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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Prevent Theft and Vandalism by Using a Stand Alone Security Camera

Posted by SEPCO

4/25/13 9:30 AM

Stand Alone Security CameraMany businesses, construction sites and storage yards are plagued by theft and vandalism. Adequate lighting and use of security cameras can decrease the occurrences of these issues and provide additional safety for workers and property.

If AC power is not readily available at the site, using stand alone security cameras powered by off-grid solar power can be an effective solution. Using off-grid solar power also ensures that even in cases of blackouts or power tampering, the camera will still function properly.

Stand Alone Security Camera SystemsSecurity cameras can easily be integrated with off-grid solar power once the power needs of the camera are determined. The solar charges a battery which in turn provides power to the security camera and remote transmitter unit which transfers data to a nearby computer or recording device providing video and audio detection. The battery assembly is sized for over 5 full days of autonomous power to provide ultra-reliable year round operation.  Moreover, since security cameras and transmitter units require relatively little power, the off-grid solar power system is typically quite small and relatively inexpensive. 

Security cameras can also be readily integrated with off-grid solar power lighting system that are designed/programmed to operate all night or via motion activation. The combination of off-grid solar power lighting and security camera systems makes for an unbeatable theft and vandalism deterrent for areas without ready access to AC power grid. And since all parts are placed high on a pole they are secure from vandalism themselves. The camera and light systems can also be moved from job to job when the construction is completed.

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Topics: Solar Power, Off Grid Solar PV, Solar Camera

Free Your Home Through Off Grid Solar Panels

Posted by SEPCO

2/26/13 9:37 AM

There are many options when it comes to setting up an off-grid energy source. Solar panels, which draw energy from the sun, are now the most popular among such options, owing to its relative simplicity and consistency. Unlike windmills that depend on the wind, the energy from the sun is constant. Once the solar panel system is set up, it operates virtually hands free.

How An Off Grid Solar Panel Works

solar house

The three major component of an off-grid solar power supply system are the solar panels, battery, and inverters. In an advance system a generator and monitoring devices maybe used to provide an emergency backup AC supply.

The panels themselves may be either monocrystalline, comprising of a single crystal-wafer, or polycrystalline, comprising of many small crystals. Monocrystalline cells have higher efficiency than polycrystalline cells, but costs higher as well.

The sun’s energy stirs up the tiny electrons inside the panels, and in the process, generates electricity. This electricity is send to the charger, which maximises the power received and charges the batteries. The battery stores the power for actual use, ensuring that power is available even after sunset or on cloudy and rainy days.

The power produced by solar panel and stored in the batteries are DC (direct current), but the power from the grid that lights up the house and on which appliances run is AC Alternating current). The inverter converts the DC from the solar panels and the battery to AC and feeds it to the wires. The inverter also manages the entire system, coordinating the charge controller, the batteries, the AC panel, and also the generator, if included.

The availability of power depends on a large extent to the size of the panels and the storage capacity of the batteries. Solar panels come in many sizes, and larger the size, higher the production capacity. Small panels generally produce electricity in the range of 380W to 570W, medium panels produce around 1140W and large panels produce around 1710W. It is common to install multiple panels, depending on the requirement.

Similarly, larger the battery bank, more the storage capacity. A monitor reveals the quantum of power consumption, and the power available in the batteries. The availability of a generator would allow provide backup AC power, useful to charge the batteries when the capacity becomes low, owing to the solar panels producing insufficient electricity.

Maintenance

The solar panels come sealed. The only thing required with the panels is place it to receive maximum sunlight exposure, and adjust the tilt depending on seasonal changes. It may also be necessary to wipe the panels frequently, to remove it of dust or snow, which may impede the sunlight from penetrating.

Batteries however require constant maintenance. The terminals require cleaning and the water in the cells require replenishment, at frequent intervals, normally once a month. Another routine task required is equalising batteries, which again may be required once a month. Equalising batteries means controlled overcharge for a specified time, to ensure that all cells perform equally. Without equalising, even a single weak cell may deplete the power of the entire system.

