Off-Grid PV and Solar Energy Resources

This chapter provides resources for those interested in gaining further information about solar products, training opportunities and general knowledge about solar. Please note that the section is largely based on the author’s network and experience. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list. Also note that the author and publishers cannot be held responsible for the quality or content of the information contained in these sources or the products recommended.


The information contained in this book is basic and only meant to be a starting point for solar do-it-yourselfers. Nevertheless, many people bitten by the solar bug may want more information – or help in solving problems as they arise.

Even though solar electric technology is growing at an incredible rate, the field of off-grid solar electricity is still comparatively small when measured against grid-connected. Therefore, getting products for, and information about, small solar electric systems for off-grid purposes is still not as easy as it might be. In fact, many people are confused by the differences between ‘off-grid’ and ‘on-grid’ PV.

Fortunately, there are many champions in the field of off-grid solar power. This chapter collects information about some of them. Important sections covered below include:

• Sources of information including magazines, websites, books about solar electricity and off-grid living.

• Places where you can find further training or locate expertise.

• Sources of information about solar energy resources, measuring tools and design programmes.

• Companies that specialize in off-grid solar energy and renewable energy equipment.

Because of the author’s particular experience, this chapter focuses on European and North American sources of information. Nevertheless, there are strong solar energy communities in China, India, and elsewhere across the globe. No region holds a monopoly on solar energy information or products, so readers should seek out national groups in their own countries for more information.

General Sources of Information


Home Power Magazine (USA)

A bi-monthly magazine that has been a primary source of information and expertise among American off-grid solar energy systems installers for over two decades. For the beginner and the expert, it provides a magazine and on-line content with a wealth of information about installation, design practices and equipment. It also has CDs with back issues that are extremely useful for the hands-on practitioner. www. homepower. com

Sun and Wind Magazine (Germany)

A good general magazine about solar and wind energy with content that ranges from market information to hands-on stories. Covers global developments in renewable energy. www. sunwindenergy. com

Renewable Energy World (USA/UK)

A wide-ranging magazine about the global developments in renewable energy. Company and job information. Both print and PDF versions available.


www. renewableenergyworld. com



The following books offer information about solar and other renewable energy sources.


Description of book

Photovoltaics for Professionals Describes the practicalities of designing and installing photovoltaic systems,

both grid-tied and off-grid – though the emphasis in the current edition is on grid-tied. Written for electricians, technicians, builders, architects and building engineers.

Applied Photovoltaics

Accessible and comprehensive guide for students of photovoltaic applications and renewable energy engineering. Step-by-step guide through semiconductors and p-n junctions, cell properties and design, PV cell interconnection and module fabrication. Covers stand-alone systems, specific purpose systems, and grid-connected systems, photovoltaic water pumping, system components and design.

Selling Solar

Shows how, at the start of the 21st century, PV technology began to diffuse rapidly in select emerging markets after years of struggling to take off. What were the initial barriers to diffusion? How were they overcome? Who did it? And how can this success be replicated? The book also describes how entrepreneurs affected profound technological change not just through the solar systems they sold, but through the example they set to both new market entrants and policymakers.


Description of book

Planning and Installing Photovoltaic Systems (Second Edition)

This joint Earthscan/German Solar Energy publication covers all aspects of grid – tied PV and is excellently illustrated throughout.

Solar Domestic Water Heating (Expert series)

A comprehensive, accessible and richly illustrated introduction to all aspects of solar water heating.

Renewable Energy Engineering and Technology

Comprehensive guide on renewables technology and engineering, intended to cater for the rapidly growing numbers of engineers who are keen to lead the revolution. All the main sectors are covered – photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind, bioenergy, hydro, wave/tidal, geothermal – progressing from the fundamental physical principles, through resource assessment and site evaluation to in-depth examination of the characteristics and employment of the various technologies.

Understanding Renewable Energy Systems

Beginning with an overview of renewable energy sources including biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal, tidal, wind and solar power, this book explores the fundamentals of different renewable energy systems. It not only describes technological aspects, but also deals consciously with problems of the energy industry. Contains a free CD-ROM resource, which includes a variety of specialist simulation software and detailed figures from the book. Ideal companion for students of renewable energy and engineering students.

The titles above can be ordered from the Earthscan website: www. earthscan. co. uk

New Society Publishers

Title Description of book

Power from the Sun A practical guide to solar electricity.

Photovoltatic Design and Installation Manual Solar Energy International’s training manual.

Solar Water Heating A comprehensive guide to solar water and space heating systems.

Real Goods Solar Living Source Book A complete guide to renewable energy technologies and sustainable

living. See Real Goods catalogue.

The titles above can be ordered from the New Society website: www. newsociety. com

Other books


Description of book

Photovoltaic Systems (American Technical Publications, Homewood, IL, 2007)

Developed by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for the Electrical Industry in the US.

The Solar Electric Independent Home Book (Fowler Solar Electric, Worthington MA, 1991)

Book written for do-it-yourselfers by an American off-grid solar pioneer.

Training and development organizations

In order for the technology to be effectively disseminated and utilized, organized training efforts need to occur. These groups below have worked with installers, distributors, sales agents, community leaders and end-users.

Solar Energy International (Colorado, USA)

On-line courses and on-site design and installation courses. Some international training and development work. www. solarenergy. org

Renewable Energy Academy (RENAC) (Berlin, Germany)

Provides courses on most renewable energy technologies, including off-grid PV, PV-wind hybrid systems and mini-grids. www. renac. de/en/home

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