12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

kYLEkYLE Registered Users Posts: 6
My wife and I plan on going 12v for daily living. We hardly use electricity as it is and see no reason to include dirty electricity (inverters, controllers, dimmers, wifi, smart meters)

For my build (I'm a super solar noob) I plan to use a handful of American made high watt 12v panels (Sharp 80's or Solar World 130's) and a Flexcharge controller to keep the voltage below 14v. It is my understanding that Flexcharge is more of a passive or analog system when compared to PWM/MPPT controllers?

My well will be powered seperately by higher wattage panels with voltage wired to match the appropriate Grundfos SQ Flex pump. Any thoughts on Grundfos?

Is there anyone else with this type of primitive setup? Any advice for me? Thank you for your time :)

And if you want to know why I am choosing to live this way, here is a great video where data is used to compare how the rise of electricity use correlates with cancer and major health problems in general. The Amish community is also compared (most Amish are healthier than most Americans yet eat just as much etc) http://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=3_bMTOIH1z0
«1

Comments

  • Joe94Joe94 Solar Expert Posts: 42
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    I like your passion for a simpler life. That's something I've striving for as well. I've been building house for the last year and prior to that I spent weekends camping in a shipping container while I planned the project. I basically spent weekends living off a minimal 12v system. Many of the solar gurus around here I'm sure will give you plenty of reasons not to build a 12v system with no inverter to live off of full time. I built a hybrid system. I have a 12 system that has a inverter and standard 120v power to all the outlets, but all the lighting, pumping, security system and a couple charging stations are wired 12v. Right now I mostly use 12v for everything and rarely use the 120v but I feel like if I were to live there full time I would rely in the 120v much more.

    I was wondering why you want to keep the voltage under 14 volts. I assume you're still planning to charge batteries and depending what kind of batteries you use your going to need charge voltage around 14.5. I personally wouldn't go with 12v panels. I would do grid tie panels with a Mppt controler to your batteries. I think if you do the math you will get more kwh per dollar building your system that way.

    At this point I'm going to leave it to the real experts in this forum to give you opinions based on real world experience living off grid.
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Well the math applies to your situation same as everybody else. Tabulate your expected/desired loads and lets see what it looks like.

    My suggestion would be 24v, as a compromise. It will save you 4 times on cabling. And fridges, pumps, and most electronic gadgets can all be run off that readily enough.

    Re the charge controller, the main issue there is that the charge controller is responsble for the batterys health, safety and well being. Not to mention your health and safety as batterys are dangerous. All of the quality products that have undergone decades of field experience are either PWM or (more recently) mppt. You can sheild the RF noise from either readily enough, look for the threads on HAM radio.

    However ive never heard of the controller you mention, maybe you can say more about it.
    Joe94 wrote: »
    I like your passion for a simpler life. That's something I've striving for as well. I've been building house for the last year and prior to that I spent weekends camping in a shipping container while I planned the project. I basically spent weekends living off a minimal 12v system. Many of the solar gurus around here I'm sure will give you plenty of reasons not to build a 12v system with no inverter to live off of full time. I built a hybrid system. I have a 12 system that has a inverter and standard 120v power to all the outlets, but all the lighting, pumping, security system and a couple charging stations are wired 12v. Right now I mostly use 12v for everything and rarely use the 120v but I feel like if I were to live there full time I would rely in the 120v much more.

    I was wondering why you want to keep the voltage under 14 volts. I assume you're still planning to charge batteries and depending what kind of batteries you use your going to need charge voltage around 14.5. I personally wouldn't go with 12v panels. I would do grid tie panels with a Mppt controler to your batteries. I think if you do the math you will get more kwh per dollar building your system that way.

    At this point I'm going to leave it to the real experts in this forum to give you opinions based on real world experience living off grid.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    kYLE wrote: »
    My wife and I plan on going 12v for daily living.
    And if you want to know why I am choosing to live this way, here is a great video where data is used to compare how the rise of electricity use correlates with cancer and major health problems in general. The Amish community is also compared (most Amish are healthier than most Americans yet eat just as much etc) http://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=3_bMTOIH1z0

    Hi Kyle, it's unfortunate that in these later days, there are tons of videos available to support anyone's beliefs, no matter what those belief may be, and regardless if it's backed up by scientific evidence or not. A good example is the many videos available showing how to make your own "free" energy from perpetual motion machines of all types, yet strangely or not, none of them work in the real world. In-depth study will reveal there are many reasons other than the non-use of "dirty" electricity, which will account for a somewhat healthier Amish community. The fact is, the longer we live, the greater on average chance we will get cancer, and with our abundant food supply and modern medical technology, we as a society, are living ever longer on average than our ancestors, even though their only exposure to electricity was being struck by lightening.
  • kYLEkYLE Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    The voltage at "14 volts" was just a rough number, so yes around 14 or 15 volts aka not killing the batteries. And I don't want to be connected in any way to the grid even if I have to pay for it in some other way. I'm just sick of all these utility companies that want to keep your balls in their hand, or have them take advantage of your excess power as they pay you a stipend and they reap the other half of that margin. Meanwhile (begin off topic rant) I am dealing with a mandatory garbage service when the majority of the food I eat doesn't come in packaging, and I don't buy the amount of crap the typical American consumes yet they think I produce 32G of trash a week so they charge me for it. And on top of that the county demands that I install a $25,000 septic system, when I could easily use a composting toilet, or compost my waste on my acre of land... So yeah the grid does not appeal to me :| haha.

