Newbie ready to go off grid

PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
edited December 2017 in General Solar Power Topics #1
My wife and I have found a beautiful remote location on top of a ridge to build a down-sized home for our retirement years. The nearest power pole is a half mile away, and the utility company (PennElec) wants $25,000 to run poles and lines, after we spend $10,000 to clear an ugly 50' swath through ground that looks like a State Park.  :'(   For $35,000, or a little more, can we get a system with a generator (for nights and cloudy days), then expect to spend $300 or so a month for propane with gas appliances? We will have a well pump, a well insulated 1000 square foot frame and timber home, have a small high efficiency heat pump for A/C in the summer, and burn firewood for heat. We will use all LED lighting. Any other suggestions? Thank you in advance.
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Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 7,405 ✭✭✭✭
    Off grid solar for $35K ?   Possible if it's a small system and you are miserly with electricity.  $60K make it more liveable, and likely to be able to run the AC till sunset at least.
     But currently, in northern calif, I heat with 3 cords of wood a year ( $900 ) and one tank of propane for cooking and hot water ( $500 )

    The Well Pump is the driver, your solar system needs to be large/robust enough to start the motor.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,932 ✭✭✭✭
    the cheapest space you will be able to get is an underground full basement , to lower the cost and labour, use ICF's insulated concrete forms as then the concrete walls are complete, no forms to strip, clean and take back to the rental outfit... apply a water proof self adhesive coating on the exterior and fire proof wallboard inside. Plan for ~ 4 kWhr of daily incoming PV Power  in summer and you May GET 1/2 THAT IN WINTER....  more later , new pup has to be walked...
    Mike is  on  the mark with his cost estimate I would say.

    Merry Christmas.

     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,807 ✭✭✭✭
    At $35k, you're just about at a point I would have connected to grid.

    Before deciding, I'd recommend really thinking hard about whether you want to run your own grid. Cost aside, there's a lot to be said for just flipping a switch, and being pretty sure it will work. Going off grid means you ARE the grid, with all the responsibility for making stuff go that goes with that.

    Off-grid is a different lifestyle, and not for everyone. It CAN be rewarding, but at $35k for grid, I don't think $ would be my first consideration. Lots of folks here can help you put together a usable system, but only you can determine if off-grid is really right for you. I'd focus on the lifesyle aspect first.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,330 ✭✭✭✭
    I can't tell what your plans and goals are from your post.

    Do you intend to go off grid with solar? and the cost is a "For $35,000, or a little more, can we get a system with a generator (for nights and cloudy days), then expect to spend $300 or so a month for propane with gas appliances?"

    So is this an off grid solar system with a back up genny? Gas heat, water heater and cooking? 

    Might describe your system. 

    Most people have a hard time going from a leave the lights on, big security light running every night, to running their own power company and all that requires. 

    I have a poorly insulated mobile home of about 900 sq ft, and I'm fine on solar. But I also have live off grid with much more minimal systems. I mostly cook and heat water with solar on a bit too small a system. I'd like to see what an installer has spec'd for your home.

    Be aware that until 2020, there is a solar tax credit in place. You can take 30% of the cost of the system off any tax liability. That should cushion the financing a bit. 
    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.
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    Thank you for the responses.I knew I came to the right place for an education. We are just getting started, clearing a building site, sewer permits and design, etc. I know that we have to have a system engineered.  
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    We know a local business owner in the Mount Union, PA area that is totally off the grid, and about 2 years ago he graciously invited us up to his 2500 sq. ft.  home for a demonstration. If my memory serves me correctly, he had about 8 pv panels on 1 pier, which seemed like a small setup, but what was impressive was the 28kw+ diesel generator, multiple forklift batteries, 4 or 5? maybe 6?,  48 volt freezers, and all the heavy cabling associated with it. 
    It was wintertime, and he had a solar domestic water heater, of which I was quite impressed, with a propane backup. He heated with firewood, He had 2 mini-split systems for A/C, and cooked with wood or propane depending on the season, and used all LED lighting.
    I imagine he had a 500 or 1000  gallon diesel fuel tank, but I didn't see it. It doesn't appear that he has a typical system, and that he spends more on batteries and fuel, but he LOVES it!
    Since we will have a much smaller, more highly insulated home , that's why I estimated $300 a month year round average or more for propane to run a generator. We had planned on burying a 1000 gallon propane tank, but diesel fuel is cheaper. 
    We can use a propane heater in the spring and fall just to take the chill off, without having a wood fire necessary. 
    I don't imagine that a big generator can just SLAM a charge into batteries in just a few minutes. Has inverter technology reached engine powered generator systems? At work a welder has a little 2000w inverter generator to run temporary LED lighting in steam tunnels at a major University,  and it just idles along sipping fuel, a gallon lasts 2 shifts +. 
    Thank you all. What a great site!
  • KeithWHareKeithWHare Solar Expert Posts: 140 ✭✭✭
    How deep do you have to go to get water? That will determine what size pump you need, which is one of the factors for figuring out how much power you will need.

