Newbie ready to go off grid

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  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    edited May 2 #92
    BoFuller said:
    We love being off the grid. I firmly believe the grid is a ticking bomb and will start experiencing problems one of these days. Read Lights Out by Ted Koppell.
    I say go for it, and don’t ruin that view.
    Thanks for the Book Suggestions, downing loading it today.  This has been the primary reason I set up what I call a "Solar Generator".  While generators are necessary to a point,  (and I will have one before the next hurricane season),   At the last hurricane 8 months ago, (every year for the past 2 years - several times in the past 13) We did have a generator,  but by the 2nd day,  gas lines were hours long,  gas stations were out of gas if you could find a station with power,  and by day 3 there was only 1 station that had gas 45 minutes away. The wait was 3 hours + long and  Fights were breaking out in the lines ... you see my point.  That outage lasted 5-6 days for us,  longer for others.  Stations were back up, resupplied and running within 10 days. 

    2-3 days before the storm, the wife made the mistake of asking "how will we charge the cell phones" ... lol.  This ultimately lead to a trip to Harbor Fright and the purchase of their infamous 100 watt portable "system" and two 6v 200ah batteries (that have since been re-purposed  to a trolling motor).   The little system did want it was supposed to do by keeping the lights on thru the outage last fall.  Genny was ran for the fridge and well during the day.  But  I became so fascinated with the whole solar idea that  I was researching how to do a much larger system before the lights came back on. The little system kept me online and informed the whole time of the outage, but I am certain now the batteries were being woefully undercharged - good thing they were purchased used at $35 each.

    But the storm prompted me to commit to a smallish system (see my sig below) that could run the essentials off grid if necessary.  I can pump water, heat water, light my entire house, household non essentials like TV and Internet, run fans, do laundry, Fridge (though largely unnecessary after the first round of food is gone), etc.   This system has been up and running since Oct 2017. I do not desire this lifestyle,  but I do not see the situation as an "If" but rather a "When".
    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 ✭✭
    edited July 24 #93
    We've made up our minds. We're taking BoFuller's advice. "We're Going OFF The Grid!"
    Just an update. My sister and her husband are having a solar system professionally installed this week on their adjoining property, and they only needed lines run 450' or so to tie onto the grid, but they chose not to do so.  I don't have any specs yet on their system, but he told me the output of the inverter was 12,000 watts to start, and it is expandable. 
    Time for my "Due Diligence".    :)  
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    Their system is up and running, and they LOVE it!    :)   :)
  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    That's pretty neat. What size and type of battery bank did the use? With a 12k inverter it must be large.
    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 ✭✭
    I'll stop by this weekend, and if they are there, I'll find out.  B)
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    My apologies. I commented before performing with "due diligence" ! Their inverter is 12k surge for 20 seconds. It's time for me to study, rather than just glossing over threads on this forum. So far the only thing I have right is the title of this thread. I am a newbie, and I am (almost) ready to go off-grid.   :*
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Posts: 751Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Well it seems like you are on the right track since you posted here before buying anything.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    If the system they have is working well after a few to several months,  and will meet the needs of your requirements,  you may want to "copy" (except for features specific to your needs) the same set up.
    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
  • PluckaPlucka Posts: 60Registered Users ✭✭
    Buy a power wall  and some panels much cheaper.
  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,838Registered Users ✭✭✭✭✭
    Is powerwall for off-grid?
    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
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,008Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Nope,but why not just hope that it is ;)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Posts: 751Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    The power wall is a catastrophic waste of money if you want to go off grid.
    It's total proprietary design ensures you have no options when there is a failure or when maintenance is required.

    The power wall is for people who want to go off grid but don't know anything about going off grid aside from the power wall exists.

    Schnider, radian provide better options at a lower price with much more flexibility and have a proven track record.