    I figured 12v for convenience, light bulbs etc could be picked up locally instead of searching online or wiring two together... But I will consider 24v a I do more research. I was looking at a Sundanzer chest fridge, I think that was 24v and the fridge is my main concern.

    And www.Flexcharge.com is manufacturer of "shunting" controllers which I guess means turn on and off as to not overcharge. They are widely used for low maintenance remote applications such as summits, buoys etc. I found them through other tin foil hat people lol. They claim to be more efficient than MPPT at 99.5%.

    I thought about housing a standard charge controller and blocking the RF but I think it "pollutes" the entire line running into your house. Like creating frequencies within your larger frequencies or a zigzag drawn with a lot of tiny zigzags. Just doesn't seem healthy to me.

    I can't describe the feeling as I leave work filled with fluorescent lights overhead, 10 wifi routers from different people, go to my trailer/land kick my shoes off and sink my feet into the dirt and just discharge all that junk. That's another thing to look into, grounding your body known as "Earthing"

    But yes different voltages will be considered. That's one area that I haven't contemplated much. Thanks guys :)
  • kYLEkYLE Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Yes very good point Wayne, I agree. But that is also why I eat organic non GMO, blend 1/2lb of greens a day, avoid modern medicine, stare into the 3G waves of this iPhone at midnight when I should be asleep... Doh! Haha.

    Outside my window at work is a physical therapy place, and all day I see people hobbling in from various injuries, but I think a lot of their injuries are products of obesity, sickness caused by something etc an these people look 30-40 years old sometimes. So it really pushes me to avoid that. My grandma had her legs amputated due to lack of circulation from smoking and drinking and luckily I do neither, but the things some people have to go through seem like hell. I don't know why I want to prolong my life on this earth, we gotta die of something, but slow deaths are horrible from the ones I have witnessed.
  • ThomThom Solar Expert Posts: 196 ✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Y not move to a more appropriate home for your life style .



    Thom
    Off grid since 1984. 430w of panel, 300w suresine , 4 gc batteries 12v system, Rogue mpt3024 charge controller , air breeze windmill, Mikita 2400w generator . Added [email protected] 100w panel with a midnight brat 
  • verdigoverdigo Solar Expert Posts: 428 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    kYLE wrote: »
    The Amish community is also compared (most Amish are healthier than most Americans yet eat just as much etc) http://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=3_bMTOIH1z0

    Funny. The Amish in my neck of the woods seem to be going solar in a big way. I don't think they have a problem with electricity as much as getting a monthly bill. Something to do with being indebted I think. Even if it is for a day or a month for what they use day to day. Diesel gen sets are pretty common as well.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Well I guess at this point, all we can do is wish you good luck. Many of us here on this forum either live off grid, or have solar to assist our grid consumption, but there may be a few who have serious experience living with 12 VDC only, and without what the industry would consider proper charge controllers etc. Hopefully there is someone with such experience who can and will offer their experience as a guide for your journey.
    By the way, my great grandfather, before modern medicine and electricity, died a horrible slow death wracked with pain. Arthritis seized his joints and he spent his final years in bed, in agony, and being abused by his eldest son. When he died at the age of 62, he had been locked in the fetal position for a long time and my grandfather had to help break his legs so the casket could be closed. And no, unfortunately I'm not making this up. His signet ring was passed down to me, and I still wear it in his honor.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Use of 12 VDC is a mistake. Inverters and AC power in general is not dirty or dangerous. The only time anyone uses 12 VDC is when they are trapped into it due to circumstances. You will regret your decision to limit yourself in this way.

    But no one has to listen to me just because I've got a bunch of education and 50 years experience. It's your money; waste it however you wish.

    PS: The Outback Flex Max 60/80 is an MPPT charge controller. There is no way of charging your batteries properly without either a PWM or MPPT type controller.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,319 admin
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Regarding charge controllers... The Shunt Type (Flexcharge) are actually not the best way to charge a battery bank. Series type (PWM, MPPT, etc.) are more accurate and will give you a longer battery life (plus series charge controller systems are slightly less likely to fail in a dangerous manner--A failed shunt controller or shunt load will over charge the battery bank and can cause a fire--And why the NEC would require two shunt controllers in parallel--the second being a backup for the first).

    Amish choose a "non-electric" lifestyle as a religious choice (electricity tends to support devices that distract from worshiping God).

    If your power usage is small, yes, you can get by with a 12 volt system OK (some lights and whatever else you want to power). If you uses a refrigerators, then the system is large enough that 24 volts (minimum) tends to be more cost efficient (from an engineering point of view--12 volt systems require a lot of copper and short cable runs, in general).

    It sounds like "dirty electricity" is a concern over AC electromagnetic fields (and Radio Frequency "radiation") as opposed to pollution from burning fuel.

