How Home Automation Can Make Your Home More Efficient

How Home Automation Can Make Your Home More Efficient

Home automation can apply to almost any room or appliance in your home, if you have the right technology installed. It’s becoming more freely available, from comprehensive systems for your entire home, to mobile apps that control your individual kitchen appliances or heating systems. Major electronics retailers are increasing their range of items that can connect to the Internet and be controlled remotely, and home owners also have the option of choosing a home automation specialist for things ranging from home cinema installation to multi room music systems.

In general these home automation systems can make your home run more efficiently in several different ways. They may save you energy, money, time or all of the above.

Here are a few of the primary factors that can really make a difference:

1) Controlling your heating – The idea of controlling the temperature of your home remotely is arguably one of the things that has really driven innovation and development in this area. Now the technology has caught up to expectations, it’s very easy to install a smart thermostat that can be adjusted automatically or manually via a mobile app. This means you can adapt to unexpected changes to the weather, or when you plan to be home. If nobody is home, most systems will have a preset “Away” setting to conserve energy. Continue reading “How Home Automation Can Make Your Home More Efficient”

Electricity Collectors

Electricity Collectors

There are two kinds of electrical photovoltaic solar systems: off-grid and on-grid.  The off-grid system works totally independent of the regular power company feed.  It requires batteries.  The grid system incorporates your solar electrical supply directly into the power system that receives electricity from the power company grid.  Batteries are not required in the grid system.  They are used by some for a backup system in the event of emergencies.  Your own supply from your solar panels makes it possible for you to reduce your need of electricity from the power company.  You can even produce a surplus that is turned back onto the grid for which the power company credits your account.  The power company will even pay you       when your system produces a surplus.

Solar_Plant_kl

The electrical photovoltaic collection solar panel is the first of the four components necessary to collect sunlight and transform it into usable electricity in an off-grid system.  An electrical solar panel consists of individual like silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight.  Light particles of sunlight, or photons, hitting the silicon cells produce electrical current.  The average solar panel, two feet by four and one-half feet, with at least 36 cells can at peak generate approximately 24 volts of electricity.

You calculate how much electricity will be needed from any system and match that calculation to the number of solar panels needed to produce that much electricity.  This is then matched to the number of batteries needed to store your electricity.    Usually, eight to ten solar panels with 17-19 twelve volte batteries will supply on an average 15 to 18 hundred square foot house on a continuous basis with all the most common electricity needs.  This is just an estimate, mind you, and each house will have its own unique considerations requiring more or less batteries.

Solar panel on a red roof reflecting the sun and the cloudless blue sky

There are three kinds of electrical photovoltaic solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous.  The best, and most expensive of these, is the monocrystalline which cells are composed of pure silicon involving sophisticated crystal development.  Less efficient is the polycrystalline, which is derived from large blocks of numerous crystals.   Polycrystalline solar panels have a shattered glass appearance.

By far the least expensive and the least efficient is the amorphous solar panel not made from crystals but merely silicon spread over metal or glass.  This does not yield the same amount of electrical power as monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells.  Vastly more square footage of the amorphous solar panels is required to generate the equivalent output of monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels.  The advantage of amorphous photovoltaic cells is that they are now made into roofing shingles which mount right on the roof and replace asphalt shingles.  They thereby serve the dual purposes of protecting the house or building from the weather and providing electricity.

Off-Grid Electrical System

Off-Grid Electrical System

Solar controllers are rated in amps and volts.  Thus, the solar controller must have the capability to accommodate the current or amperage and volts emitted from the solar panel.  Batteries can be overcharged and ruined.  Excessive discharge can also damage the battery.  The controller is set between the electrical solar panel and the storage batteries for protection from overcharging or undercharging of the batteries.  The purpose of the controller is to match the current (amperage) and voltage (force of the current) of the solar panel with the charging capacity of the batteries.  The battery fully charged the controller cuts off the current from the solar panels.  The best controllers also have a low voltage cut off which prevents the battery from being drained of electricity below the point of no recovery.

Receding Solar Panels

Batteries

Electrical solar storage batteries are different than automobile batteries.  They are built to endure the type of charging and discharging associated with solar electricity collecting.  There are basically three kinds of batteries for solar electricity storage: flood lead-acid; sealed absorbent glass mat; and gel-cell.  The flood lead-acid batteries do not cost as much, but require special maintenance, such as having to add distilled water to replenish water losses during charges.  Sealed absorbent glass mat batteries are the most used.  They do not require special maintenance, are kept at full charge, and are especially designed to function in a bank in tandem with other batteries. Gel-celled batteries do not freeze. They are better to use where excessive cold predominates.

