Solar Panels use light energy from the sun to generate electricity. They are the start of every solar setup. There are two options when choosing panels: mono-crystalline or polycrystalline. Mono-crystalline panels have higher effieciency rates and live longer, but they are typically more expensive. Polycrystalline Panels are easier to manufacture, and less silicon is wasted through the process. The Panels create low voltage DC current that flows to the Charge Controller.
Wind Turbines are a great addition to a solar system, but you want to make sure it's worth it for your area. Wind turbines generate the most energy at night and in the winter, which is a great feature, because this is when solar systems are the weakest.
Hydro Electric Generators
Hydro Electric Generators use falling water to spin a turbine to create electricity. They are very reliable, and produce clean energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Your battery bank is where your energy is stored. Lead Acid batteries still dominate this industry, but Lithium is making huge gains as its price comes down, and storage capabilities go up. Unless you're going with a lithium bank, we recommend using AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries. They are completely sealed, so you don't have to worry about off-gassing. The battery bank is the most expensive part of an off-grid solar system. From your batteries, DC current flows then to the inverter.
The charge controller limits the rate of current flowing to the batteries. It prevents the batteries from overcharging, as well as preventing electricity from flowing back to the panels. Charge controllers are rated for both Amps and Volts. There are a few different types of Controllers, but we stick with MPPT Controllers due to their high efficiencies typically reaching 98%. From the charge controller, the electricity flows to the combiner box and then the battery bank.
The Combiner Box is where the cables and wire come together. These boxes are engineered to prevent over-current and over-voltage situations with the use of breakers. The combiner box is where all of the negative and ground wires meet at their respected terminals. From the Combiner Box, current then flows to charge the battery bank.
The inverter takes low voltage DC power, and inverts it to 120V AC which is your common house power. Anything that plugs into a house outlet runs off of 120V AC, that is the main reason to invert your system. There are appliances that run straight off of DC current, and you can connect a fuse, and run them straight off of the battery bank. Adding an inverter also helps with efficiencies due to line loss. From the inverter, the power runs to a house breaker box, or straight to the house loads.
Cables and Wires
The cables and wires tie all of the components together. When wiring with DC current red = positive | black = negative | green = ground. When wiring with AC loads black = hot | white = neutral | bare = ground. The thickness of the cable is a factor of current. The higher the amps, the more line loss that occurs, so thicker cables help with efficiency and safety.