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Small solar array vs 12kV distribution line tap for remote site

Small solar array vs 12kV distribution line tap for remote site

Small solar array vs 12kV distribution line tap for remote site


We have a project where we're evaluating pros vs cons for providing solar array with battery versus tapping into a nearby 12kV line for a telemetry job in a remote area. The power requirements are fairly low ~ around 200 W continuous load.

If cost is not the top criteria for selecting either option, what would be the better(more reliable) option between the two from your experience? The project is located at a high elevation(~7000 ft) in the mountains, and so my concern would be snow accumulating on top of the array. However, with the solar array pointing toward the sun, the snow should be getting melted everyday. Another concern would be vandalism, but with the units located in remote area, they should not be subjected to vandalism. I think another benefit of the solar array would be continuity of service and not subjecting to potential outage on the distribution line. However, the battery would have to be swapped out every X number of years..


Thank you,

RE: Small solar array vs 12kV distribution line tap for remote site

There are plenty of solar battery arrangements in remote areas of Australia of the size that you mention, although they don't have snow load or elevation.

200W is quite small for a 12kV feed, although the opposite argument is that it ends up taking a bit of storage (~4.8kWh per day of no sun operation needed) to ensure that you have enough capacity to keep the system up as required.

I would imagine you'd need backup for the case of when the 12kV line goes down as well. Solar battery systems, using quality components and designed properly can be quite reliable. What is best for your specific case would depend on specific requirements and available site space for the solar and battery equipment.

EDMS Australia

RE: Small solar array vs 12kV distribution line tap for remote site

Sorry to say, but 200W 24hrs/day is non-trivial on the solar front. Break out the transformer and call it a day.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Small solar array vs 12kV distribution line tap for remote site

A commercially available solar panel array from Sunrun averaged 1.37 kWh per panel in Los Angeles over the course of 8 months, from Apr through Dec. Since you need 4.8 kWh per day, you need a minimum of 4 panels in LA. In the northern mountains, with less sun and shadowing from trees, you might need as many as 16 panels, just to supply the basic power needs. During winter, even with the solar panels vertical, there's still likely to be snow sticking to the panels, particularly in California, which tends to have wetter snow; you'd certainly likely to see a good storm's snow taking days to melt away. I would seriously consider having heaters to actively melt any snow accumulation.

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