    In some ways--It is really a "pick your poison" set of choices. EM or Particulate/Chemical--In general, most of us have picked avoiding the P/C type of pollution. There are lots of real/documented affects caused by burning fuels (especially in-efficiently--but sometimes even very efficient fuel burning produces bad chemical pollution too, such as NOx emissions). The Amish use lots of diesel and various forms of combustion--Which (in my view) is much less healthy than using solar+batteries+inverter (or even utility power) or "clean electricity" (ignoring the problems with mining, recycling of lead batteries, etc.).

    And there are folks that choose to avoid EM pollution. There are folks that convinced that EM emissions are unhealthy or even have direct effects on their bodies that are very negative (where more of us believe that EM emissions are usually a "problem" for working with radios and sensitive electronics--And that EM emissions are only dangerous when they are high enough to cause physical problems--such as early radar systems that leaked enough microwaves to cause cataracts in their operators).

    Everything has some sort of emissions--Even a simple diode in a DC circuit causes a lot of RF emissions. So, with solar power, your best bet is to minimize those emissions through proper design techniques.

    If you are trying to reduce EMI (EM emissions/interference). I would suggest you go with a MorningStar PWM controller with the "Telecom" noise reduction function... It is a PWM controller, but instead of switching 100s to 1,000s of times per second, it only switches "on/off" once every few seconds. This was designed for telephone type systems to reduce audio noise in the power system. It will also greatly reduce EMI too.

    And because they are usually installed as a "series" type solar charge controller, they are much better at maintaining proper battery charging.

    Otherwise, to reduce EMI--Keep wires running in "pairs" next to each other (or even give them a "twist" every 12 inches or so). That will keep their radiation (from electronic switching) to a minimum (and is actually a good design practice anyway).

    If you don't keep the wire pairs next to each other (DC + and -, AC Hot and Return), the wiring acts like an antenna and makes it more efficient at radiating EMI. Also, it makes the system more suseptable to nearby lightning strikes and damage from same.

    If you are very concerned, run the wiring inside metal conduit (metal pipe)... That reduces emissions to almost unmeasurable levels (look up Tempest Systems--The process the military uses to "harden" their electronics against EMI/EMP).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Go back to square one, regardless of your desire to go "off grid"! Do a proper load calc, INCLUDING system loses to determine the battery bank size and the charge regimen. If you find you daily use is larger than you think, and therefore requires a larger battery bank, you may find that 12 volt is a problem simply because of the number if parallel batteries requires and the a inability to even the load and ethe charge currents through those batteries.

    As a general rule of off grid living, a couple of things apply. First, people always underestimate thier loads, these loads grow with time a at t he same time people almost always over estimate thier insolation capacity. By no being a slave to the power company, you now become a slave to the battery companies, and ergo is only makes sense to design and build a system that works well for you, and indeed works well for the battery bank, as it is not only the sinlgle most expensive piece of the puzzle, but will also need to be replaced sooner than you thing,(at likely more money!)

    As a side note, anyone who thinks living off grid "because it is cheap" is hopelessly naive about the true costs. Yes, there are people who live quit happily with minimalistic system, but the list of "do withouts" is much larger than folks realize. You hear thee stories all the time of folks who stuck it to the power company and are happily living off grid on a couple of car batteries and a couple of HF solar panels. Looking more deeply into thier life, you realize they are running one reading light, running a IPad and keeping their food in the lake. (oh wait...that's me! Not!)

    Good luck and keep in touch,

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    We used to live without electricity at all. It can be done.
    Now that I'm too old for such foolishness I'm sure glad I know enough about electricity to make use of it in a sensible and economic manner.
  • kYLEkYLE Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    BB. wrote: »
    Regarding charge controllers... The Shunt Type (Flexcharge) are actually not the best way to charge a battery bank. Series type (PWM, MPPT, etc.) are more accurate and will give you a longer battery life (plus series charge controller systems are slightly less likely to fail in a dangerous manner--A failed shunt controller or shunt load will over charge the battery bank and can cause a fire--And why the NEC would require two shunt controllers in parallel--the second being a backup for the first).

    Amish choose a "non-electric" lifestyle as a religious choice (electricity tends to support devices that distract from worshiping God).

    If your power usage is small, yes, you can get by with a 12 volt system OK (some lights and whatever else you want to power). If you uses a refrigerators, then the system is large enough that 24 volts (minimum) tends to be more cost efficient (from an engineering point of view--12 volt systems require a lot of copper and short cable runs, in general).

    It sounds like "dirty electricity" is a concern over AC electromagnetic fields (and Radio Frequency "radiation") as opposed to pollution from burning fuel.

    In some ways--It is really a "pick your poison" set of choices. EM or Particulate/Chemical--In general, most of us have picked avoiding the P/C type of pollution. There are lots of real/documented affects caused by burning fuels (especially in-efficiently--but sometimes even very efficient fuel burning produces bad chemical pollution too, such as NOx emissions). The Amish use lots of diesel and various forms of combustion--Which (in my view) is much less healthy than using solar+batteries+inverter (or even utility power) or "clean electricity" (ignoring the problems with mining, recycling of lead batteries, etc.).

    And there are folks that choose to avoid EM pollution. There are folks that convinced that EM emissions are unhealthy or even have direct effects on their bodies that are very negative (where more of us believe that EM emissions are usually a "problem" for working with radios and sensitive electronics--And that EM emissions are only dangerous when they are high enough to cause physical problems--such as early radar systems that leaked enough microwaves to cause cataracts in their operators).

