Newbie ready to go off grid

24

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  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    I demonstrated how naive I was in my first post, about  initial cost of a reasonably trouble free system capable of producing enough power for a convenient and comfortable lifestyle. $35,000+  (to be on the grid only) was just a number I threw out there. For that, I sincerely apologize. 
    We want to be sure that we do not regret building "out there" , and we have time to plan carefully until I retire. 
    I'm enjoying reading the thread about battery life, and we will wait until we can afford a system with all the safeties and controls. 
    Thank you. I give this site 2 thumbs up!    :)
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,883Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    We were all there at first (lost). And those before us were our teachers.

    No problem and good luck!

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • KeithWHareKeithWHare Posts: 140Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    The more time you spend on upfront understanding and planning, the better your system will be. It is much cheaper to make and identify mistakes before you start purchasing and installing parts.

    Keith
  • NANOcontrolNANOcontrol Posts: 78Registered Users ✭✭
    I live off grid in the summer with a remarkable small system. Summer is fairly easy.  It is camp living and my wife is happy that anything works. We turn on stuff only when it needs to work.  If it isn't sunny, we do dishwasher and clothes washer another day. At home it is a different situation. Our Energy Star clothes washer consumes about 80W a day just being off. It is about the same thing for TV and other appliances.  That stuff all adds up along with inverter idle power. We turn our inverter on only when power is needed. Suddenly getting through a bad day takes a lot more expensive resources for vampires that offer no real benefit. It takes some getting used to, but you can live quite well on limited storage.  Think more panels which are cheap and save chores for good days.
  • westbranchwestbranch Posts: 5,087Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    A non- feature in  NA but standard in most of Europe is an 'on/off 'switch'' at every plug in receptacle..... most efficient way to control the electricity vampires...
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • DanS26DanS26 Posts: 235Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    I don't think you mentioned whether the proposed POCO power lines were overhead or underground.  In my neck of the woods all new service is underground to a pad mounted transformer.

    It would make a huge beneficial difference to your "state park"  environment to get underground service.
    18.2kW Kyocera panels; 2 Fronius 7.5kW inverters; Nyle hot water; Steffes ETS; Great Lakes RO; Generac 10kW w/ATS, TED Pro System monitoring with PVOutput.org
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    The proposed lines were overhead. The top of Warrior Ridge seems to be mostly limestone, with formations and outcroppings that make it scenic, much like the nearby Pulpit Rocks that are owned by Juniata College. A well is gonna be expensive enough, and I have no experience with dynomite, and all of the associated permits.  We may be painting ourselves into a corner, but we are eyeball deep into this now. Fortunately, we found an acceptable and approved septic site.  :)    
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Out Southwest the highest cost of development is usually the well. The projects I have been involved with often study the feasibility of going forward with the drilling and finding of water. Many can get out of the purchase if it gets expensive. Sounds like you own the property. The septic is next as it can sit for many years. Once the permit is issued, it is for that year and code changes do not change requirements.  Dynomite skill is way down the list and anyone who can operate an excavator is usually qualified. I think that is because of the long history of gold and silver mining in this area.

    Development can be very expensive. Sometimes it is not insurable in the end. We all will be paying more for insurance this year. Even self insured will have to do more things to manage their risk in 2018.

    The best news I have heard is that insurance companies will have to start inspecting their clients and those who do all the right things will not be subsidizing those who do not! What a concept!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    Yes, we do already own the property. We won't be ready to start building for another year or so, but I am ready to investigate systems that integrate PV panels, wind turbines, and an LP powered generator set.
     Now that I have read more about battery life on this site, I imagine that there are controllers out there that will start an inverter  type generator, before the state of charge levels become too low, without surges, and wasting a lot of fuel? I'm am just starting to understand why some systems are so complicated. Thank you, everyone, for the continuing education.  :)
  • softdownsoftdown Posts: 1,889Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Unless you are either an electrical hotshot or have a serious solar buddy, I don't think I can recommend trying to bite off everything at once. With the longevity, reliability, and recent very low prices of solar panels.....there are strong arguments for relying on solar. Unless you are generally cloudy and windy.

    Doing my own 48 volt system was a pretty daunting project and I built my own 8000' shop. Everything is easy once you know how to do it so experienced people may tell you it is easy. They are lying.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    Just wondering,   I have been thinking about the ductless mini split zone room to room AC systems.  Depending on how many rooms and how much they are run in each room,  wouldn't something like this be more solar / RE friendly?

    https://www.acwholesalers.com/Ductless-Mini-Split-Air-Conditioner-Single-Zone-Heat-Pump/cat1033.ac?mainCat=cat22185

    REC TwinPeak 2 285W 3S-3P 2.6kW-STC / 1.9kW-NMOT Array / MN Solar Classic 150 / 2017 Conext SW 4024 Inverter latest firmware / OB PSX-240 Autotransfomer for load balancing / Trojan L16H-AC 435Ah bank 4S connected to Inverter with 7' of 4/0 cable / 24 volt system / Grid-Assist or Backup Solar Generator System Powering 3200Whs Daily / System went Online Oct 2018 / System, Pics and Discussion
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,883Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    Mini splits have been popular here for many years.

