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Living with Off-Grid Solar Power

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Considerations When Selecting Appliances
for Off-Grid Living:


Compact Fluorescent Spiral Bulb

    Incandescent lamps produce 98% heat and only 2% light. Not a good use for your expensive solar power. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are much more efficient - a 23W CF bulb produces as much light as a 100W incandescent lamp but requires less than one-fourth the power. Plus, a CF bulb will typically last in excess of 10,000 hours. That is over 5 years at 5 hours per day.

Screw-in DC Ballast Hard Wired DC Ballast

    Even more efficient is to power your most commonly used lighting loads directly from a 12VDC battery pack. Special electronic ballasts are available that permit CF bulbs to be operated from low voltage DC. Many of these ballast/lamp combinations use the common Edison base, so it is entirely possible to use conventional lighting fixtures.

Screw-in DC Compact Fluorescent Lamp Triple Tube Compact Fluorescent Bulb

    Of course, this will require that your home have dual wiring runs. One set of wires for conventional 120VAC appliances and another, much heavier, for your 12VDC loads (mostly lighting). If you are building a new custom home, this is a good option to explore with your electrician. For a pre-existing building the options are more limited, but creative solutions can often be found.


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Last update: 5MAY2003

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