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Solar Powered Catamaran

Simon from “Finding Simon” has transformed this derelict sailboat into an epic off-grid solar-powered and fossil-fuel-free cruising catamaran. He’s been living aboard and renovating the boat for the past 3.5 years We’re excited to show you the transformation as well as how he plans to propel the boat without the use of diesel or fossil fuels!


‘Old Dog’ is a 1976 Wharram Oro 47, which is a Po
lynesian canoe cat-style boat.

 

Simon purchased it for $5000 CAD after it had been sitting in the same spot for 12 years (looking back he probably wouldn’t have paid that much for it!). To transform the boat to a fully electric sailboat, Simon removed the diesel engine and replaced it with an HP EV AC 12 kW engine, and installed 16 x 330 Watt solar panels (5280 Watts total), and nearly 20 kW hours of lithium battery power. He also plans to add an equivalent amount of wind turbines on the boat for days and seasons when there’s less sun. And of course, he’ll eventually have some sails and a couple of telescoping masts. The living space inside the boat includes 4 berths, a mechanical room, a head bathroom with a washing machine, a massive galley, two cockpits (yet to be built), and a settee lounge area. Outside there’s a great back deck and eventually, there will be a space to lounge upfront as well.

You can follow Finding Simon’s inspiring boat building and liveaboard adventures here:

https://www.youtube.com/c/findingsimon 

https://www.instagram.com/Finding_Simon/

 

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Best Deep Cycle Battery For Cold Weather

A deep cycle battery is imperative in a lot of situations but using them in extreme conditions can mean that they don’t function as you would expect them to.

That said, there are some deep cycle batteries that will perform even when placed under the duress of cold temperatures so if you live in a cooler climate or are heading off on a cold-weather expedition, it is important to choose the right battery.

In this guide, we will be explaining the impact that cold temperatures can have on your deep cycle battery, what to do about it, and the best options to avoid problems.

Deep cycle batteries are one of the most effective ways of storing energy and they are also incredibly cost-effective.

However, while their very design makes this so, it also has a negative side in that these batteries are not as effective when they are exposed to cold temperatures.

In short, when the deep cycle battery is exposed to cold weather, the charge and discharge cycle is slowed.

Most experts would recommend that you protect your batteries by addressing this issue during maintenance checks.

If you have ever used your deep cycle batteries in both summer and winter, you will probably have noticed one key difference; during the summer the batteries tend to charge far more quickly.
This is because warm temperatures speed up the charge and discharge cycle. That said, it also means that the battery will drain much more quickly than normal too.

However, when you use your batteries in the winter, this process is slowed down meaning that it may take the battery much longer to charge than one might expect.

If you research deep cycle batteries, you will notice that almost all manufacturers place the same temperature recommendations on their equipment with 27ºc/80ºf being the norm.

It is at this temperature that these batteries are known to operate most efficiently.

Flooded Deep Cycle Batteries And Cold Weather
When you are using a flooded deep cycle battery, it is critical to perform regular specific gravity readings using a hydrometer.

This way, you will get a very clear idea of whether the battery is charged enough when you are in colder conditions.

Once you have your readings, you will be able to compare these to the manufacturer’s specs to ensure that you are getting the most out of the battery.

When you are taking the readings, you must subtract 0.004 from every ten degrees that the temperature falls below 80ºf.
The baseline reading for the electrolytes in these flooded batteries sits usually at 1.265 when it is fully charged.

Let’s say, for example, that you have a fully charged battery at a temperature of 50ºf, you would need to subtract 0.004 x 3 from 1.265 which would give you a corrected reading of 1.253 which means that your battery would only be operated at between 92% and 95% of its usual capacity.

Essentially, the colder the weather, the less capacity your flooded battery will have.

Another problem faced by people using a flooded deep cycle battery in cold weather is the possibility of freezing.

 

When we talk about freezing in relation to these batteries we are not talking about the operable temperatures but rather the freezing point of the electrolyte.

In a flooded deep cycle battery that is fully charged, it would take temperatures as low as -80ºf/-62ºc but when the battery starts to discharge, this freezing temperature rises, and a fully discharged flooded battery might freeze once it hits 20ºf/-7ºc.

For this reason, it is advisable to avoid allowing exposure to these kinds of temperatures.

Moreover, if the electrolyte freezes, then it is very likely that the battery will forever be rendered useless.

Other Types Of Deep Cycle Batteries And Cold Weather
There are several other types of deep cycle batteries that, while slightly different, do have a lot in common. These are the absorbed gas mat or AGM battery, gel cell batteries, and sealed lead acid or SLA batteries.

It may come as a surprise that, despite their popularity, there is not a lot of current information on the impact of cold weather on any of these batteries.

However, it is suggested that they will lose a seriously significant amount of charge when exposed to the cold. One study found that this could be as much as 76% when exposed to freezing temperatures.

