Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

I am planning on moving off grid so I have started looking into solar systems, and possibly wind. I am just overwhelmed at all of the different products, voltages, batteries, and everything else.

I am just trying to find the cheapest setup to supply a 4000 watt hour/day energy need with a 3 day reserve for inclement weather. I don't know what voltage to run. I've heard that anything above around 1000 watts should use 24+ volts, but I don't know if it's better to use 24v or 48v. I was planning on running 24v but then I saw a lot of people saying to just go right to 48v. I though the inverter converted it to AC anyways?

I would really appreciate some help.

Comments

  • PlowmanPlowman Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    4000 Wh/day is a fair bit. Are you sure you need that much?

    @ 12V nominal, 4000 Wh = 333 ah

    333 ah x 3 days autonomy = 999 ah

    50% minimum state of charge = (999/.5) = 1998 ah battery bank

    Say 8 Trojan T-125s. Perfect for a 48V system.

    To charge 8 T-125s at a 13% charge rate with a 77% derate, you'd need ~3025W of panels.

    That's my understanding of the math, maybe more experienced folks can verify.
  • BostonBundyBostonBundy Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    Thanks for the reply. I'm pretty sure I need that much, but I actually thought it wasn't a lot. Should I go with 48v over 24v? I saw that the 48v inverters are a good amount more expensive, but if saves money in the long run I'm all for it. I'm pretty surprised at needing 3000 watts of panels though, I thought it was way less than that. I've been eyeballing 400 watt panels that are almost a grand each. That's almost $8000 just for the panels unless I'm confused. How much should I expect to spend total for a system capable of 3000-4000 watt hours/day?
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    Thanks for the reply. I'm pretty sure I need that much, but I actually thought it wasn't a lot. Should I go with 48v over 24v? I saw that the 48v inverters are a good amount more expensive, but if saves money in the long run I'm all for it. I'm pretty surprised at needing 3000 watts of panels though, I thought it was way less than that. I've been eyeballing 400 watt panels that are almost a grand each. That's almost $8000 just for the panels unless I'm confused. How much should I expect to spend total for a system capable of 3000-4000 watt hours/day?
    Do you really need individual panels that are that high wattage? Hard to find and expensive. You can get reasonable quality panels for under $1 per watt if you shop carefully. When you pay $2.5/watt there must be a good reason for needing those particular panels.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    I've been eyeballing 400 watt panels that are almost a grand each.

    Welcome to the forum,

    Solar panels cost less than a dollar per watt. Of course, that does not include mounting.
    I'm pretty surprised at needing 3000 watts of panels though, I thought it was way less than that.

    We don't know your location... How many watts of panels you need is a function of how much sun you get.

    As Plowman explained, you would need a 1998 ah battery bank at 12 volts, but that is the same as 999 ah at 24 volts or 499.5 ah at 48 volts. You would need about 3900 watts of solar panel to charge that battery.

    These numbers are calculated by using rules-of-thumb. In your world, you may need more or less. Consider this: you specified an amount of energy you use per day, but you didn't specify the time of day that the energy is used. This can affect system design... for example, if you have significant daytime loads, then you need less battery to carry you through the night. You would then calculate the array size by what is needed to run the loads WHILE still charging the (smaller) battery.
    with a 3 day reserve for inclement weather

    In most circumstances a 2 day reserve is more cost-effective.... but that's just a rule-of-thumb. With a 2 day reserve you can have 2/3 the battery and 2/3 the array. You may have to run the generator a few more days per year. btw, what are you planning to do for a generator?
    but I don't know if it's better to use 24v or 48v. I was planning on running 24v but then I saw a lot of people saying to just go right to 48v.

    Part of the decision depends on things you haven't told us yet...
    What are your peak loads? Will the well pump come on while you are vacuuming?
    How far is your array from the charge controller? If far, then you need a higher string voltage with a corresponding higher battery voltage.
    How large is your array? A controller can handle more watts at higher battery voltage.

    If you stick with 3 days of autonomy, the battery at 24 volts will need to handle CHARGING currents of over 100 amps and you would need two controllers... therefore this should be a 48 volt system (one controller and only 50 amps).

