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Design & Resources

The First Step

Where do I Start?

New to the world of Alternative Energy? Fed up with relying on someone else for your electricity? Fear not, we can help you! Where to start depends on what your goals are, geographical layout of your land, finances available.

Introduction to Renewable Energy - excerpts from EA's 12th edition buyers guide and product catalogue. PDF download.

Renewable Energy Primer by William H. Kemp. PDF download.

Educate yourself - visit the books and education section of our website for a selection of study materials.

If you are on the grid (ie you pay a monthly bill for the energy you use), and looking to save money, the first thing to do is educate yourself on conservation. It is ALWAYS cheaper to not use the power in the first place. Most north American families and businesses use (waste?) more energy than is necessary. Not only does it waste resources, it costs you money.

The best place to start is to purchase a case of compact fluorescent fixtures & replace the units in your home with these modern, economical fixtures. Then convince your neighbor to do the same. This is generally the simplest, most cost effective upgrade that you can do. After that, you could examine appliances for possible replacement and seek and destroy phantom loads, products which consume power even when they are "off".

Once you have become as efficient as possible, consider installing a solar panel to supplement the power you consume. Solar-Thermal uses the sun's energy to heat or preheat hot water. Solar electric generates electricity from the sun's energy. Thermal applications generally offer better financial payback over the lifetime of the product compared to solar electric.

If you live off-grid, beyond the reach of the unlimited source of energy that most North American's enjoy you have a different situation altogether. You have two initial choices - live without power, or become your own power provider.

If you desire electricity, you have a myriad of options and decisions to make. This website will give you the information required to decide which type of system is most suitable for your lifestyle...

The old school of thought was to buy a generator and run it whenever you needed electricity. No generator, no power. While a fossil-fuel generator plays an important role in alternative energy systems, generator-only situations are generally wasteful as the generator may remain running to power very small loads, which would be better powered by an inverter. A battery and Inverter subsystem allows the generator to run when required for large loads and battery charging, while the inverter powers smaller loads when the generator is off.

When shopping for an alternative energy system, it will eventually come down to your site and what resources are available for generation of energy. Generally, everyone has access to the sun.

Solar-Electric (photovoltaic) harnesses the sun's energy and converts into electricity. It is the simplest form of alternative energy, it's also the most expensive.

Wind can be harnessed to produce large amounts of energy. Wind energy is very site specific. If you do not have a good wind site to start with, results will be disappointing no matter what you do.

Micro-hydro harnesses the energy in falling water and produces electricity. It is the most cost effective of all alternative energy. If you have a source of running water, you simply must examine it's potential.

Most systems are hybrid in design - they use more than one charging source, often varying with the seasons. For example, a wind and solar hybrid system is very common. In the winter months, when the hours of sunshine are low, the winds are generally stronger.

The System Design section of the website takes you step-by-step through the process of evaluating your site's potential. You can also download our catalogue in .pdf format or request a print copy.

We hope you have found the information you are looking for. Once you have a rough idea what type of system is most appropriate for your needs, contact us and we will be pleased to assist in the final system design and implementation.


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