Vegetable Farm in New Brunswick Canada

Chemical Free Farming: A Deep Dive

What are Heritage varieties of vegetables?

Heritage varieties, also known as heirloom varieties, of vegetables refer to traditional and open-pollinated cultivars that have been passed down through generations. These varieties are typically bred for their unique characteristics, flavor profiles, and adaptability to specific regions. They are often associated with historical, cultural, or regional significance.

Here are some key characteristics of heritage varieties of vegetables:

1. Historical Significance: Heritage varieties have a long history, often dating back several decades or even centuries. They are typically associated with specific regions or communities and have been cultivated using traditional farming methods.

2. Open-Pollinated: Heritage varieties are open-pollinated, meaning they rely on natural pollination methods such as wind, insects, or birds for fertilization. As a result, their seeds can be saved and replanted, allowing for their preservation and continued cultivation.

3. Genetic Diversity: Heritage varieties exhibit a wide range of genetic diversity within a particular vegetable species. They often come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, offering a greater diversity of options compared to modern hybrid varieties.

4. Flavor and Texture: Many heritage varieties are known for their exceptional flavor and unique taste profiles. These varieties often prioritize flavor and culinary qualities over characteristics like disease resistance or shelf life, which are more commonly emphasized in modern commercial varieties.

5. Adaptability: Heritage varieties have developed over time to adapt to specific climates, soils, and growing conditions in their native regions. They may exhibit greater resilience to local pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, making them well-suited for specific areas.

6. Conservation: The cultivation and preservation of heritage varieties contribute to the conservation of agricultural biodiversity. By maintaining and using these varieties, farmers and gardeners help protect the genetic resources that may be lost due to the dominance of modern commercial cultivars.

Heritage varieties offer a connection to our agricultural past, promote biodiversity, and provide opportunities for unique culinary experiences. They are increasingly valued by gardeners, farmers, chefs, and consumers who appreciate their distinct qualities and cultural heritage.

Phosphorus, Soil and Nutrition

Phosphorous is found in the soil as a soluble form available to the plants or insoluble form which is not available to the plants. In conventional agriculture reactions in the soil tend to make water soluble forms of phosphorous into water insoluble phosphates. Where as, in organic or biological agriculture soluble phosphorous is built into the bodies of soil microorganisms and becomes part of the soil humus.

In an organic cropping system a reserve of phosphorous in excess of soil biological needs and must be maintained as well as soil conditions which maximize biological activity. With any of the management systems phosphorous is not readily leached from the soil but can be lost with soil particles by soil erosion.

A number of observations about the soils sampled in the pilot study are important to note. The soil organic matter (%OM) tends to be 3% or greater, the pH tends to be alkaline or greater than 7.2, and the phosphorous levels on the C.E.C tests are low. These observations have positive and negative implications.

On the positive side, the soil organic matter levels indicate that the management practices are positive to soil health and are beneficial in terms of supporting microbial life that will enhance the recycling of nutrients. It also indicates a high probability that phosphorous will be in the insoluble form as part of the soil microbes.

On the less than positive side, the soil pH is alkaline primarily because the parent rock that the soils have come from are calcareous or limestone. The pH is higher also due to the high organic matter content as well as the lack of acidifying agents such as commercial fertilizers. In the production of commercial fertilizer phosphate rock is acidified to make it more soluble. So to acidify phosphate in the soil or apply it as a rock phosphate is a challenge but this will be described later.

On the negative side, the soil phosphorous levels on the C.E.C. tests conclusively indicate that the soils lack adequate reserves to optimize yield and utilize nitrogen to provide optimal nutritional quality of the crops and the livestock and people eating those crops.

Making Phosphorous More Soluble

Phosphorous is the same as all nutrients required by plants, it must be soluble or in soil solution before the plant roots can take it up. The process of making phosphorous available becomes a pull and push type of relationship. Soil microbes mineralize the phosphorous to make it soluble. The higher the quality of the microbial life and more organic matter in the soil, the more phosphorous can become available.

On the other hand phosphates that are applied in the acid soluble form, not organic phosphates tend to become insoluble or unavailable to the plant in alkaline soils of pH levels greater than 7 and reacts with excess calcium especially if the soil is low in biological activity.

