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4 Stunning Examples of Remote Solar Systems

Posted by SEPCO

10/16/14 9:30 AM

Solar power can be a beautiful thing to see, especially when it provides the power with little to no damage to the surrounding area. Here are four examples of remote solar power systems that provide utility and are stunning in their installations.

Seismic-Station-1Seismic Station Solar Power

A seismic station collects data about underground activities such as earthquakes in the nearby area. Since a lot of these types of applications are not located near a power source, solar powered seismic stations are a great choice to power the data center and transmit the information over satellite, phone or internet. These types of remote solar systems require a lot of solar power and backup battery to ensure that the system is always operational; however, the systems, like in the example photo, can be completed with little visual impact and be installed in just about any location required.

 

WiFi-Power-2Wi-Fi Solar Power Station

First installed as a Wi-Fi station to be solar powered in a remote location, this solar power system was installed on a movable skid that allows for easy transportation from one location to the other. This system powers a Wi-Fi station to broadcast the signal to the nearby area for local uses and can also be used for Wi-Fi signal repeater stations to keep the world connected, especially with everything being networked today. Like the seismic stations, the Wi-Fi power stations also need to provide enough solar power and battery backup to ensure that the system runs reliably in the field and is always operational.

 

Vehicle_OverheightVehicle Over-height Detection System

A vehicle over-height detection system is typically installed in a remote area along a highway. This alerts truckers that there is a low bridge coming up, and if they are too tall, to take a pre-determined detour to avoid collision with the bridge. This ensures the safety of not only the truckers, but the other travelers on the roadway. One system is configured to run the detection system and further down the road the flasher and sign will be operated by a separate solar power system. Since there is not always power in the nearby area, solar is a wonderful way to be able to power these types of applications.

 

Solar-Camera-1Solar Camera on Golf Course

Golf courses require security for vandalism and trespassing; however, there is little power out on the green. Using solar powered security cameras allow for no damage to the green for installation of a security camera system, especially those areas that are far from a clubhouse or normal security patrols exist. Installing a security camera in these vulnerable areas that can transmit the feedback to a central station for onsite security crews allows for extra visibility in these areas for the safety of golfers and homeowners in the nearby area.

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Topics: Solar Power, Off Grid Solar PV

6 Questions to Ask Before Going Solar

Posted by SEPCO

7/24/14 9:30 AM

Before_Going_SolarAs with any investment, purchasing solar panels for your home is a decision that shouldn't be made lightly. You will need to consider many factors and avoid the numerous pitfalls. By hiring the right company and asking the right questions, you'll be able to benefit greatly from solar panels.

It is important to decide if having solar panels installed on your house is the right decision for your situation wants and needs. Solar panels offer many impressive benefits, but there are other factors to consider. We take a look at what questions you should ask before you make the switch, and the pitfalls to avoid.

1. Is the company and brand of solar panels you’re considering reputable?

You should ask the companies if they use a reputable brand of solar panels. If you can't find much information about the brand or manufacturer, then you shouldn't use those particular types of solar panels. The solar company you go through should have fully trained employees, with skilled technicians and installers to help you with the process.

Don’t be afraid to ask how long the company has been in the business. An established company that has served many customers with a portfolio of work and testimonials tends to be a company that you’re able to trust and relay on. Years of satisfied customers means good work and a reputable company will be more than willing to show off their good work and previous clientele.

In the solar business, there are unfortunately many people trying to sell cheaply made solar panels and rip customers off. Opting for a cheaper solution or a company that doesn’t appear reputable will only lead to inexperienced installer doing the job for you, additional and costly repairs, and a service that won’t follow up on you and the product after it’s installed.

By concentrating on quality above anything else and working with the right company, you’ll be able to determine whether solar panels is a good investment for your home and avoid costly mistakes.

2. Should you lease or buy solar panels?

Depending on your goals, there difference between purchasing your own solar panels and leasing can vary dramatically. Because every homeowner has different goals, the “right” payment option for each person can change.

Whilst the initial cost of purchasing solar panels yourself can be expensive, most homeowners prefer to do so. The ongoing savings on power bills solar panels offer ensure the initial expensive of them are paid off in 10 years, depending on the home. Cash rebates can also reduce the cost of the system by 10%-50% and with government incentives in place, tends to be the better option for most people.

For those that choose to lease solar panels, the long-term financial benefits will be less than those of purchasing. The advantage though is that the upfront costs are lower and any maintenance or repairs become responsibility of the leasing company, not you. Lease terms are generally for 20 years but some can range from 10-20. To find out what option is best for you, it’s best to speak with the solar power company about your specific situation.

3. Does the cost outweigh the benefits?

There is no point in investing in something that doesn’t serve you and so weighing up the cost and benefits is crucial. For homeowners that haven’t yet experienced the benefits of solar power firsthand, making the switch can be fairly daunting with the costs involved.

