
Once a permit has been secured, you can begin the installation. After the installation (or certain aspects of the installation) have been performed, a building inspector will need to verify that all of the work performed is up to federal, state and local electrical and building code standards. Always call your building department before you purchase any solar panels to find out exactly what permits you might need to begin your DIY solar installation. Warranties Because most solar panels are designed to last around 25 years, their warranties will at least cover this 25 year life span. However, that typically only accounts for the solar panels themselves.
Materials such as the invertor are destined to have a lifespan of about a decade, so be sure that you’re aware of the fact that somewhere along the way, you’re going to have to replace parts of the system, long before you’ll need to replace other sections of your solar power system.
Maintenance Solar panels might come with a good 25 year (or more) warranty, but without the right maintenance, they’ll never last half of that time. In some cases, without the proper care
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 14 and maintenance, you may even void the warranty of the equipment. It’s always a good idea to perform annual maintenance tasks even if the warranty doesn’t specify what those maintenance tasks are. One of the most important parts of solar panel maintenance is keeping the panels clean and clear of debris.
In extreme locales where heavy rains, dust or snow loads are in effect, panels may need to be cleaned bimonthly to ensure their in perfect working condition for many years to come.
Insurance Your homeowners insurance is used to protect your home from damages. But what happens when your solar panels do the damage from a poor installation or the solar panels are damaged themselves? You could be out of luck if you don’t have the system professionally installed. It’s always a wise idea to give your homeowners insurance representative a call before you install your own solar power system. In most cases, your solar power system will be covered from damages by your homeowners insurance—but only if you verify it with them first.
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PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION Are you up to The DIY Solar Power Challenge? Installing a solar power system isn’t for everyone. It requires a basic knowledge of electrical wiring, mechanical skill and in some cases—no fear of heights. There are a number of problems that could go wrong with the installation and if it’s not done according to federal, state and local electrical and building codes, you’re not going to pass inspection. Even worse, you could cause electrical damages to the equipment, your home and the power grid. So are you up to the DIY solar power challenge?
• Electrical Basics- For smaller off the grid systems, a simple solar panel and the hardware that keeps it running connects to a non-lethal DC voltage. This is easily handled without having to worry about severe electrical shocks. But for systems hooked directly to the power grid, you might be in for a shocking experience—literally. If you don’t have a general knowledge of home electrical wiring, then you may want to hire a professional installer to do the wiring part of the project for you. • Mechanical Skill- Can you tighten a nut and bolt? Then you probably have what it takes to install your own solar power equipment.
But it’s not just about nuts and bolts. Wiring connections, hardware installations and panel placement all require the use of basic mechanical skills to get the project done without running into trouble. • Balance- While the majority of DIY solar power installation is safely located on the ground; solar panels often are placed high in the sky. Whether they are up on the roof or they are located on the end of a pole, getting up their safely with a bunch of awkwardly heavy equipment can be a challenge—even for those who have the balance of a tightrope circus performer. If you have any fear or apprehension about climbing up on your roof or standing up on a ladder, you may want to think twice about doing this part of your solar power project yourself.
• Tools- It’s going to take a lot more than just a screwdriver to install a solar power system on your home or business. Tools like wire strippers, wrenches, socket sets, fish tape and yes—screwdrivers are all needed for even the most basic of DIY solar power
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 16 installations. If you’re not willing to spend a few extra bucks on the tools you need for this project, then you may want to consider hiring a professional installer to do the project for you.
• Patience- This part of DIY solar power is a must-have. Patience is important when it comes to dealing with everything involved with a DIY solar project. Building inspectors may fail your work several times, power connections need to be checked twice (and then again) and waiting for the utility company to make progress can all take some serious amounts of time (and patience) to ensure the system is at its best before the power begins to flow.
If you’re not up to all of the following tasks, you may find help online. Hiring a day laborer for as low as $10 an hour can help you to get the tougher parts of the job done that you might not have experience to safely and efficiently deal with on your own. Electricians, carpenters and other skilled labor can also be contracted for daily jobs on websites like Craigslist to help you get you DIY solar power project complete without having to spend a fortune on hiring a professional solar power installer.
7 Things to Know for a Safe DIY Installation Installing your own solar power system doesn’t have to be dangerous.
But without the right safety precautions in place, you could end up damaging equipment, your home or yourself. Use the following seven safety tips for DIY solar power installation and get your solar power installed without worrying about going to the hospital in the process. 1. Electricity is Dangerous- This one is a no brainer, but it needs to be included into the precautions all the same. Not only can electricity be dangerous; it can be downright deadly. That’s why it’s VERY important to make sure that all of the power is off to the structure when connecting any wiring from the solar power system to the homes live wiring system.
Always double check with a power meter just to be sure you don’t accidentally make a “shocking” discovery after it’s too late. 2. Heights are Dangerous- This is another safety tip that’s fairly obvious but needs to be reiterated over and over again. When you’re installing solar panels on a roof, you’ll need to make sure that you’re safely secured on the roof to prevent falls. Remember, even a short fall is enough to kill you.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 17 3. Sharp Metal can cut you- In some circumstances, you may need to cut metal flashing for the roof or trim panel brackets for a custom fit. Once sheared with a pair of tin snips, the metal edge can be really sharp. Even if you bump up against it softly, it can still be sharp enough to cut down to the bone. Always wear gloves when handling sharp metal!