    As far as DISCHARGING currents, you haven't told us your peak loads. If you go with 2 days autonomy and your peak loads are not to high or prolonged, you will be OK with a 24 volt system.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • BostonBundyBostonBundy Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    I appreciate all the help! The reason why my power consumption is so high is because I was factoring in a swamp cooler. After seeing how much more it costs than I thought, I guess I'll abandon the idea of air conditioning. After recalculating, it looks like I'm at more like 1500 WH/day. The most power I could ever see using at once is 100 watts on the high side if that's what you mean by peak load. Also, I live in an area that get's 5 full sun hours(zone 3). I would be perfectly fine with only 2 days of autonomy if it lowers the cost of the setup. As far as generators, I was planning on a 7500 watt gas generator, but I guess it will be something a good bit smaller now since I have half the power usage that I though I would. Lastly, I was looking at such expensive solar panels because I looked up reviews and they were rated really high. I don't want crappy panels, but I also don't want to spend a whole lot more than I need to.
  • Alaska ManAlaska Man Solar Expert Posts: 252 ✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    If you don't need to run out and put the whole system together right now it may help you to go slow. Energy saving is much cheaper than energy production. Change over your lighting, T.V., refridgeration, do you have a propane stove, On Demand water heater? There is a lot to do on both sides of energy for Off-Grid living.

    To answer your "How Much" question you can figure around $12,000 - $15,000 for a small off-grid set up if you do all the work.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,637 admin
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    You can do a swamp cooler or even A/C (mini-split system)--Assuming the home/room(s) is small and well insulated/sealed and normal practices to reduce heat gain (shading from summer sun etc.).

    In general, most folks that need cooling only need it during the summer when they have lots of sun. No sun, not much cooling needed, not as much power needed (i.e., the 6-9 months of non-summer).

    Swamp coolers only work well in dry climates--And even many cities today (like Pheonix) where swamp coolers used to work, may have too high of humidity with all the lawns/landscaping near by.

    A 4 kWH per day system is certainly doable. You could probably squeak by with a 24 volt system, but for various reasons a 48 volt system may be a better choice.

    Paper is is cheap--So you can always do a couple of designs and see what works best for your needs.

    And said above--Conservation is almost always cheaper than generating power... So knowing your loads (by season) will help a lot here.

    Also, were you live (roughly) so we can figure out how much sun you get will help too.

    More or less, we start with the math first to size a "generic system". Once you know the sizes of the various componets (batteyr bank AH/voltage, array wattage, AC inverter size)--Then you start looking at the equipment. That will reduce your range of choices a lot.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    In engineering you have to have something to start with, these are the driving forces behind any design. It might be budget for instance, or it might be dealbreaking loads, water pumps, refridgeration. Theres also insolation, which looks ok where you are. Preferences about noise/care around gensets. If you try to define these then we can better help narrow the design.

    4kWh/day is about right for a small efficient off grid home. Its not unreasonable. For a cabin or rv is might be a tad on the high side. Whats your application?

    To give you an idea 18 months ago we spent just a tad less than 10K NZ dollars to build a system that provides 3kW/day for every day of the year except 3. We have two water pumps, a fridge, lighting, computers, and household and workshop appliances. There is also potential to heat about another 3kWh/day of hot water for about 2/3s of the year, using the surplus power.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • BostonBundyBostonBundy Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    I appreciate all of the help so far, but honestly unless I can get a relatively long lasting solar system that costs under $5,000 I can't even consider it anymore. I thought it was going to be 3 or 4 grand. I just can't afford $10,000-$15,000. A lot of the reason why I'm moving off grid is to reduce costs. So what is the best that I can do for $5000? If there's something way better for $6,000 or something I'm all ears, but I'm trying to keep it under $5,000. As far as my uses for it, just to run a well pump as needed, hopefully a small laptop, and a light or two. I was hoping for a swamp cooler setup, but with my limited budget it isn't looking likely. I care about the laptop a lot more than the swap cooler though. Worse comes to worse I'll go medieval and just read and use candles...
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,153 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    Reality check time: fridges, Air con., microwave, furnace and any motor driven items (water pump) are energy hogs.
    Lights are far less so. So if you work on reducing the use of the biggies on Solar and run them on a generator your $$ will go a loooong way towards what you want... Conservation and reduction are in order...

