Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When it Absolutely Has to Work

I attended a funeral last night and happened to be sitting directly behind the widow of the deceased. She was talking to a friend about the last few months before her husband died. Because her husband needed an oxygen-producing device of some sort, she described her panic when an ice storm knocked out power at her home. She couldn’t understand why the device didn’t include a battery backup. At that moment my wife and I looked at each other, knowing that we could have provided a solution to her problem.

When an electrically powered device is necessary to sustain life, a backup source of power is an important consideration. While a generator might be the best backup strategy for a hospital or institution, it may not be the best solution for an individual with special needs who’s living at home. For a variety of reasons, it could fail when it’s needed most.

The most reliable system is the one with the fewest moving parts, and one that doesn’t depend upon the delivery, storage, and periodic replacement of fuel. A properly designed and installed solar photovoltaic (PV) system is the ideal system in this scenario.

A well designed PV system will have enough panels and a large enough battery bank to provide the needed power even during short winter days, and when the sun doesn’t shine for a few consecutive days. This is a departure from the typical off-grid PV system. Typically, off-grid PV systems are undersized for economic reasons, and a backup generator is used as needed.

To enhance its reliability, the PV system used as a power source for a life-sustaining device should not be used to provide power to anything other than the life-sustaining device itself. Furthermore, the PV system should be protected by proper grounding, and through the use lightning-protection devices. Over-sizing the inverter is another way to improve system reliability. Regular system tests or continuous monitoring equipment are important as well.

If my life depended upon an electrically-powered device I’d want that device to be powered by my own photovoltaic system. I would test the system periodically and inspect batteries and wiring. In addition, I would maintain an inventory of spare parts for the system. In other words, I’d attend to the system as if my life depended upon it.

Solar John

1 comment:

Jay Draiman said...


In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy sources must change.
"Energy drives our entire economy." We must protect it. "Let's face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy." The American way of life is not negotiable.
Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption.

The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task.

This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.
"To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality."

Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
Northridge, CA. 91325

P.S. I have a very deep belief in America's capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.
I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis--the one in 1942--President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.
The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X's 5 hrs per day X's 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 24 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence.

Installing renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage.

Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.