Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
PSA
Member Login

Posted: 12/17/2009 12:37:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2009 8:23:11 AM EDT by PA22-400]
Where we live wind and solar are not so good answers.  So it looks like the Honda/Yamaha inverter type genset is the best answer.

So my question is

What would ya'll plan in to an off grid system using gensets and gas for cooking and hot water?

thanks

ETA
Ok guys I see now that I did a really poor job of communicating.   Perhaps I should have said “wireless-mobile” rather than “off grid.”

Household features that must remain:
Indoor Plumbing—septic is ok, and RV is ok
HVAC—RV is ok, and window AC is ok, but heat index of 102+ with just a fan will piss MA off.
Must keep internet—addressed here and in team, no internet = no job

As has been posted by Feral IIRC, an oil lamp can be equal to a 40W light and take the chill off a room nicely in the winter.  That same heat would be miserable in the summer.

I have a small refrigerator and a freezer that we use for milk for the kids

By my best guess a Honda EU2000I would supply the electrical needs for a little over a gallon a day of fuel.  For the weight of another battery in a battery bank I could carry 5 days fuel

So I am soliciting ideas for efficient wireless-mobile living.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 1:00:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2009 1:01:19 PM EDT by shibumiseeker]
Sooooo, what exactly is your question?

I live off-grid and run a genset 4-8 hours a day to power the house and shop and charge the batteries which then run the inverter for generator-off time.
It's becoming less as I add more solar.  I can almost completely run the house via solar on sunny days.  
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 1:05:06 PM EDT
You intended to be off grid when you built your home right?  What were some of the decisions you made and why did you make them?
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 1:21:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2009 1:24:40 PM EDT by shibumiseeker]
Obviously water heating and cooking is gas, though in the summer I have a simple batch heater for solar which feeds the water heater.
Heating is primarily wood with gas as a backup.  The main decision is how much money to spend on the battery bank.  I compromised.  When I replace the
main bank I am going with larger 2v cells rather than 6v batteries in series-parallel.  There's just too much chance for a cell to go bad in larger strings.


A good quality generator which is sized to run at 1/2-2/3rds load is best (the most efficient range for efficiency vs longevity) is a must.  You will be changing oil every couple of weeks and still plan on replacing/rebuilding the generator every 2-3 years.  A good inverter/charger is nice, I use the Xantrex DR1512, with 4 Trojan L16H batteries in series-parallel config in the house.  CFL lighting is everywhere.  The shop has four T220 batteries in series parallel and a very old Trace 2012 inverter.  Water for the house comes off the roof and a large series of pressure tanks and a small 12v diaphragm pump which draws 4amp while running.  I can run the house without any solar or generator for 2-3 days.  I have a small fridge (8cuft).  I have 500+ watts of solar which helps a lot.

I am getting ready to split the power system for the house and run the fridge and entertainment gear off a small sine wave inverter and seperate battery bank.  The fridge runs much more efficiently off sine wave, and I'd like to have redundancy.  I'll put in an ability to share the batteries or run any house circuit off either inverter, but for the most part they'll stay seperate.  Eventually I'm moving the Xantrex to the shop and will make the main bank in the house 24v and use a 24v inverter.  I am becoming more firmly against running batteries in parallel, especially when I am cycling them down lower than 50%.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 2:06:28 PM EDT
I'd love to see your setup. Do you have a blog or anywhere it can be seen???



Thanks!
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 2:10:14 PM EDT
If I had the financial ablility, I'd be off grid.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 4:44:57 PM EDT
Is it really cheaper than being on the grid?  Or do you guys just want to be independent of the power companys?  Just curious.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 4:52:52 PM EDT
probably not what you are looking for but here goes....

If you are going off grid, why use any real electricity at all?  Seriously...

We ran an island cottage off grid.  Propane covered refrigeration, lights, and cooking.  Wood heat.  There is really very little demand for electric beyond those loads, and certainly nothing that required any substantial electrical system.  A simple deep cycle 12v battery lasted a morth or more for use on a radio, and the occasional few minutes in the bathroom.  We lugged water in buckets.  Our system was certainly primitive but quite useable.  A once or twice weekly run up on a generator served to power pumps, run the vaccuum and the like.

The cheapest way to go off grid isn't to produce electricity.  Its to not need or use electricity at all.


