Saturday, June 25, 2011

Solar Power & Prize Winners

-- Contest Prize Winners Announced --

Dave drew names randomly for the latest contest... 

and the winners are (insert drum roll here):

Sarah C. (1st Prize) and Sapphyria (runner up)

Congratulations to our winners who will receive: one package of 4 bookmarks and one package of two bookmarks for the runner-up. Winners will receive the bookmarks via mail. 

-- Solar Homes --
Today's article comes to us from Retta Terresa who says that if our readers are interested in solar power they might want to look at:

What You Need to Start Solar Power at Home

You may be starting to think about implementing solar power in your home and wondering where to start, this article will take you through some of the initial steps you have to think about if you want to "Go Solar" around your home.

The first questions you need to answer are

1. Do you actually know how much electricity you require to run your home
2. Are you looking to go completely of the grids - stop using power from the utility company
3. Are you looking to just supplement your current power needs.

To answer these questions the first step would be to have a look at your current electric bill.

With the online service you now get from most power companies you can see a chart of your monthly usage throughout the year. From this you could average the total, or if you are looking at going completely of the grid you will have to look at your peak demand to ensure you always have enough power.

From this you can estimate the number and size of PV (photovoltaic) modules you need. Photovoltaic is the method almost all solar cells use to convert sunlight into electricity. So look at the size of you south facing rooftop and calculate the number and size of modules you require. Each module will generate a certain amount of power at a given cost. When connected the right way the modules add up, so finding the total output (and cost) is equally as easy.

Depending on where you live the sun doesn't shine all day every day. It's dark at night, obviously. Rain and heavy cloud cover will reduce the amount of insolation, as it's called. Other uncontrollable factors reduce the amount of sunlight available. So, almost anyone going 'off grid' will want a battery storage system. Those not taking the complete plunge can draw power from the local utility company during those times.

The power company will also insist on inspecting your system before finalizing any agreement. In fact, most municipalities will require that you have your system inspected and approved even if you go entirely off grid. They need to ensure that it's implemented in a way that's safe for local lineman. During power outages they have to assume there's no power running through the lines. Your system has to be installed in a way that guarantees that.

The average homeowner wouldn't have the skills required to install and safely connect the system so you will have to remember to factor this into the final installation costs.

With the price of panels and batteries falling and continuing to do so and the price of electricity continuing to rise, the initial outlay may seem a large, but this cost should be offset against what you would pay for electricity from the power company over the lifetime of the system, usually about 20 years without substantial replacements.

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