Mi-Grid Energy

Off-Grid Solar Power System: What can you power?

Solar panel systems are powering virtually anything you can imagine and most likely a number of other systems you were not even aware existed.

Presently, solar powered lighting systems are utilized for illuminating Streets, secured storage areas, Parking lots, pathways, business roadside signs and traffic control lights.

Offering both decorative accent lighting and functionality, solar lighting can now be used with motion sensors so that the light source switch on itself whenever they are triggered by intruder’s movement or visitors. And now, stairways and pathways that use to be dark in the evening can be lighted with solar lighting systems. Furthermore, a number of communication firms are making use of solar-powered systems with battery backups to power their communication towers in remote locations. In addition, solar powered systems that are coupled with battery backup systems enable homeowners to power their remote locations that are off-grid. Clinics and hospitals as well utilize them for emergency power backup systems, security alarm systems and medical refrigeration systems. Solar powers are also used for water well pumps in remote locations where power is not considered for grid supplied, businesses and homes. As a matter of fact, the use of solar power systems can only be limited by your resourcefulness and imagination.

Some cities across the globe are even making use of solar powered trash bins which compact the trash on scheduled time periods making better use of the capacity of these trash bins and reducing the frequency with which they need to be emptied again thereby saving thousands of dollars yearly in hourly personnel wage costs. Solar power can likewise be used to recharge gadgets from your mobile phones to laptops and it comes in a wide range of packages from handheld devices to backpacks with solar modules built into their clothing.

It is no longer news that solar energy manufacturers are making more modern devices that can be used daily and by so doing, enabling us to tremendously lower our reliance on the conventional carbon fuel produced electricity. Although these newly-developed devices and systems will come with a higher rate to cater for their R&D expenses, with the prices for solar modules already falling, it is not different from buying that new LCD TV set when it first enter the marketplace with the exception that these systems will save you money in the long run and ought to be taking seriously into consideration for your use and purchase.

Whole House vs. Essential Circuits

Mi-Grid is a hybrid solar energy system, combining battery storage PV solar with a backup generator. It can provide for all of your power needs, on-grid or off-grid, stationary or mobile, on-shore or off-shore. It can provide your power in times of emergency.

Mi-Grid can provide power two ways. Standard Mi-Grid systems are primarily solar powered. The solar PV panels collect power during the day. What isn’t used is stored in the batteries for use later. The solar is designed to provide average power needs, year-round. The generator provides backup power, in cases of low sunlight or a day of very high energy use.

The generator is sized to recharge the batteries only if they become discharged, running long enough to recharge and providing power at the same time. Generator control is automatic and switching is so fast you may never notice. Even using Air Conditioning in the summer, an appropriately sizes Mi-Grid will use about 1 hour of generator time per day. Some days more and some days, none at all. These Mi-Grids are designed to provide all day power, even Air Conditioning, at all times.

The other way Mi-Grid can work is to provide a smaller Mi-Grid system but a larger generator. Sometimes it is not possible to provide a full size Mi-Grid. This could be due to available space for solar panels or even cost issues. A small Mi-Grid provides essential power at all times and the generator powers larger systems as needed.

The electrical system is split into essential and intermittent. The essentials are powered by Mi-Grid’s inverter output. They never lose power. Intermittent systems are only provided power when the generator is running.

Essential systems include small 110VAC air conditioners, microwave oven, toaster over, small appliances, TVs, lights and ceiling fans. Basically, anything that is 110VAC. Depending on the size of the Mi-Grid, care may be necessary with what is run together. But most day to day items work are fine. For a regular house, small mini-split or window A/C units can be run at night in the bedrooms.

Intermittent systems include large 220VAC air conditioners, 220VAC appliances, electric stoves, electric ovens electric dryers and electric hot water heaters. With a larger Mi-Grid system, some of these systems could be placed in the essentials area. A manual switch is provided to start and stop the generator when the intermittent systems are desired. Mi-Grid still can start the generator if the batteries become low. And the intermittent systems can be used anytime the generator is running.

The Mi-Grid 250 and 500 are 110VAC. You have to use to generator for 220VAC systems. With the Mi-grid 1000 and up, 220VAC appliances can be in the essentials.

Save the world from Cow Farts!

Well, maybe solar can’t stop all greenhouse gasses. Renewable energy comes from all sorts of places. Landfills, cow manure and other places with organic decomposition produce methane, along with other gasses. Here’s an article about how California is trying to rid the world of these nasty gasses. Methane does have a much higher greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-climate-change-rules-on-cows-landfill-emissions/

OK, everyone raise their hands that tried to light a, uh, well, forget I brought it up. Let’s just say that, those gasses, can be flammable!