However, unlike flooded deep cycle batteries, at this temperature, these types of batteries will regain their full potential once they are warmed back up.
The only exception to this is if the batteries become physically frozen but this doesn’t happen until the temperature drops very significantly. You’d need to get down to about -75ºf for this to happen.

If you are using this type of battery, most manufacturers would recommend that you avoid allowing it to be exposed to anything lower than 32ºf and certainly do not charge it if it falls below this.

However, if you live somewhere that cold weather like this is commonplace, you may need to use the battery in any case. In this instance, you will simply need to be willing to replace the battery more frequently than usual.

This could be as often as every year, but the good news is that these batteries are not expensive.

What Are The Best Deep Cycle Batteries For Cold Weather?
There isn’t any type of deep cycle battery that will function perfectly when exposed to cold temperatures.
However, lithium-ion batteries do tend to fare far better than other types.

They will perform a lot better in many aspects and since they are so readily available, they are certainly worth considering if you live in or will be spending time in a colder climate.

That said, you must expect to lose a little capacity when the mercury drops but compared to others, this is minimal. When exposed to temperatures as low as 32ºf/0ºc, a lithium-ion deep cycle battery will only lose around 17%.

You could push it even further and take the temperature as low as -4ºf/-20ºc and still expect to have at least 70% of the original capacity.

If you need something more reliable, there is no doubt that lithium-ion is the way to go.
But it isn’t only the way that these batteries perform in extreme conditions that make them a cut above the rest.

The lithium-ion battery is far more lightweight.

If you’re traveling in an RV in cold weather or are out in the middle of nowhere enjoying time on your boat, or anything else, the chances are that you will already have a lot of equipment and the last thing you need is a cumbersome battery weighing you down.

These modern deep cycle batteries also benefit from the ability to charge far more quickly even when the temperature is lower which is something that other batteries cannot lay claim to.

Moreover, they are much more versatile and can be mounted in any way, including upside down.

They’re great if you are looking for something long-lasting. Compared to other types of deep cycle batteries, a lithium-ion may last up to five times longer.

They are a little more expensive, but when you consider that you won’t need to invest as frequently even when you are using them in cold weather, this is an investment worth making.

It is also worth keeping in mind that these batteries require no maintenance which when compared to the work you would need to put into a flooded deep cycle battery in the cold, is a massive plus point.

As a general rule, these lithium-ion batteries will safely charge and discharge in temperatures that range between -40ºf and 60ºf although it is worth checking with the manufacturer as there may be exceptions to this rule.

Where Can I Buy Lithium Ion Deep Cycle Batteries?
The first lithium-ion battery prototype was made in the mid-1980s making them one of the newer types of batteries. However, thanks to their superior performance, these batteries have become very popular, very popular.

You will find various types of lithium-ion batteries in a whole array of devices and deep cycles LIs are seemingly everywhere.

This means that getting your hands on one isn’t difficult and there are a lot of manufacturers vying for your attention.

One of the most notable producers of this type of battery is Dakota whose products are being used in locations like the Arctic Circle where the average summer temperature is just 50ºf/10ºc and in winter, this plummets down to -22ºf to -31ºf.

If the batteries prove successful in these temperatures, then that is convincing enough for us.

That said, as with most other modern purchases, lithium-ion deep cycle batteries can be purchased from us (Power My Home) there are a plethora of choices here.

Whether you are looking for something that can face thousands of cycles like this one from TalentCell or accessories to go with your battery, you’ll find everything you need on websites like this.

Conclusion
If you have ever tried to use your deep cycle battery in cold weather they ou will have noticed that it just doesn’t perform as well as when you use it at the ‘sweet spot’ temperature of 80ºf.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use a deep cycle battery in extreme conditions, it simply means that you’ll need to choose one that is better designed to handle the stress.

While some batteries will really struggle when the temperature drops, lithium-ion deep cycle batteries will keep on performing.

They will lose a little capacity but compared to other types, this is incredibly low.

 

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HOME BACKUP POWER. COMFORT. SECURITY. CONVENIENCE.


Despite Supply chain disruptions, we stock 3 different sizes and we bring them in every month or two.
Cummins Generators are preferred by 3 out of every 10 homeowners who invest in home backup power.

A home generator provides an on-demand source of power in the event of a utility grid failure. While more costly to purchase and install, a standby generator eliminates the setup and headaches associated with the use of a portable generator—such as regular refueling, running many feet of extension cords, and listening to the constant hum of the engine. These generators are also good for Off-grid setups as they will directly communicate with Inverters and chargers to turn ON/Off Automatically.

Home generators vary in type, size, watts, and fuel source (either propane or natural gas, or diesel). Based on the amount of power you need and your installation requirements, you can decide on the generator that is right for you. A portable generator is cost-effective and best for keeping essential items up and running, These larger, permanently installed generators are capable of sustaining appliances, central heating or cooling systems, lights, devices, and more. Keep in mind that standby generators should always be installed with a transfer switch to prevent back-feed that can cause harm to your home’s electrical system, the generator, or serious injury and death to utility workers.

