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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2021-07-20, 10:03

Mrs T and I are looking at going solar for our home. For years we have wanted to be able to go off-grid and be able to fully support ourselves. Solar panels seem to have come way down from when I looked years ago. Of course, there is still a bunch that goes into it. Inverters, batteries etc.

Anyone here have solar and are off the grid? Or anyone have solar and have any discussion about the system? I love the idea personally but haven't moved with it before.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-07-20, 11:09

"Off-grid" is not what you think it is, especially if you want power at night. You'll need battery backup, enough wattage to power your entire home (very expensive) and enough back-up power to get you and your things through the night (including that MC server ). If you want enough power for all that, and able to run through the night, it's going to cost you $30,000+, and there are still problems that come up, including the need to replace those batteries every 10 years or so, and panels that will be worn out by the time you pay for it all.

I've been hunting and doing research for over 2 years, and have just about given up on "off grid solar power" as it makes almost no financial sense to do so, whereby when I say "almost no" I mean, "unless you're rich, it's a fool's errand", that is if you want hot water for daily showers, A/C, heat in the winter, power for all your computers, that printer that makes the lights dim, a cloths dryer, blah, blah, blah. Find out what makes the Mrs. happy and you'll quickly discover the wattage required to run those things is bananas!

I've been watching Will Prowse on Youtube, and he's as knowledgeable a character as I've found. He tests everything, discusses how to build your own battery systems, establish all the appropriate inverters, solar charge controllers, etc., etc., talks about costs and life expectancies, and overall confuses the hell out of me.

All I can so is open up your wallet and good luck!

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drewprops
Bastard
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2021-07-20, 11:24

Our union just installed 202 panels on the roof of the building and it is expected to pay for itself in 7 years. Everything I understand about solar is that "it's still not there". Something that I did not know is that solar installers frequently go into bankruptcy / out of business. I want it to be awesome, but all the factors Ken mentioned are sadly at play.



...

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-07-20, 12:34

Yeah, just to live life as we currently do, we would need something like 15,000 watts worth of solar, and that would only get us through the daytime part of the daytime (when the sun is directly overhead). And that on a good, sunny day. To get closer we would either need to replace so many electrical things with their high-efficiency counterparts that just the appliances would cost us over $20,000, or downgrade our living standards to dirt floors and living without hot showers, A/C, or heat. Since our home was built with no access to natural gas, switching over for heating and water heater purposes would be cost-prohibitory (minimum $500 for a decent stove, $500 for a decent water heater, $7500 for a new furnace, and likely over $5000 just to get gas to the house).

Swamp coolers are recommended for "off-grid" solar living, but they suck, and A/C is hard to power with solar. Basically, anything that uses 220V service (30 amps+) is going to crush your hopes and dreams.

Again, we're only talking daytime needs, here. The night is a different animal. If — and this is a big if — you want A/C at night, you're gonna need an awful lot of battery backup. I did some basic maths, and found that we would need four Tesla Powerwalls ($7500 each!) to get us through the night on a hot summer day, or a cold winter night. That, then, places double duty on the panels, since they now have to power the house through the day and charge the batteries, which doubles the necessary panels needed for said system.

Some people keep Powerwalls around and charge them during the night so they can take advantage of cheaper electrical prices durning non-peak times, and then solar panels to take advantage of that "free" power during the day, but the expense takes ages to recover. And that whole "paid for itself in 7 years" is a hoax. Panels and backup batteries have shelf lives, the systems only work during the day (without batteries) and I've only seen enough cost savings in super-sunny areas where there is sun 300+ days per year and where there are also government tax credits.

It's all very much like electric cars. The bits are right there, tantalizing us with the possibilities, but it's just not there yet. Not quite, at least for us minions. If you've got lots and lots of money, or dare to finance the effort, then you can make it work, just not without some sacrifices in your "off-grid" interpretations.

I think you guys know me well enough by now to know that I absolutely abhor the thought of more gubmint regulatin', but this is an area that I am passionate about: Every new home built in this country should be built with solar panels to cover at least 50% of that home's needs, but only that home's needs — batteries optional — and the cost should simply be built into the cost of the home.

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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2021-07-20, 13:54

I'm going through my house now to figure out what I would actually require to be full off-grid. I've already replaced most of the lightbulbs with LED, even the CFLs. I've condensed servers into less physical machines to better conserve power. Already upgraded the appliances when I moved in. Basically I've cut costs as much as I can generally speaking without going so far in that we can't have lights on during the day, do laundry with a dryer vs clotheslines.