These “organic gasses” can be used to produce electricity. A gas turbine, basically a jet engine that sits on the ground, or a big reciprocating engine, like a car that doesn’t move, can take that explosive gas and burn it and turn a generator to make electricity. And if there isn’t enough hot air in the world, the hot exhaust from these engines can be used to make hot water or steam.

How exactly do you go from, well, bull crap to high value fuel? Very carefully! Click-on the illustration below

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It’s a dirty job and someone has to do it! And even better, Mi-Grid’s generator can run on these gasses! (Had to tie Mi-Grid in SOMEHOW!). See how a Mi-Grid can help you keep the lights while saving you money!

How does Mi-Grid Save 90% Fuel?

A generator running all the time is not very efficient.

Generators must be sized for maximum load, even if that load only lasts a tenth of a second. This is startup surge. Surge current is the bane of generators; generators must be sized for maxi-mum starting surge, like starting a motor or air conditioner. Electric motors can take up to 5 times operating power to start them. All regular loads plus surge loads must be added together to decide on the generator minimum size.

This means the generator runs most of the time at low loads. Look at the chart. At 25% load, over a gallon per hour is used just to run the generator, while about 1/3rd gallon is used to produce electricity.

Mi-Grid instead cycles the generator, using it only to re-charge the batteries as needed. The rest of the time the genera-tor is shut off.

For example: an RV air conditioner operates with 1650 Watts, but needs 4000 Watts to Start.
Over 24 hours, the AC runs on average 30% of the time. 70% of the time the generator is idle. A 4Kw generator may use over 7.4 gallons of fuel per day, producing only 12kWh of electricity.

If the generator runs only at full load (4000 Watts), it would need run only 3 hours to produce the 12kWh, using less than 2 gallons of fuel. Even with conversion losses (10% in and 10% loss out), there is a reduction by 60% fuel consumption, simply by running the generator at maximum load. To further reduce fuel consumption, add 1000 Watts of solar panels attached to the RV. The solar panels will produce 6.5 kWh of electricity per day.

This will further reduce the amount of power produced by the genera-tor to 5.5 kWh per day. The generator will run less than 1.5 hours per day using .55/gal per hour, or about 0.825 gallons. This example shows a reduction.

Energy Independence – Never Lose Power, Save More with Solar

Hybrid Energy System
Energy management system combines power from multiple sources including: Solar, Utility Power, Energy Storage and Auto-starting Generator.

Power RV
From 2kW to 8kW continuous power, surge power for starting Air Conditioners, pumps and motors, 6kW to 24kW.

solar power efficiency

solar power efficiency

Solar Powered
50-80% power from Sun – Even works on cloudy days. Solar and batteries supply power during the day. Switches to utility or generator power once batteries are depleted. Generator runs 1-3 hours/day sup-plying power while recharging batteries, then shuts down, reducing fuel and noise. Solar panels charge even while driving.

Large Storage system
Inverter/Batteries can operate standalone for up 8 hours overnight – including air conditioning!

Fully Integrated system
Includes Energy Management system, Inverters, Charge Controllers, Transfer switches, Energy Storage, Disconnects and Generator – Pre-packaged and tested assuring high quality.

Easy Installation
Solar panels and installation provided by your local installer. 1kW and 2.5kW Solar Panel and Mounting kits available for cabins and RVs.

Never Lose power
Seamless transition between sources. Power never goes out. Like your computer UPS!

Saves Fuel
Generator Fills in when renewable and utility sources are not available. Operates at maximum, powering everything & recharging batteries. Shuts down when batteries full. Up to 90% savings versus traditional generators.

Reduced Maintenance
Generator only runs when needed. Mi-Grid generators run typically 1-2 hours per day. Time before maintenance is significantly increased. Traditional RV generators run 24 hours per day. In expensive generators are loud and require constant maintenance, typically lasting only a season or two. Onan generators last much longer but are 4-10 times the price!

Freedom
Independence. Go any where the road takes you. Always have power. Save money. Less noise. Reduce or eliminate your carbon footprint.

Mi Grid Models and Prices

Remote panel and remote generator start switch included. Choose Predesigned configurations or customize for your application. Options include NEMA4 or NEMA4X enclosures, extra batteries, Wall Mounting, Air Conditioning and motor soft starters.

Update: Absorbed Glass Mat Batteries vs. The Tesla Power Wall

I’m updating this blog post based on recent revelations about the Tesla Power Wall. The 10kWh Power Wall was abandoned and never produced. The 7kWh Power Wall has been down graded to 6.4 kWh and has a different cycle life than what we were lead to believe. See this article at InvestorIntel.

http://investorintel.com/cleantech-intel/tesla-energys-incredible-shrinking-powerwall-warranty/

There are a few things to consider here with comparing the capabilities of stored energy. First, the best way to compare apples with apples is to compare the total kWh life vs cost. Total kWh life is the usable energy storage multiplied by the cycle life at that usable storage level. This even allows comparison of the same battery using different depths of discharge.

