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Author Topic: Off-grid for beginners  (Read 10736 times)
biff
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« on: February 07, 2015, 09:56:30 AM »

I have watched and studied intently,
                                   The recent and present discussions among some of our members who are now instlling their off-grid (and on-grid) controllers/inverters and linking up their wind/solar/hydro and Generators to start and stop in the best and most economical way possible. I use the phrase "To start and stop in the most economical way possible" broadly because it is not just the extra fuel of an unneeded generator running at full tilt but he cost of repairing (replacing) the expensive controllers/inverters should the nasty dreaded black smoke ensue as a result.
  I admire our members brave endeavours but I would also like to give some hope to potential future Off-Gridders who upon looking at all this complicated work might baulk and walk away from the very idea not just because of the expense but because very complicated nature of it all.
  I well understand that in the present discussions there is the requirement to supply several different properties and the desire to provided the power supply in as professional manner as possible, so I trust that our future Off-grid members will understand this and not be put off by thinking that this s the only way to go.
  There is the other way. One can simply plug the house supply cable into the Generator or into the renewable energy supply. This means that you just have the necessary plug on the end of the house supply cable and you have two power sockets on the wall of your control centre. One socket is hardwired to the Generator and the other socket is hardwired to the inverter from the renewable energy ,so when you want to switch over to the generator or visa versa you just pull out the plug and bung it into the other socket.(The two sockets are side by side and clearly marked).
  You do not have to even bother with your inverter or controllers, They can look after themselves because the dc dump loads are all still connected and operating as usual. One might argue that it is not very professional but if you have only got limited resources Or if you are Low on Doagh ,it will get you up and running and keep you there until you are   ready for the complicated stuff.
                                                                                                  Biff
 I would like to add, that I am not trying to stick out my foot here. I genuinely do admire the way that the discussion has unfolded and it is all good but we will have folks who want to get Off-Grid and the very thought of all that PC programming and different items coming together might scare them away.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 09:58:43 AM by biff » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2015, 10:57:55 AM »

I have discovered a whole new world of OFF-GRID people and maybe Navitron should jump on the bandwagon before somebody else does!! They are called CANAL PEOPLE. There are 70,000 canal boats in the UK and all of a sudden they all want Microwave Ovens and Toasters and Coffee Machines. There is lots of talk of Forklift Batteries, Solar Panels etc etc.  http://www.canalworld.net/forums/
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2015, 11:30:41 AM »

I totally agree with you Biff.

But I believe there are about 5 different categories of Off Grid status that go from the 'Single bed, cave in a hole' to the 'large Houses with 10 odd buildings' types. And the Eco warriors to folk with loads of money.

And all other sub categories in between, so some bright spark/author on here should get writing and bring out a real yes REAL publication for the WORLD that does the Now & Present Off Grid thing in a cost effective manner.

Its all on this Forum Biff, its all on this forum, so get busy with all those LINK's.

Perhaps Martin might write his final 'Booker Prize' novel yet.  bike

Here you are Martin & Biff, something I started for my eldest boy for is School Job experience.....its a start.............

Sustainability Practises for the Creation of Locally produced useable Energy.

Energy Conservation.
Energy Creation.
        Making Energy from Sustainable recourses.
       Storing & Usage of Energy.
       DC or AC.
       AC Coupling, The Future ?.

Energy Conservation.
Insulate insulate insulate & more insulation. Design the building, Passive House standards.
 Renovation to passive house by building within the original, without interferering with the original structure, raft foundation, thermal blocks. Etc.
etc etc etc.
 
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 11:58:58 AM by clockmanFR » Logged

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billi
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2015, 06:15:14 AM »

.... For me , the lesser breakable equipment , the better (as an conclusion after a few years , and changed  costs of PV )  ! And focus on sufficient balanced production /consumption  to keep an expensive battery happy

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
Nickel2
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2015, 09:46:27 AM »

I would love to go 'Off Grid', but having done the sums, for me it is not financially viable. The mains cable from the grid is already in the house and in use. A PV system big enough to run the house in winter would make more than I could use or sell back to the grid in summer, and my roof is too small.
What I would like to do is have sufficient PV/renewables to run the house during the day, (electricity & hot water), with a small battery system to provide the after-dark/cloudy-day juice. (fridge-freezer, computer, modem, CH pumps, radio/telly/music etc.) If the battery reached minimum voltage, the grid would be re-connected for night use.
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1.140kW mono south-facing at 49*
EpEver 4210A at 24v
24V 400 Ah battery. (4x200Ah FLA)
EpEver STI1000-24-230 pure sine inverter
Of course it'll work. (It hasn't caught fire yet).
billi
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2015, 10:13:38 AM »

Quote
I would love to go 'Off Grid', but having done the sums, for me it is not financially viable. The mains cable from the grid is already in the house and in use. A PV system big enough to run the house in winter would make more than I could use or sell back to the grid in summer, and my roof is too small.

