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Matsu
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-01-04, 17:19

For emergency weather event back-up, a natural gas whole home generator (or even better a dual/tri fuel) is probably the best. This can be done really pretty cheap, especially if you go with a manual transfer switch and generator.
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Yontsey
*AD SPACE FOR SALE*
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Cleveland-ish, OH
 
2023-01-05, 06:31

I got everything for under $10k. Had the electricians install the transfer switch which is automatic and I ordered the generator and my cousin and I are installing it. They are very simple and straight forward to install. For my new network Unifi setup, I have a UPS in my rack to bridge that split second from electric to the generator so there's no hiccup.

Die young and save yourself....
@yontsey
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-01-05, 10:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yontsey View Post
I got everything for under $10k. Had the electricians install the transfer switch which is automatic and I ordered the generator and my cousin and I are installing it. They are very simple and straight forward to install. For my new network Unifi setup, I have a UPS in my rack to bridge that split second from electric to the generator so there's no hiccup.
That is good planning!

In Va Beach I ended up doing the manual route because as many tropical storms as we had, I just couldn't justify the additional cost. For me, we didn't have gas to begin with and adding it to the home would have just been one more bill. If I were to go new and had gas available I would have done it that way.

Once solar gets installed in my home now I'll have solar, batteries and propane central heat. This will allow me to run the propane heat off the batteries in the event of a "dark sky and grid down" situation. Otherwise, my panels will be able to generate enough to power the heat on their own.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-01-14, 11:17

Install started Thursday and Friday. The install is not completed. My existing electrical system is... absurd. The panels are on the roof and wired into the basement to the inverters. The Powerwalls are in and the Tesla Gateway is wired to it.

The most frustrating part is that we knew a storm was coming through the south Thursday and the installers insisted we start. The bulk of the storm passed after the outside work was done but the problem for me is it left me without power for the whole day until 0309 in the morning. It sucked so bad. It was cold and windy outside.

I have a big family, that means we have lots of food storage. Five fridge/freezers total in my house. Very little of it sits in those for long. Those things tend to want to maintain power to keep working. I had to go outside and figure out how to get my generator running in the storm and run extension cords everywhere because of this.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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drewprops
Space Pirate
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2023-01-15, 08:14

Ugh. Passage from "broken" to "fixed" can be painful and being at the mercy of installers is frustrating, especially in poor weather conditions. I want to redo several fundamental things about my home; dad passed along several stories about how inept the builders of this home were. I don't relish trying to find someone with the knowledge and skills.


...
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-03-09, 19:57

I have solar, finally. Today I was given permission to operate and it was fantastic... accept that it is dreary and already late afternoon so I didn't get much from the panels. Thankfully the batteries had charge to 91% during testing last week so I'm actually running off of battery right now.

In fact, at this very moment I'm 100% powered by the batteries. At my current rate that is good for another 17 hours. I should have sun in the morning and I am still grid tied if I end up with less solar power than we consume tomorrow.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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kieran
@kk@pennytucker.social
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
 
2023-03-09, 21:41

Well that's awesome. Glad it finally came together for you.

We've been looking into it at our house in CT and it's been such a hassle. We got rid of our gas furnace and hot water heater and swapped it for a tankless hot water heater and electric heat pumps, but that has obviously put a huge increase in our electric bill.

We look online for all of these solar programs that are promising the world, but they end up just selling that information and we never actually get anyone to give us an estimate.

We had one person scheduled to come out, but before he got here, the company called and said due to them looking at Google Earth, we have too much shade from the trees and they're not coming out. 20 mins later, the tech shows up and says we would be able to do it, but at that point, I just wanted to move on from them.

No more Twitter. It's Mastodon now.
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Matsu
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-03-10, 08:32

That's great. I'm about to upgrade my service to 200amp and leave space for a transfer switch. It's not strictly needed at the moment but, the wall perpendicular to the panel is open now and it leaves a path for an easy run to a sub panel in the garage for my workshop and the master suite above. This way there's enough amps and breakers for solar/battery and car charger if/when, and a laundry closet, radiant heat and/or mini split for the master suite above the garage.

.........................................
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-03-21, 15:56

I think I'm finally willing to share more details about my build. I struggle between sharing something I'm really excited about and maintaining my privacy. So rather than post the prints used for permitting about my solar build I built a basic diagram that will cover it.


