Canadian Off Grid Small Set Up

Hello,

After reading through this forum, it's clear there are many here that have more wisdom than we do, just starting out.
We live in North Central Alberta and have a log cabin, 400' and are looking for some input.
We have been using wood cook stove for heat (Amish Built), propane cook stove and yukon burner in the summer and an older Consul propane fridge.
We are upgrading!
Have just ordered a new 24" Premier Gas Range, and a Zodi X40 Outfitter hot water system.
We are in a dilema about the fridge.
Either buy a DC powered one and just a battery charger to charge the current AGM batteries with our Generator OR
Buy a Low Energy Efficient AC fridge, and buy:
solar panels, (how many and how many watts?)
charge controller,
inverter/charger (Pure Sine 2000 watt). (not sure the 2 batteries we have will be enough, so we could increase)

We have a Honda 6500 Gen Set and also have 2 AGM 200A Forklift batteries.
Up to 6 hours a day, we use the following:
Macbook Pro 85 watts
Router 15 watts
Internet 10 watts
External Monitor 40 watts
USB Hub 13 watts
Lamp 7 watts

Intermittent use of:
TV 85 watts (2 hrs a week)
Sound System 150 watts (2 hrs a week)
DVD/VHS 25 watts (2 hrs a week)
Blender 450 watts (10 mins a day)
Coffee Grinder 110 watts (2 mins a day)
Mixer 220 watts (15 mins a week)
Toaster 900 watts (10 mins a day) could purchase a lower energy one!
Lights 4 x 14 watt bulbs ( 3 hrs day)

TO ALL OF THIS, adding either a SUNDANZER DCR165 5.8 cu 12V 168 watts hrs/day
OR an AC Fridge rated at (300 - 354 kWh/yr)

Clear as mud????

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Canadian Off Grid Small Set Up

    Welcome to the forum.

    First rule of off-grid living: stop using so much electricity! A toaster? GRRR! :grr
    You can find a "more efficient" toaster because electricity isn't an efficient way of heating things. In order to get enough temp to toast you need quite a few Watts. No two ways about it.
    Of course there are toasters that go on the propane stove and nice long ones you can hold by the fire.

    Now the good news is that if you're out in the middle of nowhere and off-grid all the time the solar panels start to make good economic sense over running a generator all the time.

    From your list I see over 1kW hour of power per day on just your regular use stuff. The rest of it may add on 50%. The Sundanzer at another 168 Watt hours is pretty economical refrigeration, if it suits your needs.

    Let me explain: we have a very economical standard 16 cu. ft. Whirlpool 'frige. There goes 1200 Watt hours per day. System to run that and everything else: $8,000 self installed.

    Other than the evil toaster you don't have anything that draws high Wattage (unless you add a standard 'frige). The blender and mixer are a bit steep, and I think you should check everything with a Kill-A-Watt meter if you haven't already (CT has a similar meter on sale this week according to their flyer). You might be able to get away with a small 12 Volt system and the little Morningstar 300 Watt inverter. Very efficient, that. You already have a ProSine 2kW unit, though.

    In terms of battery capacity, for < 2kW hours per day you could get away with under 400 Amp hours on 12 Volts. Those AGM's might just do it if they're 12 Volt.

    That generator is pretty big. Every thought of getting one of the little Honda EU1000i units? Very economical and quiet and capable of handling the charging of those batteries on a lot less gas than the 6kW one.

    Are we getting anywhere?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Canadian Off Grid Small Set Up

    Thank you for the quick reply.
    Yes, toast is definitely a luxury, we've tried the over the burner thing, and honestly, the best way, seems to be when the wood stove is on, we just lay the bread on the top of the surface.
    We don't have the 2000 Watt Pure Sine yet, but are going to purchase one eventually.
    The fridges I'm considering use 300 or a bit more on the energy star rating on the Canadian Gov Web site.
    The AGM are: Discover-Energy 6 volts. We have 2. Rated at 200A at 20 hrs or 447 runtime minutes @25 amps.

    In your figure of 400 Amp hrs, what does that translate to in terms of panels?
    Thanks again
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Canadian Off Grid Small Set Up
    hinterland wrote: »
    Thank you for the quick reply.
    Yes, toast is definitely a luxury, we've tried the over the burner thing, and honestly, the best way, seems to be when the wood stove is on, we just lay the bread on the top of the surface.
    We don't have the 2000 Watt Pure Sine yet, but are going to purchase one eventually.
    The fridges I'm considering use 300 or a bit more on the energy star rating on the Canadian Gov Web site.

    Okay, I've tested quite a few refrigerators and the numbers you get with them tend to be pure fiction. The short version is they have big start surges which the ProSine could handle, but they tend to use 1kW hour or more per day. Usually a lot more. Here's a thread with some of my and others' testing in it: http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=12272

    The AGM are: Discover-Energy 6 volts. We have 2. Rated at 200A at 20 hrs or 447 runtime minutes @25 amps.

    This adds up to 200 Amp hours @ 12 Volts, and will fall well shy of what you need for your proposed load usage. At 50% depth of discharge you'd squeeze 1.2 kW hours out of them, and some of that is lost to the system (don't forget inverters consume power).
    In your figure of 400 Amp hrs, what does that translate to in terms of panels?
    Thanks again

    Remiss of me to forget that. As a "ballpark" figure, around 700 Watts. If you're up a mountain it helps: my 700 Watt array runs around 82% efficient at 3200 feet. It charges a 24 Volt bank of 320 Amp hours, but is pretty marginal for that and I wouldn't recommend anyone else try it. For 400 Amp hours @ 12 Volts it should work much better.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Canadian Off Grid Small Set Up

    I read the thread on the "energy star" real world testing. Jeepers! Do you mind if I ask, what brand/size you are using at your cabin? The one that is non energy efficient?
    Maybe we should just go ahead with the Sundanzer plan. We are told that an 80 watt panel will power the 5.8 cu.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Canadian Off Grid Small Set Up
    hinterland wrote: »
    I read the thread on the "energy star" real world testing. Jeepers! Do you mind if I ask, what brand/size you are using at your cabin? The one that is non energy efficient?
    Maybe we should just go ahead with the Sundanzer plan. We are told that an 80 watt panel will power the 5.8 cu.

    My cabin 'frige is a 16 cu. ft. Whirlpool. I don't remember the exact model (not there right now).
    I tested an "Energy Star" Kenmore 14 and found it used 50% more power than it was rated for.

    If the Sundanzer figure is 168 Watt hours per day then:
    168 Watt hours / 4 hours of "equivalent good sun" (what you can expect on an average day) = 42 Watts per hour, so an 80 Watt panel ought to be able to power it. They have models with and without battery capacity (including an "AC" model which is an adapter added to the DC unit to keep the battery up). One of them is supposed to run off panel only - no battery at all.

    Keep in mind the sun goes down early in Winter up here, and it comes up late. You either run the gen or buy a lot of extra panel.
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