For simplicity we shall call the organic phosphorous or the phosphorous which is given up by the soil microbial processes as the short term pool. The inorganic phosphorous which is bound with other minerals is the long term pool. The short term pool limits the current crop growth and more precisely the germination of the crop in cool, damp conditions and then throughout the season to finish the crop. The long term pool is the longer term investment and limits the short term pool.

A good fertility program addresses the short term and long term pools in tandem. The sources of phosphorous vary in solubility, placement and timing of application. The short term sources of phosphorous are banded fertilizers, raw manure and compost. The long term sources of phosphorous are broadcasted rock minerals or rock phosphates or clay based phosphates such as Calphos. To enhance the mineralization and recycling of phosphorous we can add to the crop rotation green manures or crops such as rye and oats that access soil phosphorus long term pools and bring into the short term pools through their decay.

Maple Garden Farm

Raw manure and compost provides one of the more soluble forms of phosphorous and also provides nitrogen which makes phosphorous more readily available to plants than without nitrogen. Manure and compost also have an acidifying affect. When placed on the soil surface and not worked in, the manure and the microorganisms in the manure or compost have more opportunity to acidify and act on the rock mineral sandwiched between the soil and manure. This affect can be amplified if the rock mineral is placed with the compost as it is being made and then placed on the soil surface or on top of more rock phosphate broadcast in the field.

The choice is a factor of how quickly one wants to progress and the budget and resources available. The bottom line it is however, the investment must be made to the short term and long term pool for a period of time until the system has realigned. Then the long term pool can be maintained with a less intensive focus.

Role of Phosphorous in Optimum Nutrition

Phosphorous is the king pin of protein. Phosphorous is an essential component of photosynthesis. Adequate levels of phosphorous leads to fast and vigorous growth and increased nitrogen uptake and utilization. A limitation of phosphorous in the presence of more than adequate nitrogen can also lead to excess nitrates in the plant and elevated somatic cell count in cows. During seed germination it is important for fast and healthy root growth. As the crop grows it is important for increased mineral and sugar content of the plant and earlier maturity. If phosphorous is limited, the yield and protein will be limited in the crop.

Vegetable Farm in New Brunswick Canada

Due to the nature of some of the products and methods to amend soil mineral imbalances in organic cropping systems, soil building occurs over an extended period of time. A good fertility program is a matter of combining knowledge of chemistry and biology-understanding the chemistry of the minerals and the biology of how the soil, soil microorganisms and the plants interact to affect the availability, uptake and recycling of the nutrients required for crop growth, crop nutrition and soil nutrition. While basic philosophies of soil fertility programs differ, the basic tenement of organic management systems is to build soils as an investment in soil health and future crop performance. We feed the soil and the soil in turn feeds the plants.

Joint blog Post by Chrystale Henry and Julieta Gomez at Maple Garden Farm – a off the grid humble Organic Farm (permaculture ) located on a 10 acre farm producing varieties of vegetables and other farm produce. Joint us on twitter, Facebook and follow our LinkedIn company page to learn more and get great tips on farming strategy and permaculture and alternative energy design ideas.

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Tiny Houses: All You Need to Know

Tiny houses have gained popularity in recent years as a minimalist and sustainable housing option. These compact dwellings typically range from 100 to 400 square feet in size, providing a simplified and affordable lifestyle. Here’s all you need to know about tiny houses:

  1. Size and Design:
    Tiny houses are designed to maximize space efficiency while maintaining functionality. They often feature lofted sleeping areas, multipurpose furniture, and clever storage solutions. The size and design can vary, including styles like modern, rustic, or cottage-inspired.

    How to Design a Tiny House?

    Designing a tiny house requires careful planning and consideration of various factors.
      Here are some steps to help you design a tiny house:

        Determine your needs and goals: Consider your lifestyle, the number of occupants, and your priorities. Identify the key features and functions you require in your tiny house. Set a budget: Establish a budget for your project. This will help guide your design decisions and ensure you stay within your financial limits.

    Research zoning and legal requirements: Check local zoning regulations and building codes to ensure you comply with the legal requirements for constructing a tiny house in your area. Some places have specific regulations for tiny houses, so make sure you understand the rules before designing.