I have a solar array that is rated for 23kW that feeds the two inverters. We are using SolarEdge with panel based optimizers. These help the strings maintain voltage in the event of partial shading and such. Those inverters feed the Tesla Gateway. This Gateway serves as the primary disconnect from the utility as well as the traffic cop for where I get and send electricity. Our build also uses two Powerwalls to provide power to critical loads in dark sky and grid down situations. During daylight we will continue living like there is no grid down. Since we only have two Powerwalls we are limited to ~60A continuous AC out. This would quickly fill if high current appliances all turned on at once. To prevent overcurrent you would normally use a dedicated critical loads panel to host those items you wanted backed up by the batteries. I want it all so I went a different route and am trusting relatively new technology.

Enter the Span Panel. It replaces the main load center/breaker panel in your home and allows for custom software based rules. So rather than have only the critical loads backed up, all my loads are. To prevent overcurrent the Span will shed loads when running on battery. This will mean all my high current loads will be shed immediately but programmatically. The breaker isn't turned off, but backend control of the breaker is. The Span Panel allows you to designate Must have circuits, Nice to have circuits and non-essential circuits. Non-essential circuits are shed immediately. Nice to have circuits shed at 50% battery capacity. Must haves shed when the batteries are dead. The downfall of the Span (beyond cost) is that is only has 32 breaker slots. We have to have a number of circuits in sub-panels. Those sub-panels are shed first with the true critical loads on individual circuits in the Panel.

I have been operating for almost two weeks now and have already gone positive for the month with net metering. So I'm sending more electricity to the grid than I'm using from them. We currently use the grid for overnights and dark days (cloudy, rain etc..). Net though, we are still positive. I have three apps to monitor everything though I typically only look at the Tesla and Span app since they provide everything I really need and have the controls for my system.

Here you can see the yellow line showing I'm powering my home electrical loads as well as charging the batteries AND feeding the grid.

So far I know I would like more energy storage for longer periods overnight as well as dark days. Other than that I really am genuinely thrilled with this system. It is a horrible shame it took us almost 18 months from start to finish. I'm actually in communications with upper management about the build and challenges we have faced along the way. The install process has been one wrong thing after another. So many challenges along the way. In the end I do believe it will be worked out.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.

Last edited by turtle : 2023-03-21 at 17:22.
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Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-03-21, 19:31

Verra nice. Curious, did you have the Tesla Powerwalls already in place, or were they a deliberate purchase choice? Looking at something similar, but no Tesla in the driveway so options are open.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-03-21, 19:56

The Powerwalls were not present before this install and were the choice I made at the time. I'm not certain they would be my choice now though. I love the polish and general function, but I'm paying for that at the expense of real capacity in my Energy Storage System.

At this point I would be looking for something that can utilize server rack batteries I think. This would allow for easier expansion and replacement if a cell were to fail. With the Powerwalls it is all Tesla and their hand. Again, I don't regret it, but I can't say I would undoubtedly get them again if I were to start over.

Oh, I have no Tesla vehicle either. Heck, I don't even have an electric vehicle right now. I do have a Hybrid, but it isn't a plugin.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-03-21, 20:07

I hear you, it's honestly still hard to beat good old lead acid batteries for density and longevity at the moment. Which is kind of galling. XD

"Wow, amazing smart home! What does it run on?"

"1859 technology."
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-03-21, 20:14

Well, I'm more thinking Lithium Iron Phosphate like these. For the price and density it stomps what you get from Tesla. The thing you really lose though is that polish and such from the app like Tesla.

If I even knew these existed before I signed the contracts for my current system I would likely have looked down this road instead. Adding another rack of batteries is expensive, but a full rack of six with the rack is less than one Powerwall.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-05-25, 16:26

Ok, I'm now getting intrigued. Have an electrician coming next week for an all-house overview, possible panel upgrade, etc, etc.

Not looking to pull the trigger ASAP on the whole enchilada, but thinking:

Phase 1:
SNAP Panel (or similar) - get clear idea of load requirements
Single battery bank – LiP bank, agree on modularity being key, can add capacity later as needed, fill from grid for the moment

That gives me short-term power backup, smart control over the distribution during outages (often enough we have a generator, rare enough we don't have a built-in auto-on generator), and needed Information for the phase 2...