    But what makes them very RE friendly is the "inverter powered" units.

    They have an internal vfd (variable frequency drive). Less or near zero starting surge, and the ability to run at reduced rpm to keep power usage low and still run very efficiently.

    No air ducts are a big help too (efficiency, less installation costs, etc.).

    Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    Just thinking for what the OP is trying to do,  this may get him closer to his goal.  I am considering it for 1 room (master bedroom) ... but I am pretty certain I would have to up my system size first.
    REC TwinPeak 2 285W 3S-3P 2.6kW-STC / 1.9kW-NMOT Array / MN Solar Classic 150 / 2017 Conext SW 4024 Inverter latest firmware / OB PSX-240 Autotransfomer for load balancing / Trojan L16H-AC 435Ah bank 4S connected to Inverter with 7' of 4/0 cable / 24 volt system / Grid-Assist or Backup Solar Generator System Powering 3200Whs Daily / System went Online Oct 2018 / System, Pics and Discussion
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    MrM1 said:
    Just wondering,   I have been thinking about the ductless mini split zone room to room AC systems.  Depending on how many rooms and how much they are run in each room,  wouldn't something like this be more solar / RE friendly?

    https://www.acwholesalers.com/Ductless-Mini-Split-Air-Conditioner-Single-Zone-Heat-Pump/cat1033.ac?mainCat=cat22185

    I'm glad you brought that up. I believe Bill is correct. We now have 2 Fujitsu high efficiency mini-splits downstairs in an old Victorian home for A/C only, and they work great! No surge (lights don't dim like the old days).  :)
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    I would add that yes an Inverter based is split is the way to go and almost impossible to not find on all models these days.
    The part that many screw up is they assume the make gets them the efficiency. 
    For instance, one can buy Fujitsu in the SEER range of 13 to 31 or so!
    Guess which one will run all night in an offgrid home?
    Lots of other little known facts on splits that i save for later....
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,883Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    One issue in the US/North America.... Sanyo (before being purchased by Panasonic) used to have a nice 120 VAC inverter mini-split. No longer...

    120 VAC mini-splits are pretty rare now and you may have to go to a 120/240 VAC off grid inverter+genset system. Larger inverters, larger setup in general. But, depending on how much energy (Watt*Hours per day) you plan to use the A/C (get heat pump versions, and you can get some pretty decent electric heating during winter)--That may just come with the territory anyway.

    Here is a Google search link for Mini-Split AC system discussions on the forum:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=site:solar-electric.com+mini+split+ac+system

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    There are bunches of 120's Bill on Amazon.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    I believe the mini-splits we have now have a SEER rating of 29 or so. Now I'm curious "which one will run all night in an offgrid home".  :)
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 15 #50
    The home power system has to be designed to run the split. Probably the biggest mistake made is using something over 12,000 btu.
    If the home is really large then multiple systems might have to go in. If the home is designed on the "great room" principal then possibly a ducted fan can move air from the great room to rooms with doors closed or long hallways.

    It all can be done for very little energy if it all is done right from the start. It helps also to be in an area that does not have high humidity but that can be solved by adding more power and storage. I have done these for 10 years now from cabin budget to "please just bill me" as I do not want to be overly concerned.

    Drop me an e-mail.

    The 120 vac units would really not ever be used for offgrid as there are very few that get over 16 SEER.

    Ours ran for a month this summer 24/7 because of wildfire smoke. We normally cool off at night and it is dry up here in the mountains.
    We would have had to leave or have suffered lung damage from the smoke without the split. It was a game changer 10 years ago when I took a gamble that variable speed meant variable loading. Best gamble I ever made ;)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • MangasMangas Posts: 547Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 15 #51
    Agree Dave.

    Variable speed HVAC technology is the only way to go power consumption, surge and efficiency wise whether central or remote systems.

    They just loaf along.
    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, all appliances, Central A/C, 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
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    edited February 11 #52
      As I continue to research subjects on this site, we are becoming more comfortable with off-grid living.  Insulation systems and windows have come a long way over the years as well. An efficient 12,000 BTU unit should be adequate for cooling the home we plan to build up North here in Central PA.
     My brother-in-law has been experimenting with LED lighting inside and out, an Inergy Kodiak storage system, a propane powered generator, and a wood stove in their camp all winter with good results.        
      I know I'm comparing apples-to-oranges here, and when the time comes I will need some engineering assistance. I'll post an update after we drill for a well this summer, as I would imagine a well pump will need tremendous surge current capability.  B)
  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,838Registered Users ✭✭✭✭✭
    If doing a new build off-grid, I would incorporate an elevated water storage tank. The tank could be filled using solar power to reduce battery losses, and pressure, where needed, would be provided with a much smaller pump.