    Before you make the final diesel versus propane decision, make sure you understand all of the things that can go wrong. Among other things, there is an algae that can grow in diesel fuel, especially when it sits for a long time. The algae can clog the fuel intake or filter.

    Actually, for the whole project, spend a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong and how to prevent and/or respond to possible issues.

    Keith
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,807 ✭✭✭✭
    Flooded lead acid batteries will take a charge of ~15-20% of bank capacity during the bulk stage (to ~85% full), then take another 3-4 hours with diminishing current to fully charge. Some other types (sealed lead acid, lithium) can take higher currents, but have trade-offs in cost etc.

    I sometimes use a 2000w inverter generator with eco mode to finish charging my banks, which is much more efficient than finishing with the diesel. Your friend may be doing something similar by bulk charging with the 28kw generator and finish charging with pv. 8 panels might produce ~1.5-2kw.

    In considering off-grid, a key factor is getting a good handle on what your loads will be in terms of total daily consumption, and at peaks (starting well pumps etc). A kill-a-watt meter is a useful tool to help get a handle on this. For example, you could plug your tv etc into it for a few days to get a realistic view of how much power that will take in actual use. Then plug your fridge in for a few days. Actual consumption on these sorts of loads can be highly variable depending on use and be quite different from published ratings. Things like satellite systems can take surprising amounts of power to run. Once you have a good handle on this, a preliminary design can be costed out and trade-offs understood.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • DanS26DanS26 Solar Expert Posts: 223 ✭✭✭
    .............. propane to run a generator. We had planned on burying a 1000 gallon propane tank, but diesel fuel is cheaper. ..............

    Are you sure about diesel being cheaper?   I know propane prices vary by region, but here in the Midwest we have been able to buy propane at less than $1 per gallon at summer fill rates for the last three years. 

    As far as getting grid power for $35K.......that's less than the cost of a good used luxury car.

    18.2kW Kyocera panels; 2 Fronius 7.5kW inverters; Nyle hot water; Steffes ETS; Great Lakes RO; Generac 10kW w/ATS, TED System monitoring with PVOutput.org
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,449 ✭✭✭✭
    It is all possible these days and I have done this 100's of times. The real decision is not all the issues posed here. They are easily solvable for less than the budget you have. Maybe a bit more if you really want this to be easy and manageable by you and your wife.

    If you build an offgrid home you will be committing to a home that has less value to many buyers down the road. Not all of them,  if you build something really beautiful and desirable.  Good Luck and Felize Navidad
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 27,055 admin
    edited December 2017 #12
    I would also look at the value of the property with and without utility power... More or less, i would guess that $35k will increase the value of your property by ~$35k... Spend $20k-$40k on solar--more than likely, it will add little to the value of the property (especially 10-20 years out, or whenever you end up too old to manage the property and systems).

    More or less, a "medium" size off grid power system that is able to give you a new normal electrical existence is around 100-300 kWH per month. In California that is ~$10 per month connection charge and ~$25 to $75 per month usage charge.

    Say you want a 100 kWH pwer month system (~3.3 kWH per day). That is about 1/5 to 1/10 the amount of electricity the "typical" north American home uses (~500-1,000 kWH per month). You can run a full size refrigerator, LED lighting, Laptop computer, well pump, washing machine. Use other fuel for hot water/space heating.

