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System Design

Solar, wind and small hydro (micro hydro) electric systems are used in thousands of homes and industries world wide. The standardization of components and design of these systems has changed renewable energy from an experimental hobby to a practical alternative to fossil fuel generators. These systems can easily pass electrical inspections when installed with UL or CSA approved equipment.

Purchasing an independent electrical power system is not as simple as buying a mass produced consumer appliance. These systems usually operate in remote locations where the owner is responsible for installation, maintenance and service. An understanding of the equipment and how it functions will save money and frustration.

Some of the reasons people purchase renewable energy systems are; to become more self-reliant; to save money; and to reduce their impact on the environment. In locations beyond the reach of utility power, a renewable energy system is often the most cost effective method of generating electricity and produces virtually no pollution. If you factor the ecological impacts of fossil-fuel and nuclear generated power, alternative energy is certainly lower impact.

Use the following check list to assess your situation and decide which technology is the most practical at your specific location. We will be happy to help you improve or refine your choices.

1. If utility power is available for less than $10,000, this will be your most economic choice (unless the electrical load is very small). However, economics are only one reason people have for choosing renewable energy.

2. If a large creek or stream is available, a two or more kilowatt AC hydro generator is by far the most cost effective choice. Streams up to a few kilometers away from the point of use may be economically feasible. This catalogue contains basic information on how to assess a potential creek. We will also conduct a site inspection of your property for a fee.

3. If utility power or a large AC hydro power system is not possible you must use a battery and some form of battery charging to provide power. Even if you are running a gas or diesel generator, a battery will save you money. If you wish to power AC loads, an inverter must be used with the battery.

• Batteries allow you to store energy for use at times when none is being generated. They also allow you to store energy to meet peak loads above the normal generated levels. The only systems that do not require battery storage are large (2kW or more) hydro systems with enough water to operate year round.

• Inverters convert DC power stored in batteries to standard 120/240 Volt AC power. In the mid 80's the modern solid state DC to AC inverter matured, becoming the key component that enables battery based renewable energy systems to compete in performance with standard AC systems. Modern inverters are over 90% efficient, fool proof, durable and very reliable. They are also capable of starting large, difficult motors such as table saws, washing machines, and air compressors.

4. Once you have decided to use a battery and inverter you must decide how you will charge your battery. If you would like to reduce or eliminate your reliance on a fossil fuel generator you must invest in renewable energy.

** You can have more than one charging source - solar panels, wind generator, fossil fuel generator & even grid power can all be used simultaneously to charge batteries. These are called hybrid systems.

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