Reasons We Live Off-Grid

13

Comments

  • mountaintopmountaintop Registered Users Posts: 16
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    I just got back from picking up my monster (1500 amp 48 volt). There only asking me to run about 2430 watts before losses for 15 minutes. I’ll be ready for them on Monday and should have no issues. I’m sure they think it’s going to have to use a lot more power.

    I have one of my friends coming over to help get the battery moved and wired up. It’s calling for rain for the next few days but if at all possible I hope to get the panels up on the tracker and get it programmed.
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    Do inspectors never go camping? Just how much power is acceptable?

    Ralph

    The people in my county have no idea. Most of the all electric houses are getting a 400/320 amp service with two 200 amp panels for 4 or 5 bed room, 3.5 baths, two 55 gallon water heaters, well, and two 2 ton heat pumps.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Good Luck Mountaintop!

    We are an arrogant people, in an arrogant land...

    For 4 years, until Dec 2006 I lived on 220 watts of solar electric and acommunal bath house, likely more electric than is my portion if dividing all electric used for home energy was divided amoung the humans on earth...

    I now heat and air condition a 10x16 cabin (with sleeping loft) and heat an 8 x 13kitchen and bath house. I'm sure more space than is alotted per human on earth...

    I'm turn 50 this year, my mothers significate other had a dirt floor house until he was 7-8 and they got electric when he was 13 (near Ponce DeLeon FL)

    Requiring large sq ft homes, high electric uses has become silly...

    I do understand desire for bigger and better, heck I did build a 10x16 cabin with 6" of insulation just so I could air condition a space for comfort. I increased my array to 1300 watts which I really only use to potential in the summer time.

    I'd gladly use the grid for storage, but they have forgotten that rural electric helped them build the lines and now they want a $25 a month "line fee" before you buy any electric... so batteries just work out cheaper!

    I too live in a 3rd world "county" (3rd tier) in Missouri. Only inforced codes are for sewer. and soon Our communal well will soon require a trained well stewart as it serves more than 15 families and/or 25 individuals, though it's tested fine for 25 years...

    Ooops I'm starting to rant...

    Sorry

    .
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,257 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Out here in California we are not even third world anymore. Even in the third world the government does not issue IOU's as our state is trying to do.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    So, you may have read me write about our early spring.

    Here is a picture of our earliest ice out in history,, not by a little, but by a lot,, nearly three weeks! Our normal ice out is the second week in May. It broke up and swept out this past monday,,, April 6th! (Picture on the right)

    On Wednesday March 31(Picture on the right) we made our last trip on the ice, and by Sunday it was open enough for the boat(middle picture)! Very spooky, and quite scary. None of the old timers have ever seen anything like it before.

    On the March 31 the ice was 21" thick,, but getting very rotten.
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 871 ✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Nice pictures Tony

    I guess you can get out earlier this year, but will you be dragging boat or canoe bottoms on usually missed rocks at landing spots? Probably by September you will be.

    Going to keep the fire pumps checked out/exercised every week this spring and summer? Hope all goes well.

    Ralph
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Record low water,, fire bans in early April through out NWO,, and no real rain in sight. Yea,, I got the pump out!

    T
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,041 ✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid
    Ecnerwal wrote: »
    $10K-30K for over half a mile would be not bad - about 10 bucks a foot or less.

    $25-30K for 700 feet is absurd. If I can get connected for $10-15K, I'll be money ahead "with the pleasure of paying the bill every month" included.
    This is a very interesting thread. Do you have a shop that uses lots of electric. Here in Pa we have lots of Amish that aren,t allowed to use electric. I stopped at one that had a cabinet shop and he had hydralic motors on every piece of equipment and had a hydralic pump to power it all. He used a small engine to run it all. worked preety slick. S:Dlarvic
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    I agree, nice pics. That ice on 03/31 looks scary. As long as we are sharing photos, here's mine from 04/03/10. The green tree tops in the distance are Scotch Pines planted ~40 yrs ago. The deciduous trees (Tony has very few) have yet to bud. But they are doing so as I type.

    We're going up Sunday to remove the trailer from storage, take some measurements needed for mounting the panels, and we'll be camping before May Day.

    A couple of notes: The picnic table is made out of construction lumber by me. 100 inches long and no angled, under table, center braces. Very sturdy. Adirondack chairs are made from recycled plastic milk jugs, Outstanding!

