Our main, long term, power plans will include the rental of a pole transformer. We currently rent a smaller capacity unit, at our current location, and it works extremely well for us. Cebeco, being the local power supplier, brought us out a transformer, hung it on the pole and ran the supply lines to our current home. We had a local electrician provide the feed off of this to an auxillary 110vac box and we have dual voltage available in certain areas that we ran new supply boxes. The new home will have a more extensive dual voltage implementation as we know over time, through attrition, we will invariably replace 110vac appliances with 220vac units… so the electrical design not only accounts for this dual voltage at the outlet end in some cases, but also in the distribution panels layout so that specific circuits that may switch to 220vac are wired as such for later conversion. We needed to purchase the dual voltage meter and mount ourselves, which we will transfer to our new residence.
Let's face it, costs of electrical usage in the Philippines are among the highest, of not only developing… but ranking right up there with DEVELOPED countries. For us to approach a project like this and not consider inclusion of renewable resources into the design would be a mistake. I am NOT an electrical engineer and to make up for this deficiency, I have spent a great deal of extra research time in regards to this aspect of the project. While I may not know all there is to know on the topic, my goal was to ensure I designed a safe and efficient system that I could build and expand as needed… I think I have a plan that achieves that goal. Renewable energy resources costs have lowering rapidly in recent years as more production capacity comes online around the globe. With China and the USA dominating global production capacity, a slowing in reduction of costs actually is being seen now as Chinese production pricing is set less upon "cost plus margin" and more upon simply undercutting higher USA component costs.
During the research phase, we learned that our location in Cebu, while is technically located within a zone that will receive some of the highest proportions of useable solar energy, we realized that the reality is that clouds find there way into the equation more often than not and while we are incorporating solar into our plan, we are not particularly optimistic over the resulting output we will track when it comes online. During my career, I have worked to develop manufacturing systems for the burgeoning solar industry and along the way have a solid understanding of the requirements for assembling panels from individual cells. Using this knowledge, and in order to reduce initial investment, I sourced individual solar cells direct from USA manufacturing facilities, procured the connecting ribbon, solder and encapsulants and can source the glass and frame locally, in the Philippines. Sourcing direct is possible since during the manufacture of solar cells, and inherent to the frgility of the product, production is classified at various levels. Class "A" cells are the most pristine and are the main product supplied for the highest quality panel build. Class "B" cells are classified based on only cosmetic imperfections, which are most often knicked corners and chipped edges. Class "B" cells will have passed the same output capacity requirements of class "A", with the only differences being the aforementioned cosmetic flaws and the price… HALF the cost of a class "A", generally speaking. Beyond that, the classifications then reflect drops in output capacity. I sourced all class "B" cells and as I inspected them upon receipt, I was actually shocked to find that the level of flaw that put a cell in the the "B" class was really VERY small in most cases. This effort will hopefully result in my not having to absorb high shipping costs to get high quality components into the Phils for construction of my solar array. (everything easily fits into the LBC box) Solar systems are pretty basic and aside from the cells, and my desire for load monitoring capability, battery storage and inverter capacity was designed into, procurred and shipped with my cell components.
Wind generators cost is also dropping fast nowadays and with our location, at a higher elevation, wind is likely to be our most productive alternative energy source. A nicely sized generator fit into an LBC box and along with some load balancing capacitance, the remainder of the system can be installed in parallel with the solar installation. One very important difference is that with a wind generation system, you need to address the issues associated with too much wind/power generation. This is accomplished through the incorporation of a feature into the system that when the system is fully charged, switching occurs and the energy is used as a braking mechanism to slow the wind generator, lessoning the risk of system damage. With solar, nightfall is a natural "brake", or power flow meter, as is covering the panels. Additionally, I have designed our support pole to be configured such that we could easily lower the wind generator in the event of a Typhoon, further lessoning the chances of catostrophic damage to the system due to high wind speeds.
Alternative power voltage
I selected 12 vdc as the system voltage as I have also incorporated a lot of 12 volt components into different systems on our project. (ie: lighting, pumps etc.) Additionally, switches, inverters, storage batteries, meters and other components were more readily available and cost effective when sourced for a 12 vdc system so that all factored into the decision. So this system will provide capacity in 12 vdc and 110 vac through the inverters. The system is designed for eventual expansion (ie: the wind braking system will support for units) and the distribution panel is configured to be in close proximity to the other mains electrical enclosures so as capacity potential is identified, I can selectively switch appropriately loaded circuits over to renewable as the system grows, without the cost of significant re-wiring efforts.
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