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How Easy Is It To Put Solar Panels on Your Camper Van or RV?

Whether you’re building or buying a camper van or other RV, modern lifestyles demand it has some kind of steady power supply besides the vehicle’s battery. An on-board generator is one such option. But a cleaner and easier-to-maintain alternative is to install solar panels on your camper van or RV. And with a bit of prep-work, it’s something you can do at home or hire (us) the experts to do it for you.

What kind of solar panels do you want on your camper van or RV?

You may have seen large solar panels installed on homes or by power stations. However, those aren’t the only kind available to camper vans and RVs, Parked in Paradise reports.

rv solar panel

Panels come in a variety of sizes and arrangements. Some are small and flexible enough to lean against your windshield. Others are rigid, with enough surface area that they have to be installed on the roof. That doesn’t mean you can’t mix-and-match panels, though. For example, you can have a few small portable panels to recharge a phone, while a large fixed one helps power the rest of the RV.

How many solar panels does your camper van or RV need?

Given there’s only so much space in and around a camper van and RV, knowing how many solar panels you can install is an important concern. However, not necessarily for the reason you may think.

Your camper van’s or RV’s solar panels don’t power your lights, fridge, or other electrical devices directly, eXplorist explains. Instead, the current they generate goes into a current controller which feeds into a battery or power bank. It’s that battery/power bank that’s drained when you plug in a heater or laptop charger. As such, adding more panels doesn’t change the available power, but how quickly the power source recharges.

Solar panels are rated based on how many watts they produce. To calculate how many watts you’ll need, you first have to find out how much power your devices use in a typical day. That means either measuring it directly with a wattmeter or calculating it directly based on each device’s amp-hour (Ah) and voltage rating and turn-on time, Motorhome reports.

Once that’s done, you can estimate the bare minimum battery capacity you’ll need. And after that, you can calculate how many solar panels your camper van or RV needs based on estimated daylight duration.

For example, say I have a 12V battery with a 100-Ah capacity. That works out to 1200 Wh of power. If I can only guarantee 4 hours of usable sunshine, I’ll need a 300 W solar panel array.

What you’ll need

If you’re building your RV or camper van yourself, you’ll need a few things besides the solar panels themselves. As we’ve mentioned, you’ll need a battery and a charge controller to store the charge. Plus, if the battery/power bank supplies DC power, you’ll need an inverter to convert it to AC.

If you’re using rigid panels, you’ll also need mounts to secure them to your roof. Parked in Paradise recommends tilt mounts because they maximize how much sunshine hits the panels. You’ll also need to wire the panels together. Usually, that’s done in series, which doesn’t require fuses or expensive wiring, but some charge controllers require an in-parallel setup. Luckily, many manufacturers, like Renogy, supply camper van solar panel kits with all the necessary hardware.

Once you have the hardware, you’ll need to figure out where to place the panel and how to arrange the wiring. So, before you install anything, measure your distances, or create a van mock-up to see if you have long-enough cables, Far Out Ride recommends. However, while drilling into the roof to mount your panels is the go-to method, Wayfarer Vans reports there are panel adhesives available.

If you’re buying a pre-made RV or camper van, some come with solar panels pre-installed. Others, like Airstream’s Basecamp trailer, come pre-wired for solar panels. Wayfarer’s camper van conversion kits don’t come with solar panels, but they can be ordered with a Goal Zero power station that’s ready-made for solar panels. All you need to do is buy the panels and plug them in.

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VANADIUM REDOX FLOW BATTERIES FOR CHARGING ELECTRIC VEHICLES

VRFBs have been successfully used to provide charging stations for electric vehicles, (EVs) in a variety of countries around the world. The shell of the set up can be used to provide shading for the cars whilst hosting the solar panels used to charge the battery. Often EV charging stations use the grid to provide the power, in this scenario it’s renewable energy that is charging.

ENSURE A STABLE, SECURE ENERGY SUPPLY FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS

The telecommunications industry places high demands on the reliability and security of electricity supply to their systems. This is because the services offered by the companies in this industry, such as mobile communications, must also be provided on a sustainable and continuous basis.

This must also be reflected in the power supply. VSUN Energy fulfils this requirement by integrating solar and/or diesel, with the VRFB storage system, guaranteeing a reliable and sustainable supply of power for the telecommunications industry.

The intelligent energy management system significantly reduces supply and site costs and provides environmental and economic added value compared to conventional diesel generators.

The VRFB storage system can be easily and seamlessly integrated into any system, and it is independent of climatic conditions.

As a result, green energy is available at any time, anywhere.

POTENTIAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS APPLICATIONS INCLUDE THE USE OF VANADIUM REDOX FLOW BATTERIES:

  • as a replacement for high-maintenance and environmentally hazardous battery systems and diesel generators
  • to stabilise weak, unstable power grids
  • as off-grid solution in areas without connection to the grid
  • as a suitable means of energy for all signal transmission stations
  • as a scalable solution for locations with multiple operators

THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A VRFB INCLUDE:

    • reduction in the total operating costs
    • elimination or mitigation of the effects of constant increases in diesel prices
    • ease of integration into DC telecommunications infrastructure
    • elimination of service and maintenance cost of obsolete storage solutions
    • environmentally friendly and reusable components
    • ease of integration into standard online and remote maintenance systems
    • high-temperature tolerance

USING THE VANADIUM REDOX FLOW BATTERY FOR STABLE POWER SUPPLY

The storage solutions from VSUN Energy open up new avenues in stable and cost-efficient electricity supply. Whether in combination with solar PV (photovoltaic) systems, wind power plants, diesel, gas or biogas generators, or operated in parallel to the public grid, VRFBs are the optimal backup solution to provide an uninterrupted power supply. VRFBs are ideally suited to be the central component in a microgrid.

The VRFB ensures that energy from PV and wind systems is available even when it is dark or there is no wind. It can be recharged quickly and it is immediately ready for use.

With a wide range of VRFBs offered, VSUN Energy’s solutions offer integrated systems for the energy industry. They can be used, for example, to stabilise the grid, as decentralised supply units or as interim storage for surplus energy.

Providing you with an uninterrupted power supply thanks to vanadium redox flow technology. VRFBs store energy until it is needed. Capacity ranges from kW through to multi-MWh with all products having a 100% deep discharge.

GO OFF-GRID WITH VANADIUM REDOX FLOW BATTERIES

On-site generation of electricity through decentralized systems, including diesel generators or renewable energy sources like solar PV, combined with a high-performance, scalable VRFB energy storage system, make microgrids a viable solution for your company’s energy needs.

VRFBs offer uninterruptible power and significant cost savings. VSUN Energy offers comprehensive support in developing the ideal microgrid solution for you in Australia – from semi-autonomous to autonomous. Where the power supply is unreliable or cost prohibitive, off-grid solutions from VSUN Energy are ideal.

For a wide range of scenarios, including weak infrastructure, hotel facilities, or even entire islands, VRFB energy storage systems combined with diesel/gas generators can reduce costs by over 50% while ensuring an uninterrupted power supply.

VANADIUM REDOX FLOW BATTERIES AND SOLAR PV (PHOTOVOLTAIC) SYSTEMS

Our energy solutions installed either with a partner solar provider, or directly with our customer, fit perfectly with solar park project solutions – from planning to system implementation to operations. This includes the precise assessment of customer needs, a detailed installation plan, GPS-assisted measurement of solar PV (photovoltaic) tracking systems and minimisation of potential power loss caused by shading.

The photovoltaic systems are installed and put into operation in cooperation with certified partner companies and organised in accordance with a pre-defined project plan.

FLOW BATTERY INSTALLATIONS AND SOLAR POWER

Most flow battery installations used in large megawatt installations are combined with a solar panel system. This makes perfect sense as you need a cheap source to generate electric energy. Whilst large in size, these powerful flow batteries can be transported to any location within Australia.

Australia lies in the perfect geographical location to provide sufficient solar energy for the solar panels to charge VRFBs. The systems can hold hours of electric power which can be used during peak times to avoid penalty tariffs and save a small fortune.

If your business is located in an area where power failures occur, these solar panel/VRFB combinations can be a real saviour. The solar and battery backup system can easily get you through a few hours of total power failure and potentially avoid costly loss of production.

VRFBs offer an uninterruptible supply of power. They are available with power ratings from 10 kW and a scalable energy capacity into the MWh range. Base load coverage, power peak limiting and safeguarding of sensitive areas can be guaranteed at all times.

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Integrating Home Generator Into Your Power Systems: Everything You Need To Know

If you live in an area where you get frequent power outages, a portable generator is a great investment. A portable generator allows you to run your most essential appliances – like air conditioners, hot water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, and more – even when the power goes out.

But manually connecting all of your appliances to your generator can be time-consuming and difficult, particularly if the weather outside is bad, which is common during power outages.

What’s the solution? A transfer switch! Transfer switches allow you to safely integrate just about any generator into your home’s electrical systems. In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics about transfer switches, and how they should be used to integrate your generator with our home’s power systems.

The Benefits Of Integrating Your Generator Into The Power System Of Your Home

Using a transfer switch to integrate your generator into your home’s power systems has a number of benefits.

 

Seamlessly integrates with your existing circuits – A transfer switch seamlessly switches the power source of your home from the municipal power grid to a generator. It can integrate with your existing power circuits, so you don’t have to worry about connecting your generator to the proper appliances.

 

 

No more unplugging and plugging in appliances – When the power goes out, you’ll need to plug your appliances into your generator. When it turns back on, you’ll need to do the reverse – and plug them back into your home’s electrical grid.