    Plus tesla is under FTC investigation, they may not be around for a whole lot longer.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    oil pan 4 said:
    Well it seems like you are on the right track since you posted here before buying anything.
       Thank you. You have saved me from buying components willy-nilly and not being happy with the results. 
        We are ready to have a shed/camp built "out there" in the next few weeks, and we'd like to become familiar with nuances of solar power. We intend to build a 16' x 30' well insulated structure. There is a clearing where panels would get full sun approximately 6 hrs a day this time of year, assuming no cloud cover. We will heat it with wood, cook with gas, and go home daily for ice and showers. We have a 4000 watt generator to run a table saw and other high power loads.
        We would need power to charge devices, and for the use of LED lighting inside and out. We've seen kits that fit our $2k solar budget for this building, and we'd like to get started.  Then after some experience with this, we'll have a better idea of what solar power system would work for our new home when we have that built.
         Is a kit the way to buy? Obviously for $2k, it will be a small system, but we want to play and learn.    :D
  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    edited August 25 #105
    Are you wanting to build the system to expand it,  or will this be a "learning system" that will be abandoned or sold off once you build and live at the location permanently?
    If this is to be an expandable system that you can build on for later and expand,  then I do not think a "kit" is the way to go.  I actually do not care for kits.  If you are building the system with the intent to expand it as you go,  I might Invest in a really good MPPT charge controller like the MidNite Solar Classic.  It can do small,  but can grow,  it can accept hi watt cheap "grid-tie" panels.  AND it can be sent in for a "refurb" at the end of the 5 year warranty that will extend the warranty another 2 years. 
    So you could get
    • some well known or easily added to higher watt "grid-tie panels (like 2 or 4 for now in series strings).  You could look at 250-310 watt panels.
    • get a good well known MPPT charge controller like the MN Classic or Outback Power.  Yes this will be a big expense, but it will grow with you
    • Then you could get a small,  single phase,  even cheap 24v inverter (or even inverter/charger)  that will do the loads you need now BUT  keep losses and self power use low.    Then sell it later as your needs change.
    • With this set up you could run just 4 "golf cart" size batteries in series for 24v and around 200 ah plus
    I think you could do a system like this for just over 2K.  Yes higher than you would like to go,  BUT you would have a great charge controller you can grow with. 

    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
  • MrM1MrM1 Posts: 277Registered Users ✭✭✭
    edited August 25 #106
    Something Like This:  (the forum can please  critique this idea)
    • Classic 150-SL    $525  (this would be the heart and soul of an expandable system)
    • 4 Golf Cart batteries at a club    $400   (good for learning)
    • Samlex PST-1000-24 1000w 24v PSW inverter  $400  (would be easy to sell or re-purpose)
    • 4  Canadian Solar 295w Mono Panels    $320 (can be expanded upon)
    Total:  $1645
    I guess it just depends on if you will have to deal with Inspectors.

    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 ✭✭
        I'm all ears, and truly appreciate everyone's input!    o:) 
        We could go a little over $2k for something we could expand on later. Maybe we could leave this system in this shed and have a new system for the house when we have it built, or re-purpose components later.
        We don't have to deal with inspectors for solar power in our jurisdiction that I am aware of.
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Posts: 311Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    I started off with 2 gc215 battery’s a pure sin 300 watt inverter 40 amp mppt charge controler and 300 watts of solar . 
     It’s been running since 2015 . 
     It enough power to use lites radio phone and I pad chargers it will charge cordless tool battery’s . 
     I used a champion 1800 watt genarator to charge the battery if needed ( nov, dec ) we get frozen out in late December .  Ive been running the generator 15 hours a day for a year to power the new house. Lights radio tv small tools battery chargers . I use 2 gallons of fuel in 3/4 days not to bad . 
     The last month I’ve been getting my  permanent system up and running in the house thanks to the guys on the fourm
       John
    Out
  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    edited September 8 #109
    wellbuilt said:
    I started off with 2 gc215 battery’s a pure sin 300 watt inverter 40 amp mppt charge controler and 300 watts of solar . 
     It’s been running since 2015 . 
     It enough power to use lites radio phone and I pad chargers it will charge cordless tool battery’s . 
     I used a champion 1800 watt genarator to charge the battery if needed ( nov, dec ) we get frozen out in late December .  Ive been running the generator 15 hours a day for a year to power the new house. Lights radio tv small tools battery chargers . I use 2 gallons of fuel in 3/4 days not to bad . 
     The last month I’ve been getting my  permanent system up and running in the house thanks to the guys on the fourm
       John
    Cool! Did you learn enough from members of this forum with your starter system to design and install your permanent system yourself? Will you continue to use the older system in another outbuilding later? MrM1 said:
    Something Like This:  (the forum can please  critique this idea)
    • Classic 150-SL    $525  (this would be the heart and soul of an expandable system)
    • 4 Golf Cart batteries at a club    $400   (good for learning)
    • Samlex PST-1000-24 1000w 24v PSW inverter  $400  (would be easy to sell or re-purpose)
    • 4  Canadian Solar 295w Mono Panels    $320 (can be expanded upon)
    Total:  $1645
    I guess it just depends on if you will have to deal with Inspectors.

