The Story Behind the Company
Having made the choice to live "off the grid" when the cost to run power to my home site was $14,000 in 1980, I did not know at the time that I was embarking on a pioneering adventure. Initially the solution was kerosene lamps, wood stoves and frozen pipes but I soon tired of cleaning lamp chimneys and filling lamps every two days.
With my brother’s help, we built a wind generator to produce 12vdc power to store in batteries and run an inverter for 110v ac power. I soon discovered that the efficiency of the inverter was so poor that I used most of the stored power just to keep the system running and there was little power left to use.
The next experiment was to purchase a PV (photovoltaic) panel which magically made 12vdc power from the sun with no moving parts. That helped add power to the batteries but still didn’t help with the inefficiency of the inverter..
The next step was to move the PV panel to the house and put some more batteries under the kitchen sink! I was impressed!. Using high efficiency 12VDC fluorescent lights (camping lights) I found that my lighting problem was solved. I then added a 12V TV, and life was nice. But I soon wanted more so I added more PV panels, bought more lights, decided I really needed a refrigerator.
I bought one of those small office sized refrigerators thinking it would be efficient and purchased a new "state of the art" 600 watt inverter. The inverter worked fine and was efficient. Unfortunately the size of a refrigerator has no correlation to its efficiency and I found that I did not have nearly enough power to run it..
My desire to keep ice-cream led me to SunFrost in California, makers of the worlds most efficient refrigerator. $1800 later, our new SunFrost RF-12, a 12 cubic foot refrigerator complete with a large freezer, arrived. The freezer compartment is big enough for 20 qts.of Ben and Jerry’s Ice-cream instead of one cut in half with a knife as in my old one. It is a 12v model so I just hooked it up to the battery supply and marveled at how little power it used.
Of course we always want improvement in our lives so I decided that I needed a bigger inverter, one that would run my circular saw more efficiently and maybe handle a microwave. I bought a 1300 watt inverter and proceeded to burn it up twice by overloading it. The manufacturer of that inverter was more than fair with me as they fixed it twice at no charge long after the warranty had expired (and by the way, it still works today though it has been retired). We then added a gas hot air furnace and discovered that the furnace would not run properly on the inverter because it puts out a modified square wave instead of a sine wave. My choice was to buy another small true sine wave inverter to run the furnace or check out what was available to upgrade the whole system to a large sine wave inverter. All the while technology was advancing and the next generation of inverters was available. The choice was clear! It was a more expensive step but I found it was the solution to many problems. I bought a 4000 watt sine wave inverter with microprocessor control. It solved the furnace problem, and now I could run the furnace, microwave and washing machine all at the same time. I also had great fun setting up other nice features such as the automatic backup generator starting and battery monitoring. The best news of all is that you won’t have to upgrade 5 times, as I did, waiting for technology to catch up with your needs. The Technology is here now!
Solar Electric (PV) System Costs 2010 with 2018 prices added NOTE THE COST REDUCTION in 8 years
A Systems cost is affected by the size and type of the renewable energy source, size and type of the AC inverter, and also the size and model of backup generator (if used). Also affecting cost are variables such as type of mounting of PV Panels, internal wiring, outside wiring distances etc. Your choice of a system is dependent on your requirements for power and the percentage of your power that is generated by the renewable source. Your location determines the best choices for renewable energy. Some sites are good wind sites, some have ample water power and most have solar available. If your site does not have grid power or it will cost a significant amount of money to bring in the lines, then an off-grid system will be more cost effective. If power is already available on your site, a direct grid-tied system using the power company as your storage medium makes economic sense for the long term. Grid tied systems effectively lock in your future kWhr cost by trading your free solar or wind energy for their high cost power. Vermont’s net metering law allows feeding back to the grid all or part of your usage. However, the power company will not pay you for excess power sent into the grid over and above your annual usage. You are trading retail for retail kilowatts. Some states will pay for excess at avoided cost or wholesale cost but may also accept all power sent to them only at wholesale. You will then buy it back at retail. Other states have a monthly reset so you can’t bank power in the summer to use in the winter. Vermont’s Net Metering Law is therefore more favorable than many other states considering that we have seasonal differences in Solar, Wind and Hydro outputs. Grid Inter-tied / Net Metering For those who are already connected to the commercial power grid, you also have several options to use renewable solar or wind energy. Systems including PV Panels and a direct grid-tie inverter can be connected directly to your home’s AC power circuits. This will turn your meter backward, reducing your power bill. This is called Net Metering. This type of system is called a Direct Grid Tie system. Other options include installing a system similar to the independent home system with batteries but which is also interconnected to the grid to send excess solar and/or wind power back to the grid when not needed. You draw from the grid when your own sources are insufficient. This system also gives protection against power failures. This is called a Grid tie with Backup type system.
