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Author Topic: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?  (Read 5048 times)

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Online Dave Shepard

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Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« on: June 13, 2015, 08:35:34 pm »
It's time to start studying offgrid battery/solar systems. I'd like to hear from anyone running one. My electric needs at home are fairly minimal and steady. I do have a backup generator, but it's PTO and my tractor is 48HP. Not very efficient, but keeps the heat working in an emergency. I'd like to have a battery bank and recharge it with panels, and possibly get a small Honda 1000 or 2000 watt generator to recharge when needed. I'd rather run one of those for 5-6 hours a day to keep things going in an emergency and not have to tie up my tractor.
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Offline gww

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2015, 02:00:37 pm »
Dave
 I hope you are ready to spend some money.  I am not off grid and the way I live now, I would have no hope being off grid.  I also like air conditioning and in no way can run my normal loads, much less ac.  Here are a couple of pictures of some of my stuff. 

 

  

  

  

 

If you check out these forums, they can help you run the numbers and also help with spicific items and spicific issues.

http://forum.solar-electric.com/

http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php

There are more but the top one is good for numbers and the bottom one is good for fabrication and circuits.

If you can do grid tie it is cheaper then using a battery and just buying electric is cheaper then everything except maby hydro or if you are really far from the lines and have to pay to have them ran.  If you like me don't care about price and just want to do it or want the learning experiance, It doesn't make it wrong to do just cause it cost more.

I hope something I said is usefull.
Good luck
gww

Offline jwilly3879

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2015, 05:37:36 pm »
I did a small off grid system for a cabin I built about a mile from the nearest line. It was designed for lighting and a 1500w inverter. I have been asked to do a large system for a home but once I explained how much load the family required and the associated cost it was cheaper to run grid power and install a backup generator for outages.

I explained that to be truly off grid requires a different lifestyle. A simple backup system for use during outages is a different story.

Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2015, 06:18:40 pm »
While we built our last house I ran a genset for 3 plus years and it worked out ok. Thinking about a solar powered well real soon to supplement existing water at our present place. I recently ran the numbers to go solar/wind on my shop and house and there is just no way cost wise. House alone maybe ...There is some interesting info, including battery choices, already posted here on this site. Make sure to check out any tax incentives. I've been looking at solar for better part of 30 years and still have not committed .My crystal ball  is still cloudy after all this time. As a wood guy also look into co-generation.Does your land have a steep elevation gradient?; water -turbines and no batteries.   :)   Rob
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2015, 08:47:56 pm »
I started my system as off grid for powering my sugarhouse. My first phase was 2 panels at 150 watts each and 4 6V Trojan batteries at 240 AH rating. I ran that for a year, but didn't get educated enough before diving in. I bought the panels and then ordered a charge controller (CC) and an inverter. The CC was a cheapo (spelled very low efficiency) and the inverter turned out to be 220V as ordered, but unlike any electical I had done before it could not be split into 2 legs @ 110V ea. It was only designed to run a 220V motor. I then had to buy a transformer to change the power to 110V. This was another energy loss. But in the process I learned plenty. The next year I actually abandoned the 2 panels I had, (temporarily) and bought 4 185 watt name brand panels and I bought a good CC and a good inverter. The panels are Kyocera 185 watt. The CC was an Outback FX80, and the inverter was a 6000 Watt Xantrex. Those turned out to be good, efficient units. I connected then to 8 Trojan 6V 240 AH batteries, the original 4 that were 2 mos. old and 4 new from the same lot #. That inverter was a 6048, 6000 watt 48V inverter, capable of being grid tied at some point. The next year I another 4 panels (now 8 total) because, while I could run the sugarhouse in the daytime and about 2-3 hrs after sun set, I had to run my diesel generator after that to recharge the batteries and to keep the sugarhouse going. The next year I decided to buy 8 more panels of the same and to get a larger battery bank, but that panel had been discontinued, in favor of higher wattage panels, ordering from 3 different vendors I managed to get 6 more (now 14 total. In the solar array you lose big time if you mix panels. Then I decided to check into going grid tied.
The next year I contacted a solar installer (my local utility won't let anyone connect to the grid unless the system is installed by a "certified installer" from their approved list). I selected one and we moved forward. In the end I have 14 panels powering my original battery bank of 8x6V Trojans AND I have 22 Kyocera Panels at 220 watts each, tied to a Fronius inverter and grid tied only. My Xantrex inverter is programmed to sell to the grid anytime the battery bank is fully charged. To do this I had to make a couple of changes, I needed an Xantrex CC and an Xantrex system control panel (SCP) to run that portion of the system. It seems the Xantrex inverter or SCP could not communicate with an Outback CC so I sold that and bought an Xantrex CC.
Now, both my 14 panels at 185 watts feeding my battery back up then selling to the grid, and my new 22 panels at 220 watts each are tied to my main entrance panel. The panels had to be rated higher than normal because I have both 240V available at 200A from the grid, and over 26 A possible from the 2 solar systems combined. I had to get a 225 A panel with a 200A main. They allow up to 10% over, thus 225A + 10%=247 A and my max is rated at 227A.
As for the battery back up portion, you want to realize that this is by far more expensive IF you can get grid power within reason. The main reason is that batteries need periodic replacement. Mine are still going good, but they are in their 7th year and that is their rated life. However, they have never been drawn down below 60% power and when they were down close to that they were recharged immediately, not the next day or later. There are better batteries and I plan to get a bigger bank (AH) rating of the next better battery. I plan to get Rolls Surrette batteries, the best grade and to get a higher AH rating, most likely a 48V single battery or bank of smaller ones at around 800+/- AH rating rather than the 240 AH bank I now have. Another thing to realize with grid tied, is that if you are grid tied and the grid goes down, you can't get anything from the solar you have. At least I can have my 1480 watts if the grid fails.
logging small time for years but just learning how,  2012 36 HP Mahindra tractor, 3point log arch, 8000# class excavator, lifts 2500# and sets logs on mill precisely where needed,  Peterson ATS upgraded to WPF mill, maple syrup a hobby that consumes my time. looking to learn blacksmithing.