If I was to do it again, I'd invest a few hundred in a basic minimal wind turbine for charging the one deep cycle battery.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 5:12:32 PM EDT
While its possible to go "completely off the grid", there are certain advantages to having power.  Its nice to go hunting up at the cabin and live without power or running water.  However, why would you completely want to lose your humanity?  Without power, are you only going to wash your clothes with a washboard?  Clotheslines work but how about hanging clothes to dry in February in Minnesota?  Unless you live in the country, many suburban areas do not let you run a well.

I do things to minimize my demand such as lower the temp in my house, wash clothes with cold water and shut off/unplug as many things as I can throughout the day.  I've been looking into things like using a generator to power the A/C if/when I use it.  I don't have a chimney but I've also looked into putting one it to run a pot belly stove in the winter to help heat in the winter.  Reducing your demand on outside sources can be beneficial but you also have to weigh the costs.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 5:22:24 PM EDT
...just to segway a bit on what Frozenny said, the largest electricity consumers in a modern home are HVAC, lighting, large kitchen and laundry appliances.  If you maximize the use of gas for your utilities, your electrical load drops considerably.  In our next home we plan on using lots of passive solar solutions and a modest amount of solar and/or windpower for the home, but leave the "heavy lifting" to gas fueled appliances.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 5:59:10 PM EDT
OP I see your in TX, yet you state that wind and solar arnt viable to your area. What am I missing? I would think that both would be good ways to go in that area of the country.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 6:51:19 PM EDT
Originally Posted By TNhick:
OP I see your in TX, yet you state that wind and solar arnt viable to your area. What am I missing? I would think that both would be good ways to go in that area of the country.


To get effective wind one would need a 100 foot tower.  Wind speed near the ground is negligible because of the trees.  400 miles west of here is better wind power.  

Solar is meh ok but nuttin to start gettin' excited over––trees again.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 6:55:58 PM EDT
Originally Posted By TNhick:
OP I see your in TX, yet you state that wind and solar arnt viable to your area. What am I missing? I would think that both would be good ways to go in that area of the country.


Areas of TX can be desert others can be like yours there in TN! Wind does not always blow the sun does not always shine! I'm not sure where the OP is from but I have lived in Dallas to 15 miles from the Mexican border true Southwest(loved it there!) Now I hope to get a job north near OK area in the Panhandle.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 12:11:34 AM EDT
If you have access to the grid, I would stay on. It is really expensive, and inconvenient. Of course if you live like a hermit, then you can do it. For me, I would only do a generator/battery bank if you're prone to power outages.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 3:51:32 AM EDT
It generally is not cheaper to just go off grid if you plan to run a big solar setup.

The post about learning to do without is correct and you can practice in your home right now.  I have changed a lot of habits and as appliances and toys died I replaced them with stuff that was more efficient or ran on a different fuel.

My electric bills and water bills tend to be pretty low but there are ways to make them even lower and if I was off grid I would probably do it but for cheap grid power I tend to live at a different level because I would rather pay a little extra on the electric bill and have a window ac unit instead of living with just a few fans and adjusting to higher temps.

When it comes to doing laundery you can just wander into town once a week or once every other week and hit the laundromat if you want to do it that way.  My previous place had no room for a washer and dryer so I used the laundromat.  My current place has a washer and dryer and I need to see how well I do using them, they are old and might need a bit of work.  I scrounged what I have, if I bought something it would be really efficient if I planned to use it off grid.

Just adjusting your hours to doing stuff during the daytime can help.  I work 3rd shift so when I am off work I can use daylight instead of needing a lot of electric lights on at home.

There are a lot of things to consider and you can find all sorts of books and blogs and websites by researching off grid living.

I have some older books and I still keep them around because while the technology may be old the ideas are still useful to me.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 4:16:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By PA22-400:
Originally Posted By TNhick:
OP I see your in TX, yet you state that wind and solar arnt viable to your area. What am I missing? I would think that both would be good ways to go in that area of the country.


To get effective wind one would need a 100 foot tower.  Wind speed near the ground is negligible because of the trees.  400 miles west of here is better wind power.  

Solar is meh ok but nuttin to start gettin' excited over––trees again.