4. Glass can cut you- Some solar panels have a glass covering to protect the delicate PV cells from damages.
While these types of glass are almost always made from safety glass, it can still cut you even if it’s not broken. Sharp glass edges need to be handled gingerly and with a thick pair of leather gloves. 5. Heat Exhaustion- Since you’re putting your solar panels in direct sunlight—probably on the hottest part of your roof—you can easily develop heat exhaustion or sun poisoning when you’re exposed to the sun without adequate protection. Sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water can help this dangerous problem from happening to you during the installation.
6. Back Troubles- It’s no secret: solar panels and the equipment that holds them in place can be awkwardly heavy. Have a friend (or several) help you lift the heavy stuff and always be sure to lift with your legs and not with your back. 7. Eye Protection- This safety tip is the one that’s most ignored, but is probably the one that can be the most dangerous. Flying metal scraps, exposed wiring and sharp metal are prevalent even on the simplest of DIY solar power installs. Cover your eyes with certified safety glasses and protect your vision from damages. 10 Important Questions to Ask a Professional Solar Power Installer While DIY solar power installation is easy enough—it’s not for everyone.
In fact, getting a professional installer to help with one or multiple parts of the project can really help you to save time and money on the project. In some cases, they can even help you with rebates and tax credits for your solar system. But even when solar power installers say they are up to the task—how do you really know they can do the job better than you? By asking these ten questions, you’ll ensure that you get the right person for the job. 1. What’s your Experience? Being certified as a professional solar panel installer is one of the most important parts to hiring a pro. Also be sure to ask what experience they
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 18 have and if they can provide any references. 2. How long have you been in Business? The longer they’ve been in business, the more experience they have doing jobs similar to yours. 3. Will you pull the Permit? The best thing about hiring a professional solar installer is that they can cut through the red tape of government permitting with ease. Having them pull the permits can help get the ball rolling that much faster. 4. Are you NABCEP Certified? The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certifies installers who pass a series of tests to prove they have the knowledge and skills it takes to get the job done right.
5. Are you a Member of any Solar Trade Organization? Organizations like the Solar Energy Industries Association can help you make sure that your solar power installer knows well about the latest solar power standards and practices. 6. Will you handle the Incentive Paperwork? Federal, state and local tax breaks, rebates and other monetary incentives can be accessed to help you offset the cost of a new PV solar system. The right professional solar power installer can help you get the most savings out of your new solar system.
7. Do you Offer Payment Plans? Some solar power installations can cost you a pretty penny.
Ask your solar power installer if they provide a payment plan or other cost effective options to help ease the burden of a hefty one-time payment. 8. Will you do some, or all of the Work? Some professional solar installers will work with the homeowner to help lower installation costs by allowing them to do some of the work themselves. Be sure to have any agreements like these in writing before you commit. 9. What Warranties do you Offer? Some solar power installers will offer a warranty on the goods and services they provide. This can help add a little more piece of mind, just in case something goes wrong later on down the road.
10. What Maintenance Services do you Offer? Maintaining solar power equipment, batteries and PV panels is important to ensuring their longest life possible. A good maintenance schedule from your installer can really help to prolong the lifespan of your PV system, without the need for you to lift a finger.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 19 CHAPTER 4 SOLAR POWER BUYING GUIDE How much is it going to Cost? Determining how much your PV solar power system is going to cost can depend on several different factors as well as how you view savings, rebates and other monetary incentives.
An average solar system can cost anywhere from $2 to over $10 per watt depending upon what type of system you have installed and who is going to do all of the work. Because new technologies, government subsidies and more buyers are constantly fueling solar power technology, that price gets lower and lower every day.
There are numerous federal, state and local incentives that can also help to bring the average cost of your solar system down even further. Some solar power installers and vendors will sell you a solar power system at after-rebate prices to help entice customers. They do all of the rebate paperwork and keep the rebate themselves. Some states may have phenomenal incentives for installing solar panels, helping to recoup your initial investment even sooner. Add in the fact that your power bills will remain consistent for the next 20-25 years and you’ll come to the conclusion that the entire system will pay for itself in five years or less.
So generally speaking, the system will eventually end up costing you nothing if you factor in rebates, energy savings and other government subsidies and tax credits. Larger grid-tied systems will even generate power that you can sell back to the utility company, making your DIY solar system a profitable venture that actually makes you money in the long run. But with savings aside, the average straight upfront cost for a DIY PV solar system really depends on how many watts you’re willing to install. Average 2 kilowatt systems range from $1,500 to over $5,000 depending on the materials used and are enough to cut your existing utility bill in half.
Larger systems that are over 8 kilowatts actually turn a profit. To have a system like this installed by a professional, you may end up doubling or even tripling the overall cost, so doing most or all of the work yourself can really help you to save some big bucks once it’s all said and done.
All in all, the average price for an 8-kilowatt DIY solar system kit with everything taken into
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 20 account will cost you around $16,000 before rebates or tax credits. Add in the average federal rebate price of around $6,000 and you’ve got an upfront cost of $10,000 or less. Factor in state and local incentives and you could save an extra $1,000-$500 or more bringing the total cost $9,500-$9,000. If your average electric bill is around $150 a month, with DIY work, incentives and all costs factored in, it would take 63 months or roughly five and a half years for you to break even.
That leaves you with almost 19-20 years of free energy. And if you’re producing more electricity than you can use and you’re selling it back to the power company, that’s 20 years of profit! Any system over 8 kilowatts turns a profit and at peak production, an 8 kilowatt solar power system produces around 32 kilowatts of power per day. Per month that’s 960 kilowatt hours. The average U.S. home uses around 900-950 kilowatt hours per month. With some additional energy saving features (as described in one of the following chapters) added to your home during the DIY solar panel install, and your home could be making you 100 kilowatt hours or roughly around $300 a year.