Offline gww

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2015, 09:35:59 pm »
One thing people don't understand is that if you grid tie with no battery, your efficiency is about 77% compared to what the panels are rated.  The minute you add a battery your efficiency drops to about 52%.  So if I have a 5600 watt aray and get an average of 3.6 hours sunlight, we are talking about 10 kwh usable average per day.  With out air conditioning I probly use 30 kwhs per day.  10 kwh at $0.10 comes to about a dollar a day.  Once a month I water my batteries with between a gallon and a gallon and a half at $0.88 per gallon for distilled water.  I had one of my inverters hit by lightning and had to replace its guts.  It cost $500.  So for the year not counting anything else, It cost me about $140 to have solar.  I am still stupid enough to get urges to add more every so often.  I think it is the ideal of independance that causes this.  It is not true independance cause I couldn't build the parts to replace the inverter but I could decide to give the inverter manufactuer some of my money insted of poco.

Just think it through and get help to keep the mistakes down and to garentee you have realistic expectations.  I still take pride that I learned enough to compleetly install my system with out to many errors.  I used help from the internet to do it just like I did when I built the mill.  It was like going to collage for 3 or four years to get it done.  I hate real school but enjoyed getting hooked on the solar and wind.  I didn't make money from it but many people pay to go to school.

I hope my experiences help others though many are much smarter then me. 
Good luck
gww

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2015, 09:59:45 pm »
Will be following this. 

I plan to be going off-grid for my cabin, now hoping to have weather tight by fall 2016.  IMO, bringing in power was too expensive ($25k-35k estimate) for my part-time use of the cabin.  At the rate that things are changing in solar panels, I won't be buying any more until I absolutely need them.

I picked up a pair of Canadian Solar 230 w panels for $200 off of CL.  I connected one to a 24v/30A Linear Current Booster (LCB - $240) so that it will run my 24v Simple Pump on my water well, filling a storage tank.  That way I don't have to have a battery to maintain there.  The pump can do 3.2 gpm and the LCB allows slower pumping in partial shade (seems like up to 15-20% of the panel) or low sun angle.  I will have a 330 gallon tank for fire suppression and another 250-500 gallon tank for domestic water.  With the limited sun I have now (trees), the pump can do about 130 gallons a day.  Full sun will produce more water in a day than I can use in a week, if I have a big enough storage tank.

