Solar Basics

  • How to Design Solar Lighting Systems

    One popular application for solar is lighting. It’s cheaper in most cases to build a solar lighting system than trench and connect utility power, even if the ongoing costs of buying power are ignored. With the recent progress in energy efficient LED lights, solar lighting on a larger scale is practical and affordable.

    Here are some ideas about designing a solar lighting system:

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  • Designing Industrial Solar Systems for Dual Voltage Loads

    Many industrial solar system designers are faced with the issue of power systems needing to supply both 12 and 24V loads. Though SCADA systems are available with either voltage, issues arise when equipment of differing DC voltages is incorporated into the same system, for example 12V radios and 24V sensors. The solution includes the addition of a DC-DC converter (available in a variety of ampacities) to make all of the loads the same voltage to match the battery system voltage. Continue reading

  • Is Net Metering Right for You?

    Meter Reading Information Our BC Hydro bill shows us both our net consumption, but also what we sent back to our neighbours. We get a full kilowatt hour credit for the solar power that we couldn’t use, so nothing was wasted.

    Our solar system – 6.2kW in all, produced 38% of our electricity over the past 12 months.

    Net Metered BC Home – A Case Study

    Our family of four uses 19,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. That’s more than the Canadian average of 11,000 kWh, but we do have two teenagers with all their electronics, a 100% electric car (Nissan Leaf), and a hot tub to keep Dear Old Dad going after his overzealous sporting activities. Not to mention warm floors in the bathrooms.

    In BC the cost of electricity has risen 15% over the past two years, which equates to 13.4 cents with the 5% annual increase and GST. This is for all kilowatt-hours over 1132 per billing period, or about 8000 kWh per year. With billions of dollars needed for upgrades to the province’s electrical grid and an additional $8 billion needed for the Site C project, we expect regular price increases to the cost of electricity.

    Our goal was to reduce our electrical purchases by 40% using solar, without a drastic change in lifestyle. The process started with a roof assessment. Like most Canadian houses, there are lots of smaller, non-solar-friendly spaces. There are many pitches, dormers, skylights, roof vents, and decorative pieces in lieu of a large, south-facing, 30-degree pitch. Oh well – we’ve got what we’ve got, so we worked with it. Continue reading

  • Industrial Solar System Sizing Guide - Industrial Solar 101

    HES has provided equipment for thousands of Industrial Solar Power Systems operating in Canada. The key to repeat business is a solar power system that always works. A successful solar power system is one where the potential solar production always exceeds the power needed by the equipment, the batteries stay more or less fully charged, and where there are no interruptions in power delivery. Continue reading

  • Deep Cycle Battery Maintenance Part 1: Assessing Water Levels

    Knowing how to check deep cycle battery water levels is an important step in battery maintenance.

    More battery banks are lost due to poor maintenance than any other cause. Regular maintenance should take place every three months, and checking and maintaining deep cycle battery water levels is an important step in that process. Continue reading

  • Deep Cycle Battery Maintenance Part 2: Checking Specific Gravity

    In this article, we'll show you how to check the charge of your deep cycle battery using a Hydrometer.

    More battery banks are lost due to poor maintenance than any other cause. Regular maintenance should take place every three months, and ensuring your battery's charge level is full is an important step in that process.
    To ensure your deep cycle battery is fully charged you'll need to measure the specific gravity with a Hydrometer or Refractometer.

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  • Deep Cycle Battery Maintenance Part 3: Checking Battery Voltage

    In this article we'll show you how to use a voltmeter to check your battery's charge level.

    More battery banks are lost due to poor maintenance than any other cause. Regular maintenance should take place every three months, and ensuring that your battery's charge level is full is integral to that process. You can use a voltmeter to quickly check the charge level of your deep cycle battery. To do this we first need to check the Open Circuit Voltage. Continue reading

  • How to Wire Solar Panels in Parallel or Series

    When connecting multiple solar panels in a 12-48 volt off-grid system, you have a few options: parallel, series, or a combination of the two. In this article, we’ll give you the basics on wiring solar panels in parallel and in series. Let’s start off with a quick comparison of parallel circuits and series circuits.
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