The number of batteries needed depends on the electrical load expected to be sustained and for how long.  For an off-grid system, the typical aim is to store an ample supply of electricity for continuous day and night time use, as well as enough storage for one to three cloudy days.  For the average house of 1500 to 1800 square feet, this will be an estimated 17 to 19 twelve volt batteries.

Where multiple batteries are used, they are tied together by cables connecting the positive to positive and negative to negative posts.  Electrical energy is stored in batteries by means of a chemical reaction.  For this reason solar electrical storage batteries pose danger when not handled and stored right.  Explosion, serious chemical burns, and electrocution are possible by mishandling solar electrical batteries.  Electrical solar storage batteries should be housed in a well-ventilated place that is clean and dry; and the area secluded from children and unauthorized others who are not familiar with the possible dangers.  You should not be put off or dissuaded from your interest in and pursuit of electrical solar energy because of the potential dangers.  By and large, the benefits are immense and dangers reduced to nothing when the equipment is properly handled.

The batteries are connected to an inverter.

Inverter

solar-panels

The inverter is the essential link between the electrical solar panels and usable electricity.  Both off-grid and on-grid electrical solar systems require an inverter to transform DC electricity collected from sunlight into 120 volt or 240 volt AC electricity for use to power household lights, appliances, and other things.  Also, on-grid inverters synchronize the electricity produced from the solar panel system to the utility company’s AC grade.  This makes it possible for the excess of surplus electricity to be fed into the power company’s utility grid.

On-grid solar collector systems don’t have to have, but usually include, a battery bank for backup.  Special inverters with a battery charger are available allowing the batteries to be charged from the grid and allow for them to be charged by a gas powered generator.
On-grid inverters are weather proofed so they can be installed outside near other electrical equipment, whereas off-grid inverters are usually not weather proofed and are made to be used very near the indoor electrical fuse or breaker box.

Free Winter Heat and Summer Air Conditioning

Free Winter Heat and Summer Air Conditioning

Sound ludicrous? I thought so when I first heard it.  But a little research proves it true.  Free heating, air conditioning and electricity available just for the taking!  The sweet thing?  Its just outside your door! I’m talking about sunlight, of course.

Like picking juicy grapes from a vine or ripe apples from a tree, all you have to do is gather it, and put it to use in your house, garage, shop, outdoor buildings, pool, or in your garden, along your walkways…whatever.  You can heat your house in the winter and air condition it in the summer.  You can also power you lights, appliances, electronics, power tools- anything that works off electricity, all for the cheap price of free.  Heck, some people even power their cars with it, and some have even flown airplanes. Now, you can be your own utility company and toss those power company bills in the garbage!

Green-Technology
Used to be such talk was ludicrous. Today it is a reality.  If you want to undo the shackles of oil, gas and electrical power companies off your pocketbook, good ‘ole clean, ever bountiful, never ending, renewed every morning sunshine is the way to go.

Sunlight will heat as well as supply all your electrical needs! So, the question is, “How can I transform this common commodity we all know as “light” into a furnace for heating my home in the winter and air conditioning to cool it in the summer?  How can I turn that same “light” into electricity to supply the power needs of my house?  And any other thing that runs on electricity?  Some very innovative folks have figured it out.   Now there are hundreds, even thousands of good relatively cheap “plug and play” products that do the job for you.  And, if you’d rather, there are “do it yourself” building instructions that guide you step by step how to harvest the sunlight, turn it into heat and air conditioning, as well as electricity, and hitch it to your house and/or whatever gadgets you want to run-  all for free.

greentechnology

If you are building a new house you can, with just about the same cost of installing an oil or gas fired furnace or heat pump, now install solar generated heat and air conditioning equipment, and never have to pay or worry about another oil or gas bill again.  Also, you can build or buy solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity to use in any way you see fit, cutting down electric company bills dramatically, or even eliminating them altogether.  Utilizing “net metering” you can even collect a check from the power company each month for the excess electricity you put back onto the power grid!  Not only that, but Uncle Sam with State and municipalities tax credits and rebates will pay up to 50% of the cost of installation!Is that a good deal or what?