Storing Energy

This “cost” is the battery portion of electric cost in storing and then using the power, only. You still have production costs associated with your solar array! Here are the facts:

  • PW7 has a cycle life of “3000 cycles”, 6.4 kWh usable storage and costs $3000.
  • 3000 / (6.4kwh * 3000) = $0.143/kWh – Update, the PW7 actually is 6.4 kWh. So the real value is $0.156/kWh
    • BUT – Based on the above article, the battery will degrade quickly, losing 20% of it’s capacity in under 1000 cycles.
    • It will LAST for many years, but by end of life at 3000 cycles, it has lost 40% of its capacity.
    • This will increase the effective cost of the power pack to around
    • Total Capacity over 3000 cycles will be 14,720 kWh. –> $3000/14720 kWh = $0.204/kWh
    • This is type of degradation is TYPICAL of all Lithium-Ion batteries
  • High-quality AGM batteries at a 50% DOD have a life of 1800 cycles. A 2.4 kWh battery costs around $350.
  • $350 / (1.2 * 1800) = $0.162 / kWh – still less expensive than Power Wall
  • Nano Carbon AGM batteries at a 50% DOD have a life of 3000 cycles. A 2.4 kWh battery has a cost of $400.
  • $400 / (1.2 * 3000) = $0.111 / kWh

In conclusion, the PW7 has a higher total life cost compared to a standard AGM battery, and is 50% more expensive than a Nano Carbon AGM.

Mi-Grid vs. The Tesla Power Wall

Now let’s compare a PW7 system to a Mi-Grid 2000. The Mi-Grid 2000 is designed to connect to 8-10 kW of Solar, produce 8kW of inverter power, has 38.4 kWh of battery storage. It also includes a 12 kW Natural Gas Generator. The total cost to install a Mi-Grid 2000 with 8kW of solar panels is around $45K.

The Power Wall needs a Grid Tied inverter that is designed to work with it. Fronius makes one that is 8kW. It ties to the battery & solar panels to your utility power. It needs a separate automatic disconnect to separate it from the utility when the utility power fails.

The PW7 is limited to a maximum discharge of 2kW. To match the Fronius Inverter you will need to supply four PW7s. The PW7 system is not integrated. It must be assembled on site, using an electrician. Total cost to install 8kW of solar panels, PW7, Fronius inverter, control system, safety equipment and a backup generator will add up to $60K.

What is Net-Metering?

Net Metering is a method of billing used by some utilities. Solar Production in excess of your immediate needs is exported to the utility. The utility measures the outflow and credits them against your inflows of electricity. You pay only on the “net” inflow.

For most Grid-Tied Solar PV, the solar energy is converted and fed into the existing AC electric system. This is done without regard to how much power is needed at any given time. The excess flows “Out” into the electric lines. The energy is available to be used by others.

Net metering is a simplified method of compensation for these out flows. Your electric bill is calculated at the “net” difference between what you consume and what you produce. You use 2000 kWh per month. The solar array produces 1500 kWh. You pay for 500 kWh. Simple, huh?

Except, the price you pay your utility really comes from two different pieces: Energy and transportation. In electric bills in most of Texas, you see both retail electric energy charge and the energy transportation charge. Remember, there are costs in maintaining the electric lines, PLUS the cost of maintaining the power plants you use when the sun isn’t shining.

When I “make my own” energy, I am reducing the energy I buy from the utility. When the sun isn’t shining, or not enough, I buy power from the utility. But if I make too much, I have to do something with it. I sell it to the utility. But this energy I sell has to be transported to other users. The utility transports the power.

Most grid tied users see the utility as a “storage” system. They “store” power and then use it later. But it isn’t really stored. When power is pushed onto the grid, a power plant somewhere has to reduce output to compensate. But the power plant can’t shut-down because it has to be available to provide power in case more power is needed. For example, when a cloud goes by.

When solar makes up a tiny percentage of the network, it doesn’t affect the overall economics of the power system. It may in the end be cheaper for the utility to bill “net meter”. But as the percentage of installed solar goes up, the “loss” by the utility goes up with it. It must compensate by raising the price of electricity. Your neighbors without solar pay.

It really is fair to compensate a solar producer only for the electric generation portion of the power.  As renewables become more wide-spread, net metering will be reduced and eventually abandoned. Hawaii, California and Germany are abandoning net metering. Massachusetts, like many states, reached the limit of net metering.