    Lets assume flooded cell batteries, 48 VDC bus, 2 days of storage and 50% maximum discharge (seems to be optimum costs and for longer battery life):
    • 3,300 WH per day * 1/0.85 inverter eff * 1/48 vdc battery * 2 days storage * 1/0.50 max discharge = 324 AH @ 48 volts
    Or, roughly, 8x 6 volt golf cart batteries (~200 AH) * 2 parallel strings would give you ~400 AH @ 48 volts (16x GC batteries total). Golf Cart batteries are a nice start--They are cheap and fairly rugged. And many people "murder" their first battery bank or two as they lean to manage their off grid power systems.

    For calculating the solar array, two methods. One is based on the size of the battery bank (larger battery banks need higher charging current to "be happy"). The second is based on hours of sun and protected energy usage. For flooded cell lead acid batteries, suggest ~5% to 13% rate of charge as a start. 10%+ is recommended for a full time off grid home (can get away with 5% if weekend/summer cabin). I will use the 400 AH GC battery bank as a good fit for a smaller system:
    • 400 AH * 59 volts charging * 1/0.77 solar panel+controller deratings * 0.05 rate of charge = 1,532 Watt array minimum
    • 400 AH * 59 volts charging * 1/0.77 solar panel+controller deratings * 0.10 rate of charge = 3,065 Watt array nominal
    • 400 AH * 59 volts charging * 1/0.77 solar panel+controller deratings * 0.13 rate of charge = 3,984 Watt array typical "cost effective" maximum
    Using PV Watts for Lancaster PA, fixed array at 50 degrees from vertical, will give you "hours of sun" per day by season:
    http://www.solarelectricityhandbook.com/solar-irradiance.html

    Lancaster
    Average Solar Insolation figures

    Measured in kWh/m2/day onto a solar panel set at a 50° angle from vertical:
    (For best year-round performance)
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
    3.04
     
    3.72
     
    4.16
     
    4.37
     
    4.71
     
    4.82
     
    Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    4.95
     
    4.73
     
    4.54
     
    4.14
     
    3.02
     
    2.67
     
    A 3.3 kWH system that will run from solar ~9 months of the year (use backup genset for dark winter stretches):
    • 3,300 WH per day * 1/0.52 off grid system eff * 1/3.72 hours of sun (February "beak even" month) = 1,706 Watt array

    So, the nominal solar array for your installation would be ~1,706 Watts to ~3,984 Watt array. A good mid point would be #,065 Watt array which would give you (in February) around

    • 3,065 Watt array * 0.52 solar system eff * 3.72 hours of sun (Feb) =  5,929 WH ~ 5.9 kWH per day

    A 400 AH @ 48 volt battery bank will carry you for two days of "no sun" (before running backup genset):

    • 400 AH * 48 volts * 0.85 AC inverter eff * 1/2 days storage * 0.50 max discharge = 4,080 WH ~4.08 kWH per day of storage (for 2 days of no sun)
    With a 400 AH @ 48 VDC battery bank, around a 2,000-4,000 Watt AC inverter would be a good fit.

    Get an "off grid" power friendly well pump (not cheap, but they do not "surge" when starting--Something like 900 Watts maximum vs 2-4+ kWatts for standard AC well pump). Possibly pump to cistern and use a smaller DC (or AC) pump for water pressure works nice.

    If you decide that you want more energy than 100 kWH per month (3.3 kWH per day), just multiply the above calculations by 2-3x for a moderate size system.

    Price it out and include maintenance costs... Batteries will last ~3-5 years (if "cheap" golf cart"). ~7 years for typical mid range batteries. or ~15+ years for higher end fork lift batteries. And, if somebody leaves the lights+TV+fan+etc. on (kids drop by), you can kill a battery bank in a few days or weeks (or if something fails, like charge controller, miss programming something, etc.).

    Your AC inverter and solar charge controller (backup AC charger, etc.)--Assume that you will have to replace them every 10+ years.

    Not trying to stop you from using solar--But $35k + less than a $100 per month power bill (what will be your electric charges?) is not bad. Plus, add a backup genset and 5-14 days of onsite backup fuel (propane is nice, diesel if you have diesel heating, car/truck, etc. can work out). Or even a small Honda eu2000i (1,600 watt) AC genset + 30 gallons of backup fuel + fuel stabilizer (run the old fuel through your vehicles once a year)--Very nice if deep rural area where it can take days/weeks to restore power after a major storm.

    You can go with DC appliances (fridge/freezer/pumps, etc.)--But many times, the modern Energy Star AC models are just about as efficient and 1/2 to 1/4 the retail price of the DC off grid equivalent.