Phase 2:
Solar panels / wind vertical turbine
Add to battery bank

The latter is actually useful here, winds are variable but for about 4 months of the year in winter, they tend to blow more often than not, and up to 50mph for sustained periods. A small unit may be worth it, and hell, fun to play with if nothing else.

Those silly online estimators keep coming back to about a 26kW solar install, which seems excessive, but at least gives me a ballpark before getting better info from a smart panel.

Pros: Modular, incremental, spreads out costs
Cons: Any confidence that today's tech setups will be compatible with a future solar install? I mean, spark is spark, but...
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-05-25, 22:42

If your first goal is to monitor and gauge your actual usage then I would (and I actually did) get an Emporia Energy Monitor for my electrical main panels. Once this was installed and running for a little over a month I knew what my actual usage was. I didn’t get any of the 50A leads, just the main 200A lugs were enough for me. This is a minimal investment to see what you actually do peak up to. Of course, you have to be “careful” not to adjust your usage knowing that you are looking now. So don’t tell your family you put it in. Then you will know for certain actual usage.

I don’t think the Span Panel will work with anything other than a Tesla Gateway. That is one limitation to it that seems relevant since I wouldn’t recommend the Tesla system in favor of server rack batteries. While the Span Panel would still give great insight and allow you to manage your electrical system, if it doesn’t work with anything other than a Tesla Gateway then it isn’t a direction I would point you.

The Tesla system also doesn’t allow for another source of power that isn’t solar. So you might need to get creative with adding wind to the mix. I would think it would have its own inverter that can feed the battery bank though so that might be the best option for integrating it in. As long as it feed the same voltage the batteries you use are rated for.

Of course, in all of this, grid approval is going to be a big deal. So some things you might electrically be able to do won’t be allowed by code. I faced that with my system and some of my proposals.

Also, there is a new all-in-one inverter on the market that looks good for most 200A service homes. It is the Signature Solar 18k. It looks good on paper and the one review I have seen on it looks really good.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-05-26, 09:46

Now with pictures!

This is how my panel looks with the Emporia installed in it a few months ago before I cleaned it up and corrected some things:

The primary CTs clamp on the main feeds to the top of the breaker panel. The two hots go to breakers that are fed from different phases. Typically this is a double pole breaker like mine is at the bottom right. The others go to the neutral bar. Then there is a WIFI antenna you pop out of the side of the box which you can see in this image.

In my region, code requires a physical disconnect within 6' (lug to lug) for service main from the meter. So I had to have my meter moved from the area on the right to the wall it sits on now. 400A service in the middle that feeds the two disconnects on either side. My Tesla Gateway is the primary disconnect on the right with the "standard" 200A disconnect on the left. Far right in the image you can see the required PV disconnect as well.


Based on load calculations and the fact that I had four breaker panels they determined I required 400A service. Because I ran the Emporia for a few months (total) I knew that wasn't true. I was certain it wasn't true but how can I argue with master electricians and load calculations? Well, since I had the data I took matters into my own hands and resolved the problem myself.

This is my panel setup before the solar/Powerwall install:

200A main panel on the left fed the two middle sub panels plus other high current items.

Here are my breakers panels now:

Far left is the Span Panel that is fed from the Tesla Gateway. The middle two sub panels are fed from the Span Panel as 90A and 70A feeds (Span Panel has a 90A breaker limit). The far right is the original 200A main panel fed from the left hand disconnect in the earlier picture above. Notice the physical interlock on the far right panel? Well, I couldn't get the electrician to direct wire the one panel to the other because load calculations... but I could get him to install a NEMA 14-50 outlet off of the Span Panel. So I installed a generator inlet, the interlock and a 50A breaker on the main panel (far right). This allowed me to be able to feed the main panel on the right from a generator. What electrician is going to fight that?


Well, my generator ended up being the Span Panel thanks to the NEMA 14-50 outlet installed that matched my generator cable. So my service main on the far right panel is off and the 50A inlet is on meaning my far right panel is being powered by the inlet. That panel is lights and outlets now. All the major loads were moved to the middle left sub panel or Span Panel. Like, right at this very moment that far right panel is pulling 238w total.

