off grid power needs but not much sun

I am building a cabin in southeast alaska and am wondering about the best way to go with a power system.
I have built it with Honda eu 2000 generator for all tools and have propane fridge, cookstove and wood heat.
I wired in 6 AC outlets that I would like to run reading lamps on.....otherwise my power needs are surflo pump for sink and the occasional phone or computer charge.
problem is there is not much sun, in the summer there might be 18 hours of sun so I don't need lights.
spring and fall not much sun when I need more lights.
Some neighbors across the bay have variable small solar/wind systems but have to use generators for the most part.
My question is:
should I get a small solar panel/battery/inverter system to try and keep batteries topped off?
can I use my generator to charge the system and run lights for a couple hours in the evenings at the same time?
right now I use my honda to power AC surflo pump and propane paloma water heater for sauna house.
What would you guys recommend?


  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: off grid power needs but not much sun

    Welcome to the forum.

    You're going to have to define your loads a bit more accurately, as in terms of Watt hours. Reading lights might be LED for instance, which use less energy than conventional bulbs. The number of hours you have them on will make a difference. The same for the pump.

    Otherwise considering the circumstances I think you'd probably be best off running the generator for Bulk charging, then having just enough solar panel to do some/all of the Absorb cycle. Your shortened daylight hours mean getting enough solar alone to do the whole job is likely to be expensive. If this is a part-time cabin it isn't worth it.

    So instead of having, say, 225 Amp hours of 12 Volt battery with 400 Watts of panel to recharge it as we'd normally plan for, you'd run the generator for an hour and have 200 Watts of panel to do the 'finish charge'. (Just an example; not a recommendation.)

    But the first step is to get some hard numbers on the Watt hours used so that a battery bank can be sized which will meet your needs.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,739 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: off grid power needs but not much sun

    As per Cariboocoot, there is no way to intelligently design a system without knowing how many watthours per day it is required to supply.

    That said, you should definitely have solar panels with your battery/inverter system. If you do, the cost of everything (batteries, panels, inverter, fuses, ground rod, cables, etc) except the generator will be eligible for the 30% federal tax credits.

    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
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