Renewable Energy System Design
A well-designed alternative energy system can be even more reliable than utility company power. However, there are a few key points to account for when designing any home power system, to ensure it works as planned, and provides as much power as you need.You'll need to know which renewable energy sources will provide the most power in your location, whether you get a lot of wind, live next to a year-round river, or enjoy a lot of clear, sunny weather. In most cases, a combination of different power sources will be needed. The most common and versatile system would probably include solar panels for sunny days, wind generators for inclement weather, and a back up generator for weeks when mother nature refuses to cooperate. Folks lucky enough to live near a river or large year-round stream could possibly power their whole house with only 1 or 2 micro hydro generators though. Your individual location will determine your individual system.
You also need to know how much power you use. Our automatic load evaluation form will help with this part. Once you look at how much power you're using, you may find some areas where you can reduce your electrical usage, through new habits or new appliances. How much power you use determines how many solar panels you need to fit on your roof, how large that wind generator needs to be, and whether alternative energy can really meet all your needs. In some cases, an engine generator may be a necessity rather than a back up measure.
Once you know your power needs, you can start looking at what equipment you'll need. If you want to sell power back to your utility company with an intertie/cogeneration system, you'll need a different set of tools than a totally off-grid home would need. You'll know what size inverter you'll need to run your AC appliances (if any), and you can calculate how many power storage batteries you'll need to store a few days worth of electricity.
It's all a matter of comparison shopping from there. Make sure the products you buy are the best choices for your system, and make sure your contractor or electrician knows how to properly install an alternative energy system, and you can expect an average of 20 years or more of reliable, free electricity from mother nature.