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Author Topic: Off grid system help  (Read 2212 times)
shadiya
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« on: February 06, 2015, 07:44:37 PM »

I posted on here for help with an off grid system last year but then things came to a halt with the unexpected death of my partner, which resulted in me downing tools and not really doing or caring about anything much. In the meantime, my Heath Robinson system has done its best but the batteries really are dying and I must make some decisions on what to do next, while having very little understanding of electricity. Not a good combination. I have various freinds that keeps saying "do this" or "do that" but the thing is, I don't know if they know what they are talking about and my experience with so called experts is that it is often not money well spent paying for their advice. These days I like to ask people that actually do the thing, rather than simply get paid for talking about stuff, if that makes sense.

So I could really use some advice on the best thing to do in terms of power storage. I was lectured the other day about my phony green credentials because I described using a battery bank for storage, the person said I should be using a super capacitor as it was really green. Is this really a thing? I spoke to a chap at Wind and Sun and he said it wasn't anything they did and that he thought it was only good for short term storage.

Is there any really green way of storing power? I do have space (on a small farm), and have wondered about doing something with water, as we are on top of a hill and could possibly run water down from the top and then pump it back up, is that feasible? I have just applied for planning to build a small house here and the current plan is to put a 4kw array on the farm building next door, which faces due south, or will do if it ever gets built. Unfortunately we'd only got as far as the foundations before the accident and so I'm not entirely sure how long the building will take now I have no builder.... However, Stef had been working away off the farm anyway and we were thinking that we could rig up some framework on the ground to start with. The thinking being that we need new batteries, adding to a battery bank isn't a good idea and so it seems to make sense to buy the system and do a temp install, with a view to lifting it up, as and when.

So I guess what I'm really looking for is advice on what to do. If you were going to build a house and have an off grid farm and were starting from scratch, (all my existing solar panels are second hand so won't be part of the new system) what would you do? I am borrowing the money to do this and do not have an unlimited budget,  say about 15,000. I have a generator that is used to top up the system in winter but it isn't new and I have no idea whether it would be possible to rig it up to the system to automatically come on. My ex husband thinks yes but then he is often optimistic about stuff and I have my doubts as to his understanding of these things.  Originally we planned on using a Lister as the back up energy source but that is only partly restored and I don't even know what sort it is. One thing that is a major bummer, apart from all the others, is the realisation that there are lots of things that only Stef knows about and I can be little more help than to say "it's green".....

I'm currently working off a quote from Wind and Sun using Sunny Boy inverter/ charge controller plus a Rolls Battery bank, they suggested 4 x 503 ah for 4250w.

I've been living off grid for years but can't seem to retain info on leccy stuff so please feel free to talk to me as if I'm a four year old, I will not be offended but more likely grateful for the clarity.
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rogeriko
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2015, 08:30:41 PM »

First off, where abouts in the country are you, there are lots of members here spread everywhere.
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Billy
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2015, 08:43:40 PM »

Welcome back.

I can recommend the Rolls.  My 5000 series are just coming to the end of their 10 year guarantee and hopefully will last another five at least.  I fitted hydro caps to reduce water consumption and they have been brilliant.  I would have doubled my capacity though, they don't last as long as I thought, and I have to use the genny to top up sometimes.  I did hope for 4 days of no wind or sun but realistically it only last for two without hurting the batteries too much.

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billi
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2015, 09:46:29 PM »

Hi , and   hopefully we can assist  nicely

For me ,the question is , what consumption (kWh) per day   and  what consumers you have ....


What make is your generator ?

Anyway a
Quote
I am borrowing the money to do this and do not have an unlimited budget,  say about 15,000
is more then sufficient  to supply an  average household  close,  ore full year round with PV Power and hot water plus some  electric car  use in summer  Wink

Billi



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1.6 kw and 2.4 kw   PV array  , Outback MX 60 and FM80 charge controller  ,24 volt 1600 AH Battery ,6 Kw Victron inverter charger, 1.1 kw high head hydro turbine as a back up generator , 5 kw woodburner, 36 solar tubes with 360 l water tank, 1.6 kw  windturbine
offthegridandy
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2015, 09:52:38 PM »

Again welcome back and sorry to here about tough times you've had. I'm sure everyone here will try and help.  The first thing you need to consider is how much energy you expect to use per day, and secondly how long you can exist at that level of consumption with out using the genny.