This is time-consuming, and requires you to use a number of properly-rated extension cords throughout your home. A transfer switch eliminates this completely – only one cord is required to connect your generator directly to your home.

 

 

You can choose which circuits and outlets are powered – You can choose which individual circuits get power, and change which ones are powered at any time. This helps you maximize efficiency, and makes your life more convenient.

 

 

Your circuit breakers will still protect your appliances – Because your transfer switch integrates with your home electrical system, the circuit breaker will function, even while the generator is in use. This protects sensitive electronics from power fluctuations.

 

There are many other reasons to consider a transfer switch, but these are the biggest benefits.

Understanding The Transfer Switch Installation Process

You should not try to install a transfer switch on your own. You risk damaging or destroying your home’s electrical wiring. You should hire a licensed electrician to install the transfer switch into your home.

The transfer switch consists of a switching unit, as well as a heavy-duty power socket, to which your generator will be attached. It will have a main breaker, which is responsible for connecting to your home’s power grid, and switching from utility power to generator power.

It also contains a number of different circuits, which can be toggled on and off. The number of circuits you’ll need will depend on your home, the appliances you want to run, and the size of your generator.

During installation, you will choose which circuits are assigned to which appliances and outlets in your home. For example, you could choose to power your furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator and freezer, and your lights, and choose a circuit for each one. Each circuit could also be used to power a particular room. Consult with your electrician to determine what’s right for you.

You likely will not be able to power all of these circuits at once, unless you have a very large generator, so each one can be toggled on and off easily. For example, if it’s hot outside, you could shut off power to the hot water heater, and use this power from your generator to run the air conditioner.

Why Are Transfer Switches Necessary?

Transfer switches are mandatory, and required by the National Electric Code in order to connect any power source to your home. They are the only safe way to do so – for more about this, read the next section about “backfeeding”.

A transfer switch also makes it more convenient to power your home during a power outage, as noted in previous sections. Not only that, it allows you to power appliances which do not connect with a standard wall outlet – such as sump pumps and furnaces – which otherwise could not be connected to a generator.

Transfer switches also make it easier to manage the power of your generator. You can simply flip a switch to change the powered circuits, rather than moving, plugging, and unplugging extension cords.

The Dangers Of Backfeeding With A Generator – NEVER Do This In Your Home!

The main reason that transfer switches are mandatory is that they are the only way to power your home safely, without “backfeeding.”

Backfeeding is the act of taking a generator, and simply plugging it into a standard wall outlet, using a heavy-duty power cord. This practice is known as “backfeeding”, because it’s the reverse of standard electrical flow – the power flows from a wall unit, into the main electrical panel, and then out the main breaker into the transformer.

When it reaches the transformer, the unit will try to “step up” the voltage, and distribute the power throughout the rest of the neighborhood’s power lines.

For obvious reasons, this is incredibly dangerous. It’s also completely illegal. If you are caught backfeeding, you could face a serious fine, or even jail time.

Backfeeding can damage your generator and your home’s power systems, and it also has the potential to cause a fire. It could also destroy the delicate electronics and other appliances connected to your home’s power grid.

It also puts additional stress on your generator because it’s less efficient. You’ll only be able to get about half of the power at which your generator is rated, because the 240-volt supply is split into two, 120-volt lines.

Finally, and most importantly, backfeed can kill technicians working on power lines. As mentioned, backfeeding will cause the power lines running to the transformer to become energized – and workers who are working on repairing de-energized power lines could be unexpectedly shocked by this voltage, and seriously injured or killed.

Do not backfeed. Doing so will destroy your generator and your home’s power systems over time. It’s illegal, and it could kill or injure any technicians who are attempting to restore power to your neighborhood.

Manual Vs. Automatic Transfer Switches – Understanding Your Options

There are two main types of transfer switches – manual and automatic. Both are great options, and have different pros and cons.

The most common type of switch is a manual transfer switch. With this type of switch, you’re responsible for manually choosing which circuits are energized, and you must manually switch from utility power to generator power, and vice-versa. They’re inexpensive, so they’re the best choice if you’re on a budget.

Automatic transfer switches are different. They are programmable, so you can choose which appliances and circuits have priority, and allow the transfer switch to activate and deactivate these circuits automatically. Automatic transfer switches also can be programmed to switch between generator and utility power. However, because of these advanced features, automatic transfer switches are usually quite a bit more expensive than manual switches.

Both automatic and manual transfer switches can be great options, depending on your budget, the appliances you need to run, and the power rating of your generator.

Using Your Transfer Switch And Running Your Electrical Systems With Your Generator

If you have an automatic transfer switch, and it’s configured properly, you don’t need to do anything, except start your generator, and connect it to the transfer switch. Your transfer switch will detect the generator, and begin powering the appropriate circuits.

