The first time you sat at a computer, it was somewhat confusing and a bit intimidating. Then you started and were amazed at how easy it really was. It shows you have a logical mind, which is all you need!
Solar energy stored in large deep cycling marine batteries is the way we chose to do it. Your system starts with solar panels, which will collect the energy from the sun. Through electrical wires, this energy is carried to the batteries and stored. By connecting an inverter to the batteries, the stored energy is converted from DC to AC power and then sent to the house standard breaker box.
Here are the 7 things you need to be able to answer (and my answers);
1- 12v, 24v or 48v System (my system is 24v)
2- Load calculation, decide what electrical items you want or need. You will need to consider not only usage but surge and phantom loads as well. (we bought a “Kill-O-Watt” meter and tested everything)
3- Then, how much total Watt/Amp do I need to generate (in perfect conditions, we produce 2,400 watts per hour with twenty-four 100 Watts panels)
4- How many batteries, and which type, to store the energy I need (have twenty-four 12v/200ah deep cycle marine batteries)
5- Inverter type & size (Two Outback VFX3524)
6- Charge controller or not? (Started without, then had one for a short period, and now don’t)
7- Breaker boxes (for house, power shed, and garage if have one) (standard readily available boxes)
Depending on your location, many Alternative energy stores can do your installation for you.
Now, there’s a 7th thing you’ll need… an expert consultant! Make sure that wherever you purchase your components, they also offer tech support (unless you have someone personally). This support can be via email, but better yet through an online forum or group.
The Outback inverter works awesome. If you get this type of inverter, ‘make sure’ you also get the ‘Mate’. Without it you cannot change the settings of the inverter. The Mate also gives you cool and ‘must have’ info like battery reading, load currently in use, and other very useful info.
Once you have an answer to those 7 questions, then its homework time. Some resources to do your research are;
-Good old fashion magazine to read when lounging in bed!
-The internet, which goes without saying!
-Store catalogs, but those who also include informative sections. There are two excellent catalogs that have been a tremendous help; Backwoods Solar Electric Systems in Idaho and EA Energy Alternatives Ltd in Victoria, Canada.
-Online forums and groups. Read and follow several of them for a while before joining one. This way you get the feel of which one is more for you and your needs.
-Best of all, find someone who already has a system in place. Seeing a system set up and in operation will give you the clearest picture.
While gathering information online, don’t miss visiting an Alternative Energy Store. Nothing will ever replace in person consultation, and some stores might be able to match internet prices.
I am no expert, but from 1 ½ year ago, when I knew nothing, what I have learned is huge and incredibly rewarding. If you do your homework and ask the right questions, you can do it too!
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2 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle Of Belize
3 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
4 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
5 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
6 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
7 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
8 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
9 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
13 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2