Author Topic: Off grid  (Read 3720 times)

draganof

  • Keeper of a Mighty Changfa
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
Off grid
« on: February 23, 2007, 05:15:10 AM »
I'm just curious, how many members here are off grid in the US? Seems like there are a lot of us that want to be. About 8 more years before I retire down to the desert and "Off Grid" . Can't wait!
Changfa 195 and ST10
8kw Yanmar/Kohler

spike

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2007, 08:36:54 PM »
I've been off grid since 1979. I now have about 1.5kw of solar panels, 1600ah of batteries @24v, 4kw inverter, 400w wind generator and a 5kw diesel generator which I am replacing with a 6/1 genset. I live in northern Idaho and use about 50 gal/yr diesel. Wood heat and wood and solar hot water.

Tim

spike

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2007, 08:47:38 PM »
I guess I had better learn to count, my solar is more like 3kw of pannels.

Tim

Stan

  • Guest
Re: Off grid
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2007, 10:09:01 PM »
Tim, are you anywhere near bonners ferry?
Stan

spike

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2007, 06:32:26 PM »
Stan
I'm between Priest River and Priest Lake.

Tim

Stan

  • Guest
Re: Off grid
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2007, 04:45:48 AM »
OK, I used to go by there (sort of) when on my way to Spokane via the "back road" from Kimberley.  Haven't gone down south of the 49th due to bad vibes at the border for a couple of years.  Got dragged into a dark building and searched  twice in a row with lots of apologies that it's "just the random number of vehicles we search" line.  Too much of a coincidence for me though.  >:(
Stan

binnie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 219
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2007, 05:20:04 AM »
Hi Tim,
With 50 gal of Diesel per year, you must be using the gen set only to boost your battery bank when it is low. I am planning the same type of set up...but down the line (in the future)...At the moment it is just a genset back up for grid failure. I do plan to keep my connection to the grid..but eventually use it as the back up, instead of my own set up. This is taking some thought. I have a Listeroid, 12/2 Jkson...for main back-up source should the power go out & I need the help. I have purchased a SOM 6/1 for low peak periods..appx 3kw draw in the eve....and am looking at Solar & wind with batteries, controlers & inverter, to supplement the future & reduce the strain on the gen sets for longevity.
You mentioned you have a 3kw set up of solar panels...do they stand alone or are they roof mounted? Are they tracking the sun? How many pannels & appx what was the initial investment for the solar set up? I have heard of a new technology out of South Africa. that may come on stream making the pannels much cheaper in the future...not sure if it will happen or not..but waiting to see. Any input on this? How long have your panels lasted? Have you had to replace any? Are you in a snow area...what happens to them when they are covered with snow...like 2' of it?
You have wind, all be it minimal input, but do you find the investment was worth the effort? I am in a climate (Que. Cda.)  that has a lot of cloudy days & snow with short sunlight in the winter, but a windy invironment...I will really have to take some readings to determine if it is worth the effort or not.
I love the idea of being off grid, free from others whims of brown outs & higher & higher charges for less & lesser quality of service...just need to be my own free spirit I guess!
I am seriously looking at the solar option & any input from your long term experience would be appreciated. Is there anything you would have done otherwise? You are a man before your time, and I admire the independence. Thank you for your post,  binnie
Listeroid 12/2 Jkson with 10kw head, for backup now on diesel. Future interests: WVO, bio,  Cogen - Heat exchangers - solar.

spike

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2007, 09:28:14 PM »
Hi Binnie

I only use a generator to charge my battery when the solar panels aren't enough, usually from the end of November to sometime iin April, and not everyday. When I get up in the morning I make the determination, based on the weather forcast, what I see outside and my battery voltage, if I am going to run the generator that day. When I do use the generator I only bulk charge through the inverter, a Trace SW4024. To float charge with a generator I feel is a waste of fuel and unnessary noise, although, I might change my mind when I get my 6/1 genset online.

My solar panels are mounted on poles. My small array is a passive tracker mounted on a single pole. The other two arrays are mounted on a 2" horizonal pipe which is on top of 3 posts each in such a way that it allows for seasonal tilting of the whole array. In the winter the angle is steeper and the snow slides off the glass panels. Sometimes when I don't want to wait for the snow to slide off, say if the sun is just comming out after it snowed, I will "bump" or shake the array with my hand to get the snow to slide. I have about 3kw worth of solar panels of various sizes, ages and brands. My oldest go back to late 80s and one panel has the glass broken (mounting accident) but as they get older they still produce electricity, just not a much as when new. I don't know how much I have invested, I've just add panels from time to time as I come across good deals. If I was to purchase everything at once, I would have all the panel of the same make and size, that would make mounting uniform and testing for weak panels easier.

My wind power is not as cost effective as my solar but it makes me feel good to know that I can extract a little power from the passing stroms. And feeling good also comes from not being attached to the grid, from investing and running your own power company, and from hearing your neighbors (1/4 mile away) generator going durning a power outage.