At the end of your solar power systems 25 year lifespan, you’ll end up with an extra $6,000 in your pocket. Throw in the extra $3,750 from the 25 years’ worth of free electricity your DIY PV system creates and you’ve just made about $10,000— double the money than you invested to begin with.
Reduce your Energy Needs Now - - Lower your Solar Power Installation Costs Later Now that you’ve got a general idea of how much it can cost to install your own solar power supply, you can see that it’s an investment that not all of us can afford. So how can you make the price of a DIY solar system go down even further? Simple! By reducing the kilowatt output and the overall size of the system itself. But as you remove kilowatt power from the PV system, you lessen the amount of power your home is going to receive, making a DIY solar system a means to offset high utility bills at best.
By reducing your homes energy needs before you install your PV panels, you’ll not only reduce the price of your current energy costs, but once you get ready to install your PV solar system, you’ll be able to reduce the initial cost of the system as well—and all without lowering your living standards in the least.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 21 Home Energy Audit To determine exactly what “energy troubles” your home may have can be addressed by having a professional energy auditor come to your home and perform a few tests. These professionals typically perform a variety of tasks to help you find out where your biggest losses in energy consumption come from—and what you can do to help conserve more energy in the future. This way, you can lower the overall cost of your PV system and your future energy needs.
Certified home energy auditors should do the following ten things while performing an in-home energy audit: 1. Analyze your Annual Fuel Bill to Find Out Mean Energy Consumption 2. Interview you to Learn about you and your Homes Energy Needs 3. Review the Basics of their Home Energy Audit Process 4. Exterior Inspection of Roofing, Siding and Foundation 5. Health and Safety Inspection of Electrical Equipment 6. Interior Inspection Including the Attic and Crawlspaces 7. Complete Electrical Inspection 8. Appliance Energy Efficiency Inspection 9. Blower Door Test to Determine Air Loss 10. Provide you with a Comprehensive Report of the Energy Audit An in-home energy audit will consist of many tests and requires very specific tools to perform said tests, so it’s not something homeowners typically do themselves.
For example, the blower door test requires the use of a large fan that depressurizes the home. It simulates a 20 mph wind to help find air leaks in windows, doors and exterior ceiling/walls. Minor air leaks often add up to a sizeable problem. The average home air leak problem is like having a hole the size of two foot window that’s open 24 hours a day.
Energy Efficiency is the Key to Cheap DIY Solar Installs Up to 30 percent of energy loss can be recouped through the average energy audit. You can increase your homes energy efficiency even more and reduce the need for a higher kilowatt solar system with the right energy efficient equipment. LED lighting, EnergyStar rated
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 22 equipment and alternative fuel powered appliances (like a natural gas stove) can all relieve your homes high electrical energy needs and lower the overall price of your DIY solar system.
Using Federal, State and Local Incentives to Help Lower Overall Costs There are numerous incentives that can help to significantly lower the costs of your solar power system. From enormous tax credits to local property tax breaks, the government and utility companies are helping citizens in all parts of the country transfer their power supply reliability from nonrenewable resources to renewable energy. While not all of the monetary incentives are available in all areas and for all homes, no matter where you live, there is going to be some incentive program that will help you to offset the initial cost of installing a DIY solar power system.
Federal Tax Credit The federal tax break over the years has increased for solar power production. In the year 2008, tax breaks for installing a solar system were renewed for another eight years until the year 2016 when they are set to expire. For all existing and new construction homes—as well as second homes (rentals aren’t included) 30 percent of the purchasing and installation costs will be returned to you when you get your tax refund at the end of the year. This also covers solar water heaters for potable water use too.
Solar systems just need a certification from SRCC or other comparable government endorsed entities to help alleviate the cost of their solar power system.
Find out more about the federal solar tax credit here. There are also other numerous tax credits and monetary incentives for solar and renewable energy resources that can be found here at the Database of State Incentives of Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE). State Incentives Each state has a wide variety of cash incentives for installing solar power and other renewable energy resources on your home or business. While these vary wildly from state to state, each area has at least some program to help home and business owners cope with the monetary difficulties that can be associated with installing their own solar power supply.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 23 good folks over at DSIRE can help you to find the perfect incentive in your state for installing your own solar power system. Since 1995, DSIRE has been the most comprehensive source for energy efficiency incentives and is owned by NC State University and funded by the US Department of Energy. The DSIRE website can be found here. Local Incentives County and city incentives are a little harder to come by, but depending upon where you live; these programs can help to lower the costs of your solar power system.
Property tax breaks are one of the most common ways local solar incentives are used by county and city officials. Your local utility company may also provide relief to help lower your energy consumption needs as well as installing your solar power system. By connecting your solar power system to their energy grid, their net metering programs can also help you to make money off of your excess solar power by allowing it to flow back into the grid. The power company that owns the meter offers different prices for different times a year for your excess solar power, so be sure to give them a call first to find out your best options for net metering prices and incentives.
How can I Finance my Solar Power System? Even with all of those tax breaks and monetary incentives, coming up with the hard cash for an upfront payment for a brand new solar system out of your pocket can be tough to say the least. So what do you do when you can’t come up with the cash to buy your solar system outright? Financing options are always available to help lower the initial costs of buying a PV solar system. Use this guide to financing resources for solar power and get the help you need to go solar.
• Home Refinance- Refinancing your home can help you to consolidate money for your new solar system.
Combine solar power systems with other home improvement projects to help increase your options. • First Mortgages- Take a mortgage out on your home to help alleviate costs of a solar system. With this option, it’s a good idea to get a larger PV system since monthly
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 24 payments won’t increase much. • Home Equity Loans- Tax deductible interest, lower interest rates and longer terms make this financing option an attractive one to some homeowners. • Bank Loans- Many bank loans will help cover the cost of a solar purchase or installation. Some banks will even give the loan at a less-than prime rate. Not all banks like homeowners doing the work themselves, so be aware that you may need outside professional help when choosing this financing option.