I'm fairly certain I'm going to require a big system given my family and our current power consumption. I'm working on getting the kids to just turn a light off when they walk out of the room, let alone not stand in a doorway, turn the light on to look for some thing (never entering the room) and then walking away with the light still on, and sunlight coming in the windows!

Thing I'm seeing is that PV panels are now up to 92% efficient and warrantied at that for 25 years. That is pretty substantial. Batteries are the part that would be most costly for off grid from what I can tell. It all depends on the kind you get and who branded them. Something like the PowerWall is cool, but "sealed" where rack mounted cells allow for individual replacements as needed. Most of those are rated and warrantied for 10 years from what I'm seeing.

The inverters, charge controllers and such are where I'm digging right now. So much to learn and yet I'm loving this idea of being my own power source. Then my power company can do just about anything they want and it doesn't matter to me.

I actually had someone tell me that we had to be concerned about actually cancelling power service to the house because it might get the house condemned. According to the source there is politics at play there, but that seems really odd to me.

When I last looked into this the tech was different and batteries have made the biggest change for the better. Panels are improving but not as fast as batteries.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-07-20, 14:34

Good resource from Battle Born. I use their batteries in my RV.
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2021-07-20, 17:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtle View Post
Batteries are the part that would be most costly for off grid from what I can tell. It all depends on the kind you get and who branded them. Something like the PowerWall is cool, but "sealed" where rack mounted cells allow for individual replacements as needed. Most of those are rated and warrantied for 10 years from what I'm seeing.
EV manufacturers are figuring this out - the Ford F-150 Lightning EV has a 'trim' package that includes the extended range battery, *and* a bidirectional home fast-charger hookup. When the power goes out, the truck is your battery. A big, big, massive battery.

I'm seriously considering it. We've talked about a truck, we've talked about an EV, we've talked about a big honkin' battery backup for the house, and we've talked about going solar. This takes care of 3 of the 4.

I had a colleague a while back who was fanatical about reducing his electrical use, to the point that he yoinked the PSUs out of EVERYTHING he could in his house, and rewired them for DC. His server rack had a 5V DC feed to it, with a single uber-efficient transformer plugged into 120V. He pulled the PSUs from almost all of his AV equipment as well, with regret that he couldn't replace the one in his massive projector, because it stepped up, not down. He was running low voltage lines all throughout his house (with appropriate run lengths for each voltage), so he had 5V and 12V 'outlets' right next to the 120V.

Crazy, but also on to something, since a few of my outlets now have USB-A 5V sockets...

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-07-20, 18:20

Yeah, Ford has a neat idea, there.

As for your buddy, Kick, that's a lot of work that the average human ain't going to figure out, nor should they have to. Efficiency, battery tech, PV, etc. simply have a long ways to go. Once that stuff gets into place, then appliance manufacturers will start sorting out the need to convert to 12V, home builders will get on board, etc.

It's many years away, but it's getting there.

Slowly.

Honestly, I think it's going to take a very enterprising and risk-taking property developer who designs and builds a 500+ home community driven entirely by its own solar capabilities. Roof-top solar, LED's everywhere, 12V appliances, car chargers, etc. It will be for rich people, but it will start a trend that will drive innovation, pricing, availability, etc.

- AppleNova is the best Mac-users forum on the internet. We are smart, educated, capable, and helpful. We are also loaded with smart-alecks! :)
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Mat 5:9)
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Anonymous Coward
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2021-07-20, 21:38

I've been looking at photovoltaic power generation since before I joined the Navy, which means the 1970s. I've never owned a house, though, but I did buy a setup for my sister's house, and she lives in sunny Southern California.

Personally, the only reason I would go off grid is because you have to get a contractor (to be legal in California) to hook up to the grid and I'm not ready to pay for that. I would go off grid to power a workshop if I could do all the work myself.

A grid tie photovoltaic system means you are using the grid as a storage system. If you produce excess electricity, your meter runs backwards, and your power company pays you for it. You can still have a battery backup, so you can take your time investing in your battery bank. You will have more flexibility and peace of mind with a grid tie system because in addition to potentially making money from the power company, you are still connected to their system just in case something happens to your own system.

