What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moving Towards Solar Powered Electricity (3)


Passive solar is a must when considering active solar powered electricity because the first consideration for solar electricity is reducing the amount you have to generate.  Essentially for active solar powered electricity, solar panels are used to generate the electricity that is stored in deep cycle batteries.  That electricity then goes through an inverter to make the electricity usable for your household appliances and lighting.  By default a household system is limited by the number of panels that can generate the electricity.  Reducing your electricity usage prior to installing any active solar powered electricity system ultimately reduces the number of solar panels and batteries you need so in short the initial solar system set-up is less expensive.  This makes a whole house solar system more affordable with a lower payback period.

I needed to know the average kWh of electricity used per day.  This amount is on the hydro bill or to get an average it is available online by logging into your account.  The amount of energy used determines the size and number of photovoltaic solar panels needed to go fully solar.  However, going solar can be done in stages if using an expandable solar panel where another panel can be attached.  As I gather the research and get a better direction of where we are going with the active solar system I will share here.  As it stands right now this will be a done in stages project starting with one or more solar panels, inverter, controller and batteries to get a few electrical devices off the grid then adding to the system as we can until everything is off the grid.   Now it may be that we never reach the goal of being completely off the grid but I firmly believe if others have done it we can too.

Here's my current plan in stages:
  • phase 1 - The first goal will be to get all lights off the grid.  While they draw the least amount of electricity they will be a good indicator as to how the initial part of the solar system is working.  At the same time the pump and furnace fan will be connected to solar.  Heat generating small appliances like the toaster, countertop oven roaster and slow cooker will be diverted to generator power that is at current rates cheaper than electricity.
  • phase 2 - The second phase will focus on getting televisions and supporting equipment like satellite boxes off the grid. Small household appliances like battery chargers, clocks, and those types of things of which we have very few.
  • phase 3 - The third phase will focus on computer equipment and supporting equipment.
  • phase 4 - The forth phase will focus on providing solar generated electricity to major appliances like the stove, refrigerator, washer and electrical components of the natural gas dryer.
  • phase 5 - This will be the tweaking stage prior to eliminating Hydro One entirely.  It may be we do not reach this stage although from preliminary research there is no reason we could not.
My current projections are this entire project from start to finish including the passive solar measures will take 5 years or less. That is with us doing all of the work for installing panels and connecting the system.  The components will be bought on sale and in some cases online as we need them.  So stay tuned as to how our goal for getting off the grid progresses.

Garden Gnome


Cory said...

How do you move just the lights over to solar?

Are you just calculating that the lights use X-amount of electricity and buying enough panels to generate x-amount needed?