• Construction Loans- Remodeling, renovation or additions onto your home will require a construction loan from your bank. Many times, you can include solar power as part of the project as well. • Solar Suppliers- A common trend is to have the solar power vendor supply the homeowner with financing. Be careful of the fine print: some vendors ask that their solar power supplies be installed by their team of professional installers to be able to get the financing you desire. • Government Options- Fannie Mae, US Department of Energy and US Veterans Affairs are but just a few of the many programs the federal government has available to homeowners around the country to help pay for a solar power system for their home or business.
There are numerous programs available for a wide variety of people, places and solar power systems—in fact, too many to fit into this eBook. Take a look at The Borrower’s Guide to Financing Solar Energy Systems for more details on all of the programs available to help finance your DIY solar system.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 25 CHAPTER 5 GRID CONNECTED PV SYSTEM INSTALLATION The Pros and Cons of Owning a Grid Connected PV System A battery-free grid connected system is one of the best DIY solar power systems because of their size and simplicity. They’re also great for DIY work and are much more budget-friendly than other PV solar systems. And because grid connected systems don’t need batteries (the grid is in essence the battery), a grid connected system requires the least amount of maintenance.
While they are the most popular PV solar system in North America, there are a few pros and cons you should be aware of before you buy.
Cons Because of the fact that they don’t have batteries may make them easy to maintain, but this also makes them vulnerable to blackouts. When power outages affect the grid, the solar power system has no backup and is on its own. That means when the sun goes down—so does the power. And like most simple grid connected PV systems, they don’t have enough kilowatt energy available to power the entire structure. So even if the sun is shining brightly, you won’t be able to power the entire home and the system will shut down from the overload. In areas where grid failure is common, homeowners may want to consider adding a battery backup system or generator to the system.
Smaller uninterrupted power supplies can help offset power grid failures for medical equipment, computers, LED lighting or other essential low wattage equipment.
Pros Simpler than other systems, a battery-free grid connected system is the best option for the first time DIY solar installation. They are less expensive as well, making them especially desirable for the homeowner on a budget. Unless the grid is down, you’ve got a constant power supply that’s cheap and easy to maintain. To top it all off, if your system does produce more energy than you’re using, you’ll end up selling power back to the power company for a
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Throw in the fact that it’s also greener than other battery backup systems and you can easily see why this home-based solar power system is so popular. All in all, a battery free grid connect system is the simplest to work with throughout the installation process as well as throughout its entire life. Most homeowners who choose this system do so because of its size. If you just want a small system to help offset utility costs, then a battery-free grid connected solar power system is the best choice for you. 5 Steps to a Grid Connected PV System A grid connected system consists of five basic parts and are as follows: 1.
PV Panel Array 2. Inverter 3. Power Meters 4. Safety Disconnects 5. Service Panel These five simple parts are all you need to get solar energy from the sun. All solar power kits must come with these five basic items for the system to be fully functional. Additional accessories like solar trackers or rail mounts may be included in a kit, but that isn’t always the case. Wiring may or may not be included. Be sure to get a copy of the shipping manifesto before you buy a kit to be sure you’ve got these essential five parts of a grid tied solar power system. It’s also a good idea to get a wiring diagram for each component that you buy.
This will tell you exactly what gauge wiring you need to buy as each separate component has its own unique wiring schedule and can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. See the drawing for complete assembly of a bare bones grid tied solar power system that you can put together yourself.
To understand how all five of these components are tied together, let’s refresh ourselves on how a battery-less grid connect PV system works: The PV panels are first wired into an array and placed in a sunny location. Sunlight energy is converted to electricity and is sent through the wiring to a power meter, then onto the first
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 27 main connection—the inverter. This converts the 12-V DC power to 120-V (or 220-V) AC power.
This unit is essential because it turns the DC power supply into 60-cycle grid-useable energy. These inverters are sometimes referred to as synchronous because they synch up solar power supply with the grids power supply. Micro-inverters are sometimes used for each panel in an expandable solar power system. They can allow a system to be built one panel at a time whereas with a conventional system, you’ll have to buy a larger—and more costly—inverter up front. Some micro-inverters can have a 25-year warranty, making this type of inverter system desirable.
From here, the power flows into another meter and then the main service panel—aka the breaker box. Here power flows into your home from the grid as well as the solar system. When excess power is generated, it flows back to the grid through the service panel. The power company will connect a special meter (or multiple meters) that reads the power coming and going, so if excess power is sent back to the grid, it will be deducted to your utility bill. This is also where the AC safety disconnect breaker will also be installed. This will prevent your solar array from sending power to the grid when the power to the utility grid is offline.
This prevents power surges that could potentially be fatal to someone working further down the power grid. In most cases, this additional safety feature is not necessary if you’re using a synchronous invertor. Because a synchronous invertor needs the grids power supply to keep working, it automatically shuts down when utility grid power is disconnected. Besides a safety disconnect on the utility meter, you’ll also need a DC safety disconnect between the solar array and the invertor. This allows you to disconnect the power to service the invertor or other parts of your solar system without danger of shock from the DC current.