P.S. They cost more, but I would get true sine wave inverters. And this is something no one would ever design, but I'd put in redundancy, which you are well aware of having worked in the Naval Nuclear Power Program.
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psmith2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2021-07-20, 21:46

I had no idea this stuff was so costly, and required so much. Those shows on HGTV and DIY kinda skirt over the details and all the "oh, BTW..." aspects.

I think someone like me - single, childless, loves living in a sub-400 sq. ft. space (no, really) - might have an easier, cheaper(?) go of it? A full-size house, with a wife, 2-3 kids, multiple rooms on multiple floors would have to require more than I would.

I've always liked the idea. As I get older I look around and I'm like "the sun ain't going anywhere anytime soon, the wind is always blowing and there are good, clean natural streams and wells". It would be neat to just have your little chunk of the world and making it work in that way. It would be cool to be off everyone's radar/mailings, etc. I certainly ponder it more now, at 52, then I did at 32.

All the things I used to think I wanted/needed...I was so wrong.
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_Ω_
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2021-07-21, 06:36

Been poking around on this, but nothing too deep.

Seems to be that the game breaker at the moment is not the solar panels but the storage if you want to harvest the daily sun for night time use. And I get the feeling, given the rate of development that this hurdle might be solved in the near future. Luckily this desire for a better and more efficient battery is being "driven" by the car industry at the moment.

I know nothing, will admit to nothing, but Doom is still a good movie

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Ryan
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Promise Land of Trustafarians
 
2021-07-21, 10:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
I had no idea this stuff was so costly, and required so much. Those shows on HGTV and DIY kinda skirt over the details and all the "oh, BTW..." aspects.

I think someone like me - single, childless, loves living in a sub-400 sq. ft. space (no, really) - might have an easier, cheaper(?) go of it? A full-size house, with a wife, 2-3 kids, multiple rooms on multiple floors would have to require more than I would.

I've always liked the idea. As I get older I look around and I'm like "the sun ain't going anywhere anytime soon, the wind is always blowing and there are good, clean natural streams and wells". It would be neat to just have your little chunk of the world and making it work in that way. It would be cool to be off everyone's radar/mailings, etc. I certainly ponder it more now, at 52, then I did at 32.

All the things I used to think I wanted/needed...I was so wrong.
I'm 31 and already pondering all that.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2021-07-21, 11:11

Here is an interesting find: most power companies limit you rom being grid connected with greater than 20kWh production from PV. Why? It doesn't really make any sense to have that limit. I encountered this with Dominion in Va and now seeing it will Duke.

I'm glad true sine wave inverters were mentioned. I ensure my battery backups have that, but didn't think about the house as a whole. That is critical as far as I'm concerned. While I'd love to have redundancy I don't know that that would make the budget. The risk doesn't seem to justify the expense in this case. Of course, that depends on how this ends up shaping up and when if Mrs T and I move forward with this.

It is pretty amazing the products out there. So many are really rated well. There are tons of products for smaller builds that would easily fit someone like Paul's 400sq. ft. space. Going for something for my family though... Yeah, this isn't going to be cheap.

If I look purely at cost my current rate is $.11 a kWh, if it goes up to $.13 kWh it would be a sizable bill increase for us. That increase wouldn't effect me if I'm off-grid. I'm trying to avoid financial specifics since this thread isn't really about personal finances but rather the technology for living with PV energy and potentially even off-grid for a "normal" house as opposed to a cabin in the woods.

Of course, there is always the fact that we would be reducing carbon footprint and all the other eco buzzwords about how I'd be saving the planet. I do want to be a good steward no matter if I'm on the grid or off, so that does kinda play in.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-07-21, 11:53

Honestly, I don't care about the "carbon footprint" stuff. These things all have to be manufactured, most of which happens in China and we Westerners don't have to look at the horrible, ugly eye-sores that come with making it all. Using it does very little, big picture, as far as pollution goes. It looks nice on paper, but the end result is a lot of ugly somewhere.

BUT!

Solar is the future, if we can just figure out how to store the energy without having to dig up large swaths of earth in titanic pit mines that cause more trouble, long-term, than they solve. This stuff is really hard, and it's one of the very few areas where I believe not enough gubmint is happening.