If you notice in the image of my panels, that outlet is gone and I've spliced the wires directly so no more generator cable laying on the basement floor:


So the generator inlet is gone and the NEMA 14-50 outlet is now just a splice.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.

Last edited by turtle : 2023-05-26 at 12:17.
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drewprops
Space Pirate
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2023-05-26, 12:03

I have read this twice and it still hurts my brain. I am absolutely impressed by all of this.


...
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-05-26, 12:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewprops View Post
I have read this twice and it still hurts my brain. I am absolutely impressed by all of this.


It wasn't until I was discussing my plan with the master electrician that I finally got someone who was actually following me and what I did (or planned to do at the time). I stayed at a random express hotel once... must be why.

To make it better, I added another image to the earlier post and more details so you can see the before and after. Now you can look at it two more times!

Kickaha, if you are going to add batteries you will require an inverter to manage the energy storage. Might as well make sure that inverter can handle batteries AND solar so you don't have to change it out but once.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-05-26, 14:22

Fabulous insights, thanks! The Emporia sensors are indeed a more flexible (and cheaper!) approach, and I don't need automation at this stage, just information.

Noted on the solar/battery requirement, I hadn't gotten that far in my research. XD

I think we're truly going to do this as a battery bank + inverter first, with the expectation of adding in solar / other later.

Mad jelly of the IT rack there too... trying to find a space in the garage for same, but my wife suggested using the top of the linen closet in the central hub of the house, which logistically makes good sense (with venting) and who am I to argue? Will make cable runs simpler.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-05-27, 14:01

There are a ton of angles to consider especially if you plan to add wind into the mix. Batteries will be a huge help for any outage, but if you charge from the grid they will not be eligible for the tax credit. They have to be 100% renewable charged for the credit. Not a big deal if you aren't planning on the tax credit, but something else to consider.

For the rack, your closet isn't a horrible idea if you can swing it. The temp would likely be more stable and the worst thing you might have to do is skim a little off the bottom of the closet door to allow air in for an exhaust fan lowing heat out.

Here is a more current version of my rack as of just a few weeks ago:

I had to put the UPS in there because while that circuit is under critical loads of the Powerwalls, the minor power drop during the switchover is enough to power cycle some of the systems. I found that out the hard way.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-04, 00:12

Today I decided to unplug from the grid. Just plain turn off the power. It has been a very good eye opener. I was sent a link to a video on YouTube for an off grid challenge. This guy has a similar setup as me so I decided I wanted to try it too. We did not build our system to be off grid, but want the ability to go off grid and handle long duration outages. What better time to try it than when there is no issue. I saw things in his video that I wanted to understand for myself with my setup and usage.

So I turned off the power at my main disconnects at around 2:45 this afternoon. We were at 100% charge on the Powerwalls and plenty of sunlight. I told my family to live life normally during sunup so we could see what happened with the grid down. So we lived life normally so far. When I turned off the grid the solar production stopped. I kinda knew this was going to happen but didn't really know why until later when I had to look it up, about 15 minutes later as a matter of fact. Why you might ask? Because the UPS connected to my network rack died and my network stack dropped. Why did this happen? Well I assumed it had to do with the power being clean but wasn't sure. Checking the outlets I still had 120VAC on them so the UPS had power to it but it refused to be powered from the outlet. I moved my power strips to the outlets directly (off of the UPS) and they all powered on normally.

Turns out the Gateway turns off the solar inverters by messing up the power with frequency shifting. This article talks about it in better detail than I'm going to but it even mentions that some UPS won't accept power from the Gateway when it shifts the power frequency from 60Hz to 66Hz. I don't have a meter handy to check the frequency so I'm going to have to assume this is right. At least my assumption of clean power was right, but it was controlled "dirty" power. We did notice the microwave sounded funny as well as a few other things also mentioned in the article. One thing that wasn't was some of the cheaper LED bulbs wouldn't light properly with the shifted frequency.

So the solar production stayed off until we reached 85% charge on the Powerwalls. At that point it finally started production and we ran off of solar and the batteries as needed while the batteries charged to 98% (not 100%):


Here you can see a little while later we stopped solar production and were using the batteries again.


Now this was a little bit ago as we were settling in for the night.


