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Monitor and Control Your Solar -- Wind System


Power Generating and/ Usage Monitors

     If you don't know how much power you're generating, how will you ever know how efficient and cost effective your system is? I would suggest that acquiring and keeping records would be the best way to understand how much useful energy you're getting from you renewable energy system. A number of companies offer power meters you can install yourself and computer programs to monitor and record the power consumed or transferred. You can use a power meter to monitor your inverter output to see how much power is delivered to the grid. Or use it to monitor water heater power consumption when you're planning you system size..

Quick Disconnect When Power Grid Fails

     Your system needs to recognize when the power grid fails and when it resumes.  When the grid is shorted, your system will disconnect because the circuit breakers will be activated. When utility grid power is removed from your section of the grid, your system will attempt to supply power to what ever is drawing power from your isolated section of the grid. Again, your circuit breakers will be activated to protect your system from overload. Now you have the problem of isolating yourself from the utility grid and reducing your home power consumption to where your renewable energy  system can handle the load.

     When my utility power grid fails, the first thing I do is isolate my house from the power grid. I currently cannot connect my home generator to the power grid. Next I trip all the 220v circuit breakers. Then I manually start my 5500 watt generator and connect it to the house circuit breaker panels. This gives me lights, refrigeration and power for my monitor heaters. I check to see that only necessary lights are on. Then I turn on the 220v water pump circuit breaker. I can hear my generator grunt every time the water pump cycles.

      Now consider the problem of getting your house running with only your renewable energy system for a backup.  Primarily, you will need to keep your batteries charged so you will have inverter power on demand. When your renewable energy system is isolated from the grid during grid failure, you will at least need some lighting circuits so you can see what you're doing. You will probably be isolated from the house circuits also. You could adjust your house circuit breakers manually so your inverter power could handle the load. You may want computer power to manage circuits during the time of this emergency. A separate circuit breaker box connected directly to the inverter would be a way to make this emergency easier to manage. Now you can start your backup generator at your leisure.

Automatically Start Backup Generator

     You can use the generator as a System Back-up, to come on when your system falls below a certain voltage or when there is no power from the Utility. In this instance, your system would include a battery back-up and your system transfer would be done by either an Inverter or an Automatic Generator Start Relay (AGSR). Here, your main source of power is the electric utility company. When you loose power from the grid, your system switches to the Inverter which uses the batteries to make your 120 VAC power. Once your battery voltage drops below a certain voltage, the Inverter or an AGSR starts the generator. Once the batteries reach a certain voltage level or the grid is back on line, the generator is shut off until it may be required again. With this set-up, you could incorporate Solar, Wind and or Hydro-Electric as your main source of power, keeping your batteries charged and using the inverter to supply electric power to the house.

     You can use the Generator as a Back-up for your Solar, Wind and or Hydro-Electric System. This example can be used with or without a Utility connection. Your main source of electric power comes from your own power plant, whether it be solar, wind or hydro. When your system has depleted your batteries to a certain level, your Inverter or AGSR turns on the generator and once the batteries are filled to a certain level, the generator is shut down. Some inverters are designed to recognize whether the Utility is available before it starts the generator.
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Software to Monitor and Control Appliance Usage
  and Automatically Limit Peak Power

     You can use your home computer to monitor and control the electrical power used by your home. Limiting you peak power may allow you to get a reduced rate from your electric utility. Knowing your actual usage and time of usage will allow you to negotiate with your public electric utility from a knowledgeable position. Be sure your get all the rate schedules from your public electric utility when you ask for them.

     By typing in "home energy monitor and control", or  "computer controlled house", or "home automation" into Google or Yahoo, you can find all sorts of hardware and software to monitor and control most of the electrical activity of your home.


Hardware to Prevent Two High Power Consumption Appliances
from Operating at the Same Time

Electrical Interlocks

     Electrical interlocks can be used to insure that only one of two high power using circuits are active at any given time. If you have two hot water tanks as I do, you can install an electrical interlock system in your circuit breaker panel to insure that only one tank is drawing power at a time.
Timers

     I use timers to limit the amount of time my Christmas lights are operating. Similarly, timers can be used to limit the activity of any electric circuit in your home. Timers can also control the time of day that your battery charger can use the electric utility to charge batteries (like low activity night time).

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Legal Information

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Karl Kinkel - President
Karl Kinkel, President & Founder
Longsgap Services LLC
5262 Elk Creek Pkwy
Independence, VA  24348
(276) 773-3730
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