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Old 04-21-16, 08:45 AM   #1
randen
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Default Anyone working toward Off Grid

I would seem that the technology is now available for Off grid systems. I'm wonder if there are any Eco-renovators out there working toward this amazing goal.

Solar P/V has become quite affordable and the supporting equipment, inverters etc. have become more reliable. And now the Tesla Powerwall the best tech in electrical energy storage is here.

The other side of the equation, the consumers of that electrical energy have become very efficient. LED lighting, appliances, and heat-pumps.

The methods for home construction and materials have gotten better. The passive house designs requiring such a small amount of heat is another step in the right direction.

I'm just wonder if eco-renovators are working toward the goal??

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Old 04-21-16, 02:27 PM   #2
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I've looked closely at my energy consumption and my family could do off-grid for about 9 months of the year. However, our local weather patterns for those other three months would have me doing a massive amount of generator running.

What I am planning to do long-term is put in a battery storage system and a Sunny Island and partially power my home from solar. When the weather isn't agreeable, I'll still have the grid. When the utility power fails, if in the low solar production winter months, I'll run very minimal load and heat the house with natural gas instead of the heat pump.
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Old 04-22-16, 07:15 PM   #3
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It's a waste of money to go off grid when there is a perfectly good power line right outside of your house.

The tesla power wall is an over priced toy for the rich, just like almost everything else they make.
It's not the best, it is the newest and just because some thing is new doesn't automatically make it better than what was in use before. I find the people most impressed by the power wall don't have any idea what the existing tech is like.

The best is still low voltage DC modular charger and inverter systems powered by lead acid.
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Old 04-23-16, 02:30 PM   #4
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It can make sense where the service fees are high. One example of that would be some parts of College Station, TX where the service fees were on the order of $40/month. Not sure if it's still that expensive now that there are "off grid in a box" devices that are nearly ideal for college students.
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Old 04-23-16, 02:31 PM   #5
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My cabin project is off grid. Currently thats just a 5400 watt honda. PV panels bought but not on the roof yet. Same with the hot water panels. Composting toilet purchased but not installed. Haven't bought batteries yet either, that won't be until the end. I've been too busy to make any progress on the cabin this winter. Good news is the lake is backed up into our cove, we have about 6-8ft of fresh water in the creek and I found sulfur spring water on the property. I've been focusing on other parts of self sustaining like permaculture, digging rain water catchment ponds, wildlife habitat and food sources. If it were just me off the grid wouldn't be difficult. My wife's power requirements are much higher and her comfort directly effects my own. I don't think I can afford to take her off the grid with me Funny thing is her best friend since kindergarten could totally do it, just depends how you're raised.
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Old 04-23-16, 03:07 PM   #6
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$40 a month is a deal compared to going off grid.

In a nut shell to go off grid you need to first save as much electric power as possible.
Then you need to convert most if not all your heating needs to natural gas or propane or solar thermal.
After that figure out how much power you use per day. Then install 2 to 4 times that in panels and size the battery bank for about 4x what you use in a day. Get an inverter and not the cheap ebay ones to power your largest demands.
After all that you will still need to buy a backup generator.
Typically start up costs are usually starting well over $20,000.
Then once you think the setup just might break even the inverter or charge controller will suddenly quit. And you have to replace the batteries at some point, between 5 and 10 years if you are lucky and 2 to 3 years if you are unlikely.
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Old 04-23-16, 06:52 PM   #7
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I find that most people who are looking to go off grid either don't understand all the is involved (money, batteries, no sun for days, etc.) or that do it as a worst case scenario as in grid down. For me, I have been planning going off grid for a very long time. It is not about saving money, its because I want security that my power company is not capable of providing.
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Old 04-25-16, 10:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MEMPHIS91 View Post
I find that most people who are looking to go off grid either don't understand all the is involved (money, batteries, no sun for days, etc.) or that do it as a worst case scenario as in grid down. For me, I have been planning going off grid for a very long time. It is not about saving money, its because I want security that my power company is not capable of providing.
This security you speak of does not come easily or economically. To provide backup power for when the grid is down is one thing; to provide complete independence from the grid is another. It takes a well-rounded and thorough approach, as well as lifestyle changes. Whether or not your entire family (living in the home) is willing to make these changes (or not) will bear heavily on your system requirements and backup capacity.

A recent line of commercials illustrates this idea with the usual American blatant disrespect: the "settlers" being portrayed in the DirecTV ads. This attitude of making do with what is available is a mentality that many people will no longer accept. Although your family will not have to go to the extreme "homesteader/settler" methods being ridiculed in the commercials, they will need to implement some changes in that direction in order to reduce your raw energy consumption. Simple acts like hanging clothes on a line outdoors, washing them in cold water, and washing (and drying) dishes by hand really add up in savings. Make sure everyone involved is willing, or design your system larger if not.

As you are detailing in your ground-source/water-source heat pump projects, these two methods (direct and water heat exchange) are a large part of retaining comfort while reducing energy demands. When used with some sort of thermal (hot and/or cold) store, your heating and cooling needs can be buffered or time-shifted to reduce or eliminate comfort control from taxing your battery storage. Again, not simple or cheap, but highly effective. Naturally, the insulating and envelope strengthening you are doing further increases the effectiveness of comfort control systems and reduces your thermal energy needs. These comfort control improvements are essentially invisible to occupants not concerned with the details of how they operate, working behind the scenes to satisfy demand.

For a completely off-grid home, using the raw voltage your PV panels produce without conversion is the most efficient way to use that power. Having some low-voltage DC lighting that runs off a panel or two is also a great indicator to those less energy-conscious occupants as to when they can use high-drain equipment without taxing your battery bank. When the lights are on, at least some portion of the consumption will come directly from the panels; when they are off, they know they are using battery power to dry their hair or whatever. This "psychological" habit change can mean the difference between a battery bank draining overnight or not.

Last edited by jeff5may; 04-25-16 at 11:46 AM.. Reason: grammar
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Old 04-23-16, 07:44 PM   #9
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The requirements can be very low for a student. It helps that heating is rarely even needed in College Station and that the usual fall/spring semesters miss the hottest days of the year. Hot water in many apartments there are also included in rent.

And while it could well be considered cheating as far as truly going off grid goes, a good number of students already spend much of their time on campus. One could just charge a battery pack while on campus and use it to run LED lighting and some basic electronics at home, no solar panels needed. Back then (about 6 years ago), LED lighting and lithium batteries were a bit expensive to justify doing that, but now they're practically dirt cheap.
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Old 08-26-20, 05:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiHaoMike View Post

And while it could well be considered cheating as far as truly going off grid goes, a good number of students already spend much of their time on campus. One could just charge a battery pack while on campus and use it to run LED lighting and some basic electronics at home, no solar panels needed.
That is not off grid. That is stealing power. There is a difference.
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