Introduction To An Alternative Source Of Energy
People choosing to live in a remote area where there is no access to a public power utility or the cost of electric utilities are exorbitantly high are prime candidates for getting an alternative source of energy. They can consider off-grid living and using solar energy. Standalone solar energy is one of the off-grid solutions for powering your household electrical utilities.
Solar Power – Photovoltaic
Solar energy is arguably the cleanest and reliable form of renewables available for powering your home appliances. It involves the use of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells to capture solar energy and converting it into electrical energy. The Solar power system is made up several individual components namely, the solar panel, inverter, batteries and charger controller.
Solar Panel Array
The solar panel has solar cells that harness energy from the sun whereby it converts it to electrical energy that is available to be used for heating, lighting and other various forms of electricity.
An inverter receives the low voltage direct current (DC) from the solar panel array and converts it into alternating current (AC). The AC is the standard electrical current used for powering most household electrical appliances.
The battery bank is used to store the excess DC electrical current produced by the solar panels. Batteries are necessary if you are living off the grid, and you have no access to a public electricity grid where you can sell your power to.
When the battery system is fully charged, it will stop receiving power from the solar cells. During the night or on a cloudy day when the solar cells are not producing power, your electrical utilities draw power from them.
A charger controller is incorporated between the PV and the battery bank. Its function is to control the DC power into the batteries and ensure they are a charge to the right capacity. They also help protect the batteries from overcharging.
In a situation where there is no sufficient sunshine to power your utilities, Backup generators can be used. The generator runs on diesel, gasoline, natural gas or propane.
About Off-Grid Systems
Choosing to live off the grid can be both practical and affordable only if you make the right decision regarding your system design as well as changing your lifestyle. By definition, an off-grid living means dependence on batteries. The total power capacity you require to run your household appliances comfortably will dictate the number of batteries you will need. The nominal voltage that current inverters can take ranges between 12v to 48 volts DC. If you have to choose for a voltage system. Always go for the higher voltage systems as they are more efficient.
Off-grid, living cannot necessarily be compared to staying on the grid. The first rule of thumb for any off-grid system is that if it is electric and produces heat, it is inefficient. This means most of the energy released by such an appliance is heat rather than light, and therefore more energy will be required to power them. It is advisable to use energy-saving appliances such as energy saving bulbs to reduce your load demand.
Another excellent idea is to monitor your energy consumption by installing instrumentation in your off-grid system. This will help you monitor your energy use and if necessary delay some activities such as doing laundry on a cloudy day. You can then take advantage of a sunny day to do energy intensive chores.
Benefits of off-grid systems
Off-grid systems offer you the flexibility of controlling your power with the knowledge that no matter what goes on in the grid, your lights will still function. They also offer you the privilege of not paying any monthly electric utility bills. The only cost you will incur is changing your battery bank every so often. This system is easy to install, and moreover, you can install lights wherever you require, unlike the constraints you face with the powered grid system.
Portable air conditioners
Portable air conditioners are compact air conditioning units that are mobile. Unlike a central air conditioning system, portable air conditioners are an ideal cooling system if you leave in small space.
During summer when temperatures are high, these air conditioners can be used as cooling solutions for your space. While utilizing power from an off-grid system.
Besides, they are environmentally friendly and with lower energy consumption while saving you a lot of money. One great advantage is their ability to move easily to any location of your choice within your room as required.