I have a HF 12v/45w setup that I use on my Popup camp trailer to keep a pair of 6v batteries topped off.  I think I could use more like 100w because of limited sun (trees/fog).  I'm temporally using them on my bath house to keep a single small battery charged that is used to run LED light strips and a 12v RV pump for running water.  I haven't decided if I will use the other 230w panel on my bath house or on my trailer (permanently mounting the 45w on the bath house).

I haven't sized the battery bank yet but my electric usage in the cabin will consist of LED lights, 24v RV pump for water and the initial start up of a water hydrant (fire sprinklers) until a auto start generator can kick in should a fire break out (code requirements).  My gut feeling is I will only need a pair of ~250-300w panels.  Code requires me to run the hydrant for 10 minutes, pumping 28 gpm at 32 psi, IIRC.  It would be foolish to have that big of a battery bank for the off-chance it is needed, and the County insisted in a backup generator in the event the batteries are not fully charged.  So, I will be sizing my battery bank for my domestic pumping/lighting loads for now.  Down the road, perhaps with cheap Tesla LiON batteries ;) I may up-size the bank, add a large inverter (or make use of the one to run the hydrant) and have AC power for my full basement garage/shop so I can move my toys up to the cabin.
John Sawicky

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SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2015, 10:10:49 pm »
One thing people don't understand is that if you grid tie with no battery, your efficiency is about 77% compared to what the panels are rated.  The minute you add a battery your efficiency drops to about 52%.  So if I have a 5600 watt aray and get an average of 3.6 hours sunlight, we are talking about 10 kwh usable average per day.  With out air conditioning I probly use 30 kwhs per day.  10 kwh at $0.10 comes to about a dollar a day.  Once a month I water my batteries with between a gallon and a gallon and a half at $0.88 per gallon for distilled water.  I had one of my inverters hit by lightning and had to replace its guts.  It cost $500.  So for the year not counting anything else, It cost me about $140 to have solar.  I am still stupid enough to get urges to add more every so often.  I think it is the ideal of independance that causes this.  It is not true independance cause I couldn't build the parts to replace the inverter but I could decide to give the inverter manufactuer some of my money insted of poco.

Just think it through and get help to keep the mistakes down and to garentee you have realistic expectations.  I still take pride that I learned enough to compleetly install my system with out to many errors.  I used help from the internet to do it just like I did when I built the mill.  It was like going to collage for 3 or four years to get it done.  I hate real school but enjoyed getting hooked on the solar and wind.  I didn't make money from it but many people pay to go to school.

I hope my experiences help others though many are much smarter then me. 
Good luck
gww

gww,
I guess I would say, YMMV...

I put in a 4.6kw DC solar system that has hit as high as 4.18kw AC on a cool sunny day!  I average a peak production around 3.6kw for a couple mid-day hours in a typical bell curve.  My summer generation is about 24kwh/day and winter is 17kwh/day (after I trimmed an offending tree ;)).  I suppose I just have a VERY efficient inverter.  My power that I'm avoiding buying is $0.34/kwh so my bills have dropped significantly.  My daily electric usage is  modest 25-30kwh since I replaced my pool pumps (3) with a single variable, my rear projection tv with a LED and most of my house lights from crappy CFLs to LEDs.  Those changes cut my usage by 30-40%.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Online Dave Shepard