If you are considering going solar and can't do everything at once, then I would start with batteries and inverter/charger and add panels later. By using the inverter to run your house loads and the grid to charge your batteries, you will most likely save money on your power bill. That is what a friend of mine did and after his power bill dropped he investgated and found out that his SW4024 inverter can run house loads more efficiently than the grid power.

Home Power magazine is a good starting point for off grid living.

Good luck, Tim

binnie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 219
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2007, 11:20:11 PM »
Thanks Tim,
For the input. I must have missed your post, appologize for the delay. I do get to reading every post eventually. This forum is my major classroom on the learning curve to the future. With all the emphasis on global warming (with treats of drought & wild storms)...along with Peak Oil looming in the background. It seems to make good sense today to have some kind of independent security backup, if just for peace of mind.  Now that the politicians are getting in on the scene, maybe we have come of age. I doubt the direction they take will be mine.
I like your set up and thank you for your input. It makes good sence. binnie
Listeroid 12/2 Jkson with 10kw head, for backup now on diesel. Future interests: WVO, bio,  Cogen - Heat exchangers - solar.

okiezeke

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 642
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2007, 03:38:27 AM »
Folks,
My wife and I lived off the grid for 5 years on our boat.  We had .36kw solar, 40a wind, 2kw diesel gen, 1.5kw trace inverter/charger, 300ah AGM batteries, and propane cooking and heat. Didnt need much heat, since winters were in the Bahamas.  Of all  the power sources, the diesel was the mainstay.  More solar would have helped, but didnt have any more room for panels.  Wind probably/mabe broke even on cost vs. production.  The smaller wind sets dont make much power at less than 25kn windspeed.  I really liked the inverter and AGM batteries.  Worked well and required little maintenance.  We liked the far out, uninhabited islands, and found that our limiting resource was gas for the skiff.  We could stay out of civilization for about 5 weeks at a time.  The little kubota diesel only burned a liter of fuel/hr and lasted the whole 5 years-about 3000 hrs with minimal maintenance.

Currently own 80 acres mountaintop in OK, off the grid.  Hope to build a house soon and retire.  Have my Weichai and listeroid, both with ST15s.  Hope I can keep at least one of them running at a time.  Wind power looks unlikely, due to lack of wind.  Havent decided about solar, but worry about hail, which is pretty common there.  About 26k to bring in the grid.  Can buy quite a few more slow speed diesels for that.
Zeke
Changfa type 25hp with 15kw ST head
Lovson 20-2 in blueprinting/rebuild
International TD-15 B  1962 dozer
Changfa 8 hp., 280 A battery charger

wirenutrob

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 170
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2007, 06:07:22 AM »
I think I may share the same ideas as most of you folks out there. The power company here in KC frustrates me to no end.  Some time back I got a notification in the mail the power company was going to add a line item to the bill, calling it a "fuel charge". I thought to myself it seemed unfair for people to allow this to happen. Shortly after that sitting in the dark in a black out I decided to do something about it. Get "off the grid". My plan was Buy a 20/2 lister engine to carry the day and a 6/1 to carry the night. Using alternative fuels will help me break my investment curve sooner. If my current plan works out. I will celebrate the 4th of July this year by throwing the switch on the grid.
I should have my 6/1 on line 90 days later or so, completeing my total grid seperation. I will have to make some other motifications to get "off the gas grid" next year but it will be worth it in the long run. Solar power is a limited resource for me due to the location of my home but I plan to explore it also. Wind power is not even a thought, KC has height restrictions. I will live more confidently depending on myself and having KC power as a back up.
Rob 

rbodell

  • Guest
Re: Off grid
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2007, 10:36:21 PM »
I am partly solar now. I have a friend living here on the property. I just let him stay because he would be stuck in a hospital till he dies because he has to have a place to live to get his oxygen equipment or bge stuck in the va hospital. When he is gone, I won't be renting out his trailer. I will probably let the fire department practice on it and remove the meter all together. I will still have a meter till then but as soon as the lister is running I won't be using it.

cold comfort farm

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2007, 11:41:22 AM »
Our heating and hot water is now off grid via a biomass boiler.
we intend to loose the electric later this year.

Stephen   (UK)

biobill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • 'riods make good houseguests if fed right
    • View Profile
Re: Off grid
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2007, 01:41:36 PM »
I've been off grid for 17yrs. Use 100-120 gal propane a year for cooking and hot water and perhaps 10 -15 gal gasoline for mower and chain saw.  Biodiesel from WVO supplies the rest of the fuel needs which are considerable. Have a small, 360 watt, solar electric system with 'roid back up. When it's cold, heat is reclaimed from the engine to help heat the house. Use gravity fed rainwater for washing and haul in water from a local spring for drinking. With the exception of laundry and dishwasher my home is fairly civilized.         Bill
Off grid since 1990
6/1 Metro DI living in basement, cogen
6/1 Metro IDI running barn & biodiesel processer
VW 1.6 diesels all over the place
Isuzu Boxtruck, Ford Backhoe, all running on biodiesel
Needs diesel lawnmower & chainsaw