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Author Topic: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?  (Read 5142 times)

grweldon and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online grweldon

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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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Offline maple flats

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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.
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 maple flats

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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.

Offline 1270d

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 04:11:41 pm »
My wife and I are considering our options for electrical service for a home we plan to build in the next year or two. 

For a traditional grid hook up I would need to have the utility install a little over one half mile of line at 7.50 a foot.  Depending on where we select our home site the cost will be somewhere between 20 and 30K, 35 if we built towards the back of the parcel (41 ac).   

Our current home is a mid seventies split level with gas fired hot water heat.  All appliances that can run off of natural gas are doing so with the exception of our clothes dryer which is electric. Almost all of our lighting has been switched over to LED but other than that there is little energy conservation around here.  In this location so far our peak electrical bill was somewhere in the area of 900 kwh.  Average is closer to 600. 

Our latitude is 46.4 degrees in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

Also we are a younger couple with a growing family so we need to keep that in mind when sizing a system.  I have gotten extremely mixed reviews locally on the PV option for this area.  We get more snow than most areas of the country so maybe that could be a negative?

Any input is appreciated.

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 07:37:04 pm »
Our latitude is 46.4 degrees in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

Also we are a younger couple with a growing family so we need to keep that in mind when sizing a system.  I have gotten extremely mixed reviews locally on the PV option for this area.  We get more snow than most areas of the country so maybe that could be a negative?

Any input is appreciated.

At that high of a latitude, your panel angle will be high as well (steep) so snow should just slide off.  Just make sure there is a place for it to go so it doesn't back up.  What is the average number of sunny days each month?  There are web sites that you put in your latitude, angle on your panels, the direction they face, and I think, the number of sunny days.  If not the last one, then you can just ratio down the numbers to get a good estimate of your solar exposure.  With how cheap panels are getting, its just a matter of finding a deal on good batteries and taking care of them.
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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.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #25 on: Yesterday at 10:13:58 pm »
1270d - Here's the web site we used when I was working for a PV installer here in VT. No need to put in the number of sunny days. The site draws from a database to calculate the average "sunnyness" for your area.

http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/

If you were doing a roof mount, an 8/12 or a 9/12 pitch roof would theoretically give you the best total energy output per year, given the seasonal solar conditions in your area. Highest total output is usually the target for a grid-tied system.

I'd consider going with a steeper roof for an off-grid system in your area for a couple of reasons: (1) It sheds snow better (PV panels are pretty good at shedding snow anyway, but it never hurts to help it along) and (2) For an off-grid system, you generally want to favor winter production to help counter the lower amount of sun at a time of year when most people use more electricity - steepening the angle gives it a bit better output in the winter. (and you only lose about 0.5 - 1% off your total output by using a 10/12 or a 12/12 pitch instead of a 9/12 which is close to peak total output in your area).

I'm not a fan of trackers. They do increase the output of the PV panels, but they add complexity and cost to a system, and the moving mechanical parts are far more prone to breakdown than the PV panels and associated electronics. If you have the space, it's almost always a better deal financially to just add more panels to get more output, rather than mounting them on a tracker. (10 or 20 years ago, it made sense to put them on a tracker: PV panels were very expensive, so you wanted to get everything you could out of them. They are so cheap now, it's generally better to just go with a fixed mount.)

You should talk to your system designer about possible future expansion. THere can be things you do now to make that easier. For example your "home run" wiring (wires that run from your PV system to your circuit breaker panel could be oversized to allow for future expansion without having to pull new wires (at the very least, make sure any conduit is sized to accommodate future expansion - you don't want to have to tear than out just because you added a few panels).
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Online grweldon

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Re: Off-grid battery/solar systems. Who is running one?
« Reply #26 on: Today at 03:47:05 pm »
I started small with 750W of panels and a 456AH battery bank and a 1500W inverter. I recently added 900W more of panels and will install a 4000W 120/240V Magnum split-phase inverter. With the 1500W inverter I run a small 150W fridge continuously, 8 LED twin-tube 4' lights 4-5 hours on weekends, run a computer and 450 watt-per-channel (output) amplifier. I run small power tools (circular saw, drill, etc) and if I'm careful and don't put too much load on it I can run my chop saw and crosscut 2x8 lumber. I also can run a 16A chop saw. I plan on adding 230 more AH of batteries and 1KW more panels eventually. I'm very happy with the way that things work and I'm anxious to get the 4K Magnum hooked up.  I have no other source of power at the farm but plan to run a 24VDC booster pump to charge a bladder tank for water pressure with collected rainwater as the source.  Haven't tackled water heat yet but I think propane will be added in the future for water and ambient heat. As I said, I like it.
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