Selecting Your Independent Power Plant

When you have determined that you need an independent power plant for your electricity supply requirements, you need to work out how big your power plant needs to be, and how it is to be configured.

When you are selecting your independent power plant there are a few things to consider:

⦁ How much energy do you need each day?
⦁ How much outdoor space do you have for your system?
⦁ Do you have a location with day-long sun exposure?
⦁ How will you connect the electrical supply to your building?

Determining Your Energy Requirements

The size of independent power plant that you need depends mostly on the amount of electrical energy that you use each day.

How We Use Electricity

When we use electricity, our uses have many different styles. For lighting, we use low power for a long time period. For some appliances we use high power for a short time period. (An electric jug or kettle is the most powerful appliance that plugs into a power point that we use regularly; fortunately, we only use it briefly).

Neither of these styles uses a great deal of energy. Other equipment that we use needs high power for a long time. This type of equipment uses a lot of energy; it includes conventional electric and heat pump hot water systems, pool heaters and filter pumps, space heaters, air conditioners, ovens, electric stove-tops, and clothes dryers.

You can’t usually use these types of equipment items with an independent power plant.

Daily Energy Requirements

To determine your total daily energy requirements for all of your other energy uses you can do one of two things: you can add up the
energy use all of your individual appliances, or you can look at previous power bills to find out what you have used in the past.

Totalling Energy Use

To add up the energy use all of your individual appliances you need to make a list of all of your appliances, find out how much power they each use, and estimate how often you use them and for how long. For each appliance you must multiply its power rating (in kilowatts) by the number of hours that you use it each day. If you don’t use the appliance every day, divide by the number of days between uses.

When you have done this for all of your appliances adding all of the figures together will give you your daily energy consumption in kilowatt-hours.

For many types of appliances your pattern of use may be very varied; if so, the typical yearly energy consumption for many major appliances are listed on the Australian Government’s  Energy Rating Website. (www.energyrating.gov.au)

To make this process easier, we provide a daily power use chart; you can get the chart here.

Previous Power Bills

If you have previously lived in a place where you had mains electricity you can look at old power bills to find out much you used then, as a guide to the capacity that you will need for your independent power plant.

You will need to be careful that your old power bills don’t include any of the high energy items listed previously, or any other items that you won’t be using on your independent power plant.

Conventional electric hot-water systems, and swimming pool heaters and filter pumps are commonly metered on a separate tariff; if so, they will be easy to account for on old bills.

For many other types of appliances that you won’t be using withyour independent power plant you will be able to find typical yearly energy consumption figures on the Australian Government’s Energy Rating Website.