offgridderoffgridder Homesteading in Datil NMPosts: 21Registered Users
Hello everyone, I have been browsing for a while & decided it was time to join. :D

My wife, myself & our 10 month old baby girl recently moved to Datil NM, to a 10 acre property with off grid cabin that we purchased last year. We run an internet business that required us to make our first alternative energy purchase to be able to run all the office equipment.

We have a small setup, 270 watts of power from the panels (3X90), a Xantrex 1000W pure sine wave inverter, & 8 - 100ah Werker AGM batteries pretty much make up the office power along with charge controller. We bought the cabin with 45 watts (3X15), a generic 1000W inverter, & 4 Optima 58ah AGm batteries included in the deal. We added another 15 watt panel to the cabin power to help out.

We are in the market for 1-2 more 90 watt panels along with a small wind generator but really don't know what brand or model we are interested in...still learning about wind! We are at about 7700 feet & when it is overcast/snowing/raining here the majority of the time it is windy, along with the springtime which brings strong winds, so it could be very beneficial! Any good advice on what to look for would help be appreciated... Cost is a big factor as we are not a rich family :)

I just wanted to let all know who we are & we look forward to reading up on much more to help us become more efficient & to help other local off gridders in our area! Thanks for the great site! Jonathan


  • nielniel Solar Shotgun Posts: 10,309Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: Intro!

    welcome and note that 270w of pv is too small for 800ah of battery capacity so you will need to add something soon to prevent any deficit in the batteries that can lead to a premature death of the batteries. i already answered your other thread about the chargers and i would assume this is part of the reason you are looking into the chargers. try the link at the top of the forum to explore the store.
  • offgridderoffgridder Homesteading in Datil NM Posts: 21Registered Users
    Re: Intro!

    Thanks Niel & you are absolutely correct in your statement. We originally had it set up with 4 100ah AGM & recently purchased 4 more. We will be getting the panel(s) in the very near future. I am not sure of how to figure out what would be the sufficient PV power need for our bank?
    What I didn't mention is that we took 2 of the 100ah batts from the bank of 8 & they are now setup with the cabin system, but that is only 60watts for 200ah... I am trying to balance this out as best as I can for the obvious reason of not getting a full strong charge each day...Any advice will be taken in like a sponge on a rainy day! :cool:
  • westbranchwestbranch Not So New User Posts: 3,897Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Intro!

    Jonanthan, first get out the el-cheepo charger and put some juice back in to those AGMs, any thing will help stall off sulphation, the most common killer (slowly) of batteries, next fill in the sig line with a description of what you have so that we all can assist knowledgeably...
    Welcome to the forum...

    CL 647 asleep  24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL 4592  175A E-Panel WBjr, 2 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM + 4s 140W 
    Linksys Wet54g WiFi Bridge ,  ASUS RTN10 router, Hughes Sat Modem
    Omnicharge 3024, Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,
    1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, Eu3000i & 1000i Gens,
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada

  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Intro!

    I agree with all of what has been said and I would add this,

    Don't waste your time, money and energy on the wind. At least if you o, read through the entire win section on this forum and I think you will find that there are few who have had really good luck with small scale wind. For the same amount of money, buy more PV.

    On that subject, try to get enough panel capacity to get at least 3-5% of ah capacity, and supplement that with generator power through a good charger as Eric suggests.

    For the record, we live off grid with ~ 400 watts of panels, 450 ah of batteries, and we consume ~600wh/day on average. Remember these simple rules. People almost always over estimate their solar, they underestimate their loads, the loads will (and always do!) grow with time, and people usually chronically undercharge/over draw their batteries until they get the hang of things.

    Welcome and good luck,

  • nielniel Solar Shotgun Posts: 10,309Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: Intro!

    actually you shouldn't have the charging current less than 5% of the battery ah capacity unless you have the means to get most of it into the battery by another means and allow the final 10-20% to slow charge into the batteries over a long time period such as would happen if visiting the cabin every so many weeks or months apart. you may use a standard charger to throw a bulk charge to the batteries if the voltage maximum is not exceeded so it must be watched in this case. agms can be irreversibly damaged if that specified voltage max is exceeded. v max may possibly be as low as 14.4v, but you will have to look that up to be sure. i know batteries plus sell those so check with them if you don't know.
    generally we tell everybody the charge range of 5-13% of the battery capacity for charging, but agms can take much more with few that would do more pvs anyway as the pvs are expensive going with higher charge rates. you also did not say what controller(s) you have and you may need to elaborate on both systems and their loads with a general description of what you had in mind.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Gone Fishing... Posts: 17,615Banned
    Re: Intro!

