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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 04-23-16, 07:44 PM   #8
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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 04-24-16, 07:24 AM   #9
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Batteries seem to be the most expensive and the least reliable part of an off grid solar system. It might be more practical to look for individual loads that can be taken off grid without batteries or expensive grid tie inverters. Well pumps, pool pumps, Hot water and HVAC systems seem like good candidates. Each could have its own set of panels, motor control system and if needed, energy storage other then batteries. Then, eventually the lighting, and other low wattage loads could be put on a small battery bank with the grid as a backup charging option. Save the mains power for heavy, occasional loads (e.g. vacuum cleaners, power tools)
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Old 04-24-16, 09:46 AM   #10
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I would agree with Kramer regarding the reliability of lead acid batteries. However the new chemistries of lithium are becoming available. I've seen some you-tube video where some people have installed lithium packs liberated from a Nissan Leaf and showing some excellent results coupled to their solar PV.

For the reliability the manufactures are warranting the batteries for eight years and this would be a very conservative time frame as I'm sure they would not what to be supplying new batteries seven years out. I have read the Tesla Roadsters produced in 2008 has a lithium pack that showing some very good life as measurements of 90% of the capacity remains.

As more and more electric vehicles meet their demise with trees, poles or other cars, a lot of lightly used batteries will be available to the eco-renovators for a lot better price than Lead-acid.

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