What the Heck are Safety Disconnects and why they are so Important? Disconnects are basically a fancy way of saying a circuit breaker. The difference between the two is that the safety disconnect essentially prevents power from surging through the system and destroying your equipment, whereas a circuit breaker breaks the electrical circuit by disconnecting only one of the wires. A safety disconnect prevents all power surges through all circuits and prevents power flow in either direction across the entire system.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 28 A safety disconnect works by isolating power generating equipment from dangerous loads. This is necessary because power generators like solar arrays can be seriously damaged from even the smallest of power surges. If a heavier load—such as the one that comes in from the main grid—surges into the array, it will put them out of commission permanently. A DC disconnect is needed between the solar array and the invertor. This will allow you to isolate the invertor when it needs to be replaced.
Because the lifespan of an inverter is inherently shorter than a PV panel, you’ll end up changing out the inverter long before you change out the PV panels.
An AC disconnect is used to protect the solar power from going into the utility grid if it shuts down. It’s also used so that if the utility company needs to work on your meter, they can shut off the power. Sometimes a locked box is placed by the power company, in some areas it has to be provided by the homeowner. In some areas, they won’t hook your power up to the grid without an AC disconnect. Be sure to ask your power company about any safety disconnects when installing your solar power equipment.
AC/DC—Not the Band; the Power Supply When you’re hooking up your components, it’s critical that you know whether you’re wiring for AC power or DC power.
You’ll definitely need a variety of different gauge wiring for each component. Always be sure that you contact your manufacturer for the correct wiring gauges, lengths and other important information about the wiring you’ll need to get the job done right. Knowing the difference between the AC and DC can mean the difference between having a working solar system and a broken one. The best way to get the hang of the difference between the two power sources is by learning a few of the basics of AC and DC power. Direct Current (DC) All atoms have electrons, a nucleus and a proton. When a copper wire becomes charged with positive energy and connected to another copper wire charged with a negative energy, electrons start to flow through the wires and it creates an electrical circuit.
Direct current—aka DC—has electrons that only flow in one direction through a circuit. It’s often found in batteries,
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 29 doorbells, computers and other low-voltage devices. PV panels generate DC electricity. The invertor does the job of converting the direct current to alternating current for the home. Alternating Current (AC) An alternating current is much more powerful than a direct current. That’s because electrons flow both ways through a circuit, so many more electrons can bump into other electrons along the wire. This gets lots more electrons excited and moving through the circuit.
Alternating currents are used for televisions, refrigerators, dryers and heating/cooling equipment. It is produced by wind, water, nuclear and coal power plants.
Alternating current works when electrons flow back and forth in cycles in a very rapid succession. In North America, electric utilities produce electricity for homes at 60 times per second or 60-Hertz. No matter what power supply source is used, be sure to follow the wiring specifications for each component. The correct wire can make or break your DIY solar system. Do I Need a Battery Backup? Before you install your solar system, you’ll need to decide whether or not you’ll want battery backup—or any other form of electrical supply backup to ensure an uninterrupted flow of electricity continues 24 hours a day or night—no matter what happens to the main power grid.
In some cases, battery power is chosen for its simplicity and lower costs. Compare alternatives like noisy propane generators or expensive wind power and you’ve got an unwelcoming backup energy source indeed.
Owning a battery backup isn’t necessarily something that you need—as long as you don’t mind being without power when the grid supply is turned off. Even if the solar array is working as efficiently as possible, you still can’t use the power because of the grid tied inverter. That’s where battery backup comes in handy. And since it’s the cheapest way to generate a backup power supply, it’s no doubt you’d like to go even cheaper and leave out the batteries. And that’s just fine. You can go with or without backup anything if you want to save more money on the startup costs.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 30 In some instances, homeowners will work batteries into their system as they can afford them.
But you’ll still have to pay the initial costs of adding a dual purpose invertor that has battery backup charging capabilities. You’ll also have to buy a charge controller. This unit is installed between the battery bank and the solar array since they are both DC powered devices. Without these two essential expenses for battery backup, your system won’t be ready for those expensive batteries when you get around to buying them.
Battery power is great for when the power to the grid is gone or when you own an off grid solar system. But it’s not so great on space. Each battery is about the size of a car battery and you’ll need a good amount of floor space to store them all. Depending upon how large your solar system is depends on how many batteries you’ll need. With a cost of $100 or more per battery, they can get very expensive, very quickly. When it comes down to choosing a battery backup system, choose a battery with deep cycle capabilities to hold the best charge possible. These batteries must also be maintained regularly by checking the water levels within the reservoirs and refilling them with distilled water when low.
Whether you add the expense of a backup power source or you decide to connect to the grid only is a personal choice resulting from budgets, tastes and supply needs.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 31 CHAPTER 6 OFF GRID PV SYSTEM INSTALLATION The Pros and Cons of Owning an Off Grid PV System For homes that are built far from the convenience of a utility power supply especially benefit from an off grid PV solar power system. Powering your weekend getaway cabin has never been easier (or hardly possible) without the addition of a fully self-contained off grid PV system.
While these work excellent when power isn’t available, they can be a costly alternative to a grid tied PV solar system. Before you install a PV system for your off grid power, take a look at the following pros and cons of owning an off grid PV system and decide for yourself if an off grid system is right for you.
Cons Since solar power is going to be the main source of power, you will need a large solar array to collect as much sunlight as possible. Off grid and away from an alternative source of electricity, extra sunlight that is gained beyond what the system has used is stored in a battery bank. A large battery bank not only takes up space, but they must be monitored each day and kept well-maintained or you could significantly reduce their lifespan. Other components like charge controllers only continue to add to the overall cost of a large solar powered off grid system. Price is a huge factor in an off grid system and what often ends up happening is that a smaller kilowatt system is purchased to offset the overall costs of the larger system.