    Your thoughts?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    Wow! Thank you all. Lots of good info. I'm studying this with great interest. Our bills now are over $200 a month, but that is for a 3,200 sq. ft. 6 bedroom house, electric appliances, etc. This new home site is remote, and in May after "the wind storm of '17", the neighboring hunting camp and home was without power for over 2 weeks.   The dead end of a mile long road was a low priority.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,449 ✭✭✭✭
    It sounds as though you really love the place. That often is the tipping point offgrid and cost, as long as you can afford it, is somewhere down the line in importance. My offgrid home paid off over 25 years ago. I really never have looked back and can't imagine going back to that other place. Good Luck!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2017 #15
    BB. said:
    Say you want a 100 kWH pwer month system (~3.3 kWH per day). That is about 1/5 to 1/10 the amount of electricity the "typical" north American home uses (~500-1,000 kWH per month).
    He's using ~32 times that.*

    Our bills now are over $200 a month, but that is for a 3,200 sq. ft. 6 bedroom house, electric appliances, etc.
    "Over $200 a month" in Pennsylvania, where they pay $0.07 per kWhr.

    edit: *Note that I used $225/month as a substitute for his vague "over $200/month", but it may very well be higher. I also used exactly $0.07/kWhr, instead of the slightly above $0.07/kWhr that most Pennsylvanians seem to pay.
    DoD= depth of discharge= amount removed from that battery   SoC= state of charge= amount remaining in that battery
    IOW, 25% DoD= 75% SoC, 50% DoD= 50% SoC, 75% DoD= 25% SoC
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,330 ✭✭✭✭
    "Over $200 a month" in Pennsylvania, where they pay $0.07 per kWhr.
    Looks like the state averages around $10.50 a Kwh. Perhaps they separate out the 'line fees' or have high user fees;

    www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/204.htm
    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.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 544 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2017 #17
    Another perspective.

    There are always many reasons for someone to hesitate or forgo building a lifestyle they want to pursue.

    Technology has opened up new and reliable opportunities for those seeking adventure and independence in their lives.  The grid is usually "cheaper" and maybe "easier" but enjoying the challenge and rewards of living the way you want to is what life is all about.  At least it is for us.

    There is risk in everything we do.

    Good planning, installing quality mainstream equipment, using licensed contractors and building into a construction project extra capacity is important to enjoy family off grid living. 

    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 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, ICF House Construction, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • HorseflyHorsefly Registered Users Posts: 274 ✭✭✭
    myocardia said:
    "Over $200 a month" in Pennsylvania, where they pay $0.07 per kWhr.
    What I found here: https://www.electricitylocal.com/states/pennsylvania/ says that the average for PA is 12.5 cents per kWh, but that the average bill in that state is $106. So he's using twice as much as the average in his current 6 BR house. Average consumption there is 837 hWh/month, which is in the range @BB. quoted. 
    Off-grid cabin: 6 x Canadian Solar CSK-280M PV panels, Schneider XW-MPPT60-150 Charge Controller, Schneider CSW4024 Inverter/Charger, Schneider SCP, 4 x Vmax XTR12-155 12V, 155AH batteries in a 2x2 24V 310AH bank.
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    edited December 2017 #19
    Man,  you guys are nailin' it!  6 BR house with 3 bathrooms, each with supplemental electric heat, 2 heat pumps, Griswald style Christmas lights, etc.
    Drastic lifestyle changes ahead, but we got a taste of that after the windstorm in May.  A 4kw  generator for a couple of days taught us what we can live without.  
    Kids are grown and gone with kids of their own, so this is way too much house, and we'd like to travel before we are too old.
    And power for our little retirement cottage isn't about the cost (within reason), it's the half mile of 50' wide scorched earth devastation that would ruin the picturesque views, the reason we bought this acreage in the first place.  
    Now our preliminary solar power equipment budget has climbed to $50 - $55k, but that is OK. My sister and her husband built a camp, and they are temporarily using a rudimentary propane powered generator and battery arrangement, with plans to upgrade as their budget allows, but they seem quite content for the time being.
    Thank you all again for your feedback. This is a most interesting and informative thread.  :)  


  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,807 ✭✭✭✭
    Is the 1/2 mile x 50' wide swath of scorched earth yours?