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2015, 10:31:05 pm »
I use about 400 kwh a month. Up from an average of about 90 before OWB. I don't plan on grid tying at this point. I just want to have a system in place that can get me through a couple of days of outage. I don't want to run a 48 hp tractor (actually last time, it was a 115 hp tractor on a 25kw generator for a ~400 watt load  ::) ), just to get through an outage. Like I mentioned, I would have solar for basic maintenance, and a very small genset to provide backup to the solar. I don't mind running a 1,000 watt genset at full capacity for short periods to recharge a battery bank if needed.
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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2015, 11:01:51 pm »
John
I get numbers like that at times.  I have seen mine on cold winter days put out 6500 watts.  My high production days get me right at 30 kwhs  I think my highest ever was 34kwh.  However, an overcast day will only produce 1.6 kwhs for the whole day.    My summer production even with the longer hours don't always produce as much on the good days due to heat.  The average production is higher due to more sunny days.  I do have a fixed aray set more in line with winter sun.  I have learned with a clamp meter to not always believe the equiptments production readings.  I also know many forget the times when they are equalizing the batteries (I do mine monthly) and the loses that you get when the battery is getting full and the panels could produce more but the batteries can't accept it.  I have midigated this some but having an oppertunity load to preheat hot water but there are still lossed.  I don't believe that outback is that bad on efficiancy per there ratings but I sit out there for two years writing everything on a calender daily and I believe I am probly beating what I posted above by a small bit but not by alot when I have to consider the battery health more important then production potential.  The battery is the most costly and will probly die the soonest so worrying about its healt seems prudent.  Last winter and spring was the cloudiest I have ever seen since I got solar and I doubt I made 50% of 3.6 hours of panel rating for those 5 months.  You may be doing much better then me or we may be counting differrently.  I am not complaining but know that just cause I see 30 kwh daily production it doesn't seem to be bringing my bill down much.  I am paying about $0.09 per kwh from poco though so could not compare my potential to yours at a thirty cent mark.  I can realistically say that I won't get my money back forever cause I am at a 50 year pay back now if nothing ever went wrong and I never needed another battery.  I got this installed for about $20300 after the 30% federal rebate.  The battery was $5000 so I don't believe I over payed with anything but labor.  At my electric rates it will always be a loser.  I knew that and did it anyway.

Even at your rates it would be time to buy a battery when it was finaly payed for.  Solar and inverters have come down in price but unless you are grid tied and have no battery it is still a loser unless it was going to cost you $35000 to get electric run to you.

I don't mind any veiw or experiance that is differrent then mine but I have a fairly good handle of what is going on with the equiptment I am using and many consider it close to the top of the line equiptment. 

I am not anti solar but do know how it is working for me and it is about like I thought it would be when I installed it.  Any body wanting to install should consider my experiance just as I considered others before I installed.
gww

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2015, 12:43:44 am »
Not to go too far OT -
My house is grid-tied.  Prior to swapping my pool pump, my monthly usage was around 2,000kwh (add another 500-600 for AC on hot months).  I could have an electric bill of $600/month in the summer.  After pump upgrade, usage dropped to about 1,000kwh/month (without AC).  That cut out my Tier 4 & 5 which cost $0.45/kwh!!!  That was in 2010.  The price of solar was high enough that when I cut my usage in half, it was not justifiable to install solar to offset Tier 3.  Fast forward to 2014, the price came down enough to justify offsetting Tier 3 ($0.34/kwh).  This spring, I had a net zero bill one month (well, ok, it was $0.06) which I had not intended but we are in a drought so it was sunny - not normal.  My base electric is $0.14/kwh and I intentionally did not build big enough to offset that - it doesn't make sense.

At the same time, I got my popup trailer and learned about conserving battery and water.  We can survive on what the 45w panel produces and make do with about 5 gallons of water a day (no showers or toilet) washing hands and dishes.  In my shower house on my property, I can see the water in the tank so I know a 5 gallon shower is possible - maybe even less.  That gives me a basis on what water storage I will need in my cabin and the related pumping draw.  I will have batteries in my cabin but I don't expect it to be too many.  I have a neighbor that is even further off-grid and I can bounce ideas off of him as I get closer.  He has been off-grid since 1994 and only replaced his batteries once, which sounds fantastic.  He actually runs an inverter so the whole house is conventional except for the refrigerator (ammonia based).

At first, I did not believe what the solar vendor's web site showed for my generation.  I did an experiment and shut off my solar for one hour looking at the readings on the solar output panel and the electric company's meter before, during and after.  I verified that against what the electric company's web site showed (they only display hourly data - hence the one hour off time).  The value on the solar panel (and their web site) is the AC power produced, not the DC - which made me very happy to see how efficient the inverter was.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline sprucebunny

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2015, 06:55:35 am »
Dave, the 1000 watt genset will take *weeks* to recharge a battery bank that will supply your needs. And batteries have thier own timetable for absorbing a charge so it can't nessasarily be done in just a couple hours with your big generator.

Lots of stuff in a PV setup is about finding a balance and making compromises.