    I'm going to have to make a new fire poking stick.

    To all in the N Hemi... the Sun is coming. Enjoy!
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid
    solarvic wrote: »
    This is a very interesting thread. Do you have a shop that uses lots of electric. Here in Pa we have lots of Amish that aren,t allowed to use electric. I stopped at one that had a cabinet shop and he had hydralic motors on every piece of equipment and had a hydralic pump to power it all. He used a small engine to run it all. worked preety slick. S:Dlarvic

    I have a small mechanical shop with a nice bench with nice natural light. I have an outside shop that I set up as needed with a large bench under a moveable shed sort of thing. The normal, (but small scale wood shop) table saw, surface planer, router/shaper table, chop saw etc.

    It generally a home builders back of the pick-up shop,, but on an island. When I need to I can move any or all of it to another site.

    Tony

    Below is a picture planing some old growth pine. Not very informative,,but possibly interesting.
    shop.jpg 240.5K
  • bobdogbobdog Solar Expert Posts: 191 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Oh my goodness. Just read through this whole thread. This may be the best thread on any list-serve I have ever read. What an awesome community we all are. Great pictures, great discussion....Life is good.
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 109 ✭✭
    I guess it's time I played this game...

    Great sunsets.

    0416101836.jpg

    Nature.

    0418100944.jpg

    Solitude.

    0507100705.jpg

    Location, location, location.

    0509101112.jpg

    Peace.

    0814091854.jpg
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Nice,,,

    Tony


    A bit dry for my tastes however.
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    And treeless. But still very nice.
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 109 ✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid
    icarus wrote: »
    Nice,,,

    Tony


    A bit dry for my tastes however.

    True enough. We might green up for a month or two if the monsoons are good. ;)

    Does this look more your speed? The pic is 30-miles into the mountains from our house.

    0131101212a.jpg
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    That's a bit more like it,, but only if the picture was taken in May!.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,257 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    I like your speed alot Ben! Nothing like that part of the world in spring! It can be a shot one so timing is everything!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • soloronesolorone Solar Expert Posts: 234 ✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    I see some using thumbnails, I do not know how y'all that, but can change this if someone will fill me in.

    What a hard question to answer. Not sure how we got here. In the early 70s, we were back to earthers, and we lucked up on an old farm for sale. It was land locked but we negotiated a 3/4 mile long driveway, and bought the place. It sits within a chunk of land of about 4000 acres, with timber companies and National forest as neighbors. The nearest power route was over 2 miles and they wanted $10K to run power, and that was not an option.

    We loved the land forest, no mountain vistas, or desert views, but a deep hardwoods setting, with 4 creeks and a bunch of wildlife.

    Determined to live as close to nature as possible, we carved out a minimal opening for our house and started sawing tress at a friends mill. There are 8 trees within 7 feet of the house, natural air-conditioning. To keep our AC, we located the array 220 feet from the house. Having been a life long commercial builder I had access to scrap in demo jobs, so had a ton of 4 ought wire.

    We are covered up in wildlife, normal things, coyotes, coons, possums and every bird you can name. A few bears, and I did see a big cat, that is said NOT supposed to live here. It is country dark and country quite here. When the leaves are down, I can occasionally hear a train from 4 miles away, and a truck on the gravel main road, but otherwise it is very very quite.

    Things changed through the years, all the surrounding forest has been cut over, and now, along with two other "neighbors" we have some of the only hardwood forest left in this area, outside the National Forest.

    You never really own the land, you pay for the right to be the steward of the earth, I hope to hang on long enough to pass it on, as untouched as possible, to the kids.

    A pic of our place and arrays taken with a P&S camera about 8 years ago
    when I was giving my grand-daughter flying lessons.

    original.jpg

    An old shot of the panels as we were adding a new array.
    The taller array is 25 YO and sick.

    large.jpg

    One of four creeks, this one in front of our home.

    original.jpg

    original.jpg

    This is an odd pic, pano from rooftop there was a wicked red sunset that day.

    large.jpg
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Nice,,, Cleaning the roof and the eave troughs must be a full time job!

    Tony
  • soloronesolorone Solar Expert Posts: 234 ✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid
    icarus wrote: »
    Nice,,, Cleaning the roof and the eave troughs must be a full time job!

