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The Hack My Solar Podcast

Technology Podcasts

Off Grid Solutions for an On Grid World

Off Grid Solutions for an On Grid World


United States


Off Grid Solutions for an On Grid World






Battery Storage vs. Peaking Plants

Join us today as we discuss Battery Storage vs. Peaking Plants. Peaking plants are power generation facilities that come on only to handle the highest peak loads demanded on the grid. They are meant to quickly ramp up and produce only during the times when the deman is higher than all other generation components can handle. They are very expensive so today we are going to talk about when and how Battery Storage Technology could make them obsolete. At the same time we will talk about the...


Renewable Energy in Texas

Renewable Energy in Texas is enabling Texas to win the Energy War...OK maybe its not a war but whatever it is they are winning. Join us today as we discuss Renewable Energy in Texas. Last year 20% of their energy came from renewables, primarily wind, and on somedays that number was over 40%. Governor Bush signed a bill in 1999 to drive the state towards renewable energy, and then after he became president, Governor Perry increased those goals and helped pass funding bills to improve the...


Siting a Ground Mount System

Yesterday we spoke about different options for mounting a solar array. Today we are going to dive deeper into ground mount systems and talk specifically about some of the considerations one would need to take when siting a ground mount system in order to get the most optimum solar exposure. The nice thing about ground-mounted systems is they can be optimally-aligned with respect to both their southern orientation and their tilt angle. I use a tool called PVWatts in order to look at the...


Solar Mounting – Ground or Roof?

Mounting Options for Solar Arrays: Ok folks, there are two options for mounting solar panels. One is roof mount, the other is ground mount. We are going to discuss the pros and cons of each and Ill sprinkle my opinion in along the way. Rooftop solar arrays are restricted by the characteristics of the roof on which they are installed. If your roof is at a bad angle, doesn’t face south, or has obstructions like chimneys or skylights, then your solar array will be less productive. On the other...


All About Solar Thermal

Today we will discuss the most efficient active methods for utilizing solar energy: Solar Thermal. We will discuss air and water heating and different options.


The Grid of the Future

Today we're going to talk about the grid of the future. I was at. Actually over the past year I've been at several power generation conferences where I've had conversations with people from companies like Duke Energy Southern Company which owns Alabama and Georgia Power Mississippi Power and Gulf Power. And let's see who else...Ameren over in the Midwest. I don't deal with the ones out west very much. Dynegy and Luminant over in Texas all of these guys are saying the same thing the grid of...


Hack My Solar Summer Update – Living off grid in the Summer

Thanks for joining us today as we give a brief rundown of where the homestead is here in the Summer and what our plans going into the Fall will be. We have focused on "Zone 1" for all you permies out there and are very pleased with the results of the new Aquaponics system. That being said our rainfall through this hottest portion of the year has been pretty abysmal so Operation green front yard has not gone as well as planned. I am pleased to say that our need to run the AC units has been...


Holistic View of Energy Use in the Household-Part 2

Today we're going to finish up the conversation we started yesterday about taking a Holistic View of Energy Use in the Household and reduction of that use where possible. We really hit on the big topics yesterday. And so I'm not going to do any deeper dive into those. Those are the areas where you're using the most of your energy right now. And so therefore they provide the easiest opportunity to put plans in place to reduce that use. But some of the things they're going to talk about today...


Holistic View of Energy Use in the Household-Part 1

Today we're going to talk about a holistic view of energy use in the household. This is not going to be specifically about solar energy any of the things that I'm going to talk about today are things that it could definitely be be used on a household that is on the grid off the grid on the grid with grid solar or it doesn't really matter. It's not a solar specific podcast it's about evaluating your energy usage identifying ways to potentially reduce that usage and conserve your cash. Because...


Evaluating when off grid solar makes sense

Join us on the podcast today as we discuss evaluating when off grid solar makes sense. Utilizing an off grid strategy can make sense once you have made the decision that is what you want to do. But the reality is that taking an on grid property off the grid compared to buying an off grid property or building one from scratch are very different financial decisions. We discuss taking a holistic view of going off the grid but keep the focus mainly on the financial side, with a small tangent...


