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SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
AIR LEAK MINIMIZATION
AIR LEAK SEALING PROCEDURE
AIR SEALING STRATEGIES
BIOGAS PRODUCTION & USE
EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
FLOOR POURED FINISH ON CONCRETE SLABS
FLOOR RADIANT HEAT Mistakes to Avoid
FRAMING DETAILS for BETTER INSULATION
FRAMING DETAILS for DOUBLE WALL HOUSES
FRAMING METAL STUD PERFORMANCE
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
FROST HEAVES, FOUNDATION, SLAB
GREEN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION CODES GUIDES
GREENHOUSE DESIGN for SOLAR HEATING
GREENHOUSE / SUNSPACE GLARE
HEAT LOSS in BUILDINGS
HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS
HEAT LOSS INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS PREVENTION PRIORITIES
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HEAT LOSS RATE CALCULATIONS
HEATING SMALL LOADS
HOUSEWRAP INSTALLATION DETAILS
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
INSULATION LOCATION - WHERE TO PUT IT
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LEED Building Designation & IAQ
RADIANT SLAB FLOORING CHOICES
RADIANT SLAB TUBING & FLUID CHOICES
ROOF VENTILATION SPECIFICATIONS
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
SHEATHING, FOIL FACED - VENTS
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
THERMAL EXPANSION of HOT WATER
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VAPOR BARRIERS & HOUSEWRAP
VAPOR CONDENSATION & BUILDING SHEATHING
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
WINDOWS & DOORS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article discusses the use of photovoltaic solar panels as a source of electrical power for a remote "off the grid" site. Accompanying text is reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
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Topic: remote electrical power supply on a cattle ranch
I have a cattle ranch along the Amazon River in Brazil. It gets two meters of rainfall a year. Often the sun shines even during rainstorms, and the mid-day temperature is usually around 100 degF.
The only thing we lack is electricity, which I need for a small refrigerator and a room air conditioner. Could you tell me what equipment I need and what it will cost? - F.M.S. Shu, Los Altos CA
You imply that sunlight is a more reliable resource in your area than wind (otherwise see WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS), so a photovoltaic solar electrical generator system may be your best bet. You can either buy a complete pre-engineered solar generator system or gather components and build your own solar generator.
Back in the 1980's the 1985 Spec Guide listed 17 manufacturers of photovoltaic panels (PV Panels), and 14 makers of PV electrical generator systems. Today there are many distributors of solar electrical power systems including packaged units.
Our photo (left) shows a very effective remote solar generator for electrical power using three photovoltaic panels powering a ventilation system in use in 2010.
Typical solar electrical panel photovoltaic system prices back in '85 ranged from $196. U.S. for a 7-watt panel to $559. for a 43-watt photovoltaic panel.
Photovoltaic electrical generator system prices had an even greater spread. The Guide listed several in the $3500-$4500. U.S. range. A typical complete photovoltaic generator system would include the photovoltaic panels, mounting racks, controls, batteries for storage, and possibly an inverter for AC power.
The size of photovoltaic system you need depends on how much sunlight is available, and how much power your appliances consume. [See "Sizing Photovoltaic Systems," Solar Age 9/84, or PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS online.
Conventional refrigerators use a lot of electrical power, so it makes sense to use low-voltage high-efficiency models designed for use with remote electrical power systems. [You might take a look at DC-powered RV and mobile home units.]
Arctic-Kold Refrigeration (Bloomfield CT) sold complete refrigerators as well as conversion kits. Polar Products (Torrance CA) sold refrigerators/freezers. Zeopower Co. (Natick MA) made a refrigerator that used a solar panel as the power source and zeolite as the heat transfer medium. It requires no external electrical power source.
Sun Frost (Arcata CA) in 1984 introduced a 4-cubic-foot refrigerator that uses roughly one-tenth the electrical power of a comparable conventional model. It can be powered by one photovoltaic panel - presumably a large one - and cost (in 1985) $1250 - $1400. All of these are small refrigerator units.
Another option for refrigeration at a remote site where electrical power is not provided or is limited, is a propane-gas powered refrigerator. These units have been used in motor homes for many years.
Dinh Co. (Alachua FL) makes a one-ton photovoltaic (PV) powered air conditioner with dehumidifier that should meet your needs. In 1985 that unit cost $6350.
By 2010, a quick online websearch for "packaged solar photovoltaic generators" lists dozens of systems from range of manufacturers including PPIPower Systems, Honda, and other producers.
Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
This article appears in original form (the PDF links just below) and an updated/expanded web article below.
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is followed by an expanded/updated online version of this article.
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