05 December 2012

solar PV electricity & non-electric gadgets at Lindberg Landing

Solar PV array at the Lindberg Landing Guesthouse
I returned back from a community visit to Fort Liard on Monday & Tuesday and finally have a chance to post another update about the "off grid" operations here at Lindberg Landing.  The information sessions I offered to students at Aurora College and staff at Beaver Enterprises were received very well and I was able to fit in some very excellent meetings in between these sessions.
3 of the 5 different types of solar panels
There's been quite an accumulation of snow while I was away, which is not apparent in the pic's I'm posting since I am using pic's that I took on a trip out here almost a year ago.  These solar panels don't get much, if any, snow gathering on them though, because of their vertical orientation along the south-facing wall of the main Guesthouse.

the other 2 types of solar panels ...
For this blog update, I am documenting the different components of the Solar PV system & what they look like.  When I am back in the office & able to discuss things more fully with our AEA Energy Specialists, I can provide some additional information to explain what each component of the system does & why it is important for the operations of this Solar PV set-up.   

You can also refer to a couple of on-line documents for more detailed explanations of a wide variety of "off grid" systems created by Arctic Energy Alliance AEA Remote Facilities Guide & the Yukon Energy Solutions "Living Off Grid in the Yukon" Guide (there are great explanations of "off grid" systems in this guide book) http://www.energy.gov.yk.ca/pdf/living_offgrid09_web.pdf

Solar PV Battery Bank - Surrette batteries
... beside 2 old kerosene lanterns that used to be used in the barn at Lindberg Landing & are still used in the root cellar when needed.

The 12 Volt battery bank at Lindberg Landing consists of of 10, Surrette batteries that store energy for the Lindberg Landing Solar PV system.  Each battery = 6 Volts & the batteries operate in pairs, so each pair is one component of a 12 Volt system.  I will add more to this explanation after I can connect with one of our AEA Energy Specialists tomorrow.  

Currently though (pun intended), one of the batteries needs to be replaced, so that puts the matching pair to that battery out of operation until there is another battery to be paired up with it again.  So, the battery bank is not able to store the maximum it is set-up for while this battery pair is not in the system.

Batteries require regular maintenance - every 3 months you check the specific gravity of the battery acid with a hydrometer & top them up with distilled water as necessary.
solar PV instrumentation ...
Soltek Power Source DC Disconnect (white box with green stripe on the left), Magnum Energy Inverter (dark grey box in the middle), & Magnum Inverter instrument panel (black panel on the right), and Xantrex Battery Storage Monitor (light grey with green stripe & red number display, lower right).

The Magnum Inverter converts the 12 Volt, DC power into 120 Volt, AC power.  This makes it possible to operate the AC light switches & outlets so that you can use various appliances and electronics such as the computer, T.V., ...

solar PV instrumentation (con't)
Magnum Energy Inverter (upper left), Xantrex Battery Storage Monitor, & Outback Power Systems Tracking Charger ControllerThe Outback Tracking System provides a continuous readout of the minimum & maximum battery voltages obtained, peak input voltage & current, accumulated amp hours & total power production in kiloWatt hours (kWh), peak kWh, & accumulated absorbed & float times.

small inverter (StatPower - ProWatt 250 Inverter)
This inverter can be used when a smaller amount of AC current is required, such as plugging in to the Internet (satellite connection & wireless Internet), charging up my laptop through the outlet on the front but actually using the laptop requires more than the capacity of this inverter.  You know when the ProWatt inverter is being overdrawn when it starts to squeal a high pitched sound.  When a greater amount of electricity is required, then the larger, Magnum Inverter needs to be turned on.
DC powered light bulb ... difficult to find replacement bulbs
some of the built-in lighting options at Lindberg Landing ... propane mantle lamps, DC light socket with incandescent bulb in it (not used with this bulb, just for keeping the socket occupied), compact fluorescent bulb in AC socket)

Sue firing up the Honda generator to pump water from the well to the water storage tank upstairs in the Guesthouse
Using the gas-powered generator is another way to make it possible to use the AC switches & outlets in the Guesthouse.  Operation of the water pump to refill the water storage tank upstairs in the Guesthouse is done 1-2 times per week, as required. 
Communications Hub for the Lindberg Landing Guesthouse
Telephone = radio phone in the foreground, Internet = satellite modem & wireless router (upper left), ProWatt inverter on the right with the powerbar plugged into it, wires connecting to solar PV system on the wall at the back.
DC powered freezer ... located in the cellar of the Guesthouse
 ... 2 propane powered freezers are also utilized in the Summer as necessary

Sue's most frequently used non-electric kitchen gadgets ... very handy to have in any kitchen, really :)
Hand-cranked food processor, nut chopper, vegetable slicer/shredder, stovetop/campfire toaster used on top of the wood-fired kitchen stove, egg slicer (clockwise fr. L-R).  You may think that most of these items may only be found at garage sales or through Ktel television advertisements, but there are a few ways to access many related items through the Lehman's Non-Electric Catalogue as one example.  It's a pretty neat catalogue, looking forward to checking it out more in their on-line version:  https://www.lehmans.com/default.aspx

Alas, my immersion in "off grid" living & the opportunity to share snippets of these experiences with you have been great.  Please consider posting a comment or question to provide any feedback or ideas on other "off grid' or energy-saving gadgets, activities, & systems.  Perhaps I can address some of these comments/questions in future posts to this blog.

That's all for now, ... time to post this new update.  I'll see what else I can add into a few more posts soon, when I am no longer living "off grid" but retracing some of the very educational & fun experiences I've had out at Check Point & here at Lindberg Landing :)

"Mahsi cho!" to Sue, here at Lindberg Landing and to Lynn & Wayne out at Check Point for making it possible for me to experience & share what it is like to be "Up the Dehcho ... without a Powerline" ...  :)


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