Solar Powered Generators for Remote Areas|
Article - April 12, 2016 By LarsonElectronics.com
Solar Powered Generators for Remote Areas
Living in remote locations calls for the use of unconventional power sources. Fuel and solar powered generators are the most ideal options for such living arrangements. The latter option is gaining popularity in the sustainable living community due to its energy efficient and hands-off advantages.
Read on to understand the difference between fuel and solar powered generators, and the benefits of using green power when living off the grid.
Challenges with Remote Living and Traditional Fuel Generators
Portable generators thrive where conventional electricity sources are scarce or unreliable. Traditionally, gas generators served as the primary solution to this issue. The machines are designed to convert chemical energy from gasoline into mechanical energy, then into electrical energy for consumption. The most common types of fuels that are used for fuel generators include: gasoline, diesel, commercial propane, natural gas, and bio-diesel.
Fuel generators are typically used for emergencies, and not as a main power source, because they need to be fed consistent amounts of gas during operation. Without a connection to a fuel line, or access to reliable fuel sources, most individuals are forced to use the generator only when it is necessary. It important to note that gasoline (E10) has an average shelf life of three months, while Ethanol-based alcohol fuel can last up to 90 days. This means that users who rely on gas generators will need to make continuous trips to a fuel source to maintain power. Storing large amounts of fuel above the NFPA recommendation of 25 gallons (outside of an approved storage cabinet) also comes with fire hazards and explosive risks. Individuals would need to create a separate storage location for the fuel containers, away from the living quarters. For fuel generators that run on propane, exposure to low temperatures may decrease its efficiency.
From a maintenance perspective, diesel generators are a cost effective solution for remote electricity. However, the adoption of such appliances come with several drawbacks. The machines generate a lot of noise, which can be disruptive when used at night. They are also bulky, and are a major source of pollution. This makes using the generator near the home undesirable.
Benefits of Solar Powered Generators
Solar powered generators are advantageous for people located in remote areas. Using natural sunlight, a solar generator can be used to power appliances, lights and electronics around the living quarters. Unlike fuel generators, solar generators use panels to harvest UV rays, and the rays are converted into electricity and stored inside a battery for future consumption. Most solar panels convert around 34 percent (22 percent for low-quality panels) of sunlight into electrical energy.
Initially, solar powered generators can be costly to purchase. But with minimal maintenance and ongoing costs, individuals are not required to continuously invest in the machine to ensure functionality. Sunlight is considered to be an “infinite” power source, and owners would only be limited by their system’s power storage capacity. Sun patterns are also generally predictable, making energy calculations easy to manage. During rain or snow, individuals would have to rely on stored power from the battery of the solar powered system.
Solar powered generators have a longer lifespan than fuel generators because they have no moving parts and do not require ventilation. While the panels are outside harvesting sunlight, other components of the system, such as the battery and controllers, can be stored inside the living area. This would allow owners to keep their system in optimal condition, away from external dangers and hazards. Solar generators are considered to be a green power source because they do not pollute the air. This could be beneficial for sustainable living areas with crops and clean water sources. The application of the units promote safety in remote locations by decreasing the risk of fuel contamination and combustion (since the system does not rely on fuel).