Why isn't PV required on new housing? Why isn't it required on the rooftops of massive warehouses? We require that automobiles reach unachievable standards in unrealistic time-frames, but solar panels on roof-tops? And it's weird that conservatives aren't pushing for this, because they—more than the left—bark about going "off-grid". I mean, you want to talk about getting pushed in the right direction for the sake of your agenda!

Maybe there isn't enough production capacity for all that?

I watched a Wendover Productions video demonstrating that the entire planet could be powered by solar with just an area the size of New Mexico covered in solar panels (it would cost 60 Trillion in paper U.S. dollars, but hey, money is "free", right?). That's a lot of panels! Here in Idaho we have some pretty big solar farms, but they still put the populace at the mercy of for-profit electricity, rather than the generate-your-own-power idea of roof-top solar. You own it, you maintain it, you reap the benefits. Less dams, less reactors, less coal plants, less gas plants, etc., etc., but we still have to figure out how to store enough power to get us through the night, or those other things are still a necessity, if only for half the day — and the easy half, at that.

Africa is beginning to invest heavily in this stuff (with help from Germany and China), but even Morocco—with a multi-billion dollar solar plant—is only covering 1/3 of its paltry energy needs with solar. They have a very long ways to go, and they have nothing but sunlight!

Here in the U.S., we can spend trillions on bombs, trillions on hand-outs, and trillions on other useless fluff, but we can't spend billions on solar-powered houses?

- AppleNova is the best Mac-users forum on the internet. We are smart, educated, capable, and helpful. We are also loaded with smart-alecks! :)
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Mat 5:9)

Last edited by kscherer : 2021-07-21 at 17:00.
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2021-07-21, 16:52

C'mon, man, you know this by now, if it doesn't blow up someone or buy a yacht, it's soshulizm.

Energy storage is one of the big gotchas in this, you bet. Also, that our grid is still based on 1930s technology and assumptions. It is ridiculously fragile, stupidly blind, horribly inefficient, and was never designed for on-demand energy production, storage capabilities, or on-site generation.

So, there's that.

Also, the fact that it's in private hands in much of the US makes it a nightmare for trying to upgrade. "Oh, no, dearie me, we can't do *that*, it might make our profits go down by a percent!" Whine, whine, whine.

Set a new standard. Nationalize what can't/won't meet it, and perform the necessary work.

We're a mid-20th century nation playing at being a 21st century contender.

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
#IRC isn't old school.
Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-07-21, 17:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post
C'mon, man, you know this by now, if it doesn't blow up someone or buy a yacht, it's soshulizm.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have our priorities out of whack, I get that. We need to get them in whack! Solar power and storage are top contenders IMO, and need addressing. That and water desalination — preferably solar-powered. Actually, the water desalination plants should be powered by garbage-fed power plants, since near the ocean is where we have the most garbage. You coasters can thank yourselves for that problem and solution.

Yada, yada, yada



Turtle, if you want to go down this route, do some rock-solid research. There are used solar panels available (sold by the pallet—see Will Prowse channel), make-them-yourself battery options (you've got the electrix skilz for this), and all kinds of buzzing doodads that suck power but are needed for conversion/monitoring, your electrical panel will likely need rebuilding, permits, disconnection fees — or worse, connection fees should you decide to remain on-grid, in which case you will also need an auto-disconnect in case the power goes out (your system cannot dump power into the system if the power is out, lest some lineman gets zapped by you ). There are just a ton of things you need to know/install to make the system work reliably. For a 400sf Paul-y-dome, this stuff is complex enough for most do-it-yourselfers to hire out. For a full-on home with all the fancy, it's nuts!

Good luck. I'm still investigating, and I'm still not convinced things are ready for what I want to do. I've been experimenting with my RV (about 160sf) and even in that small space A/C is out of the question, as is anything else other than lights and the heater fan — although I do have a 110 2000w inverter installed for Stuff™. I also ran some wiring for my storeroom fridge/freezer so I can tap into the RV inverter to take advantage of its batteries and solar panels, and to make the generator more efficient should the need arise). I'm just not ready to dump $30,000 into the problem, yet, since, for me, the only reason to do this is to gain the backup should the power go out. Being in Idaho, pretty much all of our power is hydro-electric, solar, hydro-thermal, or wind. We have very little in the way of fossil-fuel-powered plants, so "save the planet" reasoning just doesn't fly, here.

