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Handbook for Energy Independence

A 48 Volt DC, 4.5 KiloWatt Solar Power System
Design Data Worksheet
Systems Loads Worksheet
Concept Phase
Design Phase
Purchasing Phase
Installation Phase
Final Remarks


A photovoltaic (PV) system is an assembly of components that receives radiation from the Sun and converts it to electricity. This energy can be stored in a bank of batteries or put to immediate use.

microgrid solar power concept

The number of potential system configurations is many since each person will have a different purpose and design strategy for their system. Installation locations will also vary in their geography and potential for solar energy. The basic components and design philosophy, however, remains virtually the same.

The first step forward is establishing the design criteria for your system. These three questions should be answered to the best of your abilities:
• Where will the energy system be used?
• How often will energy be used - regularly (daily), intermittenly (a few days per week or month), or stored for emergency reserve?
• What electrical loads will be attached, and what are their reported power consumptions?

Below is an introduction to the three major components that are the heart and soul of any PV system. They will have to be sized carefully, which is covered later in the handbook.

Photovoltaic Panel
A PV panel produces Direct Current (DC) electricity when absorbing photons of sunlight.  They do this by using specialized semi-conductor materials, which are also highly strategic to the computer industry.  PV panels have been developed and in use for many decades as part of the space program.

Several types of PV panels are in existence, with the most popular based on materials of ultra high purity silicone.  Alternative types are under development to help lower manufacturing costs.  Some designs, such as cadmium telluride based semi-conductors, are showing promise for future production. 

microgrid solar power photovoltaic

The electrical conversion efficiency of most PV panels varies between 10 – 15% depending on the quality of the unit, how many years it’s been in operation, and the cleanliness of the absorbing surface. This means that for every 1,000 watts of radiation we absorb from the sun, we can expect somewhere around 100-150 watts of DC electricity generated by the panel. Specialized units exist that can achieve 20% conversion or higher, but they are more expensive and usually limited to the space industry.


MicroGrid Living

- MicroGrid Power Systems
- Benefits of the MicroGrid
- Running on DC Electricity
- Things to Think About
- Sizing Your Microgrid Power System
- Energy Conservation Strategies
- Hybrid Power Systems

MicroGrid Solar Power

- Solar Power Applications
- Photovoltaic Solar Panels
- Increasing Solar Panel Performance
- Mounting PV Solar Panels
- Solar Power Tracking Systems
- One Axis Solar Panel Tracking (Passive)
- Solar Power Cost & Payback
- Sizing your Solar Power System

MicroGrid Power Devices

- Wind Turbines
- Wood Burner Systems
- Thermal Power Systems
- DC Thermal Generators
- Hydro Turbines

MicroGrid History

- Nikola Tesla Source of Human Energy
- Nikola Tesla Energy from the Medium
- James Watt & the Steam Engine
- Marcellus Jacob Wind Turbine

microgrid power