    Everything has some sort of emissions--Even a simple diode in a DC circuit causes a lot of RF emissions. So, with solar power, your best bet is to minimize those emissions through proper design techniques.

    If you are trying to reduce EMI (EM emissions/interference). I would suggest you go with a MorningStar PWM controller with the "Telecom" noise reduction function... It is a PWM controller, but instead of switching 100s to 1,000s of times per second, it only switches "on/off" once every few seconds. This was designed for telephone type systems to reduce audio noise in the power system. It will also greatly reduce EMI too.

    And because they are usually installed as a "series" type solar charge controller, they are much better at maintaining proper battery charging.

    Otherwise, to reduce EMI--Keep wires running in "pairs" next to each other (or even give them a "twist" every 12 inches or so). That will keep their radiation (from electronic switching) to a minimum (and is actually a good design practice anyway).

    If you don't keep the wire pairs next to each other (DC + and -, AC Hot and Return), the wiring acts like an antenna and makes it more efficient at radiating EMI. Also, it makes the system more suseptable to nearby lightning strikes and damage from same.

    If you are very concerned, run the wiring inside metal conduit (metal pipe)... That reduces emissions to almost unmeasurable levels (look up Tempest Systems--The process the military uses to "harden" their electronics against EMI/EMP).

    -Bill

    Thanks Bill, lots of good points you've shared. I am trying to stay away from burning fuels. I want a brushless 12v fridge, solar batch water heater, solar air heater...Then propane/wood to further help on extreme days. Youtube shows many with 160' water and 80' air blowing into their house in the winter with solar, and I'm spoiled by CA weather so hopefully I won't need fuels.

    I will look at that telecom Morningstar unit, thank you :)

    I like the metal conduit idea. I need conduit anyways, since I plan to build with double stud wall, insulated with hempcrete.
    icarus wrote: »
    Go back to square one, regardless of your desire to go "off grid"! Do a proper load calc, INCLUDING system loses to determine the battery bank size and the charge regimen. If you find you daily use is larger than you think, and therefore requires a larger battery bank, you may find that 12 volt is a problem simply because of the number if parallel batteries requires and the a inability to even the load and ethe charge currents through those batteries.

    As a general rule of off grid living, a couple of things apply. First, people always underestimate thier loads, these loads grow with time a at t he same time people almost always over estimate thier insolation capacity. By no being a slave to the power company, you now become a slave to the battery companies, and ergo is only makes sense to design and build a system that works well for you, and indeed works well for the battery bank, as it is not only the sinlgle most expensive piece of the puzzle, but will also need to be replaced sooner than you thing,(at likely more money!)

    As a side note, anyone who thinks living off grid "because it is cheap" is hopelessly naive about the true costs. Yes, there are people who live quit happily with minimalistic system, but the list of "do withouts" is much larger than folks realize. You hear thee stories all the time of folks who stuck it to the power company and are happily living off grid on a couple of car batteries and a couple of HF solar panels. Looking more deeply into thier life, you realize they are running one reading light, running a IPad and keeping their food in the lake. (oh wait...that's me! Not!)

    Good luck and keep in touch,

    Tony

    True that. Honestly the excess battery bank will be for my wife. I was fine years ago in my jacket at our home with no propane and no wood waking up to 39' on the thermostat! But yes I will still be going through batteries and supporting another polluted industry.

    I have been using "BD batteries solar calculator" seems to work pretty well. Unless someone knows of a better one!
    We used to live without electricity at all. It can be done.
    Now that I'm too old for such foolishness I'm sure glad I know enough about electricity to make use of it in a sensible and economic manner.

    Haha. I'm an immature 27 year old, I'm sure I'll get a reality check sooner or later ;)
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    There are still people in the world that have lived 60,000 years in seclusion and do not know how to make Fire and have no clue what a wheel is, so it can be done. I am frugal, but only to a point. One thing I have noticed from pictures of them , none seem to have gray hair. Thats a clue they don't live all that long.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Someplace between "no electricity" and "back-lit marble floors" is a happy medium where we make our lives easier without going crazy on power usage. That point is not the same for everyone, and finding it can take some experimentation. That can be expensive in itself.

    We just want you to understand that numerous people (including myself) have started out on the 12 VDC only systems and either changed up or regretted it for years afterwards. 12 Volts is not in any way more efficient than 120 VAC. In fact it's quite the opposite. And when you add in the extra cost of 12 Volt specific items it gets pretty expensive pretty fast. To say nothing of the headache when something fails and you can't just pick up a new one locally because the stores don't stock 12 VDC items.

    One reason I have an 'inefficient' 120 VAC water pump; if it gives up I can go to town in an hour and have a new one. If it were a more efficient DC pump I'd have to order it and wait ... possibly quite a long time. The same goes for the refrigerator; $400 off the floor or $2,000 and you'll have it in a month. Makes it well worth investing in a power system that can supply 'conventional' 120 VAC.
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    I think thats a fantastic (and balanced) answer Bill. We all continue to owe a debt of gratitude to our tireless moderators.