At the end of the day, I want the sun-powered backup power! And I'm not quite sure it's worth the money. Although I have also considered a grid-powered battery to supply backup power, w/o the solar input.

- AppleNova is the best Mac-users forum on the internet. We are smart, educated, capable, and helpful. We are also loaded with smart-alecks! :)
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Mat 5:9)
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2021-07-24, 04:51

Quote:
Although I have also considered a grid-powered battery to supply backup power, w/o the solar input.
There you go. Start with that, it lets you put in the battery, inverter, and auto-cutoff in isolation, and get most of your solution. Then you can decide on the solar later.

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
#IRC isn't old school.
Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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Frank777
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Toronto
 
2021-07-25, 05:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post
Also, that our grid is still based on 1930s technology and assumptions. It is ridiculously fragile, stupidly blind, horribly inefficient, and was never designed for on-demand energy production, storage capabilities, or on-site generation.

So, there's that.

Also, the fact that it's in private hands in much of the US makes it a nightmare for trying to upgrade. "Oh, no, dearie me, we can't do *that*, it might make our profits go down by a percent!" Whine, whine, whine.

Set a new standard. Nationalize what can't/won't meet it, and perform the necessary work.

We're a mid-20th century nation playing at being a 21st century contender.
I was going to post that most of this is extremely moot without a new electricity grid. Except that nowhere in the world that I'm aware of, has a next-generation electric grid in operation. We're building subdivisions here in Canada at a rapid clip, since home selling prices are, well, insane. And none of these homes have a whole home surge protector (see the other thread) not to mention a grid that allows for future electric vehicle needs, among other things.

Can some jurisdiction in North America please build one small community with a next-generation grid already? This is the infrastructure we need.

To my mind, there's no problem with not including solar panels with every new build, since we all know the tech isn't quite there yet. But it's reckless not to mandate that new homes come prewired for panels, battery storage and car charging. The owners can upgrade whenever they're ready. I seriously looked at the Span Panel for my place, but I think I'll pass on opening my electrical system to hackers.

There's a big role for government in setting agendas, standards and building codes, but I think the idea that the Government just needs to nationalize everything and fix it is crazy, given that the U.S. has just had to turn to private enterprise to bail out it's space program, which had been sending astronauts to space in machines that still utilized 5.25" floppy disks. The chance that the Government fixes the grid properly is about the same as the chance they'll pay off the national debt.

It's also important that all this new tech be hardened against EMP blasts, since we've already seen how fragile the grid is to solar storms. Building more weaknesses into millions of more homes is asking for serious trouble.

Finally, there's very good news on the home battery storage front. They had me at "no risk of fire."
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GSpotter
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: A small town near Wolfsburg, Germany
 
2021-08-10, 12:19

As electricity costs are quite high here in Germany (~0.30€/kWh), we had some solar panels and a battery installed last year. As the shape and position of our roof is not optimal, it's only a rather small system with 18 solar panel modules (together 5.76 kWp) and a 6.5kWh battery.

I didn't look that deep into the issue beforehand, but followed the recommendation of a friend who did some investigation. The nice thing about the system is that the battery and electronics etc. are from one company, so they provide an automatic power switch in case of a power failure (not uniterruptible, but within a few seconds. So in case of problems with the power grid, we have at least electricity as long as there is enough sun (or the battery is loaded).

Normally, the system is connected to the grid, so the energy which is not used directly in our house or used to load the battery is sent into the grid and I get some money for it. So in spring, summer and autumn, we mostly use the energy from our roof, only in winter, we still need energy from the grid as the days are too short (and often too grey) to fully supply our needs (not to think of loading the battery).

Here are the statistics from this year:

dark green = load battery
light green = use battery
light blue = send electricity to grid
dark blue = use electricity from grid
yellow = solor production
red = energy consumption in house

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2021-08-10, 12:25

That is awesome! What company did you go with if you don't mind me asking? The company I've been recommended at this point is Outback Power.

Currently I'm doing the "homework" of figuring out my loads and surges for things like refrigerators, microwaves, Central Air, light bulbs... etc... So much that uses power. Once I know what my actual loads are then we can see what kind of system production I'll need. Thankfully where I live I should be able to produce solid solar energy year round.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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GSpotter
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: A small town near Wolfsburg, Germany
 
2021-08-10, 12:48

We use a S10E from E3DC. I don't know if they are available in the US. It's an all-in-one solution, where you can add one or two batteries. It's bit oversized for our needs (the S10 mini would probably have been enough, but it had limitations on the backup functionality).