       Thank you for your time. We are clearing the ground now, and the building design is nearly complete. 
       Of course, the size of the building is growing, and the purposes are evolving, so an expandable system is now imperative. We would want to run a small air compressor, and other tools, though not at the same time, so would it make sense to go with a 2000 watt inverter, and a corresponding increase in battery, MPPT controller, and panel capacities.  We obviously have to increase our budget, up to $3000 or a little more, and extend the timeline for this project.  Then we would leave this system in this building after we build our new home.      B)
  • mcgivormcgivor Posts: 2,202Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 8 #110
    Don't fall into the trap of using a low voltage high wattage inverter, If plans are to expand over time it's prudent to buy equipment that is expandable, such as stackable inverters, using higher voltage also simplifies expansion, buy quality equipment if possible as it's easy to go broke saving money.
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery bank 

  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,882Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    edited September 8 #111
    I would suggest (as above) a small system with 2-4 "golf cart" batteries (~200 AH @ 6 volts per battery, very roughly 400-800 Watts of solar panels) and a smaller AC inverter (300 Watts or so). Use it for "quiet times" (evening after work is done, etc.) to power lights, radio, charge cell phones/laptop, run a small RV water pump, etc.

    And use the fuel powered generator(s) during the days for tools, fridge (with extra ice if needed)/freezer, etc.

    You probably do not have a any hard numbers on how much power you will need to run the new home--And to have a cost effective and reliable solar power system, you need to plan your loads carefully (and know when you will be there--Summer, all year round, etc.).

    And then there is also security... A full size solar power system to run a cabin or small/energy efficient home can easily run $10,000 to $30,000 or more--When nobody is there during construction, things can walk off on their own... A small solar system (that you can lock up or take back home) and genset(s) (plus fuel) that will not break the bank if something goes wrong during construction.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,008Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Good advice from the mod man above :)
    With the hard winters you might be better off just using a genset until you have a lockable structure. That is what I tell my clients.
    In my opinion the learning route system is overrated if you have a mentor or have done your due diligence. Good Luck!
    "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 ✭✭
    Good advice from the mod man above :)
    With the hard winters you might be better off just using a genset until you have a lockable structure. That is what I tell my clients.
    In my opinion the learning route system is overrated if you have a mentor or have done your due diligence. Good Luck!
    That may be best. My sister and her husband experimented with a generator, kodiak, and 2 solar panels, all easily transported back and forth between home and camp, and not a huge investment.
  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,838Registered Users ✭✭✭✭✭
    FWIW, I did design and install my system, mostly using what I learned here. The first few years were just generator, a pair of GC batteries, and small inverter, which worked out ok. It takes some time on-site to get a reasonable handle on loads and trade-offs (very personal choices), It helps viscerally understanding what you can and can't live without.
    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
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Posts: 311Solar Expert ✭✭✭
     Yes I’m I am  installing   my system my self , the guys here have been very helpful and some times I feel like I’m a pest . 
    I Basically did exactly what bill stated above , I installed battery’s solar panels cc and morning star 300watt inverter . 
    And lived with that in a old trailer  1972 , we built the porch  out  of rough sawn lumber cut off the side of a mountain  to  collect water and mount solar panels
     I’m still pumping water to the house 300’ away with the system . 