Ah, but if your wind speeds at 100' are decent then the tower cost is worthwhile.  The nice thing about a generator/battery/inverter system is that you can add solar in small increments which just goes to reduce your generator run time.  I posted recently about going from a hundred watts of solar in my new cabin to 500 watts and it is now enough that if I weren't running the shop too I could run the house without any generator on sunny days.  Solar became cost effective for me when I looked at how much fuel for the generator was costing.  The payback for my latest panel purchase compared to buying gasoline was about three years.

My old house had an array big enough that I only needed to run the generator once or twice a week for a few hours.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 4:31:52 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2009 4:37:09 AM EDT by Bladeswitcher]
Originally Posted By mongo001:
If I had the financial ablility, I'd be off grid.




Yep, it costs a hell of lot of money to avoid paying for electricity.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents praised God and the REA when the electricity finally came. It improved their quality of life immeasurably. Now we want to live without 10 cent kwh power? Makes no damn sense (except for SHTF situations) . . . buy a generator for emergencies and thank your lucky stars you live in a country where cheap power flows plentifully.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 5:23:24 AM EDT
http://www.buildanark.net/index.php?pages/What%20you%20can%20do%20with%20your%20Generat­or.html

And there is videos on a couple of basic AE systems at

www.homesteadingandsurvival.com

Lots you can do with just a generator. Lots more you can do with your generator and a couple panels.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 6:18:52 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 6:36:24 AM EDT
I'm facing one to three moves in the next 18 months.

100' wind tower + turbine is not easy to move

Solar may move easier than a wind turbine but solar is still not easy to move.


Link Posted: 12/18/2009 7:04:54 AM EDT
Originally Posted By PA22-400:
I'm facing one to three moves in the next 18 months.

100' wind tower + turbine is not easy to move

Solar may move easier than a wind turbine but solar is still not easy to move.




then i wouldnt worry about going off grid till i was where i was going to stay. as for solar, looks like(depending where in Tx you live) you get between 4.5 and 5 hours average. that is more than enough once you get your demands down to a min. once you get an average min/max you can figure out how large a battery bank you need as well as how many panels. also you can check out the US dept of energy for ideas.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 7:54:48 AM EDT
Originally Posted By PA22-400:
I'm facing one to three moves in the next 18 months.

100' wind tower + turbine is not easy to move

Solar may move easier than a wind turbine but solar is still not easy to move.




Ah yes, moving around.  Wind would be a non starter, but you can get mounting systems for smaller arrays that fold up and allow you to
easily move your panels around.  And I'm not talking about smaller panels, I'm talking about several square meters of panels.  Anyway, something to think about.  Anything you can do to reduce the generator on time is golden.  Even with a Honda EU2000i, my fuel costs are still high.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 8:20:33 AM EDT
Ok guys I see now that I did a really poor job of communicating.   Perhaps I should have said “wireless-mobile” rather than “off grid.”

Household features that must remain:
Indoor Plumbing—septic is ok, and RV is ok
HVAC—RV is ok, and window AC is ok, but heat index of 102+ with just a fan will piss MA off.
Must keep internet—addressed here and in team, no internet = no job

As has been posted by Feral IIRC, an oil lamp can be equal to a 40W light and take the chill off a room nicely in the winter.  That same heat would be miserable in the summer.

I have a small refrigerator and a freezer that we use for milk for the kids

By my best guess a Honda EU2000I would supply the electrical needs for a little over a gallon a day of fuel.  For the weight of another battery in a battery bank I could carry 5 days fuel

So I am soliciting ideas for efficient wireless-mobile living.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 8:28:17 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Feral:

(Side question for ya, Bladeswitcher: is that a 3" CS-1 there in your avatar?)



Yep.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 8:55:00 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Feral:


There are folks out there who live off grid by choice because they believe that dealing with the electric company/phone company/gas company is "inviting an unwanted guest" into the family home. It's an interesting way to look at things, to say the least.



Not so far from the truth in the age of "The smart grid".
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 9:01:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2009 9:01:48 AM EDT by Bladeswitcher]
Originally Posted By WAWalker:
Originally Posted By Feral:


There are folks out there who live off grid by choice because they believe that dealing with the electric company/phone company/gas company is "inviting an unwanted guest" into the family home. It's an interesting way to look at things, to say the least.



Not so far from the truth in the age of "The smart grid".


Last I checked, the utility company's access ended at the meter box.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 9:37:54 AM EDT
I tether my blackberry to my laptop.  Where I used to live I had pretty awesome speed.  I a town near a new tower with line of site and no I don't know what actual measurement was.