    Perhaps I come closest to doing what you're aiming for: running a business off-grid from a remote cabin on 10 acres of wilderness. My wife and I do this already. So take a look at my sig with the set-up specs, and know this: it's not enough.

    You have an advantage of being in NM; in Winter here there isn't enough sun for solar to be viable unless you have massive battery banks and a huge array. The daylight hours drop to 6 and it's often totally cloudy. Mind you, when the sun does shine on a cold Winter day it's golden!

    You may also have the advantage of not feeding the same loads. Particularly the water and septic pumps which are big, short-time users. The biggest daily consumer over-all is the refrigerator, followed closely by the computer set-up which includes a satellite link for Internet and VOIP phone.

    Having a little one about will no doubt lead to increased electricity demands. We're up to 3 grandchildren now, and along the way we've learned that kids use electricity. A large portion of that is their failure to comprehend that switches also have an 'off' position. :p

    That said, you should know that I plan to revise our system upwards this year. It needs more and better battery capacity and an increase in panels to provide higher charge current. These will also be located so that the charge starts sooner in the day, rather than just next to the current array.

    Welcome to the forum. Hope we can be of help to you. :D
  • myocardiamyocardia New User Posts: 29Solar Expert
    Re: Intro!

    Jonathan, wind turbines are fun toys for the kind of people that have extra money, and like playing around with mechanical things. See, they're always breaking down. Add in the fact that, once you include the high cost of the tower (not to mention getting it upright), wind power watts cost on average many times more dollars than photovoltaic watts, and deciding which to spend your money on becomes a no-brainer.

    As an example, you can buy four 135 watt Kyocera panels today (and most likely not tomorrow-- they've been on sale for quite some time), delivered to your zip code for $1,558. Here's the link: That would allow you to have double the power at your office, and put those three 90w panels on your cabin, so your Optima batteries won't be undercharged, like they almost have to be now, with the miniscule amount of power you're giving them.

    Compare the four 135W Kyocera's 540 watts to the 25-50 watts of power that the most popular small wind turbine (WindBlue's Lite Breeze kit) will give you on an average 12-15 MPH windy day: , and I think you'll agree that wind is fun, but solar is what you should spend your money on, at least to begin with, when every watt counts.
  • offgridderoffgridder Homesteading in Datil NM Posts: 21Registered Users
    Re: Intro!

    Thanks everyone for the info!

    We really need to look at our setup & make some changes (tax return!). After reading more & more on wind I must agree, it is almost a toy for the wealthy! Our main problem since we moved here has been the nowhere near normal winter we have had... This area gets on the norm 6 hours of insolation per day in the winter. We normally average 4-8 inches of snow for the season but this year we had more snow this season than the last 12 years combined. That means more overcast days than sunshine... Been a bit rough, very cold below 0 temps at night & about 4-5 feet of snow so far (we are at about 7750 foot elevation). BUT we are now experiencing 60 degree daytime highs with an incredible amount of sunshine, the way it is supposed to be & finally getting a strong charge! 8)

    Our power usage is very minimal by most peoples standards... We power the computers (one is a netbook on battery power most of the time), the inkjet a few times a week, modem & router, small sound system for streaming radio, LED lighting & occasional chargers when needed. Everything is energy star... That about sums up what is run off of the 270W & 600ah batts...

    The other small system runs all the other LED lights in the cabin, occasionally the overhead 110 flourescent, & the 12 volt pump but that will be moved to the larger system. This system has 200ah batts (too much) & a small 60 watts of PV. We have a propane fridge, tankless hot water heater & Rannai heater. All pilots run off of batteries.

    This sums up where we are at the moment. I am thinking I like the idea of getting 4 larger panels, 135's maybe, & moving the 3 90's to the cabin specific bank.... Shall see! Has anyone built a turntable that is moved manually to adjust the panels through the day? I have some ideas for how I want to do it & we are around the cabin most every day so it isn't a big deal to do it by hand. We are also considering mounting the panels higher up on a 4X4 frame with turntable... Any input is great! Well I babbled enough for now, gotta get to work listing on ebay!

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