And when power supply is reduced, the demand has to be reduced as well. That often means that a smaller refrigerator must be purchased, a gas dryer may need to be installed or heating/cooling equipment is eliminated altogether. Unless you have an unlimited budget, one way or another, something has to give with an off grid PV system.
Pros On the other hand, an off grid system has many advantages that make it an attractive decision
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 32 for many homeowners. This is especially true for homes that are far from the conventional utility grid. With a simple off grid solar power system, you can easily get power anywhere the sun shines. A good battery bank, the right equipment and a proper backup generator for an alternative source of power and you’ve got electricity 24 hours a day and night.
Systems like these may cost more, but with the right set up, any home can be its own island of electrical bliss.
Propane, diesel or gasoline generators are often connected to an off grid solar system for an extra energy backup source. But that doesn’t mean you have to use a fossil fueled generator. You can install wind, hydro and even wood burning sterling engines to help offset your PV solar system. Just be sure that the generator is able to charge the batteries as well as power the entire electrical system. 7 Steps to an Off Grid PV System An off grid PV system is installed just like a grid connected PV system with the exception that there is now a battery bank, a charge controller (or several) and possibly a backup generator.
Installing your own off grid PV assembly may have more parts but it is much quicker to install than a grid connected system because you don’t have to wait for the utility company to do their job before you have power. In fact, in just a few hours, you could have a small off grid PV system up and running.
These seven simple parts are all you need to get solar energy from the sun. All solar power kits must come with these seven basic items for the system to be fully functional. Additional accessories like solar trackers or rail mounts may be included in a kit, but that isn’t always the case. Wiring may or may not be included. Be sure to get a copy of the shipping manifesto before you buy a kit or individual components to be sure you’ve got these essential seven parts of an off grid solar power system. It’s also a good idea to get a wiring diagram for each component that you buy. This will tell you exactly what gauge wiring you need to buy as each separate component has its own unique wiring schedule and can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.
See the drawing for complete assembly of a bare bones off grid solar power system that you can put together yourself.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 33 1. Solar Panels- Install your solar panels together into an array and align them in a southern orientation. This is the time to install solar tracking equipment or rail mounted solar panels. 2. Charge Controller- This essential piece of equipment works to distribute electricity consistently to the batteries when they need a charge or expend power. When they are fully charged, the charge controller diverts power back to the home. When both the home and the batteries can’t accept any more power from the PV panels, it’s grounded out to prevent dangerous overloads.
Several charge controllers may be needed for larger battery banks.
3. Battery Bank- The battery bank is comprised of more than one deep cycle battery. Anything from marine batteries to golf cart batteries have been used to hold and store a charge from a solar panel. Battery power is used when solar panels aren’t providing enough energy to power the homes circuits and the charge controller kicks in to switch from PV array to battery backup. 4. Inverter- Typically a stand-alone inverter is used for an off grid PV system. The inverter changes the incoming DC electric supply into a 100/220 volt AC power supply. There are a wide variety of wattage outputs, so you can charge as many batteries as you need at once.
An off grid system with a good source of sunlight, a small array of solar panels and a large bank of batteries can be more than enough energy for all of your daily needs. The inverter is connected between the battery bank and the service panel(s).
5. Backup Generator- Not all off grid systems employ this added feature, but those that do benefit from an enhanced power system. Backup generators ensure power to the batteries and the homes circuits are fully powered. A backup generator may be wired into the inverter or through the service panel depending upon manufacturer’s specifications. 6. Service Panels- Most PV systems just have an AC service panel that runs conventional 110/220 volt powered appliances. But smart off grid homeowners install a DC service
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 34 panel as well.
DC powered lighting, appliances and electronics are available and help reduce strain on the inverter. 7. Safety Disconnects- As we discussed in the previous chapter, safety disconnects are an important feature. Not only do they protect your solar power system from surges and overloads, they also allow you to isolate equipment so when something goes wrong with them, you can easily interchange them with another set. A DC safety disconnect should be between the solar array and the charge controller, the charge controller and the battery bank as well as between the optional DC service panel and charge controller.
Should I Buy a Backup Generator? A backup generator isn’t necessarily something you need. But it does add to the benefits of an off grid system. Not all budgets can afford them but when they can, they’re a welcome addition and it helps to keep power flowing to your structure 365 days a year. Whether it’s a quiet propane powered generator or an ecofriendly windmill, a backup generator might be a good idea for your off grid system. Before you install your off grid PV system, consider the following advantages and disadvantages of owning a backup generator and decide for yourself if it’s the right choice for you and your off grid PV system.
• Budget- Not everyone can afford a backup generator; especially if it’s an out of pocket expense. But if you’re getting a loan to help pay for your off grid PV system, then it’s a good idea to include a good generator into the mix. You’ll barely add more to your monthly payment and you’ll ensure you always have a reliable power source. • Space- Some generators can be quite big and take up too much space on your property. Windmills, hydroelectric and oversized propane tanks are really only viable if the space is there to house the equipment for a generator.
• Air Pollution- Gas, diesel and propane generators all use fossil fuels that pollute the air. But you can go green by installing a backup generator like a wind turbine or hydroelectric turbine to power your backup supply of energy. Even though these
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 35 sources of power are green, they aren’t as reliable as a fossil fuel powered generator and might not always help keep the power on 24/7. • Noise Pollution- Unless it’s a hydroelectric generator whose noise is masked by the sound of flowing water, you’re going to have to deal with the loud noise from a backup generator.