    BB. wrote: »
    Regarding charge controllers... The Shunt Type (Flexcharge) are actually not the best way to charge a battery bank. Series type (PWM, MPPT, etc.) are more accurate and will give you a longer battery life (plus series charge controller systems are slightly less likely to fail in a dangerous manner--A failed shunt controller or shunt load will over charge the battery bank and can cause a fire--And why the NEC would require two shunt controllers in parallel--the second being a backup for the first).

    Amish choose a "non-electric" lifestyle as a religious choice (electricity tends to support devices that distract from worshiping God).

    If your power usage is small, yes, you can get by with a 12 volt system OK (some lights and whatever else you want to power). If you uses a refrigerators, then the system is large enough that 24 volts (minimum) tends to be more cost efficient (from an engineering point of view--12 volt systems require a lot of copper and short cable runs, in general).

    It sounds like "dirty electricity" is a concern over AC electromagnetic fields (and Radio Frequency "radiation") as opposed to pollution from burning fuel.

    In some ways--It is really a "pick your poison" set of choices. EM or Particulate/Chemical--In general, most of us have picked avoiding the P/C type of pollution. There are lots of real/documented affects caused by burning fuels (especially in-efficiently--but sometimes even very efficient fuel burning produces bad chemical pollution too, such as NOx emissions). The Amish use lots of diesel and various forms of combustion--Which (in my view) is much less healthy than using solar+batteries+inverter (or even utility power) or "clean electricity" (ignoring the problems with mining, recycling of lead batteries, etc.).

    And there are folks that choose to avoid EM pollution. There are folks that convinced that EM emissions are unhealthy or even have direct effects on their bodies that are very negative (where more of us believe that EM emissions are usually a "problem" for working with radios and sensitive electronics--And that EM emissions are only dangerous when they are high enough to cause physical problems--such as early radar systems that leaked enough microwaves to cause cataracts in their operators).

    Everything has some sort of emissions--Even a simple diode in a DC circuit causes a lot of RF emissions. So, with solar power, your best bet is to minimize those emissions through proper design techniques.

    If you are trying to reduce EMI (EM emissions/interference). I would suggest you go with a MorningStar PWM controller with the "Telecom" noise reduction function... It is a PWM controller, but instead of switching 100s to 1,000s of times per second, it only switches "on/off" once every few seconds. This was designed for telephone type systems to reduce audio noise in the power system. It will also greatly reduce EMI too.

    And because they are usually installed as a "series" type solar charge controller, they are much better at maintaining proper battery charging.

    Otherwise, to reduce EMI--Keep wires running in "pairs" next to each other (or even give them a "twist" every 12 inches or so). That will keep their radiation (from electronic switching) to a minimum (and is actually a good design practice anyway).

    If you don't keep the wire pairs next to each other (DC + and -, AC Hot and Return), the wiring acts like an antenna and makes it more efficient at radiating EMI. Also, it makes the system more suseptable to nearby lightning strikes and damage from same.

    If you are very concerned, run the wiring inside metal conduit (metal pipe)... That reduces emissions to almost unmeasurable levels (look up Tempest Systems--The process the military uses to "harden" their electronics against EMI/EMP).

    -Bill
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • kYLEkYLE Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    verdigo wrote: »
    Funny. The Amish in my neck of the woods seem to be going solar in a big way. I don't think they have a problem with electricity as much as getting a monthly bill. Something to do with being indebted I think. Even if it is for a day or a month for what they use day to day. Diesel gen sets are pretty common as well.

    Wow very interesting. But no diesel buggies "trotting" down the road I bet? Haha. I'm gonna look for some Amish documentaries. And someone brought up the point of no electricity to get closer to God, which makes sense because the few times I try to meditate, it's impossible for me to do in an urban area.
    Well I guess at this point, all we can do is wish you good luck. Many of us here on this forum either live off grid, or have solar to assist our grid consumption, but there may be a few who have serious experience living with 12 VDC only, and without what the industry would consider proper charge controllers etc. Hopefully there is someone with such experience who can and will offer their experience as a guide for your journey.
    By the way, my great grandfather, before modern medicine and electricity, died a horrible slow death wracked with pain. Arthritis seized his joints and he spent his final years in bed, in agony, and being abused by his eldest son. When he died at the age of 62, he had been locked in the fetal position for a long time and my grandfather had to help break his legs so the casket could be closed. And no, unfortunately I'm not making this up. His signet ring was passed down to me, and I still wear it in his honor.

    Shoot sorry about your great grandfather Wayne. That is horrible. Of course I am for modern medicine if its the last choice I have to make. I had spinal meningitis at two years of age and wouldn't be here today without modern medicine. But popping pills for headaches and sleep? Count me out. I use Young Living essential oils for little stuff like that. The same type of oils brought to Jesus. Worth more than gold back then so thats saying something I think.

    I bet he is very proud of you for wearing his ring, that is very honorable :)
    Use of 12 VDC is a mistake. Inverters and AC power in general is not dirty or dangerous. The only time anyone uses 12 VDC is when they are trapped into it due to circumstances. You will regret your decision to limit yourself in this way.

    But no one has to listen to me just because I've got a bunch of education and 50 years experience. It's your money; waste it however you wish.

    PS: The Outback Flex Max 60/80 is an MPPT charge controller. There is no way of charging your batteries properly without either a PWM or MPPT type controller.

