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Old 03-31-19, 10:18 AM   #149
Steve Hull
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: hilly, tree covered Arcadia, OK USA
Posts: 829
Thanks: 241
Thanked 165 Times in 123 Posts

I would LOVE to be off grid. But ecology, time, health and family all interfere.

In the meantime I make use of geothermal heat pumps, a minisplit for the shop and a 12.5 kW solar system.

I have real issues with lead acid batteries. They don't last long, require a lot of maintainance, outgas incredidly toxic hydrogen gas and then we can address the toxicity of lead. Energy storage for night and cloudy days is a must and the alternatives are not easy or inexpensive to impliment. This will change in the next few years where energy storage will not be $100 (or more) .per stored kWhr.

Our 12.5 kW PV system (self installed) has reduced our power consumption by about 80%. I have an FLIR IR scanner and have butted up the houses tightly. HRV's are necessary for ventilation and LED bulbs are in all sockets. That was all done first.

I gave a LOT of attention to a 10 kW wind turbine, but this is simply not a self install system whereas the PV system was nuts/bolts on the barn roof. A 10 kW wind turbine was over $40 k, where I did the PV system for half that. By coincidence the inclination (3/0 pitch) and perfect southern roof exposure work perfectly.

This time of year we get about 80-90 kW per day (sunny and cool). In a month the solar radiation is higher, but so is the temp (degrading PV performance. I purpously mounted the panels about 5 inches off roof to allow convective air flow. A real advantage is the barn is a lot cooler in the summer.

The time issue is critical. I live on a 40 acre livestock farm with only me to do all the farm work. As an engineer (MS, electrical) I am not daunted by the technical issues, but wife, three kids, two grandchildren - there is not a lot of discretionary time. Then I do a fair amount of energy consulting and THAT eats time, but helps put groceries in the larder.

I could do a whole page on health - but the short take is that I do chemo every other week to treat an inoperable gut tumor. Chemo week sucks, but I am in my third year after an initial diagnosis of 4-6 weeks. The chemo keeps the tumor in check. Not everyone has this condition and I envy the energy I had in my 20's to 50's. Just assumed it would always be that way - not.

But I love hearing of your creativity, and clever approaches to energy consumption, Keep it up!!

Steve Hull

ps forgive the bad spelling - neuropathy makes typing tough
consulting on geothermal heating/cooling & rational energy use since 1990
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