    hth
     
    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
  • BostonBundyBostonBundy Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    Yeah, everything I listed in my last reply I what I plan on using. I'll forget about the pump running on solar. At the very least I would like two 13 watt CFL lights, and a small laptop. Everything else will be either propane or a generator. I've heard that a laptop is around 65 watts, but I believe that's when it's plugged in all the time. I don't know how much power it takes to just charge it as needed. I might look into led lights, but a 6 watt difference doesn't really seem like a big deal.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,153 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    In post 6 you listed a reasonable amount of usage, in general, so why not use that 1500Whrs and see just what you can power with it.
    Just start itemizing each light etc (make a list) that you want to use and for how long and add them all us and also look at the max power you need, you may be surprised at how much you will have and if, possibly, a small adjustment is needed to get you to the next level of comfort.
    This is leg work time...

    hth
     
    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
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,011 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    I believe asked before, where is this off grid home, we don't need an address, but some areas have a good bit more sun than others.

    A water pump is a large drain for a short amount of time, if you work it right with holding tanks. You might consider using a generator for 30 minutes a day to top off the tanks and perhaps your battery bank.

    Other common loads, will you have refrigeration? This can typically be 1-1.5Kwhs a day.

    I'm one of those nuts who will figure out how to bare bones a system, if you can swing $4-5K I think you could get close to a fridge and fans, laptop and swamp cooler(if applicable) Solar panels in Mono and Poly are pretty dependable... though we have one moderator that had an array fail after a couple years, this is more the exception that proves the rule. I have some 30+ year old panels producing around 80% of their panels rating.

    In general, electric from the grid is much cheaper than off grid electric! I don't want you to think otherwise! Even once setup you will need to replace batteries every 5-15 years electronic will fail from time to time, we've even seen hail damage...

    Do you currently live in Boston?

    Also note that if this will be a residence or 2nd home and your not going to be renting it out, you can claim a tax credit of 30% if installed to code before 2016.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • PlowmanPlowman Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    I appreciate all of the help so far, but honestly unless I can get a relatively long lasting solar system that costs under $5,000 I can't even consider it anymore. I thought it was going to be 3 or 4 grand. I just can't afford $10,000-$15,000. A lot of the reason why I'm moving off grid is to reduce costs. So what is the best that I can do for $5000? If there's something way better for $6,000 or something I'm all ears, but I'm trying to keep it under $5,000. As far as my uses for it, just to run a well pump as needed, hopefully a small laptop, and a light or two. I was hoping for a swamp cooler setup, but with my limited budget it isn't looking likely. I care about the laptop a lot more than the swap cooler though. Worse comes to worse I'll go medieval and just read and use candles...

    Moving off grid doesn't save money, it costs money, at least when it comes to electricity. My little system will have cost a bit over $2000 after the federal tax credit (I didn't qualify for state tax credits because I installed it myself). All to provide ~0.6 kWh/day. If I was on grid power, that much electricity would cost about $1.50/mo, plus the monthly service fee. Say $35/mo. That's a break-even time of 4.8 years, by which time I'll have to buy new batteries, so add another year :p

    It sounds like the first thing you should do is buy a Kill-A-Watt and measure all of your loads. It may not work for your well pump, might have to estimate that. The well pump will likely require a much larger inverter than you'd otherwise need. I don't have any experience with powering well pumps on solar, but there are a lot of threads here on it.

    In terms of running lights and electronics, you don't need a big system for that. Here's what I use:
    --Lamp with a 7W LED, draws 0.58 amps @ 12V
    --Netbook, draws ~2 amps @ 12V when charging
    --Smartphone, draws ~1 amp @ 12V when charging and acting as a mobile hotspot

    Let's say all those were plugged in 12 hrs/day. That would be 43 ah/day. Adding the draw of a small inverter, say 60 ah/day total draw from batteries. For 2 days autonomy, you'd need 240 ah of batteries with ~580W of panels for a ~10% charge rate (including 77% derate). If you ran some of these loads during the day, you could go even smaller.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,011 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    Yeah, everything I listed in my last reply I what I plan on using. I'll forget about the pump running on solar. At the very least I would like two 13 watt CFL lights, and a small laptop. Everything else will be either propane or a generator. I've heard that a laptop is around 65 watts, but I believe that's when it's plugged in all the time. I don't know how much power it takes to just charge it as needed. I might look into led lights, but a 6 watt difference doesn't really seem like a big deal.