    Choose a suitable location: Decide where you want to place your tiny house. Consider access to utilities, sunlight, privacy, and any other site-specific factors that may influence your design.

    Determine the size: Tiny houses are typically smaller than traditional homes, but there’s no specific size limit. Determine the square footage you need based on your lifestyle, requirements, and any applicable local regulations.

    Sketch the layout: Start by sketching out the floor plan of your tiny house. Consider how you’ll utilize the available space efficiently. Identify areas for sleeping, dining, cooking, storage, and other activities. Make sure to optimize the layout for functionality and comfort.

    Consider multi-purpose and space-saving features: Since space is limited, incorporate multi-functional furniture and innovative storage solutions. For example, consider using convertible beds, built-in storage, and foldable tables to maximize the usability of your tiny house.

      Pay attention to natural light and ventilation: Incorporate large windows and skylights to bring in natural light and make the space feel more open. Additionally, plan for proper ventilation to maintain a comfortable living environment.

    Design the exterior: Determine the architectural style and aesthetics of your tiny house. Choose appropriate materials, colors, and finishes for the exterior that match your preferences and the surrounding environment.

    Consider sustainability and energy efficiency: Incorporate eco-friendly features into your design, such as energy-efficient appliances, insulation, and renewable energy systems. Minimize your environmental footprint as much as possible.

    Create a detailed plan: Once you have a rough design, create a detailed plan that includes dimensions, material specifications, and construction details. This will serve as a guide during the construction phase. Consult professionals if needed: Depending on your expertise and the complexity of your design, you may want to consult professionals such as architects, engineers, or contractors to ensure your design meets structural requirements and building codes.
    Remember to be flexible during the design process and make adjustments as necessary. Building a tiny house requires creativity and resourcefulness to make the most of the available space.

  3. Benefits:
    Tiny houses offer several advantages, such as:
    a. Affordability: Tiny houses are significantly cheaper than traditional homes, both in terms of initial cost and ongoing expenses like utilities and maintenance.

    Some tiny house affordable ideas
    Certainly! Here are some affordable ideas for designing and building a tiny house:

    Optimize space: Maximize the use of available space by incorporating multifunctional furniture, such as foldable tables, convertible sofas, and loft beds. Utilize vertical space with built-in shelving or storage solutions.

    DIY approach: Consider taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to save costs. Learn basic carpentry skills and undertake tasks such as framing, insulation, and interior finishes yourself. However, it’s important to ensure that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete the project safely.

    Use reclaimed materials: Repurpose salvaged or reclaimed materials for construction. For example, you could use reclaimed wood for flooring, pallets for furniture, or vintage fixtures and fittings.

    Compact appliances: Choose smaller, energy-efficient appliances specifically designed for compact spaces. Look for compact refrigerators, space-saving stoves, and slimline washing machines.

    Incorporate natural lighting: Maximize natural light to make the space feel larger and more open. Install large windows, skylights, or light tubes to bring in ample daylight.


    Utilize outdoor space: Extend your living space to the outdoors by creating a functional outdoor area. This can include a small deck, patio, or garden where you can relax and entertain.

    Off-grid options: Consider incorporating off-grid solutions to reduce utility costs. This can include solar panels for electricity, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems, and propane-based appliances.

    Minimize utility needs: Design the tiny house to be energy-efficient and reduce utility needs. Well-insulated walls, efficient heating and cooling systems, and LED lighting can significantly lower energy consumption.

    Creative storage solutions: Make use of creative storage solutions to maximize space. Examples include under-bed storage, built-in cabinets, and utilizing vertical wall space with hooks, pegboards, or hanging organizers.

    Collaborate and share resources: Consider joining or forming a tiny house community where individuals pool resources and share tools, knowledge, and ideas. This can help reduce costs and provide a supportive network. Remember to research local building codes and regulations before starting your tiny house project. It’s essential to ensure compliance with the necessary permits and safety standards.


    b. Simplicity: Living in a tiny house encourages a minimalist lifestyle, as it forces you to declutter and prioritize essential possessions.

    c. Mobility: Some tiny houses are built on wheels, known as “tiny houses on wheels” or “THOWs.” This mobility allows homeowners to easily relocate their dwelling, explore new areas, or live off-grid.

    d. Environmental Friendliness: Tiny houses have a smaller ecological footprint due to their reduced size, leading to lower energy consumption and material usage.

    e. Financial Freedom: With lower costs and potentially no mortgage, tiny house living can offer financial freedom and the ability to save more or pursue other passions.