Sure ,  i would be ongrid , and have paid the 2500 Euro connection fee  here in Ireland to be part of the Grid  , if there would have been some sort of FiT  available  that would have made reasonably made sense to feed my Wind and PV surplus into the powergrid ... but did/ does not exist 

This is nearly a decade back ..... and still ,  i have not seen   many or more or less nil  PV roofs here in Ireland ....

I believe , that future  installs / ideas should be  selfsupply first  with storrage and  surplus to the grid  and as well be a base-load  supplier for  electricity ....



PV  and AC feeding  the Grid via Grid tie inverters is still young history , so   i expect ,  we will see a more advanced idea  in the future  for households , to DC couple PV , without those losses of converting  AC-DC-AC   , and without  excessive gear  , and replace some gear and their costs with PV and battery to feed/ buffer the grid ,  as well as cover the households needs




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biff
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 10:42:21 AM »

Hi N2,
    Generating your own electricity gives a lot of satisfaction.  Back in 2002 when I was building my present house, I powered the mobile home that I lived in for the duration of the build with one of my works genis. It was not particularly greedy on juice but it certainly put a hole in my pocket,so my first little venture was to buy a set of truck batteries130ah x 12v ,charge them while running the geni and then use a small 300watt inverter to watch telly,etc, Then of course I bought 2 x80watt solar panels which I later put on the roof of the new house and they trickle fed a 1200ah Yousa bank which powered a small apc 600va ups (400watt,which is still in position but on a much smaller reserve bank)
  So I did not jump in head first, Instead, I got to learn by mistakes or trial and error. 2 of the original truck batteries are still alive and well Grin.
  Even, If you design and build a small pv system, It will provide an independent means of supplying your house with electricity during outage.
 I built all the blockwork in my new shed with 2 x 165watt pv panels and a 400ah x 48volt forklift pack, That meant drilling out all the ties into the steel to tie the blockwork too as well as driving the mixer for the durarion of the job. The 48v pack, The 2 x 165watt panels are still as good as the first day I used them. The little 400watt mixer has a pin hole in the drum which I noticed on Friday last. So it is not as though you are throwing your money away on things that will be defunct a few months later. I also got to know very quickly ,what kind of power these panels could put out and was quite surprised many times to see my 2 x 165watt panels churning out 58vx 8.5 amps while the little 400watt mixer was under load.
 Believe me, There is something nice about providing clean electricity without noise or smoke. It is a pleasure to work with.
 So If you feel like building  small system, Just go for it. The satisfaction gained, is mighty.
                                                                                 Biff
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 11:09:40 AM »

When I designed my workshop, PV was eekspensive and I could not afford it. So I built it with a S-facing roof at 49* for optimum spring/autumn collection, cleverly worked out not to exceed building regs height, but allow the fitment of an 8 x 4 HW panel, in landscape.
When the price of PV panels started to tumble, I thought about fitting to the available space. Due to my brilliant earlier thinking, the space available is 5120 x 1460. This means that there are no standard -size panels to fit! (Grrr.) A bit more foresight would have built the roof to fit standard panels.
Anyway, the only panels I can get to fit reasonably will overhang top or bottom by 2" or 6", depending on type. The shed is in the lee of a row of houses, so I don't think wind would be a problem with overhang.
250W Hyundai panels are now available at 1480 x 994, recently introduced for tighter spaces. I could fit 1250W comfortably with a few inches to spare at the end. Sadly I missed CM's Tristar 45 by minutes, or I'd have done a 1kW system at 48v and a 250W system at 24v for light loads.
Still thinking and hoping that I live long enough to bite the bullet and get the job done.
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1.140kW mono south-facing at 49*
EpEver 4210A at 24v
24V 400 Ah battery. (4x200Ah FLA)
EpEver STI1000-24-230 pure sine inverter
Of course it'll work. (It hasn't caught fire yet).
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 02:57:32 PM »

I first visited this forum as a wannabe off-gridder. Five years later (four off-grid) I can say that it has been a mine of interesting information. It has not been a panacea for setting up any particular off-grid situation and it would be unfair to expect it to be. Members undoubtedly give honest and knowledgeable opinions and information but inevitably there are contradictions, inconsitencies and the very human issue of personal perspectives. For anyone with no experience sifting through it all and coming up with the right scenario for a particular set of circumstances is well nigh impossible and those with experience probably already have a plan and know what bit of information they are looking for anyway.

