COMMUNITY MEMBER DISCOUNT CODE BELOW: In this week’s off-grid insider’s lesson you’ll learn some of the electrical theory necessary to understand how a solar/wind electrical system works. Instructional video from my off-grid course is below, too.

Voltage: Just like with a household water system, electricity can have more or less “pressure” behind it. The higher the voltage (V), the more electrical pressure a circuit is under. When it comes to creating your own off-grid electrical system, you’ll need to make decisions up front about voltage when it comes to designing the output side of things.

Amperage: Using the water analogy again, amperage (usually called “amps” and abbreviated A in the electrical world) is akin to gallons per minute of flow rate of liquid. Water can flow in small quantities over time through a pipe or large quantities. Electricity is the same. Higher amperage flow requires larger wires. Since the voltage of electricity produced by batteries is relatively low, correspondingly higher amperage flows are required for a given power output.

AC and DC Current: In the world of electricity, the letters DC stand for “direct current” and this is the only kind of power batteries deliver on their own. Polarity remains constant with DC – positive always stays positive and negative always stays negative. Imagine a whole bunch of electrons piled up against one pole of a battery, desperately trying to get to the other pole. That’s DC power. When you hook up a load across both poles, energy flows in one direction only, spinning a motor or lighting a bulb in the process. Stored electrical power is always in DC form, but there are reasons you may want to have at least some alternating current power (AC) from your self-sufficient electrical system, too. Maybe all you want is AC.

AC is the form of electrical power that the grid delivers. The voltage of standard AC household current in most places around the world rises and falls 60 times per second, and this alternating flip-flop of polarity from positive to negative to positive and back again gives AC an advantage. AC travels well over long distances because its voltage can be stepped up or down efficiently with transformers. That’s not the case with DC power. The main reason we’re interested in AC as part of off-grid power systems is because so many existing electrical items are designed to use it.

Electrical Power: Measuring electrical power is similar to measuring the horsepower output of a gasoline or diesel engine, except that the words used to describe it and the units are different. Multiply volts x amps and you get watts (W) – the most common measure of power in the world of electricity. 1000 watts is a kilowatt (kW).  In your work building and maintaining your own independent electrical system, watts and kilowatts are especially important when it comes to determining your electrical generating capacity while sizing photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and a combustion generator (if you choose to use one).

Electrical Quantity: Total amounts of electrical energy are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). An electrical power output of 1 kilowatt that’s sustained for one hour is one kilowatt-hour. kWh is a specific “quantity” of electricity, sort of like the number of gallons of gasoline in a tank  or the number of cords of firewood in a pile. Grid electricity is always sold by the kilowatt-hour, and your bank of batteries will hold a specific quantity of kilowatt-hours of power in reserve.

Watch the video up next for a detailed explanation of voltage, amperage, electric power and electric quantities.

Discount Coupon Code

As a member of the Off-Grid Energy Community, you’re entitled to a $30 discount off the next session of my online course POWER YOUR HOME WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY. Click here to look at the course with no obligation. If you do decide to sign up for the next session beginning on October 15, 2021, be sure to use the coupon code BONUS30 to get $30 off at checkout. This is advance notice. The public doesn’t yet know about sign up because I want members of the Off-Grid community to have first chance at a place in the course. Perhaps I’ll see you there. Money-back guarantee. Satisfaction guaranteed.