I'm easing into the whole solar thing- gotta crawl/walk/run.

System Posts: 2,511 admin
Hi All- I've been searching this forum for quite awhile and if someone can point me in the right direction I'm grateful.

I'm easing into the whole solar thing- gotta crawl/walk/run.

First up, my completely off grid cabin in the south sierras has a new well with a 220 v grundfos and a 16 KW propane Genaric generator. The power and the well are about 200 ft from the cabin. I'm laying water and power lines as we speak, but my first concern is to be able to turn off/on the generator from said distance.

I promise I'll get to the solar fun as the project evolves!



  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
    Re: I'm easing into the whole solar thing- gotta crawl/walk/run.

    I moved to your own thread.

    Welcome to the board... In general, solar (and generator power) is not cheap... Measure/estimate you loads first (with heavy emphasis on conservation)--then look at the solutions (solar, generator, etc.).

    Once you know your usage--then matching panels to batteries to inverters to genset to charger all becomes much easier and you can end up with a more efficient (money and $$$) system in the end.

    Of Grid solar power costs around $1-$2+ per kWhr--or about 10x that of utility power...

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhilS
    PhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: I'm easing into the whole solar thing- gotta crawl/walk/run.


    Since you are laying pipes and wiring "as you speak", I'd advise that you put in more than you might think you need. Systems "grow" over time.

    For the wiring, an extra one or two runs of appropiate romex and a 6 or 8 conductor cable would be a good addition to whatever you already plan. It's SOOO much easier to put extra in now vs. later.

    An extra pipe or two... same thing. Very easy now, a real pain later.

    I put in the extra wire in the first place and have used all of the 6-wire conductor. Two I used for a remote start for a generator and the romex I used to split the power at our small off-grid home into two circuits (runs off of two different inverters).

    Even if never used to expand your utility system, the extra pipe and wire can make troubleshooting a problem easy, compared to digging things up.

    Now that those hints have been mentioned....

    I've been through many generators over the years (33). My present one has a "two wire" start circuit. Connect the wires and after a short delay, the generator starts (10KW propane Kohler). Open the circuit and after a delay it shuts down. If you have that capability in your gen, use two wires of the multi-conductor to an on-off switch at a location of your choosing. I have two, one in the kitchen, one in the utility room.

    The "two wire" start also works well with inverters that offer the option. I have my Xantrex also wired to start the generator under certain conditions but usually have that feature turned off at the inverter only because I really don't want the gen running if I'm not home.

    On another generator (Honda) I had to use 4 wires: two for the on/off switch, two for the start button.

    On another long-gone gen (B&S propane) I had to manufacture some circuitry to make it work with the toggle and button but it was only a few relays from Radio Shack and some wiring.

    I used another 2 wires for a digital voltmeter mounted in our kitchen. We know the state of battery charge at a glance.

    So it matters most what your gen provides for starting, and if it already has a "remote" option.