Costs

A big factor that may either promote or impede the widespread adoption of solar panels is the cost. Solar panels and batteries are costly. Solar panels last for about 25 years and more, but batteries require replacement earlier. This means that the homeowner has to keep on making significant investments on a periodic basis. Electricity from the grid normally offers about three times the power for the cost that solar panel system would attract, and save the hassles of battery maintenance

However, most countries subsidise the cost of solar panels and systems, which makes it cost effective. In the UK, off-grid systems may even be a source of income, as the 'feed-in tariffs' scheme pays the solar panel owner for electricity produced from renewable sources, even when the electricity is not fed back into the national grid.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Solar panels offer an independent source of energy supply that would make the home or premises self-sufficient. It helps to attain freedom from or lessen the dependence from electricity companies. In remote locations, and places where chances of grid breakdowns are high, solar panels are a superior option in its own right.

The advantages notwithstanding, solar panel systems have their fair share of limitations. For instance, in summer months, most solar systems waste the solar energy produced, and in contrast, during cloudy or rainy days, the power produced may be inadequate. The loss during summer may be as high as 50%. Storage requires investing in powerful batteries, which remains too costly to become viable. In any case, battery storage leads to the loss of about 30% of the chemical energy, owing to the charging/discharging process.


Author: Lewis MacNulty is a Electrical Engineer, Green Entrepreneur and author of numerous articles on green technology, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is one of the leading engineers at WDSGreenEnergy, a leading green technology supplier Find WDS Green Energy on Facebook and follow WDS Green Energy’s twitter feed.

IMG Credit: Mother Earth News

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Topics: Guest Post, Off Grid Solar PV

Off Grid Solar PV for Camera and WiFi Applications

Posted by SEPCO

2/5/13 9:30 AM

Solar Powered CameraWith a good energy density, endless supply and steadily decreasing costs, solar energy is quickly becoming the new power source of choice for many different kinds of applications. Street lights, security cameras, highway billboards and more are employing off grid solar PV to great effect. The simplest kind; the solar PV panel, converts sunlight directly into electrical current, allowing you to soon pay off the cost of the initial setup with this perpetual form of energy.

 

 

Off Grid Solar PV Specific Uses

Anywhere you need light, heat or electricity (given the right additional components to convert between the different sources of energy), a solar PV system can oblige you. Their ability to store sunlight energy for later use is what makes them so effective as garden lamps, surveillance cameras and streetlights, since they can be set to automatically release their stored energy at dusk. Their reliability can be enhanced by making use of backups in the form of on-grid power sources (the neighborhood utility grid will do), which has the noticeable effect of drastically describe the imagereducing your energy bill overall – since the times when you’ll need the backup are rare; especially if you reside in a sunny region. It’s also worth it to note that most off grid sola PV systems come with proprietary software to regulate the energy expenditure, which basically just means that the stored energy will be mediated throughout the day – and not just when the sun is out.

In essence then, off grid solar PV functions as a sort of microgrid; which can have positive, far-reaching ramifications. In many sunny areas during the summer months, for example, the local grid is often taxed to the point of rolling blackouts and power shortages, as everyone stretches the available fossil fuels to the breaking point. If you and your neighbors had access to their own personalized off grid solar PV systems, there is no doubt these problems would be drastically reduced – if not altogether eliminated. Neighborhood watches could be much more effective with surveillance cameras employing highly-placed cameras that switch on at night when motion is detected. Pictures and video can then be sent to homebound hard drives without any additional setup by you; for just one of the crucial applications made possible by endless solar energy.

describe the imageBecause of the converters that can change sunlight energy to electricity, solar power is lately being used to power the ubiquitous wireless networks and WiFi systems in sunny regions. This reduces the overhead of companies and businesses that are already offering dirt-cheap WiFi to even lower prices; or completely free – as you’ve no doubt noticed in parks and cafes where you can sit all day and enjoy free internet access. Once again, the solar systems in place pay for themselves very quickly, since the supply of energy is free and unending.



Federal Government Benefits for Solar PV Systems

describe the imageContinuing the trend of community-oriented uses, off grid solar PV power is also incentivized by the federal government; meaning that if you own a robust microgrid and produce more than enough solar energy than the personal energy needs of your family, you can make money by selling this surplus back to the government for on-grid purposes. Even if you don’t make excess energy, the transition to solar is highly sought-after by the federal government as a way of life, and there are already incentives in place to reward people willing to make the transition (in part).

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Topics: Off Grid Solar PV

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