  4. Challenges:

    a. Limited Space: The most significant challenge of living in a tiny house is the restricted space, requiring careful organization and minimalistic habits.
    b. Zoning Regulations: Zoning regulations can vary depending on the location, making it important to check local laws and regulations regarding tiny houses.
    c. Lack of Privacy: Due to their small size, privacy can be limited in tiny houses, especially in shared living situations.
    d. Building Codes: While there are building codes and standards for traditional homes, they may not directly apply to tiny houses, leading to challenges during construction or permitting.


  6. Legal Considerations:
    Before building or purchasing a tiny house, it’s crucial to research local zoning laws, building codes, and regulations. Some areas have specific requirements for minimum square footage or may not permit tiny houses as primary residences.

  7. Custom vs. Pre-built:
    Tiny houses can be custom-built to meet specific needs or purchased as pre-built units from manufacturers. Custom-built options provide more flexibility in design and personalization, while pre-built units offer convenience and a faster move-in process.

  8. DIY or Professional Help:
    Building a tiny house can be a DIY project for those with construction skills and experience. However, if you lack the necessary expertise, hiring professionals or purchasing pre-built units is a safer and more efficient option.

  9. Community Living:
    Some people choose to live in tiny house communities or villages where several tiny houses are grouped together. These communities foster a sense of camaraderie and provide shared amenities while still maintaining individual dwelling units.

  10. Financing:
    Financing options for tiny houses may differ from traditional homes. While some banks offer loans specifically for tiny houses, alternative financing methods like personal loans, RV loans, or crowdfunding may be utilized.

  11. Lifestyle Considerations:
    Tiny house living requires adapting to a smaller living space, embracing minimalism, and being conscious of resource consumption. It’s important to assess whether this lifestyle aligns with your preferences and needs.

  12. Resale Value:
    The resale value of a tiny house can vary depending on factors such as location, demand, and overall condition. However, it’s worth noting that tiny houses are still a relatively new housing concept, and the market is evolving.

Remember to conduct thorough research, visit tiny house communities, and consult professionals before embarking on your tiny house journey.

Joint blog Post by Chrystale Henry and Zilu Zhang at Maple Garden Farm – a off the grid humble Organic Farm (permaculture ) located on a 10 acre farm producing varieties of vegetables and other farm produce. Joint us on twitter, Facebook and follow our LinkedIn company page to learn more and get great tips on farming strategy and permaculture and alternative energy design ideas.

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The Ultimate Guide To Solar Energy

Solar Energy in New Brunswick

An interesting fact that most people find surprising is that the province of in New Brunswick receives on average 1142 kWh/kW/yr solar radiation per annum.

Renewable technologies have been making slow but steady inroads in New Brunswick and elsewhere.

New Brunswick has a small but growing solar infrastructure. The province has a history of solar hot water heating dating back to the 1970’s and 1980’s, and recent studies show that the majority of system owners are satisfied with them, reporting them to be not only low maintenance but also highly reliable.

Other Canadian provinces with climates similar to New Brunswick’s, such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario most recently has commence cost-effective installations of solar hot water heating systems in their homes and businesses.

New Brunswick is one of several provinces that have created / gained access to Federal Solar Incentives
a.k.a Canada Greener Homes Grant – Homeowners can receive up to $5,000 to make energy efficient retrofits to their homes for measures such as new windows, insulation, battery energy storage systems and installing solar panels. Solar power systems can receive a rebate of $1.00/W up to $5,000.

Off Grid Solar

The funds along with other unique programs support low income rate assistance and conservation programs, as well as renewables research and development. New Brunswick’s law has included renewables in its definition of universal service which is an amazing and forward thinking approach.

“Universal service and energy conservation are “Policies, protections and services that help low-income customers to maintain electric service.