Your daily energy consumption is based on the wattage of all the electrical aopliances,  So  a kettle may be rated for 1000 watts but  is only in use for 30 mins in total in a day so in total is used 500 watts in the  day.  If you consider all items in the same way you can get an idea of your daily usage.

Then either your renewable generating capacity per day has to always exceed that figure or you need batteries big enough to store sufficient.  In reality you are some times seeking a compromise.  If the sun is low and the wind don't blow you may still need a genny; ideally with autostart so you don't have to remember to do it.

If you add up your expected power demand we could advise better as to batter sizing etc.

Andy
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8 KVA Lister TS2 Startamatic Genny
24 Volt 1000amp battery bank
Outback VFX3024
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biff
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2015, 11:37:57 PM »

Hello Shadia,
             And welcome back to the forum. I am sorry for your loss and I can only imagine the pain that you have come through. Just lately ,my wife and I had a serious talk about the possibility of perhaps one of us going before the other and it brought home to us, just how fragile our lives really are. My new years resolution was to quietly tidy up all the many loose ends in our own off-grid system and make it easy for my wife to understand, so that she can start the generator and switch back and forth between our wind/solar system and the generator hassle free if she need to and I was not there.
   There are members scattered all over the UK and beyond and  quite a few are off-grid. We will be glad to help you in any way we can and when you get the time, you can let us know the kind of appliances and power consumption that you are aiming for and what kind of power supply you have at present. It will take a little time but you can start with little steps such as the physical size of the PV panels and how many you have. then post us a pic of the spec plate on the Lister, or just a pic of the Lister because Paul (Camillitech) will be able to tell you all about it from the pics.
                          Biff
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An unpaid Navitron volunteer,who has been living off-grid,powered by wind and solar,each year better than the last one.
shadiya
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 12:52:43 PM »

Thanks for all your kind replies. I had to go and have a little weep, something about the kindness of strangers that really touches me at the moment. Probably something to do with the lack of family support I've had over the last few months, compared to random acts of kindness by people. Anyway, while I was blubbing in the bedroom my ex husband was fiddling with the electrics and has just blown the inverter up by attaching it incorrectly to the battery - doh! So you see what I mean about not being able to trust the competence of others.... Though I have absentmindedly attached the wrong end of a thing to a battery, making it go "pop" myself so I can't really be too scathing.

The trouble with trying to calculate a load for the farm is that at the moment, everything is in a state of flux. I am thinking of leaving, it's really hard being here, surrounded by memories and I don't have many friends locally so had been thinking of moving anyway. I was just about to start a micro dairy and the building that the solar array is supposed to be going on is supposed to house both that and a kitchen and the farm office, in which we planned to hold workshops. So the figures are all a bit guesstimated as at the moment and for the past seven years, we've been doing very nicely with 540w of solar going into a 400ah battery bank. Except the batteries are now pretty much dead, which is why I've had to move sorting all this out to the top of the list of things to do. Plus it's likely that some members of my family are going to come back to live/work on the farm, so I need to budget for them too, and they are all a lot more power hungry than me.

So if I give a list of equipment and best guess of how long they'll be run, hopefully that will be enough info? Some of the equipment I don't have exact ratings for and so am using figures from the net.

Twin tub washing machine   350w  1hr daily

Juicer                                     150w   20 mins daily

Steca Freezer This is a 12v fridge freezer, rated at between 40 - 100w. I have one at the moment and was considering buying another one or two but am not now sure whether it is the best thing to do. The original attraction was the low power consumption, supposedly you can run them off a 70 w solar panel. We were wondering about having a separate system for those in the dairy, so as to avoid the nonsense that is converting to 240 and back to 12v. I will need cold storage for milk and yoghurt, assuming I go ahead with the dairy. if anyone has any thoughts on that as an idea, I'd be happy to hear them.

Food processor                     700w    30 mins daily

Tv                                             50w   4hrs daily

Desk top                                400w      4hrs daily

Laptop                                     20 - 75w  4hrs daily   Four laptops potentially being used

Milking machine                   750w  1hr daily

Router                                      25w  4hrs daily

Ipod and speakers                   30 - 100w 4hrs daily  X 2

Electric quad   I'm not sure what the power rating for this should be. It's this one. http://www.electric-quad-bikes.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=2  It has six 100ah batteries and charges up with an ordinary charger, 13amp plug. Currently charged remotely, used more in the summer than the winter.

