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Publication Title | Guerrilla solar one step at a time

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If you’re interested in going solar, but your local utility isn’t so keen on the idea, do the right thing—go guerrilla! A little solar civil disobedience is good for the planet and good for your head. Connecting a small photovoltaic (PV) system to the grid can be easy and safe. So here’s a step-by-step approach to building a small, safe, and effective guerrilla solar-electric system.

All guerrilla solar-electric systems rely on inverters that are capable of synchronizing their AC output with utility power in order to feed renewable energy (RE) onto the grid. Every inverter capable of doing this is designed to disconnect from the grid in a matter of milliseconds when the grid fails. These inverters can’t feed electricity onto the grid during a power outage. Regardless of utility approval, all utility interactive (UI) systems are inherently safe as far as utility workers are concerned.

So far, thirty-four U.S. states have enacted net metering legislation. This requires utilities to offset retail KWH rates to customers feeding renewably generated electricity onto the grid. Sixteen states have yet to implement similar legislation.

But even in states with net metering legislation, utilities often bypass laws governing the interconnection of utility intertied RE systems, in an effort to stunt the growth of distributed power generation. As a result, many clean energy advocates are operating clandestine RE systems with the simple, utilitarian goal of greening up the grid.

We’ve been operating a small, unauthorized, UI PV system for almost two years. Check out HP75, page 74. We estimate that we’ve put about 250 KWH of pollution free, solar electricity onto the grid since we installed the system. And every sunny day, it quietly keeps making more!

Solar Guerrilla 0008 ©2001 Solar Guerrilla 0008

After reading the article in HP85 about the whacky portable guerrilla solar-electric system, I thought that folks ought to check out my guerrilla rig. Our installation uses an OK4U inverter and a 130 watt Sanyo PV. I hope to inspire some people to get active and install their own UI PV system—utility approved or otherwise.

Our barn has a shed roof that faces true south and gets full sun all day long—a perfect place for PVs. Ideally, you want to install your PVs in a location that receives full sun throughout the day. Any shade on the PVs will radically reduce their output. In the northern hemisphere, orient your PVs toward true south. Then they’ll produce the most energy on a daily basis.

84 Home Power #86 • December 2001 / January 2002

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