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Off The Grid

I'm going to live off-grid. Read my blog and learn how to do it yourself!

Living off the grid is a challenging effort, but the success of the lifestyle is worth the effort. Living off the grid essentially means using nothing more but renewable energy sources, like wind or sun for power supply. Maybe to have the entire home power supplied with a renewable energy might be a little difficult at the beginning. To gain some experience, you can easily start living off-grid with the renewable energy household items.

Solar energy is the most common type of off-grid energy source currently in use, and solar energy driven household items are fast gaining grounds for those who want to break the mould and take control of the home electric supply. We all probably have or had in our lifes some solar-powered calculators, one of the most popular devices that use solar power to work (though we didn’t use them in the daylight, but rather under a desk lamp). (more…)

In terms of energy independence, or energy autonomy, it is very difficult (and probably not possible at all) to make a single house fully autonomous.

While it’s easy to produce your own electrical energy, it’s much more difficult to provide your house with enough energy to heat and cool it. Wikipedia says, that typical US household energy use is divided between the following:

  • 32% goes for space heating,
  • 13% for water heating,
  • 12% for lighting,
  • 11% for air conditioning,
  • 8% for refrigeration,
  • 5% for electronics,
  • 5% for wet-cleaning (most for clothes driers). (more…)

5 things you need to produce solar electricity

If you want to produce renewable and free electrical power using solar energy, here’s a list of things you absolutely need.

1. Solar radiation

It’s obvious, right? No, it’s not! Not for many people!

Solar radiation is everywhere, but not everywhere it’s enough to produce electricity using solar photovoltaic module. All the modules are described by one most important parameter — output power, for example 200 Wp — 200 watts (peak). The peak subscript is used to specify that the solar module won’t produce that power at all time, but only in specific conditions. Those conditions are:

  • solar radiation intensity — 1 kW/m²,
  • radiation spectrum similar to the one reaching ground at 35°N lattitude in summer,
  • temperature of solar panels equal to 25°C (77°F).

Without using solartracks you won’t have that solar radiation intensity except for a very brief moment during the day. So you shouldn’t expect your solar module to produce the peak power during the whole day. (more…)

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  • Passive solar energy use

    Passive solar technology is simply a set of techniques for using sunlight for useful energy without the use of any active mechanical systems.  These methods convert sunlight into usable heat (passive solar heating — hot water, warm air, and heat stored in thermal mass), cause air-movement for ventilation, and store heat for future use.  Passive cooling is the use of the same design principles to reduce summer cooling requirements.

    Solar design (also called solar architecture) requires a basic understanding of how the sun moves in the sky over the year, and how this movement affects the sunlight that reaches a specific location at different times in the summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  The sun rises as well as sets to the north of the east-west line, and is high overhead at noon.  In the winter, the sun is much lower at noon and rises and sets at points that are further to the south.  It is possible by taking advantage of those changes to build a house that is naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. (more…)

    History of Solar Energy Usage

    We often think that modern societies were the first to use solar energy. Not true! Early cave dwellers preferred caves that had openings facing southeasterly that allowed the morning sun to warm them up without overheating in the warm months.  Native Americans in the Southwest oriented their pueblo dwellings.  So the low winter sun would keep the buildings by direct solar radiation, cliffs and overhangs blocked the sun during the summer months, helping to keep the dwellings cooler when the sun was high in the sky.

    The ancient Greeks, with a climate that was sunny almost year-round, built their houses to take advantage of the sun’s rays during the moderately cool winters and to avoid the sun’s heat during the summer.  Modern excavations of many classic Greek cities show that individual homes were oriented towards the South and entire cities were planned to allow equal access to the winter sun.  It is interesting to note that by 500 B.C., when the Greeks had almost completely deforested their whole country and needed to find a reliable alternative fuel source, they chose solar energy. (more…)

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