Solar - Generator - Utility

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Old 12-21-04, 11:50 PM
dsn
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Solar - Generator - Utility

I am a flooring / finish contractor and have a fair bit of electrical work under my belt. I have done panel upgrades and such but; emabarking on something more.

Living in rural Alaska we have unreliable power; ie heat. I am wanting to install solar panels mainly as a novelty/save some money in summer. I wonder if any one has a good information source for installing a system where I can use any of the 3 power sources at the flip of a switch. Also wondering of there is a auto-switch between the solar and utility when the solar can not produce enough power. I am wanting to do this with out having a huge battery bank.

Any thoughts or resources would be appreciated...

Dave Northup
Homer, Alaska
 
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Old 12-23-04, 07:57 PM
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dsn Wrote:
Living in rural Alaska we have unreliable power; ie heat. I am wanting to install solar panels mainly as a novelty/save some money in summer. I wonder if any one has a good information source for installing a system where I can use any of the 3 power sources at the flip of a switch. Also wondering of there is a auto-switch between the solar and utility when the solar can not produce enough power. I am wanting to do this with out having a huge battery bank.
There are many photo voltaic systems that will run in parallel with utility power thus reducing your electric bill. If your system will be large enough to ever produce more than you can use it takes a special kind of metering to get you credit for the power that goes out onto the utilities lines to supply some of your neighbors electricity. Whether the utility will provide the metering you would need would depend on the laws in your state. One thing that the utility will insist on is that the photo voltaic controller is suitable for co generation and will instantly disconnect from the grid if utility power is lost.

You mentioned wanting to switch between three power sources. The photovoltaic system can be run in parallel with either the utility or the generator. You would only need to switch between utility and generator power. If you want that change to be automatic then you will have to invest in an automatic transfer switch and an electric start generator. Manual transfer can be done much more cheaply. What brand of main electric panel do you now have?
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Tom H
 
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Old 12-23-04, 08:17 PM
dsn
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QUOTE: There are many photo voltaic systems that will run in parallel with utility power thus reducing your electric bill. If your system will be large enough to ever produce more than you can use it takes a special kind of metering to get you credit for the power that goes out onto the utilities lines to supply some of your neighbors electricity. Whether the utility will provide the metering you would need would depend on the laws in your state. One thing that the utility will insist on is that the photo voltaic controller is suitable for co generation and will instantly disconnect from the grid if utility power is lost.

******That is great that it would run parallel, I suspect that the system would automatically switch between the panels and the grid as demand warrented? I understand that it would have to disconnect from the grid to prevent back feed and shocking some poor line man.

If you want that change to be automatic then you will have to invest in an automatic transfer switch and an electric start generator. Manual transfer can be done much more cheaply.

******I do not think an auto start and switch for the Generator would be necessary.

What brand of main electric panel do you now have?


******Right now our system is:

A drop from the line to a post with a meter base. From there we trenched with 4/4/2 wire to a 200 Amp subpanel in the cabin. Both meter base and subpanel are Siemens.

I am wondering where a good source for info is on this and a good dealer may be in CA, as we are travelling south for a winter break. Thanks much for your help and thoughts. Happy Holidays!!!!
 

Last edited by dsn; 12-23-04 at 08:20 PM. Reason: jumbled
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Old 12-24-04, 05:31 AM
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My photo voltaic (PV) work was done as part of a large project team so I was not involved in the purchasing. I don't know much about what venders to recommend. Try your question on the Usenet bulletin boards alt.energy.homepower and alt.energy.renewable . The folks on those boards will have lots of ideas.

When I said that the PV can be run in parallel I meant that it can run at the same time with each carrying part of the load. The PV controller synchronizes the PV output with the utility so that each is supplying part of the load. That same controller cuts off the PV output if the utility power is lost.
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Tom Horne
 
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