    I just can't think of where I would be limited and why I would need 120v of power in my house. Plug in power tools are nice, and to be able to weld is nice too but other than garage duties I just don't see the need to have that much power in a house. I use the house to eat sleep s___ shower and shave lol. Thats it.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,319 admin
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Remember that a DC brush-less motor is actually powered by a VFD (variable frequency drive).

    A VFD is just a (typically) 3 phase AC inverter that has variable output frequency vs a fixed output frequency of 60 Hz.

    Not to say that brush-less motors are bad. They are very nice because of their (typically) low starting surge and high efficency (brush motors wear brushes out after a few months of 24x7 run time, induction motors are less efficient vs permanent magnet DC motors, etc.).

    However--When you look at the typical DC refrigerator/freezer--They tend to be very expensive and usually make sense if that is your only use of electric power (other than a few small lamps, cell charger, radio, etc.).

    An AC refrigerator + AC Inverter + Battery Bank + Solar panels + Solar charger can actually be the same (or even less) over all cost vs outfitting with a DC fridge/freezer. Modern Energy Star rated fridge/freezers are actually quite efficient and reliable (as I type this, my father-in-law is going over 1 week with a broken "modern/nice" 3 month old Whirlpool refrigerator filled with dry ice because nobody can fix it--so far).

    Roughly, you are looking at ~3.3 kWH per day system (1,600 watt array plus 647 AH @ 24 volt battery bank and ~1,200-1,500 Watt AC inverter + backup genset for bad weather) to run the refrigerator and have a "near normal" electric life style (computer, washing machine, well pump, etc.)... That is not cheap, and may be way more than you want to sign up for--A DC fridge/freezer (or even propane) may be better in your case (propane/kerosene fridges have their own issues, especially if "burning" inside the home).

    Energy usage is a highly personal set of choices--If yours in towards minimalism--Then you do have to cut your power usage to the bone. An AC refrigerator is typically the break point between a "small" 1 kWH per day system (or less) and the system I described above.

    I always recommend doing a couple of (engineered/costed) paper designs first before you spend any money. See what best meets your needs.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • jcheiljcheil Solar Expert Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    kYLE wrote: »
    I want a brushless 12v fridge

    Just remember that (true) 12v fridges (not the rv type propane/electric which you DON'T want to try to run on solar) will cost 3-4 times more than the cost of a new energy efficient 110v fridge. I know you want to avoid an inverter, and yes, perhaps in your case the tare of the inverter itself can equal the total amount consumed by a 12v fridge, but just keep that in mind. So if you were thinking of a cheap rv-12v fridge you will regret it when you realize it will consume way more than a full sized EE fridge.
    Off-Grid in Central Florida since 2005, Full-Time since June 2014 | 12 X Sovello 205w panels, 9 X ToPoint 220w panels, 36x ToPoint 225w panels (12,525 watts total) | Custom built single-axis ground mounts | Complete FP2 Outback System: 3 x FM80, 2 x VFX3648, X240 Transformer, FLEXnet-DC, Mate-3, Hub-10, FW500 AC/DC | 24 x Trojan L16RE-B Batteries 1110ah @ 48v | Honda EU7000is Generator and a pile of "other" Generators | Home-Made PVC solar hot water collector | Custom data logging software http://www.somewhatcrookedcamp.com/monitormate.html
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    One thing I have noticed from pictures of them , none seem to have gray hair. Thats a clue they don't live all that long.

    Either that OR maybe they ARE old but they don't have gray hair because they haven't had a lifetime of exposure to EMI? ;-)

    On the Grundfos question, I got my first a few years ago and wish I'd have had that kind all along. I'm trained and experienced is electronics but I still find the Grundfos system "magic" --- put any voltage less than 230V (or close, going by memory), whether ac or dc into it, and it pumps.


    Phil
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    PhilS wrote: »
    Either that OR maybe they ARE old but they don't have gray hair because they haven't had a lifetime of exposure to EMI? ;-)

    On the Grundfos question, I got my first a few years ago and wish I'd have had that kind all along. I'm trained and experienced is electronics but I still find the Grundfos system "magic" --- put any voltage less than 230V (or close, going by memory), whether ac or dc into it, and it pumps.


    Phil

    Not that tricky as AC or DC fed into a bridge rectifier comes out as DC. Then all you need is a buck-converter such as MPPT charge controllers use: voilà! Proper power for the pump. :D
  • kYLEkYLE Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    We just want you to understand that numerous people (including myself) have started out on the 12 VDC only systems and either changed up or regretted it for years afterwards. 12 Volts is not in any way more efficient than 120 VAC. In fact it's quite the opposite. And when you add in the extra cost of 12 Volt specific items it gets pretty expensive pretty fast. To say nothing of the headache when something fails and you can't just pick up a new one locally because the stores don't stock 12 VDC items.

    One reason I have an 'inefficient' 120 VAC water pump; if it gives up I can go to town in an hour and have a new one. If it were a more efficient DC pump I'd have to order it and wait ... possibly quite a long time. The same goes for the refrigerator; $400 off the floor or $2,000 and you'll have it in a month. Makes it well worth investing in a power system that can supply 'conventional' 120 VAC.