Using your manual switch is a bit different. Here’s what you’ll need to do when the power goes out.

Connect the main generator power cord to the transfer switch

Turn off all circuit breakers in the transfer switch

Start the generator safely, and let it warm up for several minutes

Switch your main breakers to the “Generator” position in the transfer switch

Turn on all of the circuits you wish to power, one at a time, waiting a few seconds between each one to prevent the generator from overloading

When the power turns back on, simply:

Switch the main breakers in the transfer switch back to Utility Power

Turn on all of the circuits that were previously off

Switch off your generator

Disconnect the power cord

NOTE: the procedure for your switch may differ slightly, based on the manufacturer. Always consult your user guide to understand how to safely use your transfer switch.

Invest In A Transfer Switch – Enjoy Comfort, Convenience, And Efficiency

If you rarely have power outages, or you only use your generator to power a few things like lights, a refrigerator, and some other basic essentials, a transfer switch may not be worth it.

But if you regularly have power outages that last for days at a time, a transfer switch helps you run your generator more efficiently, and makes it much more convenient to choose which appliances are powered.

So think about your own particular needs, and whether investing in a transfer switch is the right choice for you!

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GAIN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE WITH A SOLAR + BATTERY SOLUTION

The United States is currently home to more than 2 million solar panel installations, a number that’s expected to double by 2023. And with the promise of clean, green energy that helps protect the environment and reduce utility bills, that’s no surprise. But solar batteries are experiencing a recent surge in popularity, too. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of natural disasters has encouraged many homeowners not only to embrace solar power at home but also to add backup power to gain more energy independence.

Keep reading for the lowdown on how a system of residential solar power and batteries will keep you safe and self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.

 

What Are the Benefits of Using Solar Batteries?

First things first. If you’re planning to install solar panels on your roof, then why do you need batteries, too?

When you incorporate a solar battery as part of your home solar energy system, it takes all the extra energy your solar panels produce and stores it right there at your home, rather than sending it back into the electricity grid. As a result, you can maximize your ability to use the power generated by your panels on a daily basis. During times when you need more electricity than your panels can actually produce — such as at night or on cloudy days — you can tap back into that stored energy.

The three main benefits of adding solar batteries to your setup include:

Energy independence

Emergency backup power

Energy bill savings (in some cases)

 

Where Does Disaster Relief Come In?

Traditional energy providers feed electricity into homes primarily via coal and natural gas plants, which operate much differently than solar panels during disaster scenarios. Often, they’re immediately shut down when a disaster warning occurs, which means homes that rely solely on their utility can lose their power entirely. Additionally, if a power plant is somehow damaged during a disaster, the shutdown could last for days to account for the cleaning and rebuilding process. And that’s not to mention the power lines that bring that electricity to your home. These power lines are often the first thing to come down during high winds and natural disasters.

Put simply, traditional electricity producers aren’t able to guarantee service during a disaster. But residential solar power with backup batteries is much more reliable with fewer risk factors.

 

Why Is It So Important to Be Prepared for a Disaster?

You never know when disaster will strike. It’s easy to dismiss disaster planning as prepping for a worst-case scenario that most likely won’t occur, but if the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we never know just how quickly our daily lives can change overnight.

Being situated along the Gulf coastline, Texas in particular is prone to plenty of natural disasters, including flooding, tornadoes, and especially hurricanes. In fact, as of this writing, 64 hurricanes have struck the Texas coast since 1851. That amounts to one hurricane every three years — and it’s been three years since Hurricane Harvey devastated our coastline with catastrophic flooding and many deaths. It’s never too early to be prepared for a natural disaster, especially when you live in an area that’s prone to such types of weather.

 

How Can Solar Power Help Me Prepare for Disaster?

Unlike a power plant that burns fossil fuels, the sun is a limitless resource and requires no human power to operate. With batteries to store the excess power generated by your home’s solar energy system, you can be prepared for even complete power outages. This means you can maintain food storage, prevent spoilage, and keep any necessary medical equipment running during an emergency.

For many, the allure of solar power is sustainability, allowing a home to remain energy independent and cost-efficient. But sustainability is also about ensuring our own safety, maintaining our standard of living, and empowering ourselves to manage unforeseen circumstances.

 

Looking for Texas Solar Installers?

If you’re ready to start harnessing the power of the sun for a lifetime of green energy and peace of mind, we want to help. As the largest residential solar installer in Texas, Freedom Solar has outfitted thousands of homes and even commercial businesses like Whole Foods and Office Depot with solar solutions that meet their needs.

Our socially distanced installations mean we can set up your residential solar power system without ever needing to come inside your home. From consultation to installation, Freedom Solar can bring solar energy to you while keeping everyone safe. Contact us today for a free consultation, and join us in the solar revolution!