Quieter models are available at a higher price than conventional models, but they still generate noise pollution regardless. You can house your generator far from the structure to help keep noise levels as low as possible around the home. • Weather- In some areas, there may be hours, days or even weeks that go by before a good bit of sunshine falls on your solar panels to charge the batteries and power the home. Snow loads that cover PV panels can make sure your living in the dark once the battery bank is depleted. A good backup generator can keep your homes electricity flowing and your battery bank well charged through whatever weather conditions Mother Nature throws at you.
• Maintenance- When panels, charge controllers, invertors or other solar equipment needs to be repaired or replaced, it can take a while to get the job done. Sometimes you could be waiting weeks for a part to come. That’s where your backup generator takes up the slack and keeps the power flowing no matter what’s happening to the PV equipment. Tips and Techniques for Maximizing Battery Life The batteries that are used for your PV system are designed for deep cycle use. This means that their design parameters are optimized for heavy discharges and deep recharge cycles that are common for a PV system.
Besides regular monitoring and maintenance, a daily charge schedule is needed to keep the life of these costly battery banks going as long as possible.
Battery Types Deep cycle batteries fall into two categories: Flooded (FLA) and valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries. FLA batteries require the most maintenance (watering and monitoring), while
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 36 VRLA gel or AGM batteries are more or less maintenance free. Because VRLA batteries are designed to be maintenance free, they can be much more expensive than a FLA deep cycle battery. Some solar applications may require the use of maintenance free batteries.
While these battery systems don’t need much care, they do need to be charged on a daily schedule to ensure they have as long as lifespan as possible. Proper charging methods are important as well. If you’re charging VRLA batteries with just the PV panels, then you’ll need to use a VRLA compatible charge controller. For off grid systems that use a backup energy source to help charge the batteries, a combination charger/inverter is required to charge the batteries correctly. Charge settings on both of these devices should be set according to the battery manufacturer’s specifications to prevent over/under charging damages.
FLA batteries need continual maintenance as their reservoirs of water are constantly being used up. Periodic watering of the batteries will help to ensure the water level never falls below the battery plates inside the water wells. Most FLA battery wells need to be filled with water after a recharge so that just 1/8” of air space is below the vent well. Some FLA batteries have a shut off valve that won’t allow them to be overfilled. As FLA batteries age, they require more water each time.
To prevent FLA batteries from premature aging, it’s a good idea to take regular voltage readings from each battery. Specific gravity readings between 1-1.5 in the water wells can ensure that the batteries have the proper electrolyte levels. Anything more or less could mean you need to replace the battery. Some FLA batteries must be filled with distilled water only, while others work just fine with using tap water. If too much iron or other metallic compounds are found in the water supply it could affect battery life as well. When in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s specifications on water filling techniques.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 37 CHAPTER 7 NON PV SOLAR SYSTEM INSTALLATIONS DIY Solar Water Heater Typical home-based hot water production requires the use a water heater. Often these are powered by electricity or natural gas. But you can easily get hot water for free from the sun with a DIY hot water heater. This simple system solar water heater can hook up to your existing hot water supply in less than a weekend. A solar water heater can help alleviate the need for hooking up to the utility grid for hot water.
The Basics This basic design involves using a home built solar collection device to help heat up the water supply. The collector design is simple enough to build on your own, so long as you can sweat copper plumbing pipes together with flux and solder. The basics of the design use a series of vertically placed ½” copper water pipes set apart at about 5-7 inches, depending upon how wide the aluminum fins are that wrap the pipes. If you’re using a sheet of aluminum and creating the fins from scratch, separate the pipes six inches apart. You can also buy prebuilt heat distribution fins from an underfloor heating supply company.
Solder the pipes so that only two openings in the water line are open—one at the bottom and one at the top. Cut the vertical pipes as tall as you need to fit against the side of your southernmost wall of your home. The wider you build the solar collector the more heat you’ll get out of the system. Use a series of t-connections and smaller pieces of copper pipe to create the top pieces. Once everything’s soldered, you can paint the pipes black. Attach the pipes to the wall with pipe clamps and attach the fins. Paint the entire wall, plumbing pipes and fins flat black. Avoid glossy paints as they will reflect sunlight away rather than absorb it.
Connect the water supply to the pipes so that the bottom of the solar water heater contains the inflow of water from the bottom of the homes existing water heater. Sometimes the water heater drain can be used as the connection for the solar water heater. A small DC water
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 38 pump is needed between these two tanks to make the water flow. A small solar panel can be used to power this pump. The top of the solar water heaters outflow valve should be connected to the tanks inflow supply. This allows water to be continually circulated through the system as long as the sun is shining. Test the system for leaks first before moving to the next step. Framing Once the pipes are attached to the wall, you can build the frame around the plumbing.
A basic 2x6 frame should be constructed around the pipes so that the long part of the boards are sticking out from the face of the wall. Now attach 1x1 boards around the inside of the frame, leaving a ¼” gap to accommodate the polycarbonate plastic covering. You may need to leave more than a ¼” depending upon how thick the polycarbonate plastic sheathing is. Other materials like Plexiglas and corrugated greenhouse panels work just as well, so long as they are durable, hold heat well and are translucent enough to let sunlight through. Cover the edges of the frame opening with a 1x2 piece of trim.
It might be a wise idea to seal the trim with some caulking prior to attaching them to ensure a tight seal is maintained around the opening of your DIY solar water heater. Once complete, you’re ready to turn on the system and enjoy your free hot water supply.
Tips for Building your Own Solar Heat Collector Heating your home can be a costly endeavor for both you and your PV system. That’s why solar heat collectors are a great addition to any PV solar power system. So long as you have a southern facing wall, you can use a solar heat collector to heat your home. Basic Frame The basics of this design use a square or rectangular frame that hangs from the side of a southern facing wall of your home. This means that the width of your solar heat collector can be as big or as small as you like. For this design, we are using an 11’ wide solar heat collector.