    Understood and very good point.
    BB. wrote: »
    Remember that a DC brush-less motor is actually powered by a VFD (variable frequency drive).

    A VFD is just a (typically) 3 phase AC inverter that has variable output frequency vs a fixed output frequency of 60 Hz.

    Not to say that brush-less motors are bad. They are very nice because of their (typically) low starting surge and high efficency (brush motors wear brushes out after a few months of 24x7 run time, induction motors are less efficient vs permanent magnet DC motors, etc.).

    However--When you look at the typical DC refrigerator/freezer--They tend to be very expensive and usually make sense if that is your only use of electric power (other than a few small lamps, cell charger, radio, etc.).

    An AC refrigerator + AC Inverter + Battery Bank + Solar panels + Solar charger can actually be the same (or even less) over all cost vs outfitting with a DC fridge/freezer. Modern Energy Star rated fridge/freezers are actually quite efficient and reliable (as I type this, my father-in-law is going over 1 week with a broken "modern/nice" 3 month old Whirlpool refrigerator filled with dry ice because nobody can fix it--so far).

    Roughly, you are looking at ~3.3 kWH per day system (1,600 watt array plus 647 AH @ 24 volt battery bank and ~1,200-1,500 Watt AC inverter + backup genset for bad weather) to run the refrigerator and have a "near normal" electric life style (computer, washing machine, well pump, etc.)... That is not cheap, and may be way more than you want to sign up for--A DC fridge/freezer (or even propane) may be better in your case (propane/kerosene fridges have their own issues, especially if "burning" inside the home).

    Energy usage is a highly personal set of choices--If yours in towards minimalism--Then you do have to cut your power usage to the bone. An AC refrigerator is typically the break point between a "small" 1 kWH per day system (or less) and the system I described above.

    I always recommend doing a couple of (engineered/costed) paper designs first before you spend any money. See what best meets your needs.

    -Bill

    I think I will consider 120v in a seperate living quarter. I pondered the idea of having a "dirty" shed full of electronics and amplifiers etc. a place I could go when cabin fever struck. I think many cultures have their kitchen seperate, especially those in the tropics where they cook outdoors. And Japanese not having their toilet next to where they shower (makes sense) makes me second guess the American way of doing things.
    jcheil wrote: »
    Just remember that (true) 12v fridges (not the rv type propane/electric which you DON'T want to try to run on solar) will cost 3-4 times more than the cost of a new energy efficient 110v fridge. I know you want to avoid an inverter, and yes, perhaps in your case the tare of the inverter itself can equal the total amount consumed by a 12v fridge, but just keep that in mind. So if you were thinking of a cheap rv-12v fridge you will regret it when you realize it will consume way more than a full sized EE fridge.

    Thank you and everyone else for these great points :) Your knowledge is much appreciated and invaluable to me :)))))))!!!!!!!
  • GrinninGrinnin Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    kYLE wrote: »
    My wife and I plan on going 12v for daily living. We hardly use electricity as it is and see no reason to include dirty electricity (inverters, controllers, dimmers, wifi, smart meters)
    I lived with only 12 VDC for a few (several?) years before adding a 300W inverter. 12 VDC works pretty well for a small setup. You are right that lights and other devices are often available for 12V. Yes, 12V can be a hassle if you need lots of stuff. Not so bad if you avoid having lots of stuff.

    Your Flexcharge is called a diversion controller and is among the simplest controllers. You can build one that simply compares two voltages then switches when they match. It can work on steady-state voltage (i.e. no high frequency switching for voltage conversions). I choose an MPPT charge controller which does require a fairly high frequency for voltage conversions. If you are trying to avoid AC because of the electromagnetic pulses, you may want to avoid pulsed DC too. I am not avoiding electromagnetic anything; I just prefer hand tools for most stuff.

    While AC is more efficient for long wire runs, 12VDC works fine for shorter runs. 12 years ago, solar panels cost about 10 times what they do now. I wanted to squeeze every last watt out of them. Now it would cost less to add more PV and use a less efficient controller. You still have to do the math, but you don't have to meet the conversion efficiency goals of other people.

    At night my inverter is off (by switch, not in "search" mode) and the charge controller is not converting voltage. The place becomes smooth DC. I may not eliminate all RFI or any other frequency pulses, but their amplitude would be very small and probably damped by the batteries.

    When I moved here I put the electric welder away and started using oxy-acetylene. It is a bit more difficult and more rewarding.

    I am preparing to build the "real" house and will probably use nearly all AC. That does not mean that I think that what you are planning is wrong.
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Thats kinda what we do. The inverter is on during daylight hours, which covers the kitchen gadgets, slow cooker (which we use a lot), washing machine, and power tools. The rest of the house is run off 24v.

    At nite the wifi is off, the only thing running is the fridge. We live in a rural area, so its real real quiet here at night.

    I would add a counter voice on the dc refridgeration. We are happy with ours, most days it uses less than 0.7kWh/day. And if a fridge is the only reason to add an inverter then i believe that i have proved in another post that the DC fridge is the cheaper route. At least no one refuted my calculation!