Mi-Grid stores your excess renewable energy for your own use later. You truly are “NET” with the meter, since you do not sell power to the utility, you save it for yourself to use when you need it.

Net Metering is going, going, gone!

Germany, like most of the utilities in the United States, are limiting or abandoning net-metering. Mi-Grid allows you to effectively net-meter without a Utility Net Metering Plan. Battery based system store excess energy for you to use later. You only buy power used beyond what the renewables produce. Power is only sold if usage is very low and renewable production is high.

Germany_0[1]

Germany Votes To Abandon Most Green Energy Subsidies

Absorbed Glass Mat Batteries vs. The Tesla Power Wall

There are a few things to consider here with comparing the capabilities of stored energy. First, the best way to compare apples with apples is to compare the total kWh life vs cost. Total kWh life is the usable energy storage multiplied by the cycle life at that usable storage level. This even allows comparison of the same battery using different depths of discharge.

Storing Energy

This “cost” is the battery portion of electric cost in storing and then using the power, only. You still have production costs associated with your solar array! Here are the facts:

  • PW10 has a cycle life of 500 cycles, 10 kWh usable storage and costs $3500
  • 3500 / (10kwh * 500) = $0.70/kWh – This is why it never made it to production and was cancelled!
  • PW7 has a cycle life of 3000 cycles, 7 kWh usable storage and costs $3000
  • 3000 / (7kwh * 3000) = $0.143/kWh – Update, the PW7 actually is 6.4 kWh. So the real value is $0.156/kWh
  • High-quality AGM batteries at a 50% DOD have a life of 1800 cycles. A 2.4 kWh battery costs around $300.
  • 300 / (1.2 * 1800) = $0.139 / kWh – still less expensive than Power Wall
  • Nano Carbon AGM batteries at a 50% DOD have a life of 3000 cycles. A 2.4 kWh battery has a cost of $350.
  • 350 / (1.2 * 3000) = $0.097 / kWh

In conclusion, while the PW7 is has a similar total life cost compared to a standard AGM battery, it is 50% more expensive than a Nano Carbon AGM.

Mi-Grid vs. The Tesla Power Wall

Now let’s compare a PW7 system to a Mi-Grid 2000. The Mi-Grid 2000 is designed to connect to 8-10 kW of Solar, produce 8kW of inverter power, has 38.4 kWh of battery storage. It also includes a 12 kW Natural Gas Generator. The total cost to install a Mi-Grid 2000 with 8kW of solar panels is around $45K.

The Power Wall needs a Grid Tied inverter that is designed to work with it. Fronius makes one that is 8kW. It ties to the battery & solar panels to your utility power. It needs a separate automatic disconnect to separate it from the utility when the utility power fails.

The PW7 is limited to a maximum discharge of 2kW. To match the Fronius Inverter you will need to supply 4 PW7. The PW7 system is not integrated. It must be assembled on site, using an electrician. Total cost to install 8kW of solar panels, PW7, Fronius inverter, control system, safety equipment and a backup generator will add up to $60K.

Get Ready For Hurricane Season: Investing In A Good Generator

Hurricane season is upon us again. It runs from June 1st to November 30th of every year, and that means it may be time to invest in a good generator. Along with hurricanes are dangerous tropical storms, and simple summer storms that cause damage as they make their way through our cities. The number 1 cause of power outages is mother nature. Fortunately, there powerful generators available that can help get you through hurricane season.

Investing in Backup Power

A generator can be a good investment for backup power. They typically only need small capital investments, but operating a generator is not inexpensive. Generators use fuel, and they also require maintenance. Generators also have a finite life.

Different Types of Generators

Generators come in a few flavors. Small portable, permanent backup and prime power.
Prime power means the generator is rated to run all the time. They are the most expensive. If you need permanent off-grid power, these are the generators. They also last the longest. It is not unusual for these to run for 90 days between shutdowns.

Portable generators are the least expensive, but they require liquid fuel, typically gasoline. You will need to place these units well away from your house but still have long extension cords. And you will need these extension cords to run any electric devices in your house. Portable units are usually loud and not designed to be run for long periods. They need maintenance about every 50 hours.
Permanent automatic backup generators usually are connected to your natural gas supply or propane tank. An automatic transfer switch is connected to the electric supply. When it senses a loss of utility power, it will disconnect the utility power and start the generator. Power is usually back on in 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Small units provide power to essential parts of your house. Large units can run your entire house including air conditioning.

Installing Your Generator

Tetra West Power sells and installs automatic backup generators. We also build hybrid solar energy systems. Every backup generator we sell can be the base for a future hybrid energy system. Don’t lose power this hurricane season and install a backup generator today.