Wouldn’t it be great to have your house powered by the sun? Andrea and I have talked about “getting off the grid” for quite some time. We’re really excited about this opportunity so we decided to pursue installing a photovoltaic (PV) system, a.k.a. solar panels, in addition to our weekly challenges.

Solar electric systems, or PV systems, come in three typical configurations for house installations: autonomous, hybrid and grid-connected (source: Photovoltaic Systems – Buyer’s Guide.pdf). As the name implies, an autonomous system relies entirely on the sun to power and store the energy to keep a house running. Most people who adopt an autonomous system don’t mind the occasional blackouts that are caused by several consecutive days of bad weather. A hybrid system, on the other hand, can access alternative sources of energy (i.e. wind and/or fuel-fired generator) for continuous power when the sun (or lack of it) cannot sustain the minimal energy threshold a house requires.  Lastly, a grid-connected system synchronizes solar energy with the grid to slow down (or reverse) the electrical meter; power can be fed back into the local utility plant when the energy collected from your solar panels exceeds the load consumption of your house.

Unless our analysis illuminates a better option, we will most likely adopt the grid-connected PV power system. Although the initial cost may overshadow the reduction in our monthly electricity bills, we hope that our analysis will demonstrate financial gains in the long run. But, most importantly, we will be making an effort to consume renewable, healthy energy.

According to COMFU, the average household is responsible for 12.4 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. According to Carbonify.com, each household would need to plant 62 trees each year in order to offset this amount. Something to think about.

Stay tuned for more content as we move forward with our analysis. Here are our next steps.
1.  Estimate the power and energy needs of our house.  (Complete)
Post title: Get Off The Grid (Part 2): “Watt” You Need To Know
2.  Make a rough evaluation of the PV system size. (Currently in progress)
3.  Understand the cost of materials and installation

By the way, this post is part of a new category called Special Projects. This new category is being created for the purpose of pursuing challenges that will take more than a week to complete. Content will be added to this post as we move forward with our research and implementation.

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2 Responses to Get Off The Grid – How To Pursue Alternative Energy At Home

  1. thegreen says:

    I think the term hybrid refers to the use of two different energy generation. It looks like the grid is not a source of energy and that’s why it is not covered it.

  2. Carl Carl says:

    thegreen – thanks again for your comments and feedback. I’ve updated the post to rectify my error with regard to hybrid and grid-connected PV power systems.

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