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Sound Advice

Integrating Solar Into Your Studio By Ian Graham

“Off The Grid” Solar
On bright, sunny days, I am totally independent of the grid, powering my studio and feeding a bank of batteries. A dual-axis tracker helps keep the power up by following the sun across the sky. During evening sessions or extremely overcast days, I can offset my grid usage with a grid-interactive inverter. For example: if the studio is using 10 amps of which solar is providing seven, the grid will cover the other three. The issue with this type of system is that it involves batteries, though if they’re properly maintained, they can last 1-15 years.

microFIT
The microFIT program has been around for a few years and pays $0.80/KWH (kilowatt hour) for systems up to 10 KW for 20 years. The beauty of this system is that you’re feeding the grid with power and it involves no batteries. The program has become extremely popular and I look at it as a great way to make passive income with a one-time installation. I currently have a 9.87 KW system on my studio roof and another system on a rental property. More info can be found at www.microfit.powerauthority.on.ca.

Cost
Solar is not cheap… or is it? DIY can save a bundle and, with some knowledge, can be easy to hook up. You do want to have an electrician check things over and do the final hook up. ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) will also need to be involved. Shop around for prices from reputable dealers. Solar is coming down in price rather quickly and new technology is making it very affordable.

Ian Graham is the owner of Small Dog Studio and performs with hard prog rock band Eye Rhyme (www.eyerhyme.com), currently working on a third CD. He holds a degree in Pipe Organ/Composition and has a passion for renewable energy, running his studio off the grid with solar power and driving to gigs in a waste oil-powered van www.vegvan.ca. And yes… it smells like fries.

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