The term includes customer assistance programs; termination of service protection and policies and services that help low-income customers to reduce or manage energy consumption in a cost-effective manner, such as the low-income usage reduction programs, application of renewable resources and consumer education.”

What are the disadvantages and advantages of renewable energy?

Renewable energy has several advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering.

Advantages of Renewable Energy

Clean and Sustainable: Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass produce little to no emissions and are replenished naturally.

Energy Security: Renewable energy sources provide energy independence by reducing reliance on fossil fuels, which are finite resources and subject to price volatility and geopolitical tensions.

Cost-effective: Renewable energy has become increasingly competitive with conventional sources of energy, with costs continuing to decline. Additionally, renewable energy projects can be more resilient to price volatility compared to traditional energy sources.

Job Creation: The renewable energy industry creates many jobs, from manufacturing and installation to maintenance and operation.



Disadvantages of Renewable Energy:

Intermittency: Many renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are variable and can be affected by weather conditions. This means that energy production may not be consistent and reliable, requiring energy storage solutions or backup generation.

Land Use: Some renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels, require large land areas, which can impact wildlife habitats and natural landscapes.

Upfront Costs: Although renewable energy costs have declined, the upfront capital costs of building renewable energy infrastructure can be high. Additionally, there can be additional costs associated with integrating renewable energy into existing power grids.

Reliability and Infrastructure: As renewable energy sources are relatively new technologies, there may be a lack of infrastructure and expertise in some areas, which can limit their adoption.

Overall, the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy depend on the specific technology and its application. Despite some challenges, renewable energy has significant potential to meet our energy needs in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way.

New Brunswick Weatherization Program

Weatherization is designed to reduce energy consumption in low-income households by installing conservation measures such as insulation, air sealing, weather stripping, and heating plant modifications, and through educating clients about energy consumption. The program also provides measures to make homes healthier and safer.

Map of New Brunswick

The New Brunswick Low-Income Renewables Pilot Program has provided many low-income households across the province with access to reliable, proven, cutting-edge renewable technologies. The technologies implemented in this program should not be directly compared to traditional weatherization efforts. The goal of this effort is to build an infrastructure now so that low-income households will have access to this technology in the future.

New Brunswick utilizes federal Weatherization Assistance Program Funds to support leveraging activities. The Leveraging Project assists community-based organizations in developing additional resources for sustainable/ renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

This encouragement of renewables development is based on a widespread perception, shared by many provinces and the federal government, that the time is right for renewables. The federal government has encouraged and funded renewables development through a variety of initiatives, including the Natural Resources Canada ( NRC). The NSC has pointed out that renewables can: reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, address climate-change concerns, expand international economic opportunities for Canadian energy-efficient and renewable-energy technologies, and save taxpayer dollars.

Solar Energy Installers in New Brunswick

Solar water heating systems

Solar water heating systems utilize the “greenhouse effect” to collect the sun’s energy. Sunlight is transmitted through the collector glazing and absorbed by the materials behind the glazing. The thermal energy reradiated by these materials will not pass back out through the glass. The heat collected in a car with closed windows on a sunny day
is an example of the greenhouse effect. In addition to collectors, solar water heating systems also consist of storage tanks, piping, and usually electric pumps and controls.

There are three types of collectors used in solar water heating systems: flat-plate, evacuated-tube, and concentrating. A flat-plate collector, the most common type, is an insulated, weatherproofed box containing a dark absorber plate under one or more transparent or translucent covers. While most commercially available solar water heaters utilize a second well-insulated storage tank, a few systems can utilize existing hot water tanks.

Solar water heating systems are seldom designed to provide 100 percent of the home’s hot water demand. A 50 percent to 60 percent solar fraction may prove most cost effective in most of Canada.

Types of Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters can be classified as active or passive, direct or indirect. An active system uses an electric pump to circulate the heat-transfer fluid; a passive system relies on natural convection for fluid circulation. The amount of hot water a solar water heater produces depends on the type and size of the system, the amount of sun available at the site, proper installation, and the tilt angle and orientation of the collectors.