Lights - all lighting is LED, mostly 2.2w Assuming there were five people on site, two of whom are a couple, then I guess we could say four lights on each? Not that I EVER have four lights on at a time unless the genny is going but it'll take a while to retrain them. I'm not sure how best one does calculations, for summer and winter usage? However, I suppose it's safe to say that lights may go on as early as three in the winter, which could mean something like 12hrs daily. Obviously, that drops down to 3-4hrs in the summer.

Projector                                 300w   4hrs Intermittently for workshops

Chargers -                                4 x I phones charged daily 6w 2hrs each
                                                 1 old Nokia, charged 1-2 times a week
                                                 Makita batteries
                                                 Rechargeable batteries for headtorch etc


So that's pretty much all I can think of at the moment. I did take a picture of the Lister and of the genny and I will attempt to upload them in a minute.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 01:33:05 PM by shadiya » Logged
billi
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 01:01:55 PM »

Hi shadiya

Your power needs  seems to be not excessive
That is the easy one to advice !

If your heart is no more there (place/location ) .... then.... ,  perhaps start new , somewhere .....?


Billi
« Last Edit: February 10, 2015, 03:49:09 AM by billi » Logged

1.6 kw and 2.4 kw   PV array  , Outback MX 60 and FM80 charge controller  ,24 volt 1600 AH Battery ,6 Kw Victron inverter charger, 1.1 kw high head hydro turbine as a back up generator , 5 kw woodburner, 36 solar tubes with 360 l water tank, 1.6 kw  windturbine
shadiya
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 01:51:40 PM »




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shadiya
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 02:05:21 PM »

Sorry for the quality of the pictures. The Generator is 11kw and I know nothing about the Lister. Stef started to fix it with the help of a friend but it wasn't a priority and I have absolutely no idea what he was doing to it. One thing that really has been made apparent and I think you were very sensible to have that talk with your wife Biff, God knows I wish I had with Stef, knowledge in a persons head is no knowledge at all.  We had complementary skills which is great when you are both still alive but causes mayhem in the event of an unexpected death. I am left with a system I know nothing about, any number of things we've collected to improve that system and I haven't the foggiest about any of it. My ex husband seems to think we could do something to the genny to make it switch on automatically but the chap from Wind and Sun was a little unsure.

I will only have infrequent internet access for the next wee while as can't bring myself to run the genny just to go online, it's crazy. Hopefully we can take the little ancient inverter out of the tool store and use it in the interim, but it hasn't happened yet. Thanks guys.
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shadiya
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 02:10:43 PM »

Forgot to say, I am just outside Oxford.
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todthedog
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2015, 07:51:12 PM »

Welcome back, so sorry to hear of your loss.
Very happy to help in any way possible.
If I may suggest think a lot before jumping one way or other it is very easy to spend and then find little residual value if you take the decision to move on and can't easily transport your new stuff. Perhaps this is the first decision you should try and reach, no matter how hard the decision.  Good luck.
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'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act'
shadiya
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2015, 09:55:25 PM »

It's a bit complicated, but the thing is that for me to move, I need to get things sorted here first because we don't want to sell the farm. Otherwise I probably would simply leave it all up to whoever comes next. As it is, however, I don't have any choice but to get all the loose ends tidied up.
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billi
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2015, 04:16:26 AM »

Quote
we've been doing very nicely with 540w of solar going into a 400ah battery bank. Except the batteries are now pretty much dead,

Hmm....  a 540 w PV is far too little to achieve a proper battery maintenance  of a ca 15-20 kWh battery bank
Is the battery  really dead ? (What make ?)
  the suggested new Rolls battery   is similar sized  (quite a lot of $  for a battery ) 

Batteries provide no electricity , they store it only 
PV produces electricity
540 watt PV costs  approx 300 GBP  the new battery approx  10 times as much ( and they still do not produce electricity )

Make sure that you concentrate on a sufficient PV  !


Billi
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1.6 kw and 2.4 kw   PV array  , Outback MX 60 and FM80 charge controller  ,24 volt 1600 AH Battery ,6 Kw Victron inverter charger, 1.1 kw high head hydro turbine as a back up generator , 5 kw woodburner, 36 solar tubes with 360 l water tank, 1.6 kw  windturbine
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