You have a Tiny House or one is in your future plans. You are fired up to start taking control of your energy needs by adding in a solar array. But the question is, how do you tackle this new endeavor?
Before we get into the dynamics of a solar array, it is best to understand a few options available to you right now. And in these options, we are going to specifically address off-grid solar arrays. Off-grid solar arrays function without the use of the electrical grid, which makes them ideal for tiny houser’s. A typical off-grid solar array has a lot of different mechanisms that need to work together in perfect harmony. Some of these mechanisms are the charge controller, ground fault protection, circuit breakers/fuses, bypass switches, DC monitoring (if available), the inverter, and more.
This is enough work to intimidate an experienced solar designer let alone someone new to solar. However, before you get discouraged, most off-grid solar manufacturers have already created a solution. The solution is typically termed as a distribution panel, epanel, or FLEXpower system depending on the manufacturer. Essentially, each of these systems is a form of a pre-wired distribution panel. This means that a good portion of the complexity in designing an off-grid solar array has been lifted off your shoulders.
A great example is Outback Power’s FLEXpower system. This FLEXpower system is as close to plug-and-play as you can get in an off-grid solar array. All of the mechanisms required to create an off-grid solar array have been package and pre-wired for you. The charge controller, circuit breakers, battery disconnects, dc monitoring, inverter, etc. are all wired together for you in one neat ready to ship package. What you are left with is adding your own solar modules, batteries, and AC electrical panel.
Please note that this is not a sales pitch for Outback Power. I am merely using this product as an example based on its seamless integration. This package eliminates a lot of installation error as the protective devices and wire sizing have all been done for you. There are other versions created by manufacturers such as Magnum Energy, Xantrex, and Midnite Solar. This just happens to be the most completely done version on the market today in my opinion.
Stay tuned as in the next articles we will talk about sizing the solar array, sizing the battery bank, discussing the AC Electrical Panel, and much more.
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