Solar, Wind, and Water

Battery Bank Equalization

December 3, 2016

Routine equalization cycles are vital to the performance and life of a battery — particularly in a solar, wind or micro-hydro power system. During battery discharge, sulfuric acid is consumed and soft lead sulfate crystals form on the plates. If the battery remains in a partially discharged condition, the soft crystals will turn into hard […]

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The Evolution of the Solar Charge Controller

December 3, 2016

A charge controller is a piece of equipment designed to prevent the batteries in your system from overcharging. It is similar to the voltage regulator in a car. However, unlike a voltage regulator in an automobile, charge controllers have advanced in ways never even imaginable to the hippies in Northern California, USA in the 1970s… […]

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The MPPT Charge Controller | How it has Changed Everything!

July 23, 2016
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The maximum power point tracking… MPPT charge controller … has got to be one of the most innovative, game changing and misunderstood components in the solar industry. There is so much misinformation, it is time to clear up the myths of the MPPT charge controllers, explain what they do and explore what they cannot do. […]

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Making a Dump Load with a Hot Water Tank Heater

September 18, 2015
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Can a standard off-the-shelf tank style electric hot water heater can make a dump load? Electric tank water heaters are an excellent choice to make a dump load for your solar, wind or micro hydro power system as they are easy to get, cheap, already insulated and have holes to mount low voltage water heating […]

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The Difference Between AC and DC Fuses

August 17, 2015
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It saddens me that folks are risking their lives, family member’s lives and personal property by trying to save a dollar by using off-the-shelf AC (alternating current) fuses (or circuit breakers and switches) in their 12, 24 or even 48 volt battery systems, not to mention their 120, 150, 200 or even 600 volt DC […]

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Why Renewable Energy Isn’t For Everyone | In Fact Almost No One!

August 13, 2015
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In the developed world we have become accustomed to having unlimited electricity. We turn on a light switch and a light turns on. We leave the light on for two weeks straight and the light stays on for two weeks straight. Even if we do leave a light bulb running for two weeks it affects […]

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Making a Solar Electric Water Heater | Can it Be Done?

April 1, 2015
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As the price of photovoltaic modules (solar modules, solar panels) continues to drop there are many discussions about using solar electric modules to heat water. No more leaks, messy and complicated plumbing, heat exchangers, controllers to fail, pumps to maintain and fluids to freeze. Solar hot water has been plagued with leaks, freezing (or poisonous […]

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Using Your Generator to Charge Your Batteries

September 28, 2013
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There are going to be many times when the sun isn’t shining, the wind isn’t blowing and your batteries are low. The only choice you might have is to charge your batteries using your fossil fueled generator. As you may already know, there is not a more expensive method of battery charging than using a […]

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The Best Choices for Your First Solar Battery Bank

September 18, 2013
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You will make a lot of mistakes in the beginning of your “off grid” adventures and your batteries will pay the price whether they are deluxe and expensive models or decent quality and cost effective. If your solar installer/designer tries to sell you a “high end” (and very expensive) battery bank for your first energy […]

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Dump Loads for Solar, Wind and Microhydro

May 2, 2013
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Dump loads a.k.a. diversion loads are are an important part of the off grid electric system. Almost all wind and water turbine installations will require them and most solar installations can benefit from a dump load. As we discussed in the dump load intro, a dump load is simply an electrical device (load) to send […]

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Solar Module Efficiency

April 25, 2013
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As manufacturers improve their processes, solar module efficiency increases. But the real question is “Who cares?”. A solar module’s efficiency is stated in a % (percentage) of how much energy is captured per square meter of solar panel. The module on the right is considered high efficiency with a rating of 20.2%. Solar modules are […]

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Skystream Automatic Disconnection

April 22, 2013
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Southwest Windpower’s Skystream can be used to charge batteries but a circuit must be present that will shut the turbine down as the batteries reach a full state of charge or a circuit to dump the extra power. If you could hire someone inexpensively to shut the breaker off as the batteries “top off” that […]

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Add a Diversion Load to a SkyStream

April 18, 2013
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There are a few methods to add a diversion load to your Skystream. The best methods are shown below (option #1 or option #2) but it assumes you either have a charge controller/ inverter with a programmable relay driver/output or you will purchase a diversion controller. Outback Power, Schneider Electric and Magnum Energy. Midnite Solar, […]

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Skystream Battery Charging How To

April 18, 2013
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The Skystream made by Southwest Windpower is a grid tie wind turbine that is designed to produce 240 volts AC at 60HZ (or 50HZ)  no matter what speed the wind is blowing. It does this by taking the wild AC from the alternator, rectifying it to DC and inverting back to AC. It is quite […]

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Dump Load / Diversion Load Intro

April 16, 2013
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Since there is a lot of confusion about diversion loads, we will discuss what they are and why they are used. A dump load is nothing more than a resistor (heating element) that is used for dumping electricity when it is not needed or to prevent your battery bank from being overcharged. It could be […]

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Using an Electric Heater as a Dump Load

April 12, 2013
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A common question I get asked is “Can I use a standard 120/240 AC heating element or hot water heater element as a DC dump load for my wind turbine/water turbine/solar system?” (Wondering what a dump load is? Click here) (More advanced diversion load info for solar, wind and water power) The answer is yes […]

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