Sustainable Energy Installations in BC's Central Interior
George, BC, Canada)
|This is one of several arrays that we installed in 2013. They
ranged from from 4 to 16 modules each. These large modules cost
about 1/3 as much per watt as the solar modules sold in the big box
We installed this array of sixteen, 290 watt modules at an off-grid site. Each solar module is about 1m wide by 2m high.
This 4,600 watt array charges a 48-volt Surrette battery using a single Midnite Solar Classic-200 charge controller. The Schneider Xantrex inverter provides 6 kilowatts of 120/240 volt power.
The pole structure was installed by the home owner. The center of the array (top of the poles) is 8.5 meters (28 feet) above ground to prevent shading by the trees during the winter.
The array was assembled on the ground and a crane truck was used to lift the array into position. A bucket truck was used to do the attachment and final wiring.
|To save floor space, this bank of Surrette S2-945 (945-ah) AGM
cells were installed in a steel rack (AKA battery stand).
Each cell has 4 positive and 4 negative posts and all of them must be connected. We ordered custom plates (straps) to do the inter-cell connections. The alternative would have been a rats nest of 48 separate cables between the cells! The result is a very neat and compact installation.
The front and top safety covers on the battery stand completed the installation.
AGM means Absorbed Glass Mat. They are a starved electrolyte battery similar in concept to gel cells but with different construction and characteristics. Like gel cells, they are maintenance free sealed cells with a pressure relief safety valve to allow gases to escape if the battery is severely over charged.
|This 1.8 Kw array is located at 53.5 degrees
Prince George. This array is mounted on a dual-axis tracker so it
onto the sun's position at sunrise and follows the sun on its
daily trip across the sky. During the summer, in this area,
sun rises behind a stationary array at about 4:00am and sets behind
array at about 10:00pm. We love our long summer days! The
enables the array to follow the sun from sunrise to sunset,
solar production by up to 8 hours on the longest days of the year.
The earth rotates 360 degrees in 24 hours which is 15° per hour or 1/4° per minute.
The apparent elevation angle of the sun in the sky changes ±23 ½° (from solstice) over the course of a year at a maximum rate of .016° per hour (.384°/day).
This Apricus evacuated tube solar hot water collector is located at 53.5 degrees north latitude, near Prince George, BC. The 30-tube collector is mounted on an Apricus stainless steel frame which is tilted to optimize production during winter months. This angle also reduces the output somewhat during the summer to reduce over heating. The house is not situated at the ideal angle so the collector faces east of true south.
The steep angle helps the snow to either slide off the collector or to not stick in the first place. During the winter of 2008-2009, the first winter of operation, the area received a total of about 1.2m (4 feet) of snow but only two days of hot water production were lost due to snow on the collector.The winter performance of this collector has far exceeded the owner's expectations. In February, there were over 3 weeks of clear cold days with overnight temperatures dipping to -35°C and daytime highs of around -20°C (zero on the antique scale) With two people in the house, the 300 liters (80 US gallons) of hot water storage, it was almost sufficient to carry over the few cloudy days.
Another unexpected benefit of this high mounting angle is that in the summer, late in the day when the sun is behind the collector, it shines on the back of the tubes and the collector keeps producing hot water.
This array supplies the power for an off-grid residence that is located a few kilometers north of Prince George.
In this installation, the mounting platform is all treated wood construction. It is located on the side of a south facing hill overlooking the Fraser river. The solar modules are mounted on aluminum frames that are bolted to the platform.
The autumn colors shown here are typical of this area.
Maintenance free absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are more expensive than flooded cells (dollars per kilowatt-hour of energy storage) but they are ideal for remote locations where maintenance is difficult. They are available in various sizes. The 2-volt cells are preferred for larger battery banks. This set of S2-590 Rolls batteries (made by Surrette) is rated at 590 amp-hours at the 100 hour rate
Surrette 927amp-hour batteries used in a 24-volt system near Prince George. These double-walled batteries are suitable for use inside a home. Each of these 6-volt batteries weighs 310 pounds.
backup power system using solar and wind.
Too bad the photographer didn't hold the camera level. I'll try to do better next time.
|For a large battery, a single string of 2-volt cells is preferred to connecting smaller batteries in parallel. This set of twelve Surette/Rolls S-1390 cells forms a 24-volt battery rated at 1,390 amp-hours.|
An older system using a pair of Trace modified square wave inverters for 120/240 vac power.
A 1970s vintage Dunlite wind turbine rated at 2kw continuous, 3kw for 4-hours. This unit was re-built and installed near Prince George.
For more information about Dunlite wind turbines and the early history of the Dunlite company, follow the link at the bottom of this page.
flat plate solar domestic hot water (SDHW) system is located in the
College Heights subdivision in Prince George. The collector is
on the garage roof , facing south-south-west. The low angle relative
the sun optimizes hot water production in the summer when the sun is
The collector feeds a drain-back system to preheat the water that is fed to the existing natural gas water heater.
Flat plate collectors like this have a single layer of glass between your hot water and the outside air. Therefore, they produce little hot water during our cold winter months but work great in the summer.
The Dunlite wind turbine blades are close to 4 meters (13 feet) in diameter. The pitch of the blades changes to prevent over-speed operation in extreme winds.
This Enerworks flat plate collector installation in the Hart Highlands subdivision of Prince George was a challenge because of the 12/12 pitch (45° angle). We had to work off ropes and scaffolds and over the skylights.
The Enerworks package added to a standard electric hot water tank makes a nice neat installation.
Drain Water Heat Exchanger
When you shower, you are both using and dumping hot water simultaneously. The heat that is being wasted by dumping it down the drain can be recovered with a drain water heat exchanger.
At the left is a photo of a Drain Water Heat Exchanger like the one I installed in our home. I was unable to get a good photo of ours so I asked WaterCycles for these pictures. The photo on the right shows a shorter unit for locations with insufficient room for the full length model.
A drain water heat exchanger is installed vertically in the main drain line leaving the house. The sewage goes down the inside copper pipe and the water feeding your hot water tank flows through the copper tubing that is wrapped around the large pipe.
This unit recovers the waste heat from the drain water and uses it to preheat the cold water that is feeding into your hot water tank. Based on personal experience, I can confirm that the temperatures shown in the animated illustration on the manufacturer's web site are accurate. (I used a Fluke 80T-150U temperature probe and a Fluke digital multimeter)
There are several sizes available and they are made in Canada by WaterCycles.
This small 12-volt DC only solar power system is used to run the equipment in a store at an off-grid tourist attraction. The blue box is a cellular telephone range extender that picks up the signal from staff and guests cell phones and re-transmits it using a high gain directional antenna that is mounted on one of the buildings.
BC Sustainable Energy Association "BCSEA is a non-profit association of citizens, professionals and practitioners, committed to promoting sustainable energy in British Columbia".
SolarBC SolarBC is a
program of the BC Sustainable Energy Association
Renewable Energy - Reference material, and Links to other resources
Dunlite Wind Turbines - Documentation & History
Pearen Family- Genealogy & History
Modeland Family - Genealogy & History