Microgeneration 101: Your Guide to Off-Grid Energy Systems

Microgeneration.

Micro-generation.

Micro… generation.

You may be wondering why I am talking about small generational cohorts on a renewable energy blog.

Well, I am not. So, what am I talking about?

What is Microgeneration?

Microgeneration is the use of renewable energy solutions to contribute electricity to a single-dwelling’s overall electricity usage.

Now that makes more sense.

So now that we are all on the same page as to what microgeneration is. Let us look at the different methods you can use to generate your own electricity in your own backyard or basement. If you want a visual representation of this info check out our infographic!

Solar

Solar is one of the most common microgeneration methods out there. Chances are, while you are driving through a suburb you will spot a few houses with some solar panels on their roofs.

Now everyone knows that solar panels convert the suns rays into electricity, but how do they actually work.

LiveScience offers a great explanation:

“Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. (Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity.) Many cells linked together make up a solar panel.”

I could not have said it better myself!

If you want to invest in a solar system, make sure you live in an area that receives plenty of sunlight year-round. And remember that the further you are from the equator, the less efficient those panels will be because the sunlight disperses as it moves towards the poles.

Another consideration to take if you are thinking of solar is that depending on your electricity needs, you may need more panels than you have space for. That is why most solar systems are grid tied as they do not usually produce enough power for the building they are mounted on.

 

Wind

Microgeneration wind power is what we here at Borrum Energy Solutions specialize in. Our turbine, the Anorra, is an all in one wind generator system that can be hooked up to your home, cottage, tiny house, or barn.

Electricity is generated by the wind when it spins a turbine attached to a generator. The generator is like the alternator in your car which turns the rotational force of the engine into electricity to charge the cars battery, only in this case the driving force is the wind and not an engine.

But how does wind spin the turbine. Well, it is similar to how an airplane’s wings generate lift. When the air flows over the blade, it creates an area of low-pressure on one side and high-pressure on the other. The resulting effects are lift and drag, but the lift overcomes the drag and begins spinning the turbine.

Wind power is an excellent option because unlike solar, it does not stop when the sun sets and will continue to produce electricity all night. However, power output will vary with wind speed so make sure you reach out (link to contact us page) to us for a wind profile of your area.

If you want to find out more about microgeneration wind, check out our resources page for plenty of educational guides!

Hydro

The next microgeneration method is a bit more niche than the first two because it is only applicable to a small portion of the market. This is hydro power, which harnesses the energy of flowing water to generate electricity. Therefore, the application is limited to properties with flowing water.

Before deciding on a microgeneration hydro system make sure you have calculated if you will produce enough power for your application with this equation:

Stream Engine Watts

Source: Micro Hydro Power

If you do have sufficient flowing water on your property, a small hydro turbine would be a fantastic option as it produces power at a constant rate and will only need stopping for the occasional service.

If you have your power source sorted but you need to heat our home, the next method might be up your alley.

Biomass

The last microgeneration system I am going to discuss is biomass.

Biomass generators are often used strictly for heating purposes but can also generate electricity with additional equipment.

This equipment is usually a steam turbine but since that is impractical for small applications and requires large amounts of readily available water, let us focus on biomass for heating purposes only.

But what is Biomass?

In short, it is wood. To fuel biomass furnaces, wood in the form of logs, pellets or chips is used. And because wood stores carbon, biomass is considered to be a carbon neutral source of energy.

If you are thinking of biomass for your property make sure that you have a large enough supply of fuel on hand or have a place to buy pellets nearby. If you are in Canada, Canadian Tire sells 40-pound bags of pellets specifically for wood-pellet stoves.

Conclusion

So, now that you know which microgeneration methods are available, reach out to us and we can help you figure out which energy solution is best for your application! Feel free to explore our other resources on microgeneration and our own microgeneration wind turbine, the Anorra.

Thanks for reading!

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