Where I live now I have trouble in some parts of the house getting any signal.  Looking into an amplifier and probably going to spend 300 bucks on it if I get one.

Monthly limit of 5 gigs a month, very common limit for usb modems and air cards and what not.

It works for me, this is my only phone and internet service.  It works where ever I travel and get a signal.  To some extent I had already been wondering about an amplifier, I just get to educate myself sooner.

Make sure this sort of thing is enough to do your work.  I had a verizon usb modem before the blackberry but I save money by having the blackberry as a phone and modem these days.

And it took a while for my cell phone provider to get some decent speed going, verizon used to be faster than us cellular around here and now they are similar.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 9:40:54 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Bladeswitcher:
Originally Posted By WAWalker:
Originally Posted By Feral:


There are folks out there who live off grid by choice because they believe that dealing with the electric company/phone company/gas company is "inviting an unwanted guest" into the family home. It's an interesting way to look at things, to say the least.



Not so far from the truth in the age of "The smart grid".


Last I checked, the utility company's access ended at the meter box.


same with phone co. and gas unless you have a service agreement with them to check your fixtures and heat system. as for gas, use a trusted service tech and you dont have to worry about it.
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 10:44:24 AM EDT
Originally Posted By mylt1:
Originally Posted By Bladeswitcher:
Originally Posted By WAWalker:
Originally Posted By Feral:


There are folks out there who live off grid by choice because they believe that dealing with the electric company/phone company/gas company is "inviting an unwanted guest" into the family home. It's an interesting way to look at things, to say the least.



Not so far from the truth in the age of "The smart grid".


Last I checked, the utility company's access ended at the meter box.


same with phone co. and gas unless you have a service agreement with them to check your fixtures and heat system. as for gas, use a trusted service tech and you dont have to worry about it.


http://www.kcplsave.com/residential/programs_and_services/energy_optimizer/default.aspx

<Snip>The programmable thermostat is installed by a certified Honeywell technician, who sets it to accept paging signals from KCP&L to reduce your air conditioning unit when demands on our system are high.

Help us control system peak demands on the hottest weekday afternoons from June through September by allowing us to either raise your temperature a few degrees, or cycle your air-conditioning compressor intermittently.<Snip>
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 10:57:54 AM EDT
Originally Posted By PA22-400:
Ok guys I see now that I did a really poor job of communicating.   Perhaps I should have said “wireless-mobile” rather than “off grid.”

Household features that must remain:
Indoor Plumbing—septic is ok, and RV is ok
HVAC—RV is ok, and window AC is ok, but heat index of 102+ with just a fan will piss MA off.
Must keep internet—addressed here and in team, no internet = no job

As has been posted by Feral IIRC, an oil lamp can be equal to a 40W light and take the chill off a room nicely in the winter.  That same heat would be miserable in the summer.

I have a small refrigerator and a freezer that we use for milk for the kids

By my best guess a Honda EU2000I would supply the electrical needs for a little over a gallon a day of fuel.  For the weight of another battery in a battery bank I could carry 5 days fuel

So I am soliciting ideas for efficient wireless-mobile living.


Still a little unclear.

My camper trailer has indoor plumbing, two deep cycle batteries, and small solar panel (can't remember wattage at the moment), inverter, I can run my laptop just fine...........would have to add to it to run A/C...............Is this what you are looking for?  Or are you looking for a home set up that is somwhat mobile, to run computer and A/C.  Like a solar generator type system...............


http://www.mysolarbackup.com/
http://www.mobilesolarpower.net/
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 11:22:09 AM EDT
I figured that the ac would mandate running the genset

using 2 gallons of gas a day in a generator is equal to $150 a month electric bill which is not that uncommon.

Link Posted: 12/19/2009 6:22:12 AM EDT
If building new you can do some stuff to really limit the need for air conditioning in many cases.

I rather like studying older houses and seeing how things were done before air conditioning was common.

Today's houses are built around having central heat and air in many cases, I don't really happen to be a fan of this because that is a lot of power to supply one way or another.

Link Posted: 12/19/2009 6:40:48 AM EDT
Thanks biere

Taller ceilings were one thing.  The standard has gone from 12 feet to 8 feet


The dome homes that 1BigBunker does are really nice too.  Properly done they can offer a lot of temp stability.
Top Top