I have a 2000 watt solar system ready to go and I even made some mounts so the 8 panels can pivot on top of a 20' container. But I haven't decided Where !!!!
Someone gave me 10 barely used Lifeline AGM batteries. Hope I can pull it together before those are useless.
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2015, 01:05:23 pm »
Sprucebunny, be sure to keep them fully charged while you decide on where to put it. Batteries don't like being discharged for long periods of time. If you charge them to top them off every 4-6 weeks they will last longer while setting idle.
I actually was surprised yesterday as I opened up a solar fencer that had not been used in about 8-9 years. The fencer was still mounted on the post and in the sun, with the switch shut off so no draw was on the battery. I expected it to be dead or at least very low because of it's age, but that little 6V sealed Lead Acid battery tested at 6.68V. I'll still need to see how it does when I put a load on it. That comes in the next week or so.
logging small time for years but just learning how,  2012 36 HP Mahindra tractor, 3point log arch, 8000# class excavator, lifts 2500# and sets logs on mill precisely where needed,  Peterson ATS upgraded to WPF mill, maple syrup a hobby that consumes my time. looking to learn blacksmithing.

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2015, 04:22:40 pm »
Yes, they don't like sitting around and "self discharging".

Either charge them up occasionally from a mains charger, or temporarily hook one panel up though the charge controller. Wont need to be wired for full current, and even one panel will put an intermittent trickle charge on them for a while each day, and keep them topped up with no work from you.
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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2015, 08:25:49 am »
gww, I initially was equalize charging my bank every 30 days, but was then told I'd get longer life from them if I only did it when the CC display panel said it was needed. That doesn't seem to happen on a routine schedule. Sometimes it might be 5-6 weeks, other times up to 3-3.5 months. I don't remember who told me that, but I think it was one of the moderators on a solar forum who is an electrical engineer in the commercial solar field.
You might want to read up on that. First see if your equipment will in fact tell you when to equalize.
As of now, my Trojan Batteries (8) are at the rated 7 yrs (actually 4 were put into service in Nov. '08 and another 4 in Jan '09 from the same mfg. lot #) and they still act good. That may change before next winter is over.
My situation is likely quite different. The battery back up portion of my system only runs one circuit (to keep my reverse osmosis (RO) for maple from freezing by running 3x100 watt incandescent bulbs in a small well insulated room with a thermostat that keeps it at 38-42 degrees F. As such, it never runs until the outside temps are down to 38 F. Even with the battery bank to maintain, (with a 1480 watt solar array), I look at the incoming watts on the CC and the sell watts going to the grid and there is generally a 15-20% difference, but I wanted that heat source. I have now bought a propane thru the wall direct vent heater that will be installed before next winter for that room. Then those light bulbs will only be a back up system.
When I only had the off grid system my battery bank never went below 60% charge and then I started my generator. Now that I'm grid tied, my heat lights have only been run by the batteries during power outages which only have happened 3x in the time since Nov. 26, 2012 when the grid was connected.
logging small time for years but just learning how,  2012 36 HP Mahindra tractor, 3point log arch, 8000# class excavator, lifts 2500# and sets logs on mill precisely where needed,  Peterson ATS upgraded to WPF mill, maple syrup a hobby that consumes my time. looking to learn blacksmithing.

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2015, 09:35:04 am »
Maple
Depends on the battery.  Most say only equalize when the sg per cell gets out of line with each other.  I am using forktruck batteries that are tall and narrow.  The manufactuer recomends EQ at least monthy.   I also beleive that it is not good to never go below 10 percent discharge for long periods of time.  At least once a month they should be taken down to about 75 or 70 percent charged.  Batteries are something to keep up with.  It is expencive to make heat with solar electric and selling is a good thing if you have an interconnect agreement.  I didn't want to sign an agreement and jump through hoops with the electric co even though money wise it would have been much smarter and was my original plan. 

I am hoping for 15 years out of my battery but time will tell.  I sure can't afford to buy more.

