For anyone using or considering the use of a renewable energy power
the importance of energy efficiency can't be stressed enough! Every $1 spent on energy efficiency
saves $3 to $5 on system costs...the lower your power needs, the smaller the system needed to provide
for those needs. The purchase and use of high efficiency appliances, compact fluorescent lighting and
other low-energy or non-electric appliances is an extremely important step in this process. Switching to
gas or other alternatives for heating, cooking and clothes drying will drastically reduce your energy
consumption and therefore system size and cost.
Lower usage = smaller more cost-effective power systems. Don't leave
coffeemaker on all day or the lights on all night. Does it really make sense to use a 4000 watt electric
oven for 45 minutes (using 3000 watt-hours) to heat 2 frozen burritos? An 800 watt microwave can do
it in about 5 minutes and only use about 67 watt-hours!
What's lurking in that huge chest
freezer or refrigerator?
Do you need one that big? And don't forget
"ghost" loads...TVs, radios, computers and all those little power adapter cubes plugged in everywhere
are prime examples of parasitic "ghost" loads. Many of these can be eliminated or plugged into
switchable power strips to be turned on only when needed, saving hundreds or even thousands of
watt-hours per day!
There really are ways to reduce your
electric usage without having
to live like a refugee- many have
done it! It's well worth the effort and you'll be amazed at the savings in system cost.
If you're planning a renewable energy system, your site's energy
be evaluated. For wind: historic wind data, elevation, potential wind generator locations, nearby
obstructions to wind flow and the proximity to buildings, property lines and roads are all considered.
For solar: historic solar data
(insolation), module mounting
locations and potential shading problems
are evaluated. For hydro: vertical drop (head) from water source to turbine (10' minimum required),
gallons per minute available, distance from water source to turbine and seasonal variations of water
source are some of the things considered. This information is then used to determine which power
source or sources are viable for your location and cost-effective for you.
For both renewable and standby installations there are many factors
determine the power system location. If the system includes a backup generator then we must consider
which fuel type is best, access for fueling and maintenance, engine exhaust routing, soundproofing, fuel
storage, and above all...safety. If we're using lead-acid batteries, they're typically installed in a sealed
battery box which must be vented to the outdoors and not located more than 4-5 feet from the inverter.
The inverter, batteries and control systems do best in a dry, heated or semi-heated area.
A utility or spare room is ideal, basements are OK if they're dry. Power sheds are acceptable with
proper insulation and ventilation.
For power system sizing, there's no substitute for accurate information....without it we're only guessing!
Our backup power battery/ inverter systems are also the "heart"
of most renewable
energy systems. This means that you can install the battery/ inverter system and use it as a backup
power system. If there's no utility power available, you can also use it as a generator/ inverter
independent power system, using a generator to recharge the batteries. You can then choose to add
wind, solar and/ or micro hydro power at any time in the future. Some folks choose this "modular"
method for budget reasons and others to allow themselves more time to become adjusted to a more
energy efficient and sustainable lifestyle.
to guide you through the entire process, from load evaluation to
need to be intimidated by the process!
For a blank load evaluation form, please visit our Downloads Page.