Grid Inter-tied / Net Metering System Price Ranges
NOTE: All costs are BEFORE Federal Credits (30%)to get more precise price ranges contact us for currently available Prices from 2010 (new pricing will be updated shortly).
5 KW Grid-Tie / Net Metering System $25,000 to $30,000 Installed. 2010 $15,000 or less in 2018
Home Backup Power System (Grid-Tied) with batteries, 3500 watt sinewave inverter, transformer for well pump, connections for any backup generator, 2kw PV on adjustable ground mount rack- $25,000 in 2010 $15,000 installed. 2018
Components of an independent/ (Off-Grid) Power System
A typical independent power system for the home today includes the following equipment: Batteries to store power Inverter to make 120 VAC power, backup gasoline or propane generator, Solar (PV) Panels and possibly a wind generator, switches and interconnect cables, performance monitoring devices. Typical Installed Independent / (Off-Grid) System Price Ranges: NOTE All costs are BEFOREFederal Credits to get more precise price ranges contact us for currently available Incentive and Rebate deductions.
Basic 12VDC Cabin, Barn, or Sign Lighting System with Batteries, PV Panels, - $1,400 to $4,500 installed.
Small 120VAC Off-Grid Cabin System with Batteries, PV Panels, Modified Sine wave Inverter- $3,200 to $8,500 Installed. Standard 120VAC
Off-Grid or Grid Tie with Backup Home System with Batteries, PV Panels and optional Wind Generator, Backup Propane Generator, Transformer for 240VAC well pump, 3500 watt Sine wave Inverter - $19,500 to $35,000 Installed.
Deluxe 120/240VAC Off-Grid Home System with Batteries, PV Panels optional Wind Generator, Backup Propane Generator, (2) 3500 WATT Inverters - $22,000 to $32,000 installed.
Energy Efficiency Energy efficiency is very important in an independent power system as significant cost savings can be realized by reducing the number of PV’s required to supply your energy needs The most significant electrical energy savings can be found by using: · Energy efficient refrigerators · Energy efficient freezers · High Efficiency LED lighting,· Heating systems without blowers · Efficient washing machines · Gas heated clothes dryer · Gas Hot Water heater and/or Solar hot water By optimizing energy use with efficient appliances, fewer Photovoltaic Panels will be required and less reliance will be placed on the backup generator or the grid.
1/10/15 Note: we no longer install solar hot water systems. With heat pump hot water heaters, the cost is much less today using solar PV and heat pump hot water heaters.
FOR New Home Construction: If you are planning to build a new home, we can help you optimize the electrical energy efficiency, and in doing so, save enough in construction, and heating costs to partially pay for the renewable energy system. Please call us for free initial consultation while in the planning stages of your new home.
An Investment for the Future The cost of commercial power will continue to rise indefinitely in the future for many reasons. First the delivery of power to you through a wire requires maintenance which is labor intensive and wages will not come down. The power source “too cheap to meter" nuclear power has become quite expensive. Polluting sources will need to be cleaned up and the ratepayer will pick up the tab. Only clean renewable solar, wind and Hydro can keep the environment clean. Direct grid-tie systems allow you to control the cost per kWhr paid to the power company by trading your free watts for their costly ones. By owning your own system rather than "renting" a power generator from the utility, you can truly declare your energy independence and security for the future. The above systems are turn-key installations with full parts and labor warranties. NOTE: 30% tax credit will be racheting down in 2019.
John Blittersdorf can help you evaluate your needs and evaluate your site to determine the most cost effective approach to join the solar age and Declare your Energy Independence! Please Contact us early in your project stage for a free initial consultation. You can contact us now via email, call us, make an appointment to visit our OFF-GRID office and see for yourself how far Renewable Energy Systems have improved and become much more cost effective.
John Blittersdorf , CV Wind Service (and Solar) 200 West Road, N Chittenden, VT 05763 (802) 770-8625 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org or John.Blittersdorf@gmail.com