We still have more than 50% charge right now though I did move my two A/C systems to non-essential to turn them off. This prolonged the batteries given they pull around 7kW combine when running. Tonight when we made dinner we actually over pulled from the Powerwalls (10kW max continuous) and lost all power briefly. Both A/C units were running as well as the microwave and other general circuits. So we moved one unit to non-essential (turning it off) and then later moved the second since we didn't really need it overnight. I've also learned at least two more circuits that I need to move to a different sub panel.

At this point we are 11 hours in and I've learned a ton about my system and even the technical aspects of some portion of it. I'm still thrilled!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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drewprops
Space Pirate
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2023-06-04, 04:37

I am astonished that you are able to run air conditioning, microwave, etc from the system. Clearly, my understanding of your setup's capabilities was set too low.


...
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-04, 13:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewprops View Post
I am astonished that you are able to run air conditioning, microwave, etc from the system. Clearly, my understanding of your setup's capabilities was set too low.
Let me blow your mind then.... I'm intentionally using electricity AND turned off one of my inverters today just so I can fully charge my Powerwalls. Why might you ask? Well I'm glad you did so I can explain.

The Powerwalls are capable of 5kW in or out continuous. So just like last night when we over pulled and the Powerwalls reset because I pulled more than 10kW, today I realized it won't charge if we actually try to send 15.7kW to the batteries and the grid isn't present to offload the extra to!

Why aren't my batteries charging?


OH! To much power!


While I was at church I checked on the batteries and was really perplexed that they weren't charging. So I happened to catch the inverters sending power and even with the A/C running and other items we just weren't pulling more than 5700w of power to keep the two inverters from over powering the Powerwalls! The only option the Gateway has to prevent over powering is to turn off the inverters. The way they are wired that is an all or nothing thing. So both inverters get turned off an no solar production at all until it can handle the input power from them.

So what was my solution? When I got home I intentionally started heavy loads and turned off one of the inverters.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2023-06-04, 16:02

"when it shifts the power frequency from 60Hz to 66Hz."

Giggling at the idea of old analog clocks running 10% faster.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-04, 16:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post
"when it shifts the power frequency from 60Hz to 66Hz."

Giggling at the idea of old analog clocks running 10% faster.
Yes, you get it. Isn't it kinda funny when you think about that? I have one of those but I don't know if it is impacted because it runs on a wall wart. If the frequency shifting impacts the DC to the clock it would, but I haven't stopped to check it out yet.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-04, 18:15




We tripped the system again when the main A/C condenser fired up. This time it reset the Gateway and not just the Powerwalls. This wouldn't be a problem normally but I changed the password for the Gateway customer login so I could get in there and pull from the API. This means when it resets it reverts back to the default password and I have to manually set it again.

I was watching earlier and saw the system spike to over 16kW when the condenser kicked on again. We had solar supplementing so it didn't trip the house offline but it did register. We also had low usage overall at the time so it didn't impact us at all, but at least I know why we have tripped a few times. Spike to 16kW while running other loads AND no solar as well and it makes a ton of sense.

Anyway, since Span Panel can't communicate with the Gateway it isn't going to be able to shed loads properly through the night once we hit 50% capacity in the batteries. So tonight before we go to sleep I'm going to turn off the A/C so it doesn't end up burning up the battery and causing all power to be depleted dropping my network rack and other things again.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-05, 18:26

Yesterday afternoon when I discovered the broken connection of Span Panel and Tesla Gateway I submitted a ticket to have it repaired. They got it working again this morning and everything worked as expected again.

This afternoon was also 48 hours off the grid... as in a little over 4 hours ago. We are still off the grid.


It is really cloudy out there today so I'm more inclined to keep going with the test while we have less than perfect weather. I was talking with Mrs T about it and we might actually take our house off the grid during overnights and reconnect during daylight when we can send surplus energy to the grid. This would have us really independent while gaining ground with Duke. Not sure how practical that is right now though. We do have a real limitation of 10kW continuous when the grid is down. Both A/C units and one other high current pull and we trip. We aren't certain how we will be able to work that... though we are certainly going to try to figure it out! The less dependent we are on Duke the better it is for us!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-06, 10:37

We are now into our third full day off the grid and I'm getting the swing of this. Today I turned off one of my inverters to slow the battery charging. This is keeping to solar running on the one inverter providing steady power to the home and charging the batteries.