    We also had an oppurnity to purchase a NZD500 excellent used condition 24v elcold deep freeze last week, with 100mm insulation, and decided we didnt need it yet, dont have the space until the house is built. But you dont have to spend a fortune on them.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    I suspect the DC appliances are more common in New Zealand than in, say, Canada.
    Oh you can get them here - if you want to fork over 5X as much money and wait.

    Not everywhere has the same product availability or pricing.
  • inthejungleinthejungle Solar Expert Posts: 91 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    Kyle



    I just thought I would throw in my thoughts-


    My wife and I and two girls under 6 years old live in the middle on no where and live on 12v only and have been this way for a bit. We were able to do this in part to my amazing wife being willing to adjust and my girls not knowing what outlets and light switches are.

    What I decided to do was make a charging area, one central area no more than 5 feet or less away from the batteries, I then found created a shelf that is sort of like a dashboard and put cigarette lighter female pieces inside. I was able to find everything from my dewalt drill charger to my recharable AA batteries with a cigarette lighter adapter. I then found from Blueseas a plug that has two usb ports, takes the 12-14v and bring it to 5v for charging.

    When it came to lighting I was concerned about long runs all over the house and voltage drop, this is were thin lite came in. I spoke to them and their lights are awesome, 12-30vdc is there operating voltage and around 8-9v then they get dim or shut off. I was able to run 12g wire and use there lights, not worrying about the voltage loss because of this. The lights I have used draw such little power and are very bright. I have been very impressed with them and also there customer service.

    There has been a few issues with going this way, one was I use a shur flo pump to pump into our water tower, when the batteries were absorbing it would often try to turn on and at 15v the pump would not last long. Thankfully I found a voltage sensing relay and put in line with the float switch and when the voltage is to high it will not run. When the voltage comes down it will automatically fire up the pump.

    Anything that I have need to run 110, I have been able to do it off my Honda EU2000 generator, I will say that I do not have a washing machine, we do it by hand with a plunger with holes drilled in it and a 5 gallon bucket. I then spin it in a clothes spinner that is 110. This has worked great for our family and I would love to build a johnson washer at some point when I get a bit more time.

    In regards to refrigeration, we have a large sundanzer freezer and it runs no problem on our system. We could add a refrigerator, but we have found with time many things that we put in the fridge don't need to be. We have also learned to make less food and not have left overs, in the case that we do, we have a cooler that we put the few things in with ice packs and wrap them in a blanket. This system has worked great for us.

    These are my thoughts living for some time just on 12v.

    Ben
    In Niger, trying to keep a LG FMA 102NAMA fridge(This has the inverter compressor) backed up with solar using a Victron Multi-Plus Inverter/Charger Compact 12v 1600w with a 70a charger built in.I want to back it up for 4-8 hours. I am also running a few O2 cool fans and a few Thin Lite LED's of my batteries for when the grid is down so my kids can sleep.
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    To those consciously pondering 12v systems for particular purposes, i would say that (as well as half the current, and 4 times less wiring losses) 24v system has one other advantage. Its easy to down convert to all of the useful appliance voltages using buck or linear dc- dc regulators. OTOH if you need regulated 12v (never mind 19v) its not possible to get from 12v bank.

    But, if you have a choice in the matter, inverters do solve a lot of problems.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • GrinninGrinnin Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    zoneblue wrote: »
    24v system has one other advantage. Its easy to down convert to all of the useful appliance voltages using buck or linear dc- dc regulators. OTOH if you need regulated 12v (never mind 19v) its not possible to get from 12v bank
    This is technically true, but I think it misses the simplicity of a 12V system. I planned my 12V wiring for 1990s wattages but find that 2000s lights and devices are far more efficient. Instead of 10AWG I could have used 12AWG and not had significant lossses on the 12V wiring because of the incredibly small amperages. I have a single large-gauge circuit near the batteries for the 12V washing machine and the occasional other large load.

    I certainly wouldn't run 24V wiring and down-convert for every outlet or every device. That could be a difference between N. America and New Zealand. I DO have a computer with an 18V power supply that plugs into the usual "car" 12V cig/accessory outlet. Again, I don't know about New Zealand, but these are common in the States.

    More and more devices now operate on 5V and 2A or less. Bright LEDs can use 12V and less than an amp. Taking advantage of more efficient devices can help build a simpler system.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.

    I've watched far too many super-hero movies and the one thing I've learnt is that if we're going to evolve super powers we need MORE radiation, not less :P
    I have a permanently on 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz wifi access point + a permanent long range wifi bridge that's visible 1km away + a 5km wimax connection to my ISP (think it's also 5Ghz) + 230V 50hz in all the walls of our cabin.

    So far my super powers include pooping in the morning and sleeping well at night. Will update with any new developments.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: 12v for life build. No inverter. No PWM/MPPT.
    stephendv wrote: »
    I've watched far too many super-hero movies and the one thing I've learnt is that if we're going to evolve super powers we need MORE radiation, not less :P
    I have a permanently on 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz wifi access point + a permanent long range wifi bridge that's visible 1km away + a 5km wimax connection to my ISP (think it's also 5Ghz) + 230V 50hz in all the walls of our cabin.

    So far my super powers include pooping in the morning and sleeping well at night. Will update with any new developments.

    That unfortunately is my experience in life as well. Furthermore, I've learned that life leads to death, no matter what we may try to change that fact.
Sign In or Register to comment.