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Old 10-09-11, 05:02 PM   #1
d3vi1d06
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Default Secretly off grid

okay. so after extensive research into NC and Federal laws, apparently in order to have a solar panel on my roof, my private property, furthermore using the sun which only God owns, i must use a grid tie inverter. I must have a Federal approved grid tie inverter that has a Kill switch so that the power company can turn my solar array off at will... I don't like this one bit.

So, being that i am fairly new to the PV thing, i am relying on your foundation of knowledge...

I want to comply with the law so that they wont complain, but i want to hack the system so that i can be off grid when i choose, not when the state chooses... im PV dumb, but not electrical dumb...

Also i want to convert my entire house, including appliances, to DC. I understand that the inverter takes care of the DC to AC conversion, but like i said, i want to be completely off grid, and DC uses less power, so i will need a smaller PV source...

So a Rectifier in all appliances is in order, or just one for the entire house?

How would i be able to achieve all this?

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Old 10-09-11, 05:06 PM   #2
d3vi1d06
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Doh!!!

The reason i post this thread is because, i dont know where to start. maybe you all pioneered this thread before. but im bad with PV lingo, and i honestly dont know where to start...
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Old 10-09-11, 10:22 PM   #3
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what appliances do you currently have that use electricity? Completely DC is possible but usually involves using gas/wood/propane/... for the major appliances. I highly doubt you would come close to saving any money by going 100% DC just throw a couple of extra panels on the roof to deal with any losses during the conversion.

I don't know the requirements in your area but it should be possible to get a grid tied with battery bank setup that will disconnect your house from the grid when the power goes out or the utility wants to but will leave you drawing from the batteries so the house stays running.

It's just a question of money. How many KWH a month do you currently use?
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Old 10-09-11, 10:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3vi1d06 View Post
Also i want to convert my entire house, including appliances, to DC. I understand that the inverter takes care of the DC to AC conversion, but like i said, i want to be completely off grid, and DC uses less power, so i will need a smaller PV source...

So a Rectifier in all appliances is in order, or just one for the entire house?
It sounds like there are big holes in your source knolage, a big reason for using AC is that high voltage AC tends to be safer then high voltage DC, low voltage DC is both expensive an wasteful because of the line loss so any system that has low voltage DC tends to keep those runs as short as possible, as in less then 10 feet, less then 5 feet is even better! also PV panels produce DC electricity so you don't need a rectifier at all, also if your lines are under 30v (24v battery bank, but please do not take my word on this part) then I don't think the electrical code is very strict at all, but your cost in wire sky rockets and your cost in low voltage DC appliances sky rockets, to the point where the only way you could ever save any money is if you are building a cabin out in the middle of no where, where it would cost you $10,000 to bring in the power lines.

As for the disconnects, your AC inverter has to be designed to now allow it to back feed in to the grid when the grid is down, this is so you do not kill line men.
Your system also is required to have a service disconnect that is out side of your house so if your house is on fire the fire department can turn it off, preventing firemen from being electrocuted and dying, this is not a remote disconnect that is located at the secret underground government center, this is on the outside of your house that is used to prevent death of those who are trying to keep your house from burning to the ground, if you have an issue with this please post large signs at the ends of your drive way so all firemen showing up at your house know that they should let your house burn instead of risking their lives.


If you fallow the electrical code, you should end up with a system that is safe for everyone, will save you money and that the only way to turn it off is to be standing out side of your house in plain sight, turning off a large switch that you could then turn back on.

Last edited by Ryland; 10-09-11 at 11:03 PM..
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Old 10-10-11, 08:39 AM   #5
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thanks for the clarification... i tend to be a little on the paranoid side when it comes to the gov't...

i was unclear as to whether or not the cut off was big brothers way to control me. im glad it is for the safety of others. in that case i am all for safety. if being safe helps me save money, then safety is paramount...


And at my peak usage:
utility says roughly 45kw avg a day.

this can be cut down, and im averaging for a particularly hot summer, which saw 3 weeks straight 100*f plus temps in july...

this is my first year in this house, so its tough to tell what the normal usage is. i haven't done much to increase efficiency yet, so my average can be cut drastically.
i have CFL's
i have a Timer on my bedroom tv center
I have a smart powerstrip on my living room tv center.
i have room darkening blinds, and curtains.
and my clothes washer is energy star @ $13/yr
i just upgraded my rear sliding glass door, to Energy Star french doors.

its a work in progress...

Last edited by d3vi1d06; 10-10-11 at 08:48 AM.. Reason: verified my utility bill
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Old 10-10-11, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryland View Post
...a big reason for using AC is that high voltage AC tends to be safer then high voltage DC...
Could you elaborate please?

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Old 10-10-11, 11:32 AM   #7
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I'm assuming that's 45 kwh/day? if so that's a lot to try and cover via solar. It's doable but you had better be rich. First step is to figure out where all of that power is going and reduce the usage. Get something like a kilowatt meter and start recording power usage on all of your 110V devices.

I'm assuming your house is all electric with that level of usage so check the temperature coming out of the hotwater tank. It can probably be turned down a lot.

AC takes a lot of power and will require a serious off grid system. If you are going to keep using it I'd recommend looking into a grid tied system sized appropriately so that during the sunny winter months you can build up a credit with the utility and then draw that down during the summer with the AC.

Last edited by strider3700; 10-10-11 at 11:51 AM..
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Old 10-10-11, 02:11 PM   #8
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Also going with a grid tied system you can spend less to get it up and running since it is not necessary to have storage. The downside is you only have power when the grid has power but you can always add storage later.
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Old 10-10-11, 07:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC_Hacker View Post
Could you elaborate please?
I forget what the exact reasons were for AC being safer, I just remember it from my old electrical text book that I read 15 years ago but I seem to remember that it's easier to brake an arc in AC then it is in DC.
It's also easier to work with because you can use transformers with AC, a lot of switching power supplies require AC, induction motors require AC, and there is such a small demand for DC appliances that they tend to cost more and you have a smaller selection.
Going through my parents shed I found a box of 32v light bulbs from when we lived off grid, boxes of other low voltage DC appliances, all out dated and less efficient then pretty much anything that you can get new.
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Old 10-10-11, 07:38 PM   #10
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i just know that an inverter wastes current to produce AC...
DC cant be that dangerous... my phone hasnt blown up on me, but if i touch an AC outlet, i get fried... ive put my tongue on a 9v battery, got a little tingle, yet it can power a flashlight for hours. ive always thought of DC being more efficient... if it wasnt, then why doesnt RVers use an inverter for their appliances, including a stove... All DC appliances on a RV or Boat. Why? AC wastes too much power in its inversion from DC.

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