    We still are not getting a daily load. Will you need the laptop 4 hours a day? 6 hours a day? I ran a laptop @3hours a couple CF 15watt lights maybe 6 hours total,2 fans in summer with extra sun(@10 watts each), and a small MP3 player often, and sometimes a tiny TV, for several years on @200watt array and a couple golf cart batteries.

    A setup like this you could do for under $1000 if you hunt for in expensive items, Likely $1500 with a pure sine inverter and a bit extra solar and a more expandable system.

    Costs would be something like;
    2 Sams Club or Costco 6volt GC batteries - $200
    Midnite Kid Charge controller - $330(with battery temp sensor)
    400 watts of solar panels - $600 delivered (I think you can do better than this, most of the cost is delivery, you could get 2 grape 190watt panels delivered to Home Depot for around this.)
    Morning Star 300 watt pure sine wave inverter @$360
    With about $10 left over for fuses, wiring and breakers, and mounts, more like $110 needed! so $1600
    This would give you a Kid CC which would be worth a good bit even in an expanded system later.

    If you want to go even cheaper, You can find 12 volt nominal panels at just under $1 a watt, likely a bit over $500 delivered, though there are some other option at around $1 a watt delivered. $500
    Same 2 Sams' Club or Costco 6volt GC batteries - $200
    a PWM charge controller SunSaver 25 amp - $100
    A Samlex 300 watt pure sine wave inverter - $170
    A fused power distribution block $20 (extra since you'll have 4 'strings')
    Plus $100 for mounting and wires, fuses...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • BostonBundyBostonBundy Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    Thanks for all the help! I'll check out some of the things you mentioned. The $1,000 400 watt panels I was talking about is the 390 watt Grape panels. I saw that the Grape and Kyocera panels had the best reviews, so that's why I was looking at those. As far as my daily load, I used a calculator and it said 1400 total watt hours per day and 1800 watt hours per day assuming inefficiency. I like some cushion room, so I would prefer a 2000 watt system, but if 1500 is a lot cheaper I could just be as conservative as possible and deal with it. I'm estimating that the laptop will constantly be plugged in though. I guess it would be a lot less if I was just charging it once a day. My swamp cooler is probably overkill and is 62 watts. If I'm able to use it, it would be on 24/7 365 days a year. I would use it for heating and cooling and I like it on at night.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    I'm estimating that the laptop will constantly be plugged in though. I guess it would be a lot less if I was just charging it once a day.

    I doubt it. It may even use less power if left plugged in all the time. The laptop uses a certain amount of power (watts) to operate, and an additional amount of power (watts) to charge its batteries (if they need charging).

    The amount of energy (watthours) your laptop uses in a day (varies depending on your use) comes entirely from your main battery/solar power system. If you leave the laptop plugged in, you provide that energy as the laptop needs it. If you unplug the laptop for awhile and run it on its batteries, when you plug it back in it will draw all the power it needs to operate and draw additional power to make up for the time it was unplugged.
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,011 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    The $1,000 400 watt panels I was talking about is the 390 watt Grape panels.
    Okay, last time, where are you located? Doubt you could fine panels at $2.50 a watt, and if you have internet, which you appear to have, you could check prices. While not a fan of Grape, I think Kyocera are among the best.
    I used a calculator and it said 1400 total watt hours per day and 1800 watt hours per day assuming inefficiency. I like some cushion room, so I would prefer a 2000 watt system, but if 1500 is a lot cheaper I could just be as conservative as possible and deal with it.
    Not sure what your talking about? Typically "systems" are defined by the array. I'm talking about arrays of around 400watts. If I knew your solar Insolation(where this will be setup) I could give you the rough available Kwh, Likely a bit less than 1Kwh!
    I'm estimating that the laptop will constantly be plugged in though. I guess it would be a lot less if I was just charging it once a day. My swamp cooler is probably overkill and is 62 watts. If I'm able to use it, it would be on 24/7 365 days a year. I would use it for heating and cooling and I like it on at night.
    A Kill-A-Watt meter will let you know how much energy you laptop draws over a 24 hour period. If you plan on running a swamp cooler(if applicable to your region, WHERE WILL THIS SYSTEM BE SETUP!) at 62 watts an hour, you can multiple that by 24 and see that it alone will draw 1.5Kwh (1488 actually)

    The math for solar revolves around the formula Amps times Volts = Watts or watts /volts = amps
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    Yeah mate, i think youve got to get real with this. You havent said anything about your motivation for "going off grid". If you have the option of grid, then use it, youll never save money doing anything else. If you really have a hankering to move where theres no power, thats another matter. In that case youll need a good plan, and i dont even see a half a plan coming close to congealing.