It is something to do and maby learn a little along the way.
Cheers
gww

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2015, 03:32:22 pm »
I'm off grid with a small solar system. It would be pricy to grid tie, so that is not an option. My load consists of a newer fridge, led lighting, misc electronics (stereo, laptop, cell phones etc.). In the summer we bring The Toaster out!  8) Pretty decadent, I know! (top of the woodstove is a great winter bread toaster) Total panel output is 1420 watts, which powers me quite well. Everything is on a full sine wave inverter, with lead acid battery bank.
 In the summer I could probably run a circular saw all day with good sun and not run the system down. In the winter I have to run the generator once in a while, to keep the batteries up, but I probably only go through $50 in gas all winter. I live in cloudy Western NY, so I am pretty happy with that. My needs are pretty modest, but it is certainly possible to get away without breaking the bank. I would guess that a system comparable to mine would be $8,000 ish. I got mine used from a fellow a few miles away, so I'm not quite sure.
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2015, 06:33:04 am »
Collector and builder of many things.
I have a
machine shop
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And now a saw mill
and a bunch of new forum friends.

Offline Dead River Ranch

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2015, 09:19:21 pm »
After many years of just reading the forums i am finally writing something.  I am off the grid in Western Maine. 12 panels, 20 batteries and a Winco propane generator to charge the batteries when needed.  I have been building our house and running power tools for six months nearly every day. In the evenings i recharge numerous tool batteries, cell phones and we have at least a few LED lights on.  I have had to run the generator very little.  The next couple of months however, will be a good test of the system.  Our house is super insulated and about 1700sf and we heat with wood primarily but also have radiant heat in the slab with an NTI propane boiler that takes care of the domestic hot water also. We will have a smaller size, energy star fridge <19 cu.ft. and a dishwasher that will get used on sunny days only. We have three sons that are out of the house so our needs are also modest.  So far this system has been great.  We are 2.5 miles from the nearest power line so the cost of the system was worth it just to be able to live in a place that suits my wife and I.  If you want to live in a place that is away from it all then off-grid solar is reliable and getting cheaper and simpler all the time.   
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Offline spyder68

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2015, 06:24:50 am »
Good posting. I just started messing with small pma. Just as a hobby. So I can learn more about electricity. 

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2015, 04:27:02 pm »
After many years of just reading the forums i am finally writing something.  I am off the grid in Western Maine. 12 panels, 20 batteries and a Winco propane generator to charge the batteries when needed...

It would be nice to know the rated wattage output of the panels.  I'm assuming 3KW total? (250 watt panels)...
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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2017, 05:41:48 pm »
My battery bank referenced 2 yrs. ago this month is still going strong but they are only emergency back up heat for the RO now, because I installed a wall mount propane heater which runs off a bulk tank.
I have now put in a totally off grid solar system at my house (the house is on the grid but the new system is isolated from the grid power). I have 1720 watts in panels, the battery bank is 24V 683 AH, consisting of 4 Rolls 6V 683 AH batteries in series. I have a MorningStar MPPT 60 charge controller, and an Outback 3524 inverter. We use it depending on the battery bank voltage. In the summer we run the washing machine and the vacuum all the time, in the winter they are only run on solar if we have good sun. The rest are run all the time on solar (2 sump pumps, light in the duck's coup, and the TV and dish box most of the time. They are on a power strip  that is plugged into solar when batteries are up good and into grid if voltage is down below 25V. This system was put in last December and finished in Jan. 2017. We ended up needing a rapid shut down set-up to comply with the newer code to protect first responders in case of an emergency.
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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2017, 07:24:21 pm »
The new totally off grid system is doing well. Lately we have been able to run the clothes washer on solar too every time, regardless of what the weather has been. The lowest the battery meter has shown is 25.1V which is real good. So, we run 2 sump pumps, 1 50" TV, the satellite box, the DVR 2 dehydrators (we've been drying apples), the washing machine, the vacuum every day and an outside fountain pump along with a lite in the duck house. (we get 2 eggs almost every day from 2 female ducks as long as they get 14 hrs of light, either natural or from a bulb).
I declare this little 6 panel 1710 rated watt system a success. As the days get shorter my guess is that we will need to do the wash and vacuuming only on days with decent sun to be able to plug into the solar power.
Everything else runs off the grid power.
logging small time for years but just learning how,  2012 36 HP Mahindra tractor, 3point log arch, 8000# class excavator, lifts 2500# and sets logs on mill precisely where needed,  Peterson ATS upgraded to WPF mill, maple syrup a hobby that consumes my time. looking to learn blacksmithing.