    If so, just to throw it out there, how about building a garage/shed at the property line, and get grid service there? From there maybe run a private "branch service" trenched next to your driveway to the main house.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • HorseflyHorsefly Registered Users Posts: 274 ✭✭✭
    I did notice that there are some pretty high electric bills in PA: http://wishtv.com/2017/12/25/pennsylvania-woman-gets-284-billion-electric-bill/

     :) 
    Off-grid cabin: 6 x Canadian Solar CSK-280M PV panels, Schneider XW-MPPT60-150 Charge Controller, Schneider CSW4024 Inverter/Charger, Schneider SCP, 4 x Vmax XTR12-155 12V, 155AH batteries in a 2x2 24V 310AH bank.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 27,055 admin
    Energy usage is a highly personal set of choices. What works for me or you--May or may not work for our friend here.

    I try for education so that everyone can make informed choices.

    An interesting read is the Home Power Magazine. They have a fair number of articles online to give you some ideas.

    https://www.homepower.com/

    While I usually try not to be wasteful of energy usage (aka--I am cheap), there are downsides to extreme conservation too (poor air circulation in "sealed homes", issues with mold, scalding hot water from solar water heating, etc.). Doing research before building your outpost will save you from quite a few expensive mistakes.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,932 ✭✭✭✭
    A few post present opening thoughts.
    Build main floor walls at least 8 inches thick.  We did and used the offset 2'' x 4'' stud pattern and noticed the benefits as soon as the ROXUL batts  went in, even before we got the vapour barrier up. If I were to do it again |i would put the V Barrier on between the 2 layers of framing, as the wiring would be in the 'conditioned' space as opposed to being in the cold zone and then you have to use the new so called air tight boxes etc...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭✭
    Photowhit said:
    "Over $200 a month" in Pennsylvania, where they pay $0.07 per kWhr.
    Looks like the state averages around $10.50 a Kwh. Perhaps they separate out the 'line fees' or have high user fees;

    www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/204.htm
    Well, all I know for sure is that residential electric rates in Pennsylvania are as low as 6.25 ¢/kWhr, and there are none that sell it for more than $0.0909/9.09¢/kWhr.: http://www.electricrate.com/residential-rates/pennsylvania/ The one to which you linked is the average paid across all sectors, so it must include any and all surcharges/fees/etc. You are right about the line or user fees, that may very well account for some large portion of the total bill, which I keep forgetting about, since we don't have to pay either of those here in Tejas. BTW, are you sure you don't mean $0.105/10½ ¢/kWhr? :D
    Man,  you guys are nailin' it!  6 BR house with 3 bathrooms, each with supplemental electric heat, 2 heat pumps, Griswald style Christmas lights, etc.
    Drastic lifestyle changes ahead, but we got a taste of that after the windstorm in May.  A 4kw  generator for a couple of days taught us what we can live without.  
    Kids are grown and gone with kids of their own, so this is way too much house, and we'd like to travel before we are too old.
    And power for our little retirement cottage isn't about the cost (within reason), it's the half mile of 50' wide scorched earth devastation that would ruin the picturesque views, the reason we bought this acreage in the first place.  
    Now our preliminary solar power equipment budget has climbed to $50 - $55k, but that is OK. My sister and her husband built a camp, and they are temporarily using a rudimentary propane powered generator and battery arrangement, with plans to upgrade as their budget allows, but they seem quite content for the time being.
    Thank you all again for your feedback. This is a most interesting and informative thread.  :)  



    Okay, so that changes things considerably, and I can see why you would want to go offgrid.  I just got the idea from reading your first post that money was a concern, since the entire first half of the post was about money. The number one reason, by far, that people in America who post in solar forums and say they want to go offgrid is to save money on their electric costs, which is pretty humorous, since offgrid electricity is many, many times as expensive as buying electricity.

    DoD= depth of discharge= amount removed from that battery   SoC= state of charge= amount remaining in that battery
    IOW, 25% DoD= 75% SoC, 50% DoD= 50% SoC, 75% DoD= 25% SoC
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,330 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2017 #25
    I do think it's common in New England area to have 'line' or 'service' fees split out.

    I only pay 9 cents a Kwh here in Missouri, of course I only use perhaps 150 Kwhs of electric during the winter and the cost for the privilege of paying 9 cents a Kwh is now $34 + 13.50 for electric the cost of each of those Kwh's is @33 cents.