    Tony

    LOL. Yea Tony, I built a ladder to the roof 27 tears ago, use it regularly, for antenna and cleaning skylights, covering chimney, note the rocks. The roof gets a quick run over with the leaf blower, before the wood heater fires up. No gutters.
    Tom.
  • chevensteinchevenstein Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Our situation is similar to soloraone's, only we're much earlier in the experience (we started last year). We bought a hunting camp on a one lane logging road (not private, but user maintained). We doubled the size of the camp and brought it up to code to live year round, including the off grid power system described in my signature.

    We're surrounded by thousands of acres of logging property and two state forests, though our nearest neighbor is actually only a few tenths of a mile away. We wanted peace,quiet, and privacy and that is what we got. In the warm months we hear all sorts of birds and other wildlife, in the winter it can be completely still and silent. The air is fresh and other than occasional loggers and hunters, we don't see any people.

    The solar power system works very well overall, though I would like to expand it at some point. You will notice in the pictures that four of the panels are mounted like a giant pin-ball machine, this is the result of our sponsor sending the wrong mount and me improvising as I needed the panels connected. When we drilled the hole for the tower with the other eight panels we also drilled a second hole to eventually put up a second tower, which will take the four "pinball" panels.
  • chevensteinchevenstein Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    PS - I installed an old-fashioned glass covered dial readout meter on the power system's ouput a few months ago and recorded our usage: we average almost exactly one and two thirds KWh per day.

    Yes, the panels are shaded in one of the pictures but that is at about 3:30 in the afternoon; the panels get unshaded sun in the summer from 9-3. In the winter it's a bit shorter but the weather can be so nasty that we won't make meaningful solar output for days on end. Fortunately the LP genset starts easily when it's -5 F!
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 871 ✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Lovely set up...ever thought about offering a few malted beverages to some of those loggers and getting a little more sun on the panels? (after any cutting done of course)

    Ralph
  • chevensteinchevenstein Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Not a bad idea...the beverages and the tree felling! One thing I like about the "pinball" panels and late afternoon shading is that I have hidden capacity. Usually your loads grow and your generation does, but for me if I cut some trees and get a proper mount for those four panels I will see an increase in generation.
  • louielouielouielouie Registered Users Posts: 18
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    i read about 99% of the previous comments.
    is there a category for wanting to off grid because you're hard headed?
    i really don't want to read the comments about how expensive it is to go off grid, i'm just going to do it.
    i don't want to deal with the utility company.
    and not wanting to get a political advisory warning, i'm afraid the cost of power is going to at least double in the next few years, regardless of who is in the white house.
    i have a house, that is going to be my retirement home, that is about twenty feet from the nearest utility pole. for all i care, it's miles away.
    i started with a dinky 50 watt panel.
    then 150 watt.
    started reading the forum.
    now 460 watt.
    getting ready to call into NAWS to double that.
    no, i'm not a prepper.
    or a survivalist.
    in a couple of years, when i do move there, that's when i'm gonna go full monty.
    and yeah, full monty is a technical scientific term.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid
    louielouie wrote: »
    i read about 99% of the previous comments.
    is there a category for wanting to off grid because you're hard headed?
    i really don't want to read the comments about how expensive it is to go off grid, i just want to know how to do it.
    ...
    no, i'm not a prepper.
    or a survivalist.
    just a regular kinda whacko.
    I suppose we could name the category after you. :-)

    But certainly other than adding the disclaimer in at the beginning, you can just let people assume that you are already off-grid and expanding rather than in the process of moving from on-grid to off-grid. That would probably cut down the background noise you would have to listen to.
    It is your money, your house, your life, etc. and the advice given to someone who is off-grid by necessity should apply just as well to you.
    :-)
    To mangle an old phrase, Just don't build it in the street and scare the horses.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • paulskirockspaulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Well, I'm also in the hardheaded camp, and will slowly escape the grid at my main house... However, at our cabin property, there is no power, it would cost an arm and a leg to get a power pole, and then the county would want to raise my property taxes for "improvements"... So, after 47 years at that property with no power other than generators, I picked up a 100 watt panel, cheap controller, and a single 12 marine battery... Then came the 300 watt inverter... Next came the four 230 watt panels and mppt controller, which are in the install process... Then the 2000 watt inverter... Sure, it's costing me some bucks, so I just get what I can afford each week, and don't really pay much attention to the ultimate cost...
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 537 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Reposting my thoughts of a couple years ago.

