Appropriately sizing any PV system takes some time, but it's especially important for off-grid systems. You don't want to fall short on power, but you don't want to over-spend on a larger system than you need, either. As a rule of thumb, off-grid solar PV system equipment will cost about $1,000 - $3,000 for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) you use each day. So start with conservation and trim your kWh usage to the bone (swap incandescent light bulbs out for LED bulbs and switch to ENERGY STAR or non-electric appliances).
For help sizing your PV system, try the following tools - and if you get stuck, you can always call our Solar Techs at 800-919-2400.
To determine the optimal hydroelectric turbine for your site, you must first determine your available water flow and the fall from intake to turbine. From that we can recommend pipe size and the most appropriate hydro system for your site. Fill out our Hydroelectric Site Evaluation Form below (also available on page 105 of our 14th edition Solar Living Sourcebook), then call 800-919-2400 to discuss your hydroelectric needs with our renewable energy technicians.
Just 14 miles south of us - in Hopland, CA - the nonprofit Solar Living Institute (SLI) offers a variety of single- and multi-day courses and workshops in renewable energy and sustainable off-grid living:
The SLI offers IREC- and NABCEP-approved solar PV design and installation courses Beginner through advanced courses are available.
Online solar courses are also available through the SLI! These courses offer great training for solar industry careers including project management, PV installation, finance, sales, marketing, inspection, customer service, and administrative support.
The SLI is also host to a variety of sustainable living courses. Permaculture, food production, natural building, and cannabis cultivation courses are available.
First published in 1982 and now in its 14th edition, the Solar Living Sourcebook is widely regarded as the most comprehensive resource on off-grid living available. With over 600,000 copies in print in over 40 countries, it is the quintessential guide for anyone interested in renewable energy, conservation, green building, remote homesteading, alternative transportation, or simply reducing their environmental footprint. Many of our customers refer to it as "the desert island book" - the one book you would need to have if you were stranded on an island.
"The best single source I've ever found on the technologies, philosophies, and the lifestyle changes we must embrace in order for our species to survive and thrive into the future. Time is of the essence for all of us to start walking the talk and this book is the guide for taking those first steps."
Woody Harrelson, environmentalist and actor
Check the Real Goods Blog for posts on renewable energy, off-grid living, and food, as well as the latest news about Real Goods. Blog contributors include our Solar Techs, our founder John Schaeffer, and host of other green living and renewable energy insiders.