Life in "Off-Grid" communities in Canada is possible, but it significantly differs from other areas concerning lifestyle. Off-Grid Communities are known as areas that not connected to the electric grid...
Production Of Electricity By Off-Grid Living
Deciding to live off the grid is certainly the best decision you can ever make. This is because it means shunning all public utilities for creating your own power. Off grid living comes with a lot of advantages, besides being very convenient, it also helps to reduce utility power costs.
The use of renewable energy is an alternative to living on the grid, in fact, it is more practical because we harness from sustainable sources. It also makes a lot of sense as it is very sustainable besides being environmentally friendly. There are various sources to choose from the available.
Solar power generation is a method of harnessing power from the sun using solar panels. A solar cell on the solar panel converts solar energy directly into electricity (photovoltaic). Basic solar generator equipment required for off grid solar system includes:
- Solar panel
- Charge controller
- An optional back-up generator
The solar panel by using solar cells integrated on its surface converts the solar energy into electrical energy.
The direct current (DC) power source is then routed to the battery via the charge controller whose function is to charge the battery in a precise way.
The batteries serve to store excess energy and to provide energy to household utilities when there is no sunshine.
The function of the inverter is to convert the DC power to AC to suit your appliances.
The optional backup generator is used to charge the batteries whenever there is no enough sunlight to power the solar generator system. For example, at night when you need more power and the solar system is not sufficient.
This system requires minimum maintenance as there are no moving parts. It is important to note that it requires the presence of sunshine. Using this system can also make you entirely independent of the grid, but if you are generating more power than your use you can sell it to the grid.
This is another form of sustainable energy that can be used for off grid living. It involves the use of air flow through wind turbines and to mechanically operate a generator to produce electric power. The wind turbine is usually equipped with a device to access the direction of the wind. This causes it to rotate automatically into the face of the wind for maximum wind optimization.
The fundamental prerequisite for determining the viability of this form of energy is the availability of wind data in a given location. An area characterised with high-speed winds is often suitable for harnessing wind power. It is important to note that the size of the turbine matters as it determines the power output of your energy system. Therefore you should consider the amount of power you require since the larger the turbine, the higher the power rating of your device.
Micro-hydro power is yet another form of renewable energy that typically produces electric power from 5kw to 100kw. It utilises the kinetic energy from the natural flow of water to generate electricity. Water is tapped from a reservoir placed on higher ground to create what is called the head (vertical drop). The is then channelled into a turbine located on a lower level than the source to build maximum pressure. The turbine mechanically rotates a generator which in turn converts mechanical energy into electrical.
A Micro-hydroelectric system is capable of producing quite a large amount of power out of a small water flow without any adverse impact to the environment. Besides, it is a sustainable source of energy as it only depends on the availability of water flow. It is also important to have the water flow consistently for 24hrs a day. They are very reliable.
Biomass energy is probably a form of energy that has been in existence for quite a long time since the time people begun burning wood for cooking and to keep warm. The energy from plants and plant-derived materials can be converted to methane which is the main component in natural gas.
An alternative source of biomass that is very sustainable is the use of fumes from landfills. Use of biomass has the potential to reduce greenhouse emissions and can lessen the dependence on grid power. For example, you can use it for both cooking and heating and hence save you the need to use the power from the grid.