Quick Guide to Off-Grid electricity systems

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If you are concerned about climate change and rising energy bills, then going off-grid could be the answer to securing both your energy supply and energy costs for the future, whilst at the same time preserving your natural environment.

Whether it is for a new or existing home, a station, business or an entire community that depends on large diesel generators, off-grid systems are a reliable, clean, hassle free, and cost competitive answer. These system are autonomous power grids capable of powering a very wide range of applications with dependable electricity that is no different to that supplied by the utility grid.
How do Off-Grid Systems work?
Electricity is generated by combination of solar panels, wind turbines, Hydro plants and if required as a back up, traditional fuel generators.
Your system can be designed in such a way as to match the system to the available natural resources in your location with any power requirement you may have. Our systems are modular in design; it could consist of a few panel solar panels or a wind turbine to charge some batteries on a boat, or a full scale power station using multiple technologies to power a village in a very remote location.

An off-grid system is made up of a few basic components,
  • A power generator (e.g. wind turbine),
  • A battery bank,
  • Charger controllers
  • If 230Vac is required, an inverter, or combination Inverter/Charger
  • Monitoring and control through a GSM network 
  • As a fail safe, a diesel generator

These components can all be configured differently, and all have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the location and the power requirements. All of our off-grid systems are eligible for the UK FiT's, and finance is available which can help with the initial costs. Google us - "Forest Builder" for more information.
Minimising power use
The first step in setting up an off-grid renewable system is to analyse, and if possible, minimise your electricity use. This is important for all renewable energy systems, but if you are off the grid, it is vital. In particular, try to avoid using electricity for high-demand tasks, such as cooking and heating water, that could use another energy source. This can dramatically reduce the size and cost of your generation system. 
The heart of most off-grid systems is the battery store. A bank of deep-cycle batteries will store electricity when it is generated, to provide power for when it is needed. With proper controls and system design, a battery bank may last 10 years or more. We can calculate cost/kWh of batteries and show you how to reduce this further by using the power directly of the green generators.
Most deep-cycle batteries are lead-acid batteries, like car batteries but with thick solid plates to cope with the deep charging cycle. Batteries with liquid acid in them require care, as they give off hydrogen gas when charging, and they may lose water over time, which will need replacing. AGM batteries do not contain liquid, and are much easier to look after.
Batteries can be charged by more than one generation technology: you might have an exposed site with a wind turbine, some photovoltaic panels to provide input during windless spells, and a diesel generator as backup and for running high-power appliances for short periods.
A hydro resource may be reliable enough for you to do without batteries or back-up generator, but this depends very much on the site. 
Electricity from the batteries can be used directly to run low-voltage lighting and perhaps other direct-current (DC) appliances. However, most systems include an inverter to produce mains voltage alternating current (AC), which can be used to run standard appliances. We have developed a pioneering solution which enables us to maximise the performance of a range of wind turbines, at the same time allowing battery charging to be optimised by using a higher voltage system than you would normally see in an off-grid scenario. This creates a working platform for the system that excels in performance as well as efficiency. 

Using the system wisely, and by using the power where possible directly from the green generators can see the whole system cost per unit, or per kWh less than you pay for electricity now! remember, once you have paid for your system the energy is free flowing for many years to come.

All of our technology is available on or off-grid, and we bespoke design to the available natural resource at your precise location.
Please take a look at some more of our wind and solar energy systems, Or feel free to Contact us for help and advice.

Google Forest Builder for further information.
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