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Solar Beats the Power Company

Hello There,

 

Power is pretty flukey where I live.  On again, off again, and mostly off.

 

I'd like to solar power my house, but also stay connected to the power company.  Power coming into the house is 220v.

 

Can anyone recommend an inverter which is smart enough to choose between the power company and the solar panels, send the juice to batteries, not over-charge the batteries, and get the power back out in 220v form when needed, which is most of the time?

 

Thanks

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Posted 2013-01-12T14:31:04+0000  by CrellinSound CrellinSound
 

Good afternoon CrellinSound,

 

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!

 

If you live in the U.S. on the west coast, I've read about some serious rolling black outs, especially in the summer.

 

I would have to agree with you, solar is most definitely a wise choice and a good investment once you have the knowledge and planning required to get the project started.

 

With that said, we need to dig a little more in regards to what is powering your home now. Your 220V is simply the amount of power itself, and not an accurate measurement of the true amount of electricity feeding your home.

 

Voltage can give you only an approximation, but amperage (amps) is the true measurement of how much electricity is coming into your home. Lots of residential homes range from 100 to 200 amps. Knowing this first will help you greatly.

 

That out of the way, you'll need to do a little research in regards to an inverter as well as any addtional controllers, wires, and panels to successfully give you power when you need it when the power company fails. I say this bc you can purchase inverters, panels, and the accessories that won't be too little or too much for your needs.

 

We do carry a decent assortment online but as for an inverter, I saw this one that may do the trick for you.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ramsond-Sunshield-PRO-Solar-Charge-Controller-12-24-48volt-60amp-SHLD-60/203423816

 

Almost all solar panels systems I have seen are generally installed by a professional service who can guarantee their service. Thats not to say this isn't a DIY project, but it isn't one I have seen in more store here in Atlanta. Hence us not having a lot of inverters online.

 

Having it installed professionally can get things like permits and passing local codes so that the system can work at its peak performance. At least with us, we provide installation services and most importantly, you can have the installer go over choices for the right system for you, inverter included.

 

The link below can get you started to schedule an appointment today.

 

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/catalog/servlet/ContentView?pn=SV_HS_Solar_Power_Systems&storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053

 

Glad you are not only going green with solar, but that you are doing your homework as well. 

 

Best of luck to you on your project, and if there is anything else can help you with, let us know.

 

Regards,

aboveaveragejoe

 

 

 

Posted 2013-01-12T17:58:06+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

 

CrellinSound,

 

You actually do not have 220 volt coming into your home. You have two 110 volt out of phase circuits which are bridged to provide 220 volt to those large items in your house which require them, i.e. dryer, water heater, stove and range, etc.

 

If power reliabilty is your main concern, especially to be able to totally power your home, you might well be better off with a back-up generator system with an automatic transfer switch. These units   will automatically start up and disconnect your house from Edison. Depending on your desires, isolated, essential  circuits may be powered, or all circuits can be powered. Of course, if everything, including the air-conditioning is to be powered, a large capacity generator will  be neccessary. If natural gas is available, units are available which can use this fuel. Natural gas is limitless and clean burning, reducing maintenance intervals.  Gasoline and diesel go stale. They require more frequent oil changes.

 

Most solar systems do not have battery storage systems, but rather sell their excess capacity back into the grid. Battery back-up systems capable of powering your home during an outage dramatically increase the cost and maintenance neccessary. Such systems are usually used by homes far from the grid. They also utilize relatively expensive appliances to hold down power demands on the limited battery capacity. At this point in time,  it is simply not economical to live off the grid if it is available, subsidies or no subsidies!

 

Hope this has given some insight.

Posted 2013-01-13T05:17:29+0000  by ordjen

Hi Folks,

 

I really do have 220 coming into the house.  I'm in Africa.  We have 220v appliances, too.  But, believe it or not, I can get things form Home Depot and have friends ship them this way.

 

There's no opportunity to sell power back to the power company, though it would certainly be a good idea if they'd let us do that.  They don't want the competition.

 

A generator is a good idea, but I'd rather avoid that if possible.  Getting good generator maintenance around here is almost impossible.  Something without moving parts is better.

 

Power demands are pretty much lights, computers, a TV sometimes, and a refrigerator.  Nobody around here needs heat.

 

On the inverter that was mentioned, I didn't see anything about being able to hook it to the grid.  Did I just plain miss that point?

 

Thanks,

 

CS

Posted 2013-01-13T05:32:40+0000  by CrellinSound

CrellinSound,

 

I tend to forget how far reaching the Internet is. I falsely assumed you were in NorthAmerica. One forgets the the rest of the World largely uses 220 volt and 50Hz current. My apartment in Germany had 220 as its base voltage and the space heater used 440 volt!

 

My familiarity with solar cells comes from my years of motorhoming.I carried 240watts of solar power on the roof which fed about 400 amps of battery storage. RVs also normally carry propane and a generator. When in a campground, they generally hook up to the grid by means of an extension cord. Disconnecting from the grid meant merely unplugging from the camp outlet and plugging into the generator via an automatic transfer switch. When not plugged in or using the generator, I had 1000 watts and 10 amps of AC available through my inverter which was hooked to the batteries. At all times when it was light, the solar panels would be filling the batteries at up to 10 amps per hour. at high noon. When on the grid or the generator was running, the inverter was also a 45 amp, 3 stage smart charger which could rapidly charge the batteries and then maintain them without overcharging them.

 

It sounds as if this arrangement is somewhat analogous to what you want to achieve in your home. However, a home demands much more electricity. Next to heating and air-conditioning, the next biggest consumer of current is your refrigerator. If you are not on city water, a pump is also a very large draw,  if somewhat intermittent..

 

You will need to total up your total amperage draw to determine how much solar power, battery storage, and size of inverter  you need.

 

Some devices can by-pass the inverter altergether. There are highly efficient 12 volt refrigerators on the market, as are direct current deep well water pumps.

 

I am no expert on home solar. I just wanted to give you some ideas to consider.. I still feel that if periodic power outages is your main concern, a good generator with transfer switch would solve your problem. I favor propane or natural gas generators because they solve the problem of fuel availability, low maintenance and reliability. These fuels do not create varnish to plug up the works as does gasoline with age.. They also generate very little carbon deposits.These type generator units come in self contained shrouds which mount outside the home. They are engineered to be reliable and low noise. 

 

Hope this has been helpful.

Posted 2013-01-14T04:38:46+0000  by ordjen

Some people are generating their own electricity and even taking themselves off the grid. There are some great guides out there on how to do this. A few of which are listed on this site http://www.diyenergyreview.com if you're interested?

Posted 2013-02-27T04:18:20+0000  by David557
 
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