We use modules from HeckertSolar with 320 Watt peak per panel (as we didn't have much space on the roof, we took one the most efficient panels we could find to get the most out of the space. And we preferred to buy "made in Germany" instead of shipping the panels around the world)






My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2021-08-10, 13:05

Awesome. Looks good on the house, too.
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psmith2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2021-08-10, 13:10

I like that house/yard.
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GSpotter
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: A small town near Wolfsburg, Germany
 
2021-08-10, 13:32

Me too We had it built 6 years ago. As we bought the house rather late we planned it to be useful also when we get older (no stairs, broader doors etc.).

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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Dr. Bobsky
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: UK's most densely packed city. It's not London...
 
2021-08-10, 15:45

It was always amusing to trek through rural Upper Fraconia and stumble upon a barn covered in solar panels providing power to an entire village. A high tech sense of community that you certainly cannot find in north america...
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2021-08-11, 08:10

That is awesome! Thank you for sharing that GSpotter.

Did you do load calculations and such before getting the system or just base it on historical data from your power company? Right now I'm having to note pretty much everything that connects to an outlet (or charges from one) and I'm still more and more amazed at how much I have. Heck, the Outback site even has "Clock Radio" as an option to log its power consumption.

I guess I'd rather have a slightly larger system than needed over one that struggles to provide my needs, more so if we are actually able to go off-grid completely. I might keep the electrical service to my home, though treat it like shore power on a ship that I would only plug in to charge my batteries if my generator is down (or I don't want to burn the propane) and the sun just didn't charge the batteries enough.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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GSpotter
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: A small town near Wolfsburg, Germany
 
2021-08-11, 13:16

In my case, the "calculation" was rather simple: As we didn't have much room on the roof, it was more a "take as much as we can get"-approach. As I followed the lead of my friend and didn't do much additional research, the system provider was set. Due to the smaller number of our panels, the mini-system would have been enough for us, but we wanted the better functionality of the standard system. This decided the size of the battery (there is only the option to a 2nd battery, but this doesn't make any economical sense. In the summer time, the current battery is enough to supply energy for the night, but in winter time we do not have enough sun hours (I just realized that I live more northern than Calgary) to fill the current battery.

There are cheaper solutions on the market, especially when you combine components from different vendors, but I preferred the all-in-one solution. So, if I have a problem, there's only one responsible party which cannot point to others ...

If you do not live in a very sunny area in a much more southern area with less daytime variations than me, trying to be completely self-sufficient might be at least financially not be the most effective way. Normally, when using a battery, the "sweet spot" for self-sufficiency is more in the 70-80% region.

Another point if you would go off grid: You would then probably generate more energy than you need and without feeding it into the grid, it would go to waste.

Edit: BTW, the system looks like this:

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin

Last edited by GSpotter : 2021-08-11 at 13:39.
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Anonymous Coward
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2021-08-30, 17:17

Not sure if this is useful information, but my brother-in-law just asked me if he should look into replacing his solar panels, so I looked up some information on the original installation. We did not do any load estimates. The system was 30 x 90 watt panels, and it has been installed since February 2002 with no problems with the panels or the inverters. Since I did not have that much money and was looking for deals, I only ordered equipment for a 24V system, although I knew a 48V system would be more efficient.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2021-09-15, 13:36

Right now the hardest time I'm having is figuring out my actual usage of power. Sure I can look at my power bill, but if I'm going to really look at off grid I've got to be able to account for multiple devices having a surge/max draw especially if we do lose power and everything comes back up at the same time.

I'm still slowly looking into this, just not here yet.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
GSpotter
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: A small town near Wolfsburg, Germany
 
2021-09-22, 16:54

When I look at my consumption graph, the biggest spikes are typically the stove and oven. E.g. normally, our average baseline (with fridge, freezer, TV etc.) was about 400W, but when my wife did a christmas goose in the oven, the power consumption went up to various values between 2000 and 3000W for several hours. On normal days, there's a shorter spike to about 2500W when the stove is on and some smaller ones, probably from vacuuming etc. So from my point of view, those peak values are the ones to look at.

Since last week, we have a swim spa. That also changes the graph significantly (even though we used a heat pump to lower the energy consumption)...

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
  quote
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