Free State Project Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Pages: 1 2 [3]   Go Down

Author Topic: OFF THE GRID  (Read 13542 times)

Bazil

  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1027
  • not the spice and not the country
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2010, 09:47:07 pm »

Don't be afraid to go cheap!

The wife and I have been off grid for 7 years.

For much of this time we have used 185 watts of solar backed up by a very efficient generator. That's not a typo, 185 watts of solar, with a panel cost of about $300.

My mother looked at converting her house and received quotes of $35,000 to $50,000. The quotes included removing her gas water heater, stove and furnace and replacing them with electric, using an electric stove and heater is crazy.

We analyzed the quotes and showed her how she could have the same quality of life for $6,000.

If you are willing to be a little creative and live with a system that is not as "turnkey" as people are used to, you can save 75% of the cost of a solar system. Yes, I sometimes have to flip a switch or check a wall meter, but my inverter cost under $300 and my charge controller under $20, versus the $1,800 I would have spent for one that was more autonomous. I have to manually start a generator, but my generator cost me $800 and runs 8 hours on a gallon of gas, vs $3,000 and 1.5 gallons an hour for one that self started, plus $600 for the interface to my system (I use an extension cord).

Go cheap, use less power, save $$$

Your all your power runs on 185 watts?  That would require a substantial change in lifestyle I think and less visits to this forum I think.  Solar panels are generally expensive.  I would think some kind of heat pipe solution would give more bang for the buck.  Obviously on a slightly larger scale, of a few thousand watts at least.  I've been looking at getting a 10k+ watt LP (propane) generator.  They cost a few k however.  The setup I'd like to have isn't off the grid, but I'd like to have a large battery back up that not only backs up but regulates incoming power.  That way when the power goes out I could switch to the generator without an actual interruption in power.  Also with the batteries my power consumption could temporarily exceed the generator's capacity without effecting all the other devices I'm running.  I already have a generator hook up for my power so I think the whole system would cost somewhere north of 5k but south of 10k.  Also most of my appliances are LP so they are minimal on the electricity.  The problem is the price of propane these days isn't low.
Logged
"If it ain't broke, fix it till it is!"- The government | "Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often, and for the same reasons!" -  a friend

preparehandbook

  • Guest
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2010, 03:48:58 am »

10,000 watts?

holy cow, we ran a full size, working ranch on 5,000, then later 2 houses on 1,500 watts. All pretty conventional houses with normal lights, fridge etc.

true at 185 we had to modify our lifestyle a bit (it was in the tropics so heat was less an issue).

Well, if you need 10,000 watts you're gonna have to get a pricier system.
Logged

Bazil

  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1027
  • not the spice and not the country
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2010, 01:27:15 pm »

10,000 watts?

holy cow, we ran a full size, working ranch on 5,000, then later 2 houses on 1,500 watts. All pretty conventional houses with normal lights, fridge etc.

true at 185 we had to modify our lifestyle a bit (it was in the tropics so heat was less an issue).

Well, if you need 10,000 watts you're gonna have to get a pricier system.

Hehe, well look at it this way, 10 100 watt bulbs is 1000 watts.  A hot water heater can be a thousand or more, dryer ect.  It adds up.
Logged
"If it ain't broke, fix it till it is!"- The government | "Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often, and for the same reasons!" -  a friend

rossby

  • Director of Development
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4801
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2010, 01:33:45 pm »

If you've got certain tools, it's not that crazy, considering that 10 kW is a maximum rating. A lot of "nice" tools can run 1.2 kW and up.
Logged

margomaps

  • FSP Participant
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 708
  • I'm a llama!
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2010, 01:52:33 pm »

150 watts might keep my cable modem, wireless router, VOIP phone, and super-low-wattage computer powered on.  I'd have to leave the monitors off though.  :D

Also, I figure ~ 1,000 watts for the well pump, a couple hundred watts for the water pressure tank, at least a couple hundred watts each for the fridge in the house and the freezer in the garage, a couple hundred watts for the oil burner, a couple hundred watts for the exhaust fan on the oil burner...etc.  And don't forget the 1,500 watt electric heater that keeps my feet warm when I'm sitting at my desk.  I added it all up a while back and ended up getting a ~ 7,500 watt generator.
Logged

preparehandbook

  • Guest
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #35 on: November 05, 2010, 05:20:04 pm »

I guess being off grid for so long and also being a cheap SOB I figured out where to trim.