 

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GROUND MOUNT SOLAR WITH BACKUP POWER SUPPLY IN VANCOUVER

A homeowner on Harrison Lake  west of  Hope, BC was looking for a solar backup power system on his property. We were able to build and connect an attractive ground mount solar panel array in a landscape design and a backup power supply with an off-grid component.

The array is made up of 36 Canadian Solar 385-watt DC solar panels, arranged 4 panels high and 9 panels long. It is directed at a 205 degree azimuth and a 15 degree pitch. There are three circuits of 12, wired in groups of 6 in a series, with 2 groups in parallel to make 12 for each circuit.

The array is located 300 feet from the equipment room, which houses the inverters, power distribution panel (PDP), and solar battery storage is located. Power backup for the home consists of a solar battery backup and a home backup generator. We installed the LG Chem RESU 9.8 kWh Lithium Ion Solar Battery Backup. The generator was already onsite.

The PDP ties into the grid as well as the home battery and the backup generator. A separate “emergency panel” is directly fed from the off-grid side of this system. The solar panels, battery, or generator can power this panel, but it is not grid tied.

The solar power system will offset almost half of the homeowner’s annual electricity usage and save the homeowner more than $55,000 over the lifetime of the solar panels.

Having a home battery backup system that includes a backup generator in addition to the solar battery ensures a more robust and redundant power supply during emergency outages.

If you are interested in getting a quote for a custom solar panel battery system from Freedom Solar, contact us today.

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Do solar panels even work in the winter? YES!

Do Solar Panels Work in Snow?

If you’ve found yourself asking “Will solar panels work during winter in cold climates?” you’re not alone. It is a commonly held belief that solar panels don’t work during the snowy season — but this is a myth. As long as they don’t remain covered in snow for an extended period of time, solar panels work just as well during the winter, even in snow.

While it is true that heavy snowfall can reduce sunlight penetration, your panels will produce more electricity than you might think throughout the winter.

On premium solar panels, the silicon is covered by anti-reflective glass that is designed to absorb maximum sunlight (thereby generating more electricity!), which means that solar panels also produce more heat from the sun than your roof surface. That heat melts snow more quickly than on your roof, keeping your solar system producing power even when heavy snow may still be on the ground.

In many cold-weather climates, there are relatively few days of precipitation in the winter. For example, Denver, Colorado averages between 2 and 3 days of snowfall > 0.1 inch each month between November and March. That snow tends to melt within a few days, especially on solar panels!

Plus, solar panels are designed to withhold between 20 to 40 pounds of weight per square foot, so snow is usually not heavy enough to be a risk. During manufacturing, all solar panels undergo pressure tests that assess quality and durability. And because ratings vary by panel, you can opt for higher pressure ratings if you live in an area that sees a lot of snowfall.

Do Solar Panels Need Winter Maintenance?

The great thing about solar panels is that once installed, they are virtually maintenance-free for the majority of the year, including in the winter.

If you live in an area that receives heavy winter storms — think polar vortex level — you may want to hire a professional to clean off any wet, heavy snow if you’re worried about roof safety. Freedom Solar does take extra safety precautions by installing snow guards in areas that may have a potential for snow build-up and be susceptible to damage.

Solar battery storage is also an important thing to consider, during winter as well as throughout the year, since it allows you to store your energy regardless of day-to-day production. It works by amassing all the electricity your panels produce and saving it right there at your home, rather than sending it back to the electricity grid. As a result, you can tap back into that stored energy during the times when you need more electricity than your panels can produce — such as at night or on cloudy days.

How Effective Are Solar Panels in Winter?

When it comes to solar energy, there is one important thing to remember: it’s not about warmth, it’s about sunlight. In fact, solar power generation in summer vs. winter might surprise you. Cold, sunny weather is an ideal time to produce energy for your home because solar panels work more efficiently in cooler temperatures. In fact, the industry-standard specifications for PV systems are made at a temperature of 77º F, but they’ve been shown to be even more efficient in colder temperatures.

Consider this: two of the top cities for going solar (places with the most solar panels installed per capita) in the US are in northern states — Burlington, Vermont, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Still not convinced? Germany, which has sunshine levels comparable to Alaska, is a global leader in solar panel installations, with an impressive 12.74 percent of their national energy credited to renewable energy.

Even in the most frigid winter temperatures, when sunlight is shining, solar panels in winter months will produce the electricity you need to become more self-sufficient by making your own power at home.

Looking for Solar Installers in Your Area?

Even wind, cold, rain, and snow can’t stop solar panels from doing what they do best — generating clean energy so you can live more sustainably. And now is a great time to take the plunge into a solar-powered home so that you can have your installation ready to go for the long, hot days of summer.

If you’re ready to make the switch, we’re here to help. As a leading residential solar installer in Texas and Colorado, Freedom Solar has outfitted countless homes and commercial businesses with solar, and we’re doing safe, contact-free installations to keep you and your family protected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us today for a free consultation, and we will get your home on the path to cleaner energy.

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Can Solar Panels Improve Your Home’s Value?