Hack My Off Grid Update Winter 2018

January 2018 As we sit here in the dead of winter dreaming of spring but also enjoying the reduced pace of the winter on the homestead, I thought it would be a good time to give an update as to where we are with our projects around the homestead as we build towards a more self sufficient lifestyle. One of the nice things about winter for me is that I can more easily control the climate within the house. Obviously during the summers with a house that doesn’t have central AC and is limited to...


Will Exiting the Paris Climate Accord Affect the US Solar Industry?

The long and short of it is that it wont. Join us today as we discuss how the momentum in the solar industry has already reached a point where it will continue to build. Solar Jobs were 2nd in the energy sector behind oil jobs, and demand is only going up as worn out coal fired plants come offline, utilities respond to the public sentiment, and people take advantage of federal, state,and utility level incentives. I discuss how I think China is competing with us on the R&D side and that we...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 8-Battery Maintenance

Battery Maintenance Today we will discuss battery maintenance. It is one of the big differences between a grid tied and an off grid system. A grid tied system just sits there and generates electricity either for your home use or to be fed back onto the grid. The battery bank in an off grid system adds a whole new level of complexity. We have previously discussed the types of batteries but for the purpose of this conversation I am going to focus on lead acid batteries. Here are the primary...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 7 – Solar Inverters and Balance of system

Today we are going to discuss Inverters and the balance of system components. Inverters are the component that takes the DC(Direct Current) Provided by the solar array and stored in the battery bank, and converts it to AC(Alternating Current) for your home use. Alternating current means that the current alternates its direction over and over again(every 8 milliseconds) to create a nice wave pattern. It goes up, rounds off, goes down, rounds off, and repeats. You want to match your inverter...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 6 – Batteries for Solar!

Batteries for Solar Off Grid or Hybrid System OK everyone, we have covered solar panels, a solar array, and charge controllers, so the logical next step is for us to discuss batteries. Over the lifetime of your system, Batteries will be the most expensive part because the ones that are cost effective when starting a system don't last very long and the ones that last a relatively long time are prohibitively expensive. Batteries are the center cog of any system because they store the excess...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 5 – Solar Charge Controllers

Charge Controllers, what are they? OK so we have covered what solar panels are, and how to design a solar array, but what happens once your panels are generating power? Well you obviously want to get them into your battery bank, but other than some very specific situations, you will charge your batteries through a charge controller. So what is a charge essence, it is the device that regulates the amount of energy, both in terms of voltage and amperage, that goes from your...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 4 – Sizing a Solar Array

Sizing a Solar Array A Solar Array is just a fancy term for your solar panels, which themselves are combinations of solar cells, combined into a single system. Today we discuss "sizing a solar array." The first step is determining what your needs are. It is always good to eliminate or reduce some parts of your usage before determining the size of your solar array. For example at our house we got rid of our drip coffee maker and began buying roasted beans, hand grinding them, heating water on...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 3

How do Solar Panels work? Solar, or Photovoltaic, Panels work by converting light energy from the sun, or photons, into electricity through the "Photovotaic effect." Interestingly, a French physicist built the first ever photovoltaic cell at 19 years old, in 1839. The first practical photovoltaic cell was demonstrated by Bell Laboratories in 1954 and early on they were primarily used in space. A Solar Panel is a collection of solar cells that are made up of semiconductors. Semiconductors...


Building Blocks of Solar Part 2

Types of solar installations There are a variety of ways to harness the power of the sun. Today we are going to define the ways and discuss them: Grid Tied Off Grid Hybrid PV Direct Solar Thermal Photosynthesis Grid tied Grid tied systems are solar installations that are implemented on a property that uses utility energy from the grid. These systems reduce the amount of energy purchased from the utility company and the amount of energy not purchased is used to offset the cost of the...


Building blocks of Solar Part 1

Energy vs. power This short series is to help build some foundational knowledge that will help you understand the building blocks of Solar. energy Energy is the capacity to do work. Measurements for energy include calories, BTUs, Joules, and Watt-Hours. We would use the term energy when discussing how much capacity you have in your battery bank. If you are on grid you will get a utility bill from the power company and that will normally provide you with the number of kWh or Kilowatt-Hours...