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Living Off the Sun

May 13, 2016

Powering their home by solar energy has became very attractive option for people, probably becoming independent or partially so from their nation grid electricity supplier the biggest advantage and attraction. Looking at the increase in electricity prices globally, the incentive for this is clear. Then of course, despite the manufacturing process, solar panels have a much smaller environment damage foot print than many of the conventional energy generation methods in use to day.

But of course, going fully solar is not without some risks, not the least being dependent, either partially or fully on the whims of nature. We humans have lived with the fickleness of nature for thousands of years so those fears are not without grounding. Perhaps this is why for many people solar panels are used to supplement their energy supply. But for people contemplating going cold turkey from the grid and using  solar cell power solely there a probably 3 more popular routes which most people seem to take.

1/ Back up generators.

There is nothing new in these, back up generators have been used for many years and are still found in restaurants, hospitals and other places where a 24 hour or reliable source of energy is needed. The down side is of course that most are diesel driven, and diesel is dirty smelly and still a derivative of fossil fuels. Still, if it is just for emergency use, it is justifiable. Of course, this is going to add to the cost of your Solar cell system.

2/Battery back up
If you are prepared for the added cost and maintenance, storage batteries are another alternative. The idea is that unused energy form your solar panels is stored and the system switches to battery power in the case of emergencies or extreme energy needs. However, batteries do not have an indefinite life, the more frequently they are charged and depleted the shorter their life, especially if they are overcharged. So you would need to install regulating equipment to help prolong battery life which is also going to add to the cost.

3/ Buy and sell

This is something of a trade off. To make it work, you maintain your existing connection to the grid so you can “buy” electricity at the standard rate as and when you need it. Conversely, when demand is low you can sell your surplus power back to the grid. This is not 100% effective, not every power company in every country will cooperate this way and there are some conditions that will be required by the utility company. For example, your system would need to  satisfy their safety regulations and the solar power you are generating is DC [direct current] whereas the grid runs to an AC system, so again, there are added costs to be considered.

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