I also told my family to start using electricity. With a 10kW limit on the batteries we can't go over that without the solar being on. If solar is producing then we can do solar + 10kW from the Powerwalls. This gives us around 17kW with one inverter. If full solar production happens then we max out the input to the Powerwalls (10kW) and production stops. Then we are back to just batteries and limited to 10kW. So I've got a hotplate running to distill water, oven going baking things, dishwasher running.... you know... Freaking my kids out because I'm always running around telling them to turn things off and here I am saying "hurry up and get something using electricity so we don't go battery only!"

This silly dance wouldn't be a problem if my batteries could output 20kW. So my next real goal is to get another couple of Powerwalls to bring my input/output capacity to 20kW. Then I can have full sun charging (15.7kW full production) and not worry if I'm only on battery.

I will say that I notice the lights flickering more now that I'm off the grid. Not horrible, but it does stand out as a thing so I have to wonder if it is damaging any of the electronics. Something I'm keeping an eye on and figured I'd at least mention it.

Edit: This is working and I'm pushing the line too!

I got REALLY close to tripping it all. Had the dryer, oven, stovetop, both A/C systems, a hotplate and dehumidifier all running. I had the dryer stopped. We are good.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.

Last edited by turtle : 2023-06-06 at 12:28.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-08, 19:48

Wanna see a graph? Who doesn't like good graphing to show the point!

This is my production in Grafana:


To accomplish this I needed to enable Modbus TCP for my inverters and then run some scripts that log data to a DB that Grafana plots for me. You can see my current production in numerical values that is relative real time and a graph that shows historical.

The cut in half midday today is because I turned off one of my inverters to halve production. Because my Powerwalls cap at 10kW in, I had to reduce it so the Gateway wouldn't stop solar production to prevent itself from being overloaded. In the graph you can see clouds passing by and such. The "crisp" drop to zero production is where the Gateway stopped production. Normally it was only for 5 minutes, but can be longer. Around 1700 I turned on the second inverter and production spiked up to 11kW again. From there the sun began to set.

I don't have the battery part added to the graph just yet but do have the placeholder. Getting my Powerwall data is a challenge right now since I have Span Panel and it takes the data from the Gateway and every time I've tried to tie in it breaks the data to the Panel.

Mind you, all of the turning off inverters and such wouldn't be needed if I were to stay grid tied. Any excess solar would just be sent to the grid. I would maintain full production and just stay topped off on my batteries. At this point what started as a 48 hour challenge has turned into a 7 day challenge. Our plan right now is to enable the grid Sunday morning and then disconnect overnight so we only send to the grid, but never pull. We might achieve a $0 power bill through exports. Right now, due to Duke's plans, out "standard" bill is about $75 a month without any actual electrical usage. That is just to be connected to the grid at all!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
 
2023-06-12, 10:05

We did it! We went off grid for 8 days, 9 hours, 22 minutes. Tesla's accounting for grid outage:

What started as just a 48 hour challenge to learn about my system turned into a 7 day test which became a +8 day so the week would align with the Monday through Sunday the apps log so we can show the full week of off grid. I'm planning to put a lot in this post, feel free to just scroll. I want to share some of the specifics from this "test".

The TLDR version is I feel confident that even if the grid were to go down hard for an extended period of time that my family would live fairly comfortably.

Sunday was the hardest day with little solar production and low charge on the batteries from the night before.

Duke and Tesla's log of energy used for the last week:



The coolest part is seeing how much energy we actually used through the week:


You can see we didn't exactly suffer with a lack of power. There were a few cloudy days in the mix that did impact how much electricity we used. We did have to be conscious of how much we used and when. This is heavy influenced by the 10kW limit the Powerwalls placed on our home when only on battery. When the solar was producing with the batteries we could hit a max continuous consumption of 27.5kW or so of AC. That breaks down to over 200A for a 120VAC circuit. Needless to say, we would just about never need that much continuously in our home. If I had multiple EV chargers, welders and high volume pumps then maybe... we don't have that. Our dryer, oven and A/C systems are our high current draw and combined they wouldn't reach that theoretical max continuous draw.

