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Thread: Off grid considerations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Off grid considerations

    Brent's power out experience got me to thinking more about off grid living. It has always been an interest and now that I have the MH & PP I probably could be closer to actually going there.

    Here is a guy on YouTube that proved to be interesting.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/LDSPrepper?feature=watch

    Which poses a question. Anyone know of an on-line power calculator so one can properly size an off-grid electrical system?
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  2. #2
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    This is all really high level but is a nice summary of things to start looking at:
    http://energy.gov/energysaver/articl...lectric-system
    http://energy.gov/energysaver/articl...energy-systems
    http://energy.gov/energysaver/articl...ectric-systems

    The biggest #1 first up item to planning is to calculate your actual usage/requirements. Unfortunately that is so site/installation/user dependent that I don't think you'll find a single answer to that.

    We had installed one of these: http://www.theenergydetective.com/ (there are other competitors as well, we got this one as part of a work deal) for a while, it was pretty interesting and we started turning off our laser printer more aggressively when we weren't using it. For home usage a similar device that tracks the whole house is pretty useful. What I really wish was that there was a reasonably priced (hah) panel (haha) that had per-breaker measurement (preferably built into the breaker itself).

    Some sort of clamp on meter you can put on the feed line to your RV where you could track your usage over some period of time would probably be the easiest way to figure it out (http://www.ebay.com/sch/kwhmeters*co...1&_from=&_ipg= is an example - note I am NOT endorsing them as I don't know them from adam - just the result of a search for "energy usage meter rv"). That would also help you figure out what your high usage devices are and start mitigating them if you needed to (i.e. you find out your power usage is waaaay high for some reason you can start looking to find out where the draw is .. or hopefully not but happens.. if there is a short). I'm looking at something like that over a simple ammeter because I think it is useful to be able to get more granular time series data if you are trying to find out what is actually using all the juice - otherwise you're sitting there staring at the dial waiting for the fridge to kick on

    For a house if I was planning partial grid I'd put in a sub panel with all of the critical items on it and have that hooked up with a transfer switch to the main panel/generator (or battery bank or whatever). That can still work with a net-metering setup and a battery backup but requires some more complicated switching gear (especially if you want it automated - and make sure you have charge and draw limiters so that you don't overcharge or over drain your batteries unless you looove spending money).

    As an aside, unless you are someplace reaaalllly windy or get a reaaaaalllly good deal on a used system the payback on wind systems is pretty bad. Microhydro with net-metering has probably the best ROI still (on my list of like-to-haves for the eventual property but certainly not holding my breath) but solar keeps getting cheaper so its getting close.

  3. #3
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    Another thing to consider is your sunlight situation, while looking around for other reasons (we're comparing various plausible living locations for winter sun exposure ) we found this: http://maps.nrel.gov/ - the "In My Backyard (IMBY)" tool is pretty cool for calculating probable energy yield in a given location.

  4. #4
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    Wow! Thanks, Ryan.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  5. #5
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    Yorktown, Virginia
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    IMBY gave me a 36 year pay back on every option. Have to play with it more to see how variables change the outcome. Interesting site.

  6. #6
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    It is very difficult and / or expensive to go off grid if you wish to continue to consume electrical energy like most power hungry Americans.

    Low cost and easy way to work towards going off grid is to learn to start living more like Abe Lincoln than George Jetson.

    Not trying to be a wise guy, but to create electrical power anywhere near the $0.10 - $0.75 per KW price ($0.15 being closer to the average) most utilities sell it for is very difficult.

    Understand I am very biased - Retired Power Company guy.

  7. #7
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    Carol... zip on over to the escapees site and there are loads of people who've done the solar/generator discussion thing... that I recall (I haven't looked into it that seriously...) Jack Mayer has one of the definitive 'how to ' and 'what works' discussions/sources on his personal site: www.jackdanmayer.com

    quick link check and sure enough he has a TON of information all laid out for you.
    -Ned

  8. #8
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    Saw it some time ago, Ned. But thanks.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  9. #9
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    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Calver View Post
    IMBY gave me a 36 year pay back on every option. Have to play with it more to see how variables change the outcome. Interesting site.
    I don't think it takes into account a lot of the rebates either. In many areas there are some serious tax credits and other kickbacks that can really drop the price; without them it often doesn't work as well as you'd like.. with them .. it depends..

  10. #10
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    No rebates for MH installations. But you gotta know what you need, and then you gotta decide what you want. Two different lists, ya know?
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

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