Its height should be from the ground to the soffit—typically about 93” or so. You can use an old sliding glass window for the top of your solar heat collector, or you can use
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 39 a piece of store bought corrugated Plexiglas to cover the exterior of the solar heat collector. The frame of the unit is constructed using 2x4’s and woodscrews. The back of the solar heat collector uses the homes wall covered with rigid foam insulation as the backside cover of the heat exchange. An electric blower fan is installed for the air intake. Interior Heat Exchange The solar heat exchange has an intake and outflow vent. The openings are to be placed at opposite ends so that one opening for the exhaust is at the top, while the intake opening is diagonally opposite on the bottom of the solar heat collector frame.
To keep the air heated as long as possible before it rises out of the exchange, a series of 2x4’s are placed vertically in the exchange two feet apart. A small 8” gap is placed between each top and bottom 2x4’s to allow air to flow between the panels.
Building the Frame Attach a few pieces of rigid foam insulation to the exterior of a southern facing wall with a bit of exterior grade caulking. Next, attach the two 12’ long boards horizontally to the top and bottom of the wall so they surround the rigid foam. Cut to fit the two end pieces and attach them to the wall as well. Now cut and install the center struts so that you have a minimum of 8” between the top and bottom of the frame for air flow. Paint the entire interior of the heat collector flat black.
Cut the hole in the top of the heat exchange for the exhaust vent about 12” wide by 3” tall.
On the interior of the home, you’ll need to install a closable vent grill so when heating isn’t needed you can keep the heat outside where it belongs. Cut the intake vent at the bottom left of the solar collector the same width and height as the electric blower fans exhaust vent. On the interior of the home, this is where you’ll need to install the fan. You may want install a solar panel to power the fan. This way, the fan will only work when the air inside is actually being heated by the sunlight.
After the ventilation is opened and functionally tested, you’ll need to cover and seal the exterior of the heat collector with the translucent corrugated plastic. Seal all openings with caulk to ensure no air leaks exist in the system. Once complete, you can turn on the fan and enjoy your free solar heat.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 40 Five Steps to Installing a Solar Tube Skylight Lighting needs can add additional strain on an already energy-tight PV solar power system.
Solar lighting is the best solution to this problem, but when skylights are out of budget or are impossible to install due to framing, electrical or plumbing conflicts in the attic space, they can be something to avoid rather than install. With the advent of solar tube skylights, solar lighting is possible for just pennies on the dollar. They also can be bent to accommodate plumbing, HVAC and framing that would otherwise hinder a conventional skylight or roof dormer. Install your own in five steps using this simple guide to solar tube skylights. Cutting the Holes Locate the area where you’d like your solar tube skylight to be installed inside the home on the ceiling.
Drill a small hole and fit a bent coat hanger wire into the hole. Now you can access the attic space and find the wire you pushed up through the ceiling. Clear away the insulation, then measure to find the center between the ceiling joists and drill another small hole. This will be the new location for your solar tube light.
Use the provided template to mark the larger hole in the drywall in the center of the joists. Directly above—or as close as you can get—you’ll need to mark the center between the two joists above the new hole. Stay at least three feet away from roof valleys, roofing penetrations and ridge lines. Once you’ve marked the two center points, you can use a reciprocating saw to plunge cut through the roof and the drywall below to make the larger hole. Installing the Skylight All tubular skylight kits come with the necessary equipment to dry-in a skylight into an existing roof. Typically, the skylight dome is installed first, followed by the flashing.
A tube of butyl caulk is used (and included) to seal the flashing around the dome. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s specifications as each kit can be waterproofed in different ways.
Next, install the ceiling tube that fits into the ceiling opening and accepts the cracked ice covering. It will be secured by two metal straps that are secured snugly to the joists located on either side of the opening. It’s a good idea to have a friend help hold the light in place while you secure it to ensure that it’s snug against the drywall.
If you’ve enjoyed this report and would like to receive 10 more just like it FREE today… Go To http://www.crisiseducation.com/10freereports/ 41 Attaching the Tubes Now you’ll need to connect the light fixture to the skylight.
A series of metal tubes are used to bring light from the skylight into the home. The interior of the tubes are highly reflective and use a plastic covering to prevent fingerprints or grease from ruining the speck-free surface. Carefully remove the inner protective layer of plastic before placing the tube into position onto the tube fitting coming down from the inside of the skylight.
Sealing the Tubes As the tubes are held into position, you’ll need to use a butyl tape (or the supplied tape) to cover the seams. Regular duct tape won’t work because it doesn’t expand and contract as well in the hot temperatures of an attic. Once all tubes are connected from the skylight to the light fixture and all of the seams are sealed, you can get out of the attic and perform the final step. Installing the Cracked Ice Cover The last part of the process is simple enough. Just install the cover over the opening in the drywall. This cracked ice covering is often held in place with a few screws or clips, while some models use magnets to keep the cover in place.
Either way, when you need to clean the tube of bugs or other debris that’s wandered into the tube, you can easily access it from the inside of the home.
Conclusion Besides the immense value and savings that are associated with DIY solar power installations, they are also great for your home as well. Property value is increased, neighborhood curb appeal goes up and your solar power is helping us all to breathe a little easier by reducing greenhouse gases from your utility’s coal fired power plants. Whether it’s a small solar power system that helps offset your utility bill or a complete DIY alternative energy power plant, you’re going to help save yourself money as well as help save the planet. And when you do it yourself, you not only help alleviate installation costs, but you know that you’ve done your part to make this world a little better for future generations.
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