Quote
I believe there are about 5 different categories of Off Grid status that go from the 'Single bed, cave in a hole' to the 'large Houses with 10 odd buildings' types. And the Eco warriors to folk with loads of money.

And all other sub categories in between, so some bright spark/author on here should get writing and bring out a real yes REAL publication for the WORLD that does the Now & Present Off Grid  thing in a cost effective manner.

Yes lots of categories of off-gridder. A definitive guide, complied dispassionately, would be great. I have looked but never found such a thing. The problem with planning for off-grid is that the specific location and personal circumstances/expectations are as important as the equipment set-up and infinitely more variable. Unless you can factor in those elements any guide would be so generalised as to be only suitable for recreational reading.

Information that might be useful to potential off-gridders is real generation/consumption data from existing off-gridders. There is plenty of reference to how good/bad a system or bit of kit is but rarely in real context with an overall off-grid performance.
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Off grid AC coupled, 6kW Proven, 2.8kW PV, SMA SI/SB/WB Inverters, 4x576ah Rolls batteries @ 24v, 25kW Biomass Boiler, Wood Stoves, Spring/Well water. Sorry planet - I did try.
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 07:20:42 PM »

I've spent most of my life 'off grid', some thirty years and have gone from Tilley lamps via car batteries 50w solar panels and 90w turbines to something rather complex. I always wanted to live 'off grid', or at least since the early seventies and wouldn't have it any other way. Sure I was happy for years swapping batteries, switching this and that off and carefully watching the weather forecast. And to be honest it's the best way to learn and this place has been invaluable, but as has been pointed out 'off grid' encompasses just about everyone really so it's a 'how long is a piece of string' question when you're asked 'what's the best way'. There is no easy answer, members have system's that suit them in varied locations around the globe, they are different ages with different expectations they live in sheds, shacks, rambling old properties and modern air tight houses with MVHR. Some are retired, some trying to run businesses some trying to run away and others work away from home. What works in rural Ireland may not work on the Somerset Levels or a windswept Scottish Isle.

There is plenty of reference to how good/bad a system or bit of kit is but rarely in real context with an overall off-grid performance.



I saved three years data from wind/hydro and projected PV from my area, I analyzed my usage for nine years and projected my needs to power a house COMPLETELY by renewable energy.



Sure it's complicated but it has to cope with being left to 'look after itself'. When I retire in ten years time I don't want to be moving gas cylinders, splitting wood, cleaning chimneys,  or pumping diesel. Humping a laptop around to alter a few settings on an inverter I'll be able to manage even from a wheelchair. It's 'hoses for courses' really, but yes start simple by all means, but don't get 'stuck in a rut'. I made that mistake fifteen years ago when I thought my ten year old (and only recently retired) Rutland was the pinnacle of wind turbine engineering  hysteria

Cheers, Paul

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'Off grid' since 1985,  Proven 2.5kW, Proven 6kW direct heating, SI6.OH, 800ah Rolls, 4.75kW PV ,4xTS45, Lister HR2 12kW, , Powerspout pelton, Stream Engine turgo, 60 x Navitron toobs and a 1500lt store. Outback VFX3048 and 950ah forklifts for backup,
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2015, 05:14:18 AM »

4.7 kw PV , you have  ?? Paul i guess your Graph is  not upto date should be about 300-500 kWh most of the months of a year
« Last Edit: February 10, 2015, 05:16:41 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
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2015, 07:27:31 AM »

4.7 kw PV , you have  ?? Paul i guess your Graph is  not upto date should be about 300-500 kWh most of the months of a year

Aye Billi, that graph was drawn for 1kW PV, a 2.5kW wind turbine and a 1kW wind turbine. That was four years ago and the original plan was to have a batch boiler to fill in the shortfall and solar hot water. The plummeting price of PV and the acquisition of a 6kW wind turbine for the price of 500w of PV has made me rethink. The chimney, batch boiler and FE have been dumped in favour of two 'AC coupled turbines' that I bought for the price of 2kW of solar.