    Without water heating, I would pay about $1 a Kwh!
    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.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,330 ✭✭✭✭
    Here's a Pennsylvania electric bill break down back in 2011;

    Charges were 9.49 cents per Kwh + user fee of $8.75 + a distribution charge of 3.23 cents per Kwh...

    https://www.puc.state.pa.us/general/consumer_ed/pdf/Electric_Bill_Breakdown_FS.pdf


    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.
  • cupcakecupcake Solar Expert Posts: 254 ✭✭

    depends on where you live..

    to me $35k for off grid is crazy... My system is under $10k ... the catch?  I live in the DESERT where it's sunny 360 days a year...


    ..

    ~1.5Kw PV in parallel
    Morningstar MPPT-60 controllers (2) in parallel
    3 Trojan tr-1275's in parallel 450ah total
    Samlex 2,000 watt 12-volt inverter hardwired


  • karrakkarrak Solar Expert Posts: 247 ✭✭✭✭
    If you leave heating, cooling and hot water out of the equation living on 3kWh/day is doable. We use around 3kWh/day in winter, ~1kWh for the fridge, ~1-1.5kWh for boiling water for tea & coffee, making toast and limited use of our induction cooktop, the remainder for lighting and electronics etc. Heating and the majority of cooking is done on a Esse Ironheart wood stove. In summer we use an extra 2kWh/day to run an electric oven and the induction cooktop. We don't have gas or a backup generator. We live about 20km from the sea in a similar climate to Southern California.

    In summer we pump around 2,000lt (500g)/day of water from a creek vertically ~50m (~160ft) a total distance of ~500m (~1,600ft) into a header tank with a 24V three phase pump connected via an MPPT pump controller to two 200W solar panels. This is around half the capacity of the pump.

    Recently I was asked to review some quotes for someone who what purchasing an offgrid system. The system I recommended cost ~AU$35,000 (~US$26,000). It comprised 7kW of solar panels, a 8.8kWh LG Chem RESU10 lithium ion battery,  6kW inverter, and a 5kW solar controller. In out climate this system would in winter supply on average around 15kWh/day, You would have to use the majority of this power during the day unless you wanted to increase the size of the battery or run a generator frequently. An extra 8.8kWh battery cost ~AU$10,000 (~US$7,500).

    Simon
    Off-Grid with LFP (LiFePO4) battery, battery Installed April 2013
    32x90Ah Winston cells 4p8s (24V), 4kW Latronics Inverter, 1160W of Solar Panels, homemade MPPT controller
    Homemade BMS https://github.com/simat/BatteryMonitor
     

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 3,449 ✭✭✭✭
    I have to sometimes fudge Simon that we can live on 3kwh to sound credible that we are very normal. We often use less than 2.5:)
    In summer we can make and use easily over 40kwh cooling and pumping fire water to different tanks.

    What inverter are they using with the RESU10?  Victron?
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • karrakkarrak Solar Expert Posts: 247 ✭✭✭✭
    We can use up to 10kWh in one day when having a cooking binge, I don't know that we would be called normal by allot of people :-). Water pumping for fires is with a diesel pump with gravity backup.

    If you have a well designed and built solar passive house and are prepared to open and close windows and have some variation in the temperature you can greatly reduce your need for energy for heating and cooling.

    Solar panels are so cheap now it is worth having more solar panels than you need for your average usage to reduce the size of the battery that you need. Only running power hungry  devices like air conditioners during the day when you are generating the power will also reduce the size and cost of the battery and the amount of generator runtime.

    The inverter used with the RESU10 was an SMA Sunny Island 6000W 6.0H, the charger/controller was an SMA Sunny Boy 5000TL-21. SMA equipment has a large portion of the market here.

    Simon
    Off-Grid with LFP (LiFePO4) battery, battery Installed April 2013
    32x90Ah Winston cells 4p8s (24V), 4kW Latronics Inverter, 1160W of Solar Panels, homemade MPPT controller
    Homemade BMS https://github.com/simat/BatteryMonitor
     

  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    edited December 2017 #31
    Thank you, all. This is sounding "doable"!  1400' of the 50' wide swath of scorched earth would be through my brother's ground, and he and his wife will eventually model their system after  ours'  to suit their needs.  :)  
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