    "Real" off grid life, requires money and expertise. Or you can live in a tent with a candle i guess.

    There is of course no reason you can start small, a couple of 250W panels, GC2s, and a kid, will set you back about $1500. That will power a shurflo, led lighting, laptops and cellphones, whatever, peice of cake.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • BostonBundyBostonBundy Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help

    I am located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My new official plan is to try to find an area that's remote but still on the grid. If I don't have any luck with that, I'll just buy the best off grid system that I can afford. I'll make due with what I have. I apologize for being so incompetent with this stuff. I have no electrical experience and no experience with anything like this. I'm just trying to take it slow so I don't buy or do anything stupid.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    I'm just trying to take it slow so I don't buy or do anything stupid.

    If more people were that sage I'd have fixed a few hundred fewer systems. :D
    Your plan is very sensible in my opinion.
  • PlowmanPlowman Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    If more people were that sage I'd have fixed a few hundred fewer systems. :D
    Your plan is very sensible in my opinion.

    Agreed. Having a max budget in mind and trying to get the biggest system possible and learning to live within its confines is not a bad approach. And at least he provided a daily usage figure in Wh/day, even though he was disappointed with the cost of the system that would be required to produce that much power.

    But isn't that the nature of off-grid solar, disappointment at how much it costs to produce so little electricity :)
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,011 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Overwhelmed and Would Appreciate Help
    have no electrical experience and no experience with anything like this. I'm just trying to take it slow so I don't buy or do anything stupid.

    Your way ahead of people who have come to terms that they haven't gotten the right equipment. I think Wyoming isn't too back for needing cooling, If your at the ground stage, look for areas that have southern exposure, south side of the hill. This will help even if you don't do photovoltaics(solar panels). if you have more light in the winter it will make life easier, snow melts faster...

    You can some what 'grow' a system, but it isn't easy. Looks like you don't have a lot of extreme heat, you might well be able to live with just fans, I did in Missouri for 4-5 years, and I looked at your August temps and I would guess we ran about 10 degrees hotter, suspect we have more humidity as well. If your planning on building a home, you might consider higher ceilings, perhaps with sleeping upstairs in a loft area in the winter, and down stairs in the summer. In Missouri I built my cabin in the shade, to help with summer cooling loads. I suspect in Wyoming a greater concern would be winter heating. This can still work with coniferous trees, which loose their leaves in winter. I placed my array away from the home a bit and my battery lived near the array and I piped the 120V to the cabin.

    Here is the solar insolation for Cheyenne based on the past 30 years. Nearly 4 hours every month! and 6 in the summer! that looks good! I'm reading down to panel angle = to latitude.

    I personally would be willing to rough it for a while, if I could find cheap land due to it's being off grid. I do wonder about the refrigeration. I think solar would be cheaper than propane at this point.

    One of the ways of 'growing' a system is have a minimal battery at first and be over paneled, this may help with some rookie mistakes, though I would be sure to have someone (the forum) help you setup your charge controllers(CC) so you don't over charge your batteries.

    Also look for others interested in setting up an off grid or even grid tied system, check with alternative life style people in your area, natural food stores are a likely place ask, also check with 'Preppers' and post a note on Craigslist, talking and asking, but also looking for people to help purchase pallet size purchases of panels. Bouncing ideas off other and seeing what they are doing can only help expand your knowledge base.

    I recently passed on a pallet of 30 190watt panels at 65 cent a watt delivered! Half of that at 2850watts for $1850, would squeeze on a single Midnite Classic CC, at $650, and a single string of GC batteries at $400, expecting to go to 2 strings when replacing them, and a Exeltech XP1100 inverter at $600, expecting to replace it with a larger one if needed in the future, Combiner Box $200, DC+ Box $250, AC box $40 and $200 of wire and fuses, plus framing for the array...

    ...would give you a system that could run a fridge and your swamp coolers during the summer, and once you expand the battery bank and inverter would run your well pump as well. About $4500 to start, 3 times the price of the small 400watt array system I described in an earlier post, but many time the possibilities. Things to think about...

    Also remember that you can take a tax credit of 30% of your expenses for the system off of your tax liability, installed before 2016!
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
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