    Many well pumps do require large surge capacity, but some don't. Depending on the overall system needs, it might make sense to spend more for better pump that allows for a smaller surge requirement.
    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
  • Ethan BrushEthan Brush Posts: 231Solar Expert ✭✭
      As I continue to research subjects on this site, we are becoming more comfortable with off-grid living.  Insulation systems and windows have come a long way over the years as well. An efficient 12,000 BTU unit should be adequate for cooling the home we plan to build up North here in Central PA.
     My brother-in-law has been experimenting with LED lighting inside and out, an Inergy Kodiak storage system, a propane powered generator, and a wood stove in their camp all winter with good results.        
      I know I'm comparing apples-to-oranges here, and when the time comes I will need some engineering assistance. I'll post an update after we drill for a well this summer, as I would imagine a well pump will need tremendous surge current capability.  B)

    IF you are interested, I have come up with way to send power long distances for very cheap. It costs about $2500 plus .60 per foot (not counting labor.  IT involves getting setting a pedestal with a meter and service disconnect near the road/power lines.  From there you step up to 2400 volts and send the power in on 2- 12 gauge 2kv PV wire sleeved in 3/4 PVC conduit.  At the house end you step back down to 120/240.  The beauty is the wire is so small, all you need is a small mini trencher.  Google "brown bed edger" - its the size of a push mower so easy to weave through the woods and makes a 1" wide 7" deep trench  This is what I did at my house which has a 1900 foot run.  It is not completely code compliant as I did it, but could be with a deeper trench and a custom transformer (2400 is very common and can be had for cheap.  The 2KV wire has plenty of dielectric strength for 2.4 KV and the transformer can be tapped down 5%).
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    I do this also for DC solar but not at that voltage. Without batteries at the end you usually do not have good surge performance.
    That may not be a requirement for some or for a very limited number of people.
    For structure protection and fire it is nice to have the surge capability! Good for big parties also!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    edited February 13 #56
    I hadn't even thought of that. I would still want a back-up system. I'm not a Dooms-dayer, but last May 1 after a windstorm, one fella was stranded at an adjoining hunting camp for 2 days, without power, until the roads could be cleared of the trees.    :/  
  • Ethan BrushEthan Brush Posts: 231Solar Expert ✭✭
    I hadn't even thought of that. I would still want a back-up system. I'm not a Dooms-dayer, but last May 1 after a windstorm, one fella was stranded at an adjoining hunting camp for 2 days, without power, until the roads could be cleared of the trees.    :/  

    For backup I would just get a generator.  Cheapest would be just a consumer grade portable gas unit with an interlock (transfer switch) on the electrical panel.  Of course you could spend more and get an automatic propane unit. 

    Note that step up step down system is inexpensive and slick, but probably will take some professional help.  When you get into medium voltage stuff you want to have a pretty good idea what you are doing.  Ideally you could run the wire and have someone make the connections and commission everything.  If you use padmount transformers, you will need to make up load break elbows - its pretty easy, you can see vids on youtube, and the PV wire isn't shielded so its even simpler.  Dry type transformers will have regular set screw lugs.  I find padmounts are more efficient.  standby losses are about 60 watts for a 15 KVA pad.  The few dry types I have metered seem to be double that.



  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    I hadn't even thought of that. I would still want a back-up system. I'm not a Dooms-dayer, but last May 1 after a windstorm, one fella was stranded at an adjoining hunting camp for 2 days, without power, until the roads could be cleared of the trees.    :/  
    You don't have to be a dooms-dayer to be able to survive thru a really bad winter, really bad wildfires, or a named windstorm and be comfortable. You get the doomsday part as benefit of the design to be independent.  :)
    If done right it can be a very satisfying lifestyle and easy on your family.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • SupraLanceSupraLance Posts: 21Registered Users ✭✭
    I love the idea of stepping voltage up and back down to bring in utilities cheaper, but a 2400v line buried only 7" down over 1900' sounds very dangerous.  Would not want to hit that with a shovel....
  • softdownsoftdown Posts: 1,889Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    I love the idea of stepping voltage up and back down to bring in utilities cheaper, but a 2400v line buried only 7" down over 1900' sounds very dangerous.  Would not want to hit that with a shovel....
    Sleeved in 3/4" PVC.....tough stuff. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,010Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    I love the idea of stepping voltage up and back down to bring in utilities cheaper, but a 2400v line buried only 7" down over 1900' sounds very dangerous.  Would not want to hit that with a shovel....
    I doubt the building department would like any of that no matter how deep or even if armored conduit was used.
     
    You should ask them if you expect to build something with permits or be insured. They will probably want an engineering stamp and examples.

    The only way I have ever seen this work reliably (family style home with more than 2 people) was with a battery based inverter being trickle charged from the remote grid. 
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

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