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Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

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Introduction to Solar Electricity

Introduction to Solar Electricity

 Article   

Solar electricity does not have to be complicated. However, becoming a PV system owner does require a basic level of understanding, and this article is a good place to start.
Intro to Solar Electric Systems

Intro to Solar Electric Systems

 Video   

Get to know the pros and cons of each kind of solar electric system: PV Direct, Grid-Tied, Off-Grid, Grid-Tied with Battery Backup, and Hybrid systems.
Solar Power System Components

Solar Power System Components

 Video   

This 4-part video series covers the primary components of a solar power system: solar panels and storage batteries, charge controllers and inverters, solar panel racking, and overcurrent protection.
Components for Your Solar Panel (Photovoltaic) System

Components for Your Solar Panel (Photovoltaic) System

 Calculator/Tool   

A brief description of the major components of a Solar PV System. Note that components vary depending on whether or not batteries will be used in your system. There are additional small components required for a complete installation that are not listed here.
Intro to Solar Panels

Intro to Solar Panels

 Video   

This 2-part video series discusses solar panel basics: voltage, current, power, grid-tied vs. off-grid applications, Standard Test Conditions, connecting modules, and mono vs poly solar cells.
Solar PV Panels Overview

Solar PV Panels Overview

 Article   

Solar electric panels (also known as photovoltaic modules) are perhaps the most popular of the renewable energy technologies for home owners. This article goes over some of technical basics behind solar electric panels and how they are used in larger systems.
Solar Electric Panel Technologies

Solar Electric Panel Technologies

 Buying Guide   

Solar electric panels (or photovoltaic/PV modules) are devices that convert sunlight energy into electricity, but how do you know which one to choose and what are the differences between them?
How to Buy Solar Panels

How to Buy Solar Panels

 Article    Buying Guide   

Are you thinking about buying a solar panel system but don't know where to start? You came to the right place!
MC Cable Types

MC Cable Types

 Article   

PV modules often come with special connectors (wires) on the back rather than just a junction box. There are several different types of connectors, and it's important to understand the difference between them.
Inverter Waveforms

Inverter Waveforms

 Buying Guide   

Learn about the different sine waves by seeing oscilloscope images created by various Inverters in action!
How to Select an Inverter for Your Needs

How to Select an Inverter for Your Needs

 Buying Guide   

All inverters convert direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, but that's where the similarities end between inverters. These days, a huge number of brands and options are available to consumers, and the correct choice for you depends on how you intend to use it.
Deep Cycle Batteries Introduction

Deep Cycle Batteries Introduction

 Buying Guide   

Read more about the deep-cycling batteries used in solar and other renewable energy applications and the differences between flooded lead-acid and sealed batteries.
How to Size a Deep Cycle Battery Bank

How to Size a Deep Cycle Battery Bank

 Calculator/Tool   

If the battery bank is oversized, you risk not being able to keep it fully charged; if the battery bank is sized too small, you won't be able to run your intended loads for as long as you'd planned.
Batteries: Measuring State of Charge

Batteries: Measuring State of Charge

 Article   

Accurately knowing the state of charge of your batteries and keeping them properly charged can extend their life, keep your system running properly, and save you money.
How Charge Controllers Work

How Charge Controllers Work

 Buying Guide   

Solar charge controllers are an essential element to any solar electric panel system. At a most basic level, charge controllers prevent batteries from being overcharged and prevent the batteries from discharging through the solar panel array at night.
Increase Solar Charging with an MPPT Charge Controller

Increase Solar Charging with an MPPT Charge Controller

 Buying Guide   

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is a popular technology that an increasing number of solar charge controllers offer. While MPPT charge controllers usually cost more than traditional solar charge controllers, the gain in overall charging efficiency makes them well worth it in most cases.
Sizing MPPT Charge Controllers

Sizing MPPT Charge Controllers

 Calculator/Tool   

Learn how to size an MPPT solar charge controller for your off-grid solar electric system and how to take advantage of some of this type of charge controller's benefits.
How to Wire a Solar System

How to Wire a Solar System

 Video   

Learn to calculate NEC-compliant wire sizes for an off-grid or grid-tied solar PV system, including de-rating calculations for temperature, conduit fill, distance off the roof, and more.
Power, Energy, and the Loads List

Power, Energy, and the Loads List

 Calculator/Tool   

Preparation for any off-grid electric system begins with assessment and calculation of your energy needs. The primary tool used for this task is a Loads List.
Power Ratings for Common Appliances

Power Ratings for Common Appliances

 Article    Calculator/Tool   

Quickly find the the typical power rating (in Watts) of many common household appliances. Use this information to help estimate how large your alternative energy system needs to be.
kWh Calculator

kWh Calculator

 Calculator/Tool   

A helpful tool for estimating your electricity usage when you don't have old utility bills handy - and an essential tool for planning a system that will meet your electricity needs.
The Reality of a Backup Power System

The Reality of a Backup Power System

 Article   

In areas where power outages are common, backup power sources are extremely important. Depending upon what loads you need to run and for what period of time, you may need an actual battery based system.

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