Remote Electrical Power Sources: Photovoltaic Solar & Wind Generators
REMOTE ELECTRIC POWER, PHOTOVOLTAIC - CONTENTS: Suggested sources of electrical power at a remote site in Brazil. Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices
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This article discusses the use of photovoltaic solar panels as a source of electrical power for a remote "off the grid" site. Accompanying text is reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
Article on Options for Sources of Electricity at a Remote Site
The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
Topic: remote electrical power supply on a cattle ranch
I have a cattle ranch along the Amazon River in Brazil. It gets two meters of rainfall a year. Often the sun shines even during rainstorms, and the mid-day temperature is usually around 100 degF.
The only thing we lack is electricity, which I need for a small refrigerator and a room air conditioner. Could you tell me what equipment I need and what it will cost? - F.M.S. Shu, Los Altos CA
You imply that sunlight is a more reliable resource in your area than wind (otherwise see WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS), so a photovoltaic solar electrical generator system may be your best bet. You can either buy a complete pre-engineered solar generator system or gather components and build your own solar generator.
Back in the 1980's the 1985 Spec Guide listed 17 manufacturers of photovoltaic panels (PV Panels), and 14 makers of PV electrical generator systems. Today there are many distributors of solar electrical power systems including packaged units.
Our photo (left) shows a very effective remote solar generator for electrical power using three photovoltaic panels powering a ventilation system in use in 2010.
Typical solar electrical panel photovoltaic system prices back in '85 ranged from $196. U.S. for a 7-watt panel to $559. for a 43-watt photovoltaic panel.
Photovoltaic electrical generator system prices had an even greater spread. The Guide listed several in the $3500-$4500. U.S. range. A typical complete photovoltaic generator system would include the photovoltaic panels, mounting racks, controls, batteries for storage, and possibly an inverter for AC power.
The size of photovoltaic system you need depends on how much sunlight is available, and how much power your appliances consume. [See "Sizing Photovoltaic Systems," Solar Age 9/84, or PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS online.
Conventional refrigerators use a lot of electrical power, so it makes sense to use low-voltage high-efficiency models designed for use with remote electrical power systems. [You might take a look at DC-powered RV and mobile home units.]
Arctic-Kold Refrigeration (Bloomfield CT) sold complete refrigerators as well as conversion kits. Polar Products (Torrance CA) sold refrigerators/freezers. Zeopower Co. (Natick MA) made a refrigerator that used a solar panel as the power source and zeolite as the heat transfer medium. It requires no external electrical power source.
Sun Frost (Arcata CA) in 1984 introduced a 4-cubic-foot refrigerator that uses roughly one-tenth the electrical power of a comparable conventional model. It can be powered by one photovoltaic panel - presumably a large one - and cost (in 1985) $1250 - $1400. All of these are small refrigerator units.
Another option for refrigeration at a remote site where electrical power is not provided or is limited, is a propane-gas powered refrigerator. These units have been used in motor homes for many years.
Dinh Co. (Alachua FL) makes a one-ton photovoltaic (PV) powered air conditioner with dehumidifier that should meet your needs. In 1985 that unit cost $6350.
By 2010, a quick online websearch for "packaged solar photovoltaic generators" lists dozens of systems from range of manufacturers including PPIPower Systems, Honda, and other producers.
Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
This article appears in original form (the PDF links just below) and an updated/expanded web article below.
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is followed by an expanded/updated online version of this article.
Reader question: connect two power sources to one electrical panel?
(Oct 20, 2014) Anonymous said:
It is possible and common to have 2 power sources connected to one panel In grid -tied solar systems. The solar inverter automatically disconnects if the main power feed gets disconnected
and for that reason grid-tie solar inverters will not work as a backup in a power failure.
At BACKUP ELECTRICAL GENERATORS we discuss isolation switches necessary if you are connecting more than one power source to an electrical panel. If the solar inverter power feed automatic switch is automatically disconnecting I (who am not expert on the system you have installed) suspect that the manufacturer chose that design for safety reasons or to protect the solar equipment from damage. So I would not modify that design without first asking the manufacturer for advice.
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Solar Age Magazine was the official publication of the American Solar Energy Society. The contemporary solar energy magazine associated with the Society is Solar Today. "Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy. Leading for more than 50 years.
ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. We publish the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, organize and present the ASES National Solar Conference and lead the ASES National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the world."
Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
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Passive Solar Design Handbook Volume I, the Passive Solar Handbook Introduction to Passive Solar Concepts, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v1.pdf
Passive Solar Design Handbook Volume II, the Passive Solar Handbook Comprehensive Planning Guide, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v2.pdf [This is a large PDF file that can take a while to load]
Passive Solar Handbook Volume III, the Passive Solar Handbook Programming Guide, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v3.pdf
"Passive Solar Home Design", U.S. Department of Energy, describes using a home's windows, walls, and floors to collect and store solar energy for winter heating and also rejecting solar heat in warm weather.
"Solar Water Heaters", U.S. Department of Energy article on solar domestic water heaters to generate domestic hot water in buildings, explains how solar water heaters work. Solar heat for swimming pools is also discussed.
"Heat-Transfer Fluids for Solar Water Heating Systems", U.S. DOE, describes the types of fluids selected to transfer heat between the solar collector and the hot water in storage tanks in a building. These include air, water, water with glycol antifreeze mixtures (needed when using solar hot water systems in freezing climates), hydrocarbon oils, and refrigerants or silicones for heat transfer.
"Solar Water Heating System Freeze Protection", U.S. DOE,using antifreeze mixture in solar water heaters (or other freeze-resistant heat transfer fluids), as well as piping to permit draining the solar collector and piping system.
"Solar Air Heating" U.S. DOE also referred to as "Ventilation Preheating" in which solar systems use air for absorbing and transferring solar energy or heat to a building
"Solar Liquid Heating" U.S. DOE, systems using liquid (typically water) in flat plate solar collectors to collect solar energy in the form of heat for transfer into a building for space heating or hot water heating. The term "solar liquid" is used for accuracy, rather than "solar water" because the water may contain an antifreeze or other chemicals.
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