You are also, once again forgetting where I live,

December 2014: 39.7kWh (89% of PVGIS estimate)
December 2013: 18.0kWh (40% of PVGIS estimate)
December 2012: 40.0kWh (89% of PVGIS estimate)
December 2011: 27.7kWh (62% of PVGIS estimate)
December 2010: 49.0kWh (109% of PVGIS estimate)


REAL DATA for a 3.85kW array, from Skyewright who lives near me, If I could get the output you suggest in the winter then I would not be fecking about 'AC coupling' wind turbines. 20kW of PV would not help me at this latitude


I merely use it as an example of recording the right technologies for me and my goal of a totally diesel/wood and fossil free free home. If I could have done it with a few panels a battery and still gone away for weeks at a time I would.

Simple is fantastic, I'm a great believer of it but sometimes you just have to 'rise to the challenge'.

Cheers, Paul
« Last Edit: February 10, 2015, 07:29:44 AM by camillitech » Logged

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'Off grid' since 1985,  Proven 2.5kW, Proven 6kW direct heating, SI6.OH, 800ah Rolls, 4.75kW PV ,4xTS45, Lister HR2 12kW, , Powerspout pelton, Stream Engine turgo, 60 x Navitron toobs and a 1500lt store. Outback VFX3048 and 950ah forklifts for backup,
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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2015, 08:47:08 AM »

Again, I think Paul has put his finger on it........

"The plummeting price of PV and the acquisition of a 6kW wind turbine for the price of 500w of PV has made me rethink".

The above statement by Paul is now a serious consideration in the Off Grid equation, as market forces are at present very dynamic in the RE sector.

Once you have your finger/foot in the door of RE you can watch an listen, especially on this Forum, what the cost effectiveness of RE products really are for your own particular installations.

And at the cost that Paul paid for his Proven even has me considering something similar from a good well known manufacturer of wind turbines, as making another 3.7m dia Hugh Piggott design is now costing me 1200 just in materials.

So its also about what Renewable Energy creation products are out their, that are good quality, robust, have a good life expectancy, and are a COST EFFECTIVE way of producing energy.

Well that's more to throw in the pot!
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2015, 09:46:21 AM »

There are so many different needs,
                         There are so many different ways of achieving those needs ,that the snake oil merchants get space to work their evil magic and make life even more difficult for the ordinary guy. Then very often, it is the case ,where the manufacturer does try and produce a decent wind turbine but does not test it enough or ignores the warnings signs that his turbine suffers from serious overspeed  and if they stayed with the model and got the balance between the blade area and the stator correct, they would have had a winner, especially if they had used AG,s tail. The recent purchase of a LE turbine by Billy did not go unnoticed by the thousands that visited Navitron and hopefully, Billy,s baby will deliver the goods and give the company a good name. It certainly looks impressive and it is not over expensive. At a time when there is so much rubbish being pushed for sale on fleabay, it is imperative that we get some good news on the small domestic wind turbine home front. I have never know a time like it for the lack of choice in small domestic wind turbines. There was a time that you could boot up onto Fleabay and view no less than 4 or 5 suppliers of 2kw wind turbines. That is sadly no longer the case. I am sure that the crippling import tariffs has a lot to do with their absence but it does give the UK manufacturers a chance to get up and running.
  The fall in PV prices made everything possible for a lot of us and we know how good the PV can be, despite lying almost dormant for a couple of months every year. That is why we need a good small domestic turbine to take up the slack.  The irony is, At  time when Clockman is thinking of buying in a turbine, I am thinking of building the duel PMG turbine I mentioned a few weeks earlier.
  My wife and I discuss it, I don,t think the costs would be too great to bear but I would have to get it right first time +I would need a stronger tower. I will most certainly build it but I have so many pressing issues at present that there is no room for another project until I clear the backlog. Meanwhile I will gather the necessary gear together and study Yaws, shafts , Balance, Slip ring assemblies, and design a lightweight cage to house the lot. It is all good.
                                                               Biff
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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2015, 12:06:04 PM »


Hey Paul

Quote
Aye Billi, that graph was drawn for 1kW PV.......
You are also, once again forgetting where I live,

Me forgetting ?  , not forgetting where you live , just was  wondering  about the graph in relation to the 4.7kW PV in your signature
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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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