    Our ranch is in conservation and borders a majestic desert mountain national forest and wilderness landscape. Our off grid system helps protect this view shed as well as assure our back country ranching values and lifestyle. We work very hard to maintain it.

    The cost of bringing in the grid would significantly exceed our off grid investment. And, the local area grid experiences frequent power spikes and outages. More grid intensifies development and land speculation which adversely impacts wildlife corridors, livestock management and reduces hunting opportunities in my country.

    We didn't build our off grid system to make a green political statement nor save money. We did it to perpetuate our ranching heritage and preserve something for our childrens children.

    There are many reasons to do things which are not necessarily driven by money. For us it's not a matter of what's cheaper but what's better.
    Ranch Off Grid System: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, Rastra House Construction, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • ILFEILFE Solar Expert Posts: 355 ✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid
    Mangas wrote: »
    We didn't build our off grid system to make a green political statement nor save money.

    We didn't either. The little home and farm are situated off a "country" dirt road that is 5 kilometers from the nearest power mains.

    When my wife and I first talked about doing it, I wasn't sure about it. Although I have lived in Cambodia for over 1.5 years, I wasn't sure if I was ready to make a permanent residence here. So, after thinking it over, and after seeing how happy she was when we were at the farm, I figured what the heck.

    But, I knew if we were going to live there, we would have to generate our own power, and collect (or pump) our own water. (A fair portion of Cambodia's groundwater has been found to contain arsenic. So, we will wait and see how rainwater harvesting works for us, before having a well drilled and the water tested.)

    My wife had the home built while she was working in Malaysia. It isn't much in size (plenty for many who live off-grid, though) - 20 square meters. I dare say a little small for me. But, we will remedy that. We are in the process of adding a small kitchen (3.5 meters x 3 meters) and full bath (1.5 meters x 3 meters) along the (south) rear wall, 3 meters by 5 meters wide, total.

    Across the (north) front side, we are adding a front porch, 2.5 meters by 5 meters wide. Along the (east) side of the home, we added a concrete slab 2 meters by 4 meters wide. It carries the weight of three tanks, currently, that store rainwater from the roof.

    Slowly, the little place is becoming home for us. We both are happy when we spend a couple days there every week. I'm sure we will be even happier when we are there full time. (That won't be long after the new "western" style toilet and the ShurFlo pump is installed!)

    From the time I have personally spent there, it has grown on me like almost no other place I have lived. It has given me time to think about what I enjoy most about being there:

    • No power mains lines along the road or property. Only trees, plants, bamboo, farmland, and ponds.
    • No noisy generators running in the back ground. Clean, quiet power, and the soft whistle of the wind blowing through the trees.
    • Although neighbors are not that close, no noisy music playing - because no one else in the area has power.
    • No water treated (by God only knows what) from a city system, then being consumed by us.

    So, I am sure glad it happened. Laying in a hammock on a breezy afternoon in the shade, while sipping a fresh, ice cold coconut - well, that is livin'.
    Paul
  • ChrisChris Solar Expert Posts: 135 ✭✭
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    I thought I'd share a few of my reasons for wanting to be off the grid :D

    DE3745E0-8D9B-4607-BE42-B537BE47D9BB-1346-000000D9D39C8172_zpsfa71276d.jpg
    C6D7BFC1-CF21-433A-A24B-31F371A2469E-1346-000000D9CA32A2AA_zpsc5f1997d.jpg
    10C8C06B-D8D2-4ACA-9E35-C013655BFB51-1346-000000D9A204B97A_zps81c3ddaf.jpg
    DB9E4468-A7B6-4748-8BAD-9D3C6E4CA638-1346-000000D6AC0B747E_zps09727145.jpg
  • Alaska ManAlaska Man Solar Expert Posts: 252
    Re: Reasons We Live Off-Grid

    Great thread, Tony.

    We like many others could spend about $5,000 to run the "Man's System" onto the homestead, but why? We are our own power company, nobody sends me a bill every month. The power only goes out if I say it does and according to my wife, it brings out my "Inner Nerd".
    We want independence and not just because of the Mutant, Zombie, Bikers that may take over after the Aliens destroy Metropolis. I'm also proud that we are doing our part to reduce our carbon foot print and lesson the country's dependence on Oil.

    I may not grow old in the interior of Alaska, but I will grow old free from the Ass-Hats at the power company.
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