Living Life Off The Grid

“Go Green”, “Renewal sources of Energy”, Recycling etc are the most heard about terms in modern times especially after going through the state of rampant misuse and depletion of natural resources and global warming.

Sun has always intrigued me as a planetary object since my school days. Being a student of science I had been particularly interested in reading literature pertaining to harnessing the Free Solar Energy for day to day use. In fact when I read about Solar Water heating and Solar Electricity Generation I had wished I could install them at my place. But, when I bought my First house my wish to install Solar Power Generation Plant could not be fulfilled owing to the obnoxious cost of installation.

After years of waiting and wanting, recently, during my home renovation drive, my focus was again drawn towards this wish by my continuous online quest on harnessing Solar Energy  available for almost 300 days in the Indian sky that too FREE OF COST. The installation cost seemingly had reached realistic & achievable figures so I moved ahead and took the decision.

The process began around Nov 2012, I had to do a lot of research to decide on the company for performing the task. I met many system integrators but none were system manufacturers. Major issue with most of them was that they sourced material from different manufacturers to integrate, commission the installation. In turn, also forwarding the relevant warranties directly to us for the individual parts concerned. In long run, as a user I felt, what if the system integrators shut their shop where do I go to avail after sales/warranty services?

It took about a month for me to finally zero down on SuKam – the leader in Power technologies for few reasons :

  • SuKam being a respected brand with a proven track record in the Inverter & Battery manufacturing segment.
  • SuKam’s Headquarters  being based out of Gurgaon-  in my city – gave me a sense of relief for any future maintenance works to be just few hours away for me.
  • SuKam’s own manufacturing plants for Solar Panels, Solar Power Conditioning unit & Storage Banks – Batteries. Precisely it was One stop shop for all my Solar Installation requirement and end of any future worries of dealing with multiple agencies for each part involved. And most importantly,
  • SuKam’s passion to understand my requirement & facing the barrage of my question bombs patiently (that goes till date).

My order was finally commissioned by Team SuKam in about one months time. It involved multiple meetings with their Marketing & Technical teams. Detailed plans were laid out charting the course of Installation design, Space  allocation for Battery Bank & PCU, Household rewiring plans, Changeover switches & MCB allocations.

The First part was the laying down the foundation for Panel Support Structure atop my roof started in February of 2013. In about 25days the panels were finally seen shining in bright Sun – voila!! – Solar Energy is getting converted into Electricity. The process was slow but carefully planned & monitored leaving no space for trial & error.

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Planning done on empty terrace site. Accurate marking were drawn with measurements laid for panel’s dimension. This was very important stage as incorrect measurements would lead to panels casting shadow on each other. Shade is the biggest enemy for Solar Power generation. The civil work was again very meticulously planned, the idea was to give the pillars enough strength to bear the load of rows of panels & also not put load on terrace.  Below are few glimpses of the process involved.

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Team SuKam was very professional in their operation.  Not only because my installation was to be their role model & First Residential installation of this magnitude but also as they believe in forming a long term relationship.

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Pillar finally ready for Installation of Panel fixtures on them. Final inspection and the rows of Panel were nut-bolted in couple of hours.

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Weather Gods were kind enough to keep some cloud cover helping us do the job without sweating. Carefully the panels were lifted to the roof & thereafter bolted to the custom made structures. The panel direction was kept facing South as the Sun rays hit directly on the panel for maximum part of the day from that side for Indian subcontinent.

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Finally  all   the four rows installed & ready to be wired to the Solar Charge Controller. This   unit takes care of all the DC to AC conversion (The Solar Panels generate current in DC mode which need to be converted to AC for our domestic usage) along with feeding the charging current to the battery bank. It also ensures  that the batteries doesn’t get drained beyond the set level   of 80%  &  also never gets over charged. In   short  all  the process  is pretty much automated.

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A little touch of art was to put Greenery around the panels. As it is the idea was to Go Green so having Greenery under the Panel was apt.

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Its been almost Five months since the Power Plant got commissioned now, and after well experiencing the Product & SuKam’s after sales efficiency I chose to share my experience with all.

I can safely say now that YES my decision to invest into Solar Generated Electricity was absolutely right. Of course it involved very meticulous planning, restructuring, remodeling.

There are many changes we have brought to our lifestyle. We did have to change many Home appliances so that we could use Solar Electricity generated/stored to its optimum level. I even went ahead & changed all my Star-rated Split Air Conditioners to Inverter Technology’s Split ACs. They save a lot of electricity as they run at very low wattage. For an idea, under general condition I run my ACs as under mentioned consumption modes:

2Ton : Low Mode 2 – 1000watts
1.5Ton : Low Mode 2 – 800watts
1.1Ton : Low Mode 2 – 600 watts

It take a little more time than usual (may be 15 mins) but it does chill my rooms very effectively & keeps them at comfortable temperature of 25degrees (at least thats how I program the AC’s remote).

We even changed geysers in all our bathrooms to the ones which gives us option to control the wattage. We tested & could run them on low wattage again on Solar power for the winters.

In kitchen we shifted quite some cooking to Induction, which cooks for us on Electricity again saving the LPG cylinder.

Most of my household lights are now LEDs & CFLs along with switching over to more power efficient Tube lights Wherever there was a scope of saving wattage I explored & employed them.

During peak sunny days almost from 8AM to 6PM the solar energy takes care of home needs & charging of its own battery banks. Post this time battery bank takes care of some marginal backup along with Grid power charging as need be. My dependency on the society’s so very expensive (approx 18Rs per unit) common generator usage has dropped to nil. During the power cut through the night my battery banks take over whereas during the day its the Solar Power thats runs the whole show so I don’t even come to know about the power cuts.

For most part of the year this would be the routine, just in case for few weeks of rainfall, the charging & power generation will be low but to cover that up, the automated system draws power on need basis from the Grid.

Now, with “power” comes “responsibility” – to maintain the system. Users need to take care of Panel health with regular washing cycles depending on the quantum of dust accumulation. Each wash cycle ranges between a couple of days to a month. One has to keep a watch on the units/data shown on the PCU to know the health status of battery & power generation. A lot of usage needs to be governed based on the data displayed on the PCU. The battery bank needs to be watched for any drop in water level (which in my case hasn’t shown during the five months of operation) and also kept in dry & shaded area.

The company gives 25 years of warranty for Solar Panel & Three years warranty for Battery Bank & the Inverter/Solar Controller System. I believe with such immaculate planning & care one can recover their investment very easily. One must not forget that We do have some responsibility towards the nation & nature. We must adopt Green technology as much as possible to keep contributing to Nature & Nation along with saving for our future generation.

I am eagerly looking forward to the day when some practical & swanky car running on Electricity Power becomes my ride.

Definitely any user who desires to opt Solar Electricity Plant needs to do seemingly steep investment but with very careful & planned usage one can easily enjoy it’s benefits & savings it has to offer.

Last, but not the least, I wish to thank the team SuKam – Mr. Shaurrya Sachdev, Mr.P.K.Jain, Mr. Abhishiekh Kotnala, Mr.Piyush Chakraborthy & all others who had been part of this journey.

http://www.su-kam.com/Power-Solution/Solar-Solutions/Su-Kam-Solar-Power-Plants-at-residences-in-Delhi-NCR

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