Passive systems are feasible in warmer climates or for three season operation, but are generally not feasible for year-round operation in most of Canada. A direct system circulates household (potable) water through the collector loop. Direct water heating systems should not be used where the water is extremely hard or acidic to avoid scale deposits or corrosion.

An indirect (closed-loop) system uses a heat-transfer fluid (water or diluted antifreeze for example) to collect heat and a heat exchanger to transfer the heat to household water. For more information on the types, costs, and economic benefits of solar water heaters.

Maintenance and Durability

The anticipated useful lifetime of the solar hot water system is expected to be at least 20 years. Six major manufacturers and installers provided this information. This survey was
conducted in 2019. The following table outlines the components and their expected lifetimes.

Application History

Based on our research, solar water heating is not only low maintenance but is also highly reliable. An average install solar water heating system on a home will likely require only
two maintenance over its life span:

1) the pump needed to be replaced but was readily available at a local hardware store, and
2) the glycol needed to be changed. Solar water system can provide 100 percent of a family’s domestic hot water requirements.

Smart Solar Set Up


Photovoltaic (PV) technology converts sunlight directly into electricity (voltage). PV cells, constructed of semiconducting materials, measure about 4 inches square and produce about 1 watt of power. Grouping cells together in a module creates a power source capable of lighting a small light bulb. To generate even more power, modules can be grouped together in arrays which, when combined with the “balance of system (BOS)” components, comprise a system.

The BOS typically includes electrical switches, diode protection circuits, Direct Current-to-Alternating Current inverters for interfacing the PV output with the electrical load, and a small battery system if needed. Small PV systems can be used to supply part or all of a home’s electrical needs.

Systems are available for stand-alone applications – often with batteries to store power for later use or for grid-connected applications. In the latter case, the home uses the grid essentially as storage, though some grid-connected systems employ a small battery back-up in the event utility power is not available.

Net Metering

Instead of having a solar electric system independent of the utility grid, a system can be designed to work with the grid. Net metering allows homeowners to reduce their electric bills by generating power using small-scale solar energy systems. Under a net metering arrangement, homeowners who use solar systems run their electric meter backwards as they feed extra electricity back to their utility.

Net metering requires only a standard user-friendly interconnection with the utility and provides a simple constant rate for excess power. This allows homeowners to obtain the benefits of solar energy regardless of whether they are using electricity at the same time their system is generating power.

A specially designed utility-interactive inverter is needed. The solar array is connected to the inverter, as are the utility lines. The output is connected to the normal distribution box for the house. During the day, power is generated at the array and fed into the inverter, to be changed into AC power. If that power is needed in the home, it is passed on.

If the load demand is less than what the array is producing, the excess is fed into the utility grid system, and energy is credited to the home. If more power is needed in the home than the array can produce at a particular moment, then power flows from the utility grid to add to the array power. Typically there are no batteries in utility-interconnected systems,so at night all the power needed flows from the utility. When batteries are added it is to produce an uninterruptable power supply.

At the end of the month, if the customer uses more electricity than is generated, the customer pays the utility on the net kilowatt-hours used at the regular retail rate. If the customer generates more electricity than is used, the utility pays the customer for the net kilowatt-hours produced at the wholesale power rate.

How does a solar power inverter work?

A solar power inverter is an essential component of a solar energy system. Its main function is to convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type of electricity used in most homes and businesses.

Here’s a breakdown of how a solar power inverter works:

DC Electricity Generation: Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight falls on the photovoltaic cells, which are made of semiconducting materials like silicon. The panels are usually connected in series or parallel to produce the desired voltage and current levels.

Power Conditioning: The DC electricity produced by the solar panels is not suitable for direct use in most appliances and the power grid. It needs to be conditioned to match the characteristics of the AC electricity.

Conversion to AC: The solar power inverter receives the DC electricity from the solar panels and converts it into AC electricity. This conversion is achieved through a two-step process:

a. Inversion: The inverter uses electronic components, typically insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) or metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs), to rapidly switch the DC electricity on and off. This switching creates a high-frequency AC waveform, usually in the range of a few kilohertz.

b. Filtering: The high-frequency AC waveform generated by the inverter undergoes filtering to smooth out the waveform and remove unwanted harmonics. This filtering process ensures that the AC output closely resembles the pure sine wave form required for most electrical devices.