 

Do Solar Panels Increase Property Value?

Solar power is one of the most popular sources of energy. Although the upfront costs associated with switching to solar can be hefty if you purchase the system outright, the benefits and savings generate a positive return on investment in the long run. How much will solar panels increase home value? Well, several studies prove that homes fitted with solar panel systems are valued and sold at higher prices than similar homes without solar in the same area. On average, the value of a home increases 3 to 4 percent with the addition of solar panels. A 2019 Zillow study found a 4.1 percent markup for homes with solar. With the average home price of $200,000 in Texas according to Zillow, that would result in a premium of between $6,000 and $8,000. However, results will differ depending on the factors outlined below. We will also cover other benefits of running a solar-powered home aside from increasing property value.

Factors That Influence How Much Solar Panels Increase Property Value

So, do solar panels add value to your home? It depends on several factors such as:
Your state and city
The cost of electricity in your area
The size of the installation and your home
The type, age, and warranty of your solar panels
How much energy the system can save

LOCATION

The location of a home is an important factor that determines how much value will be increased with the addition of solar panels. For example, installations in active solar markets like California and New Jersey typically yield higher returns than comparable installations in less developed markets because buyers, realtors, appraisers, and lenders tend to be more familiar with the benefits of solar at the outset of the process.

THE SIZE OF THE INSTALLATION

The number of solar panels your roof can accommodate directly relates to the property value increase post-installation. Property value increase is directly related to the quality and quantity of the solar panels installed. The production capacity of your solar panels needs to be proportional to the size of your house. So how do solar panels affect property values? A Berkeley Lab study estimates you can expect the resale value of your home to increase by about $5,911 for each 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar installed.

AVERAGE ENERGY USAGE AND SAVINGS

One of the easiest ways to calculate home value increase based on energy consumption is to run your own cost benefit analysis. The value of your system will also differ based on the cost of electricity where you live. The best place to start is by looking at your energy bill and figuring out the cost of the system size you would need based on the kilowatt-hours used. The average system installation is about $3-4 per watt. In Texas, a 300 watt panel will produce about 9 kilowatt-hours per day. Once you have your daily or monthly usage, you estimate how many panels you would need to fully power your home. You can then compare it to the average resale value in your area.

QUALITY OF SOLAR PANEL

The panels themselves are another factor when it comes to calculating value. Technology, lifespan, and warranty for various manufacturers of solar panels, inverters, racking, and other equipment may vary widely. It’s important to take your time and do your research when it comes to choosing the best solar technology products to make the most of your long-term investment.

Why is Solar Energy So Valuable?

Compared to other major home improvements and methods of sustainable living, installing solar panels is a relatively easy one-time project that has little impact on your living space. Most of the time and effort on your part is doing the research to find the right company and getting the paperwork through the proper channels. After that, the installation should only take about a matter of days and you will typically be set up with a warranty for the next 25 years. A 2015 survey showed 61% of respondents agreed that solar electrical or water heating systems were desirable in a home they’d be interested in purchasing.
Benefits of Having a Solar Powered Home Aside From Increasing Property Value

HELPS PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT

Choosing to run your home with renewable energy helps protect the planet and reduces your carbon footprint. By using the power of the sun to produce electricity you end up reducing the need for burning the fossil fuels that impact local air quality and emit harmful greenhouse gases.

SAVES YOU MONEY ON YOUR ELECTRIC BILL

After you save enough on your energy bill to recoup your initial investment, running on solar is essentially free electricity for the rest of the panels’ 25-year lifespan. In the last 15 years, utility rates have increased by about 2.9% every year. The initial upfront price could save you from the increasing utility prices for the next couple of decades. There are also federal, state, and local incentives, such as the federal tax credit that allows you to deduct 26% of the total cost, making them even more affordable for the average homeowner.

RELIABILITY

One of the biggest deterrents for many people, when it comes to using solar panels as their home’s main source of energy, is the question of reliability. Solar energy is actually an extremely reliable source of energy. When it comes to energy production the panels require sunlight so they will be far more productive during certain seasons, but as long as the sun is shining, their rate of failure remains very low. Research has shown that between 2000 and 2015 only .05% of solar panels failed. As we move into a new decade that rate will likely continue to decrease as modern solar panels continue to advance with technology. In addition, your home solar power system will most likely be connected to the local electrical grid, which means you will have ready access to backup power from the grid whenever the sun isn’t shining.

Conclusion

For many, a solar energy system makes sense as an environmentally conscious investment that pays for itself over time. But do solar panels add value to a home? In short, yes. Increasing the value of your home is only one of the many reasons to switch to solar. Installing solar panels is one of the safest and smartest long term investments you can make as a homeowner. If you are on the fence about jumpstarting your sustainable journey, these are all reasons to make the leap. If you are still unsure about your options we have representatives ready to answer questions and provide you with a free quote and estimate of your savings potential.

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