Charting Your Solar Path

One of the local groups that formed to slow down the latest “gold-rush” in our area – the push to mine as much “frac sand”, or “silica proppant” if you will, as quickly as possible – asked Larisa and me about doing local workshops on renewable energy. This was partly because they wanted to balance their rhetorical and bodies-on-the-line negativity (“No Fracking Way!) with some real-world positive action. And it may have been partly guilt. After all, who among us is perfectly shame free when it comes to fossil fuel energy use? To that end we began with a very well-attended presentation on off-Grid photovoltaic (PV) power systems for home use.

But, in order to help folks make a transition from electricity generated via coal, nuclear, and natural gas to some form of renewable energy, we either needed to clone ourselves enough to spend quality design time at each interested party’s home or we had to offer the tools it takes to design a system more autonomously. Although it took nearly a week of my “free time” to formulate it, we now have a logical flow chart posted on our website in several places which should help make some of the decisions involved easier. It breaks the systems down into input choices, storage & back-up options, inverter & controller types, and use patterns. You answer questions and follow yes-no decision arrows to come up with a system in what we hope is the most sensible order. Of course you still need to shop for your preferred components based on quality, appropriate features/specs, warranty, price, etc.

We have added a load worksheet to help find where the biggest energy hogs feed in your home. And we have added links for sites with a solar system sizing tool, solar radiation maps, cloudiness maps, PV panel spec comparisons, a PV system overview, and even a link to the entire NABCEP PV installer’s manual. We hope to soon add more resources related to wind and hydroelectric systems should you be in a location favorable to those options. We hope that these tools help ease your transition to a cleaner energy path.

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