Grid Connection: In grid-tied solar systems, the AC electricity produced by the inverter is sent to the main electrical panel of the building or directly to the utility grid. The inverter synchronizes the AC output with the grid frequency and voltage levels to ensure a safe and seamless integration of the solar energy into the existing power infrastructure.

Monitoring and Control: Modern solar power inverters often include advanced monitoring and control capabilities. They can provide real-time data on the solar energy production, system performance, and electrical parameters. Additionally, they may have built-in protection mechanisms to safeguard the system from overvoltage, overcurrent, and other electrical faults.

It’s important to note that there are different types of solar power inverters, including string inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers. Each type has its own advantages and considerations regarding system design, installation, and efficiency.

System sizing

The size of a PV system needed to meet a desired electrical output depends on two key factors:

  • Access to solar radiation
  • The efficiency of the PV cells

PV systems should be positioned to maximize exposure to the sun, especially during the prime production time between 10:00 am and 3:00 PM. Even small shadows falling on a module will dramatically affect the amount of power produced. Most residential-scale systems involve fixed arrays mounted on rooftops to minimize installation and maintenance costs,but tracking systems to keep the array directed toward the sun are also available.

System Cost and Performance
Residential-scale PV systems are well proven. Presently, crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon are the PV materials used most often in residential applications. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but most residential systems today use crystalline silicon. Many new developments such as new and improved PV materials will re-shape the technology in coming years, with one of the most promising being PV shingles, in which the PV technology is actually built into the home’s roofing.
Every effort should be made to use energy-efficient appliances and lights to reduce the electrical load, and thus, the overall system requirements. Once a system is installed, however,PV’s modularity means more modules can be added if needed.

Systems cost, like size, can vary dramatically depending on the amount of power required and the solar insolation available.

Because of the number of options available, buyers should explore several different companies to obtain size-specific estimates. Dealers should also be able to provide information about available financing opportunities.

Maintenance and Durability

PV systems are among the most durable and reliable renewable-energy technology in use today. PV modules have no moving parts, degrade very slowly, and offer a yet-to-be-determined lifespan which is expected to be measured in decades. Standard factory warranties are usually 10 years, with some manufacturers offering up to 20-year warranties.

Maintenance generally entails simply cleaning the modules.

PV modules must be tested and certified both by Underwriter Labs (UL), which certifies the unit’s construction, and by a facility qualified to certify the unit’s performance. Among the concerns are how the system will react to strong wind gusts and other inclement weather, especially when mounted on a roof. To pass UL testing, modules must be able to withstand wind gusts of 120 m.p.h. (50 lbs/sq. ft.) and one-inch hail stones.

Design Tools

Performing a detailed load analysis will help the homeowner understand what appliances, lights, and other energy users are in the house and how much energy each uses. This analysis is one of the first steps toward designing a new PV system. In a recent publication issue, Home Power Magazine published an article titled “Doing a Load Analysis: The First Step in System Design,” which walks the installer through this process.

The installer can turn to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s solar insolation maps for help in assessing a site’s access to sunlight using various types of systems. Because of the many variables involved in properly sizing and installing PV systems, installers should work closely with a selected manufacturer to develop an appropriate system.


SolarSizer software from power Queen is one option with emphasis is on stand-alone systems, not designed for utility-interactive applications.

What is the latest development in renewable energy sources?

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, there were several ongoing developments in renewable energy sources. While I don’t have access to real-time information, I can provide you with some notable advancements up to that point.

Here are a few:

Solar Power:

Wind Power: Offshore wind farms have seen significant progress. Larger and more efficient wind turbines have been developed, capable of harnessing stronger winds at sea. Floating wind turbines are also being explored, which could enable wind energy generation in deeper waters.

Energy Storage:Advancements in energy storage technologies are crucial for balancing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. Lithium-ion batteries dominate the market, but research is focused on improving their performance, durability, and reducing costs. Additionally, emerging technologies like flow batteries, solid-state batteries, and hydrogen storage systems are being explored for larger-scale energy storage.