Tons of power tools, have it figured how many I can run at once, since I don't use a table saw and a circular saw simultaneously I can get by with the wattage for 1. My TV and VCR were carefully chosen and burn 51 watts together. My freezer pulls less than 150 watts when running, under 300 watts a day (it averages 1.86 hours run time a day)

It's all about getting a quality watts/hour meter and graph paper and figure out how to time all the uses. Solar installers are very skilled at scamming folks into buying systems much bigger than they need (used to work for one).

It would be like selling you a car and asking how many people you transport a year, and when you say that 30 people have been in your car over the last year they tell you to buy a 35 passenger bus. The trick is that most appliances run for short periods of time, it just can't be the same time.
Logged

davidesanders

  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23
  • Anarchist, neopagan, nudist, polyamorous
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2011, 06:09:28 am »

Has anyone considered the combination of anaerobic digestion of waste, fuel cells, and
superinsulation?  I've been considering this for some time, and don't see why it can't
work.  I worked for a waste water treatment plant for 17 years, have a degree in
biology (well, Combined Science, but mostly in biology), and a few years ago I saw a
fuel cell that offered 5 kW in the space of two 12 oz pop cans.

Fuel cells have been being used in industry for quite a while, anaerobic digestors are
used on farms, especially for dairy cattle, and I have seen homes in southern Canada
that claim that to use superinsulation (resulting in a net zero energy building) for
controlling heat.  Anaerobic digesters aren't much more complicated than a septic
tank.  Solid residue from a digester can be used (is used in some places) as a nutrient
rich soil amendment ... fertilizer.

One experimental system on a dairy farm used an anaerobic digester combined with
fuel cell electrical generation and provided enough power to operate the farm plus
something like 250 homes surrounding the farm.  Yes, dairy cow manure is very
high energy, but these systems are completely scalable.

Anaerobic digestion is used in some municipal waste water treatment plants in New
England, superinsulation in southern Canada, and fuel cells can be used anywhere,
even the space station.

I've been working on this stuff for some time, but I'm not an engineer, and don't
know how to combine them.  Anyone have any info on this?

David E. Sanders
Logged

Badger

  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6
Re: OFF THE GRID
« Reply #37 on: December 09, 2011, 12:03:30 pm »

 
 
  Yes it is possible to MacGyver a bunch of obsolete equipment together and produce ones own power for one hell of a lot less cash outlay than current state of the art equipment. Folks upgrading often sell last generation stuff cheap.
 
  For wind generators , instead of spending the big buck for a large unit and going throught he associated hassles of the tower and mounting , along with it's obvious signal of " humans here".......start looking for used untis geared towards the sailboat industry it's possible to get a hell of a lot more power output per dollar spent than with a new tower and the redundancy factor is a GOOD thing , lose one unit the rest are still going.
 
  Couple these with panels and a backup generator system and you're in business , if your locale has the capability for small unit hydro then you're *really* in business.
 
  When calculating your power needs make sure to take into account the "phantom load" i.e. such things as electric clocks and the like , build your storage bank with enough capacity to handle your load for 12 hours at least if you can , money spent on battery bank will amortise itself in fuel costs for auxilary power generation. My generator rarely kicks on , but then I'm running 2.4 kw of wind generation ( at max speed) 6kw worth of panels , haven't got the hydro unit set up yet.
 
  Well pumps , examine wht your pump needs to start , you may find that it takes quite a jolt , size your power system accordingly wjether you're pumping from a well or from other source.
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [3]   Go Up