On the brightside though, (pun intended) the savings through solar power are significant – not to mention the environmental impact it has too. Over the last few years, everyone has fallen victim to the ongoing utility costs on the rise and we’re all looking for ways to cut down on how much we spend. Installing solar powers and taking advantage of the sun’s energy is one of the best ways to do this.

Government incentives and tax breaks sweeten the deal for homeowners wanting solar a little more, the system and panels add value to your home and the sustainable energy is a growing and beneficial industry. Whilst the initial cost can seem like disadvantage, solar power systems are one investment that will pay off and give years of enjoyment. Always ask your solar company to go through the individual costs with you. You can bring a copy of the last few utility bills too to determine if the cost will really outweigh the benefits in your home.

4. What is the type of panel mounting system that’ll be used?

Understanding the type of panel mounting system for your home, and the materials it’s made of will ensure you’re getting a durable system. Look for mounting systems that are made from either stainless steel or aluminium.

When solar panels are installed, the mounting system is what balances everything and holds it into place. Check with the company whether roof mounts, ground mounts or pole mounts would be best for your home and how this can impact on the system quality and price. The most common style of system mounting is on the roof and this is held together by metal brackets between the solar panels and roof to ensure the panels do not overheat.

5. Will you be able to produce enough power in your location?

The biggest advantage of solar power is that it relies on the sun for its power source, making it absolutely free. But, this would be pretty useless if your sun gets little to no sun right? Cloudy days can be an issue and locations that suffer all year round winters can be very indecisive about making the switch.

To accommodate for lack of sun, a large number of solar powers can be needed to produce greater amounts of electricity. This can require more roof space and money so it’s best to check with your company if this will affect you.  If you’re unsure, ask a reputable solar power company. Most companies will come to your home and conduct a site examination, including shade analysis which helps to determine whether solar is the best solution for you.

6. How long will the solar panels last for?

No homeowner wants to fork out money for an investment that won’t last the distance. This is why choosing a company that is reputable and trustworthy, and that uses quality a product is of the upmost importance. 

The lifespan of solar panels depends on several factors including the quality of the materials, and the specific manufacturer. Look for products that come with a long warranty, and this shows the manufactures commit and belief in the product. Companies that offer only a few years warranty on their products is best to stay away from, you should be looking at least 10 years.  A durable and reliable solar panel inverter and mounting system will last the distance.

Author Bio: This article is written by Aidan Jenkins , Managing Director of Infinite Energy, Australia’s market leader in quality solar power systems. 

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power, Clean Energy, Off Grid Solar PV

What is Included in a Remote Solar Power System Package

Posted by SEPCO

5/8/14 4:35 PM

Atlantic-Group-5

Remote solar power systems provide power to areas where power doesn’t already exist or is difficult to bring out the grid. These types of systems can operate anything from a small light to large scale applications. Every system should be built to specification of the device they are operating and provide enough backup power for times of bad weather.

When purchasing your remote solar power system package, make sure to understand exactly what is included and what you should expect to receive. Different manufacturers may include different brand of components, but the standard complete system should be comprised of the same type of parts.

Solar Panels – The first and biggest component of a remote solar power system is the solar panels. Each panel is able to produce a certain amount of power, so make sure to get specifications on the panel to find out exactly what you should expect. A solar panel is comprised of silicon cells placed on a grid and protected by glass and framing. Additional panel protection is useful in areas where there are high chances of vandalism or wind-blown debris. The protection can be in the form of Lexan on the top of the solar or aluminum riveted to the back of the solar.

Battery Assembly – The next component to pay close attention to is the battery assembly. Making sure there is enough power in the battery to handle the load can make or break the system. You never want the battery to completely deplete down to zero, especially not every day, due to cycling of the battery. Batteries only hold a number of cycles, and if you deplete your battery to nothing every day, your battery system will only last a short amount of time. This also does not provide backup for times of little sun due to inclement weather. A minimum of five days autonomy is best for most applications, more for areas with a lot of snow or bad weather.

Charge Controller – The charge controller tells the system when to charge the battery and when to utilize the power. Your charge controller should always have a LVD Low Voltage Disconnect so that if the batteries get below a certain point, they will no longer pull the power and wait for the batteries to be recharged by the solar. The charge controller also tells the battery when night has come and to turn on the system when you have dusk to dawn system. Additional control options can be used to provide different operating requirements.

Making sure all components of your remote solar power system’s package are high grade and can meet the specifications of the load will ensure your system will run reliably for years. Remember, solar panels last 25 or more years, batteries should be replaced every five to seven years and your charge controller varies, but should be good for about 10 years or more. Researching companies and getting the specifications and warranty information of each component will help you choose the best system for your application.

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Topics: Solar Power, Off Grid Solar PV, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

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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