Tidal and Wave Power: Tidal and wave energy technologies are still in the early stages of development. Various designs, such as oscillating water columns and tidal turbines, are being tested and optimized for efficient conversion of oceanic energy into electricity.

Geothermal Energy: Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) aim to tap into the Earth’s heat at greater depths and wider geographical locations, expanding the potential for geothermal energy. Research and development efforts are focused on techniques to create and maintain fractures in the rock for better heat extraction.

Bioenergy: Bioenergy continues to evolve with advancements in biofuel production, such as the development of advanced biofuels derived from non-food sources, including algae and agricultural waste. Additionally, research is focused on improving the efficiency of bioenergy processes and reducing associated environmental impacts.

It’s important to note that renewable energy is a rapidly evolving field, and new developments and breakthroughs are likely to have occurred since my last update. For the most up-to-date information, I recommend consulting recent scientific literature, industry reports, and news sources dedicated to renewable energy.

The role of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, in mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the potential for a transition to a low-carbon economy?

Renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power, play a crucial role in mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a discussion on their significance and the potential for a transition to a low-carbon economy:

Climate Change Mitigation: The burning of fossil fuels for energy production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which are the primary drivers of climate change. Renewable energy sources offer a cleaner alternative by harnessing natural resources such as sunlight and wind, producing electricity without emitting carbon dioxide or other harmful pollutants. By replacing fossil fuel-based power generation with renewable energy, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate climate change.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Solar and wind power generate electricity without relying on fossil fuels, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Solar energy converts sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic cells, while wind energy harnesses the power of wind to rotate turbines and produce electricity. Both sources have virtually no direct emissions during operation, unlike coal or natural gas power plants that release large amounts of CO2 and other pollutants. By increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, we can effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the pace of climate change.

Energy Transition and Decentralization: Transitioning to renewable energy sources requires a shift from centralized energy systems, typically based on fossil fuel power plants, to decentralized systems. Solar panels and wind turbines can be installed at various scales, from individual households to large-scale power plants, allowing for distributed energy generation. This transition empowers communities, reduces dependence on finite resources, and increases energy security by diversifying the energy mix.

Economic Opportunities: The transition to a low-carbon economy presents significant economic opportunities. Renewable energy industries have experienced rapid growth, leading to job creation, technological innovation, and economic development. Investments in renewable energy projects stimulate local economies, promote sustainable development, and provide long-term benefits by reducing the costs associated with environmental damage and climate change impacts.

Energy Independence and Resilience: Investing in renewable energy sources helps reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, enhancing energy independence for countries. Solar and wind power can be harnessed domestically, utilizing local resources and reducing vulnerability to geopolitical tensions and price fluctuations in fossil fuel markets. Moreover, renewable energy systems are often more resilient to extreme weather events, such as hurricanes or floods, compared to centralized fossil fuel infrastructure.

Technological Advancements: Continued investments in renewable energy research and development are driving technological advancements, making solar and wind power more efficient, affordable, and accessible. Improvements in energy storage systems, such as batteries, are addressing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources and increasing their reliability. These advancements further contribute to the feasibility and scalability of renewable energy systems.

International Cooperation and Policies: Addressing climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon economy require global collaboration and supportive policies. Many countries have set renewable energy targets, implemented feed-in tariffs, tax incentives, and other mechanisms to promote renewable energy deployment. International agreements like the Paris Agreement aim to limit global temperature rise and encourage the adoption of renewable energy. Collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society is essential to accelerate the renewable energy transition.

While renewable energy sources have made significant progress in recent years, there are still challenges to overcome, such as intermittency, grid integration, and initial investment costs. However, with the growing urgency to combat climate change, the continued advancement of renewable energy technologies, and supportive policies, the transition to a low-carbon economy powered by solar, wind, and other renewable sources is becoming increasingly feasible and necessary for a sustainable future.

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Joint blog Post by Chrystale Henry and Zilu Zhang at Maple Garden Farm – a off the grid humble Organic Farm (permaculture ) located on a 10 acre farm producing varieties of vegetables and other farm produce. Joint us on twitter, Facebook and follow our LinkedIn company page to learn more and get great tips on farming strategy and permaculture and alternative energy design ideas.

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