Now, Tuesday through Friday I did intentionally consume electricity to attempt to keep solar production up while slowly charging the batteries. Because the limit on power to charge the batteries I would allow them to trickle charge during daylight but consuming most of the solar production for things like climate control and laundry. Friday was my absolute highest and I pushed it hard. My kid's rooms were 68DegF and they had their windows open to just maintain the A/C running. We had the dryer running consistently too. Monday, Saturday and Sunday were more "normal" usage with a little manipulation. I did turn off one of the inverters to allow for slower battery charging to maintain solar production during daylight. This made my continuous max power for the home ~17.5kW continuous while the single inverter was running (full production) and the Powerwall max out of 10kW. This really became a point for peak power too because when the A/C units would kick the compressor on we would see spikes as high as 20kW. In cases where the Powerwalls were the only source of power we have tripped the system and dropped everything.
This is the graphing for Friday and Saturday of our solar production:

Friday I pushed it to the max. We had great solar production and I wanted to keep the batteries charging so they would be able to supplement the spikes. Also, keeping the condenser for the A/C running prevented the spike in power on startup. Once they got running I tried to keep them running to prevent the spike from taking down the house. Saturday I was less hands on. Before we hit full solar production I turned off one inverter and really just let it do its thing. Once solar production had lowered to where it wouldn't overpower the batteries I turned the inverter back on.

To be clear, it was actually pretty stressful to maintain optimal solar production, battery charging and home loads doing this. One of the big takeaways from this is that my system wasn't built for off grid life. Sure it can function off grid, but it wasn't designed for it. The simplest solution is another two Powerwalls. My stress level would be nothing in that case, but that is about another $20,000 for those two Powerwalls + install. I don't have $20k sitting around for this kind of a convenience when we don't expect the grid to actually go down hard. I guess that makes me a bad prepper.

Sunday, our last day off the grid, was actually the least comfortable. We had pretty big storms pass through the area for most of the day. This killed solar production due to heavy cloud cover and rain. Generally we still maintained some level of power production but the batteries were fairly depleted from the overnight with nothing to charge them. Here you can see our production for the day:


At almost 1500 we were still under 60% charged on the batteries:


Sunday I had most of our circuits turned off. I really do mean most. I discovered the basement bathroom lights aren't on a protected circuit but one of the sub panels. So the kids used at lantern in there when they needed to use it. We ate cold food from the fridge with no cooking at all to get those batteries charged as much as possible to be able to handle the overnight. I felt like someone with seasonal paychecks who has to bank for the off season. We were doing that with power so we would have enough to last us overnight. In this case, it was really until after midnight when I reconnected the grid, but I wanted enough to be able to make it all night because there were storms and I didn't know if the grid was going to go down or not. The real fun Sunday was a phantom 230W power draw that I couldn't account for! One of my circuits that is a protected load suddenly started burning 230W that it normally doesn't. I couldn't figure out where or why. Because it was consistent I wasn't worried about it being a fault, but rather trying to track down what was on that shouldn't be and is unaccounted for. When in a low production situation like this it is amazing how valuable 230W continuous is! I mean, that is more than 2/3rd of my network rack's total continuous burn. Turns out my littlest boy turned on flood lights out front and we didn't notice. Seems I missed those two when changing everything out to LED lighting recently.


So compare Sunday's dark and rainy day to a "normal full production" day:


Throughout the whole time we didn't wake up to dead batteries or the house offline. We did get a bunch of notices from the Tesla app that we were critically low and such, but we always had power in the morning. I also set my Span to shed loads a lot less than normal while operating off grid. Default for us is to shed most loads if the grid goes down. 8 days of grid down just wouldn't work like that. We had to make every circuit available for power during certain periods. I mean, really we didn't right, but we live a certain lifestyle and certain things we want powered when we want them. I just got good about managing what was powered and when to be able to be off the electrical grid.

I learned a number of tweaks I need to make to my electrical system. Things like the basement bathroom not having lights, my water heater being on a sub panel that sheds during normal low battery situations, other circuits that should shed but didn't... some are little and others a bigger.

Next up, off grid in winter! I do want to test it out when we are in the middle of winter and see how we can handle it.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Visit our archived Minecraft world! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.

Last edited by turtle : 2023-06-12 at 12:07.
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