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Answers about Photo Voltaic Systems

About These Systems
Much of this product information has been selected and digested to specifically apply to the remote site home or camp owner. After years of research into the components and design of alternative energy systems, we believe that not everyone needs to engage in the same cumbersome information-gathering process.

We have selected reliable, cost effective components, including solar modules, batteries and inverters. Hopefully you will find it more valuable to read about these components than to surf through all of the overwhelming offerings of all the components available for all the possible PV applications.
System Design – Getting it right the first time
The PV systems that we have designed, have sold themselves. The owners are happily committed to their alternative source of energy. Moosehead Solar proposes several system designs.

The logic behind this package-specific technology is that you will NOT make the same expensive mistakes others have. A wrong guess, or a little misinformation, can result in a wrong choice or a poorly integrated design. If you purchase the wrong piece of equipment you forever live with poor performance, or suffer the economic loss incurred in a trade-in. The solution is to profit from the previous mistakes of others and from our experience and expertise.
How a PV System Works
A basic off-grid system consists of a renewable energy source which generates DC power, a battery bank that stores the DC power, and an inverter/charger.  The inverter is the intelligence center of your renewable system, seamlessly converting DC power to clean and reliable AC electricity for your needs.

The off-grid system pictured here is a solar electric hybrid system that offers additional features.  It consists of solar panels, a battery bank, inverter/charger, a charge controller that manages the battery charging from the solar array, and an auto start generator.

When the sun is up, the solar panels generate power to charge the battery bank and provide electricity.  At night, the inverter/charger automatically runs your electrical equipment from your battery bank.  The generator provides additional back-up battery charging capability for extended periods of cloudy weather.  The inverter/charger can automatically start the generator and initiate a recharge cycle when the battery bank is depleted, or a load is too large for the batteries to support independently.  You can even have a connection to the grid should you want to use utility power to recharge the battery bank.
Wind Turbine, Solar Panel or Generator?
wind turbineAt almost every location, a PV system is superior to a wind system in application.  There is less maintenance, and what there is does not require an owner to choose between climbing a tower in an ice storm and watching his or her investment go down the drain.  There are more days when the sun shines, than days when the wind blows fast enough, to provide equal energy.  Long periods of no power in a wind system require a larger and more expensive battery bank.

A PV system is a welcome replacement to a life with a generator.  Generators are inefficient in cost per kilowatt because they must run constantly at full RPM even if only a light bulb or TV is being powered.  Generators are noisy and require a lot of maintenance,  and are much more expensive than a PV system if length of life and periodic maintenance are realistically considered.  If a generator is needed it should be used in conjunction with a PV system to create a PV/GEN hybrid.  This increases the generators efficiency while at the same time decreasing its running time and thus extending the generator service life.
Solar Panel Systems Are Your Best Choice
PV arrayThere are many reasons why a remote site home should be powered by photovoltaic electricity.  For the majority of the people, the first reason to use PV is cost.  If the cost is $10,000 to bring the power from the power line, you are required to invest, or borrow, the full amount up front.  You are responsible for an extra $1,000 of cost to run a cable from the road to the house and install the service equipment.  Then you have the privilege of purchasing power at the going rate, with possible guaranteed yearly increases.  Since generating your own electricity from a PV system is much less expensive than buying it off the grid (per Kilowatt hour), you can save a lot of money if you can avoid tying into the grid.

The power companies charge an enormous amount of money to install the poles to your camp. A recent client found that the cost was $27,000 for about a 1/4 of a mile!  If you design and equip your home for energy efficiency, getting rid of some the high  usage items i.e.; Electric drier, electric heat, and electric hot water, etc., our systems can supply your needs.                
Start Small and Add On
small PV arrayA PV system is modular.  It can be purchased first as a modest system and then expanded to a medium or a large system without redesign or replacement of components.  This characteristic is known as being "scalable," as you can readily increase the scale of your installation.  If you cannot afford a large PV system immediately, buy a small system and add to it as your cash flow permits.
Off Grid Land is Less Expensive, More Private
A remote home is usually sited where it is because the owner wants privacy.  Any owner who pays the price for power from the grid will automatically get some neighbors in the process.  On the other hand a person can purchase a piece of land inaccessible to power, pay less because it is not attractive to the majority of people who feel that grid power is necessary, and preserve his or her privacy.  The money saved buying lower priced land can be used to pay for your PV system.  For the complete recluse, there will be no monthly visit from the meter man and no bill from the utility company.
 Who Might Not Want a PV System
That said, there are some people who should not own a PV system.  These are the people who expect that it will magically get installed, will never need to be monitored, and will supply enough electricity under all conditions as the power company does.  With the power company, you just pay more when the relatives come for a week and leave all the lights on.  With a PV system you will need to conserve or start the backup generator more often to accommodate such a demand.  There are, of course, very large turnkey systems installed for those with the economic means.

Solar panelsMore and more we are selling PV systems to people in the Northeast who are building a new home that is well within reach of the power lines.  These people are ignoring the economic benefit of a PV system producing electricity that will cost them half per kilowatt hour of what the power company charges.  They simply want to do everything independently of the grid system.  Owning and installing a PV system is a significant commitment.  You will need to understand its use just as you had to learn to drive a car.  You will also need to troubleshoot the basics of the system to be able to call your dealer or the manufacturer when necessary.

We hope you will view your PV home as a model for PV homes to follow and therefore spend a little extra time and a little extra money to do the best job possible.  We hope you will bring your system up to the standards of the National Electrical Code or NEC,  have it inspected by the local electrical inspector, show it to everyone you meet, spreading the word that there is a new, better and independent way to produce your home's electricity.