    Here is where I was at a month ago.  
     I’m all hooked up now and fine  tuning settings in the mate 3 and charge controler . 
     Most all electric is done inside . 
     Basically I was trying to power the cabin on the cheep ,  but in the end I calledAWS told the guys what I wanted to do and they came up with a system in 3 hrs and I bought it . 
     They sent me a  out back flex power one , 3600watt inverter with power panel .
      I need to pass Electrical Inspection and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot  a inspector can say About this panel .
       I wound up buying my battery’s from sams club and my solar panels and iron ridge roof mount  locally . 
      My  electrical supply house gave me a very good price on the panels , roof mounting and wire plus I do A lot of business with Them  at home  and no shipping .  
    My well is 800’  deep  a friend drilled the well for me and  I plan to use solar to pump to a tank . 
     Here is a pic of my water system and radiant heat manifold I have 1400’ of 1/2  pex pipe in 41/2 “ concrete slab with 3” insulation ,  but mostly I’ll heat with wood . 
     You could save a lot of money and just run on a small 1000watt genarator and just install your system in the house when it’s done you will need to run a genarator when you are working any way . 
     The power system is just a small part of the   Puzzle , my son and I built the cabin with help from my  daughters and I have a farmer helping us cut lumber on site .  I’ve been working every weekend for over a year . 
     I should be done in 2 years next year we will get the septic system on line with bathrooms  (3) the following year the well pump is going in .
    Out
  • wellbuiltwellbuilt Posts: 311Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    I would not bother trying to run a compressor or power tools off a inverter .
     I don’t know much about solar power but I am a builder and work off genarator s with gas powered compressors all the time , keep the inverter small.
    Out
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Posts: 751Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 28 #117
    You should able to run an air compressor off an inverter.
    I modified mine to soft start to make running on generator power easier on the generator and possibly run off a power inverter.

    Plus compressors and generators are natural enemies.
    If you need a lot of compressed air you are probably better off getting a gasoline powered air compressor.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • PorschephanaticPorschephanatic Posts: 28Registered Users ✭✭
    Thank you All. A lot of information to absorb. Air compressors do have immense surge current to start, as my garage lights dim on startup. That's why I am so impressed with our Fujitsu inverter mini-splits in our current home. We don't even notice when they start up.
  • softdownsoftdown Posts: 1,889Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for that info, Mike.  My background is in architecture and I'm big on passive solar heating via large masonry mass, so was already planning a mid-room masonry woodstove just far enough back from a south window where the winter sun will hit it but not summer sun so hopefully I won't even need to build a fire when the days are warm enough and you only need heat at night, when the masonry will radiate it back.  I think the plans for that masonry woodstove just got a lot more complicated and more efficient for when a fire is needed. 
    Passive solar is simply awesome when a south face is available in a cooler climate. But September? September sucks. I built a 40" overhand as memory serves with 8' of greenhouse glass. Getting about 5' of sunlight in a warm September which drives the afternoon temperature up to 84F. At 37 degrees and going from memory here. 

    Someday I will capture the energy to install the shades which would help tremendously of course.

    Spent $50 on propane for heating during a mild winter in a normally cold locale last year. Only need heat early in the morning and later in the evening.

    Yea - passive  solar is simply awesome. Almost no maintenance and truly free energy.
    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
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Posts: 751Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 28 #120
    My old 2.5hp 240v air compressor would hit 45 amps on start up.
    A 420cc, 7kw 13hp generator couldn't even start it.
    Now it's running about 2hp and is barely hitting 10 amps.
    I was told it was impossible to reduce starting amps on a single phase powered air compressor.
    I actually found several ways to reduce starting amps and it worked better than I thought it would, but the more you want to reduce starting amps the more $ it requires.

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/351610/reducing-start-up-current-on-air-compressor-for-off-grid#latest

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

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