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Author Topic: Off-grid for beginners  (Read 10801 times)
clockmanFR
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« Reply #45 on: February 20, 2015, 06:00:03 PM »

"The title of this post is "Off-grid for beginners". To me "off-grid" means not being connected to outside utility services (partially or completely). It does not necessarily mean pursuing a "hobby" or learning a new one. Anyone can go "Off-grid"."

Righty oh then, I will shut up, as we here are not 'off Grid'.  whistlie

I will now be polite...........

However, to my eyes we should encourage others to experiment, and seek a energy self sufficiency where ever possible, and not be sanctimonious as to who is really Off Grid or not.  stir
 
We here believe in coming away from the grid for our future generations sake, and therefore getting our children to consider this planets future, but importantly it must be within a cost effective structure that makes sense.

We do not take the FIT's, it is very awkward to do so, and I think its extremely immoral for the rest of society to pay your FIT's in their every increasing bills.  stir

Await a pounding.....



« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 06:03:35 PM by clockmanFR » Logged

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biff
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« Reply #46 on: February 20, 2015, 09:51:47 PM »

To be perfectly honest,
                         This business of the generator is a bit of a sticking point and seems to be the big stumbling block for some off-grid members to get their head around. You have to remember, that living out in the sticks, like I do , would also require a sensible investment in a decent geni to carry us over outage if you were grid connected. So I describe a standby generator as exactly that. One that only get started up once in a blue moon and would perhaps use less than100 ltrs of fuel in 12 months and that is being very generous.
    I keep repeating the need for simplicity in design and setting up our installations, even if it cost is 10% less power, we need to keep it simple, reliable and easy soused out should some little think go wrong.
  A successful installation should be one where everything on ground level can be repaired or replaced within the hour and the faulty item removed and sent off for repair.
                                                          Biff
   
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« Reply #47 on: February 23, 2015, 01:01:17 PM »

Oh dear CM. I had thought my use of the words "partially or completely" and "necessarily" qualified the point I was trying to make. Have you misinterpreted or just misquoted me?

Quote
However, to my eyes we should encourage others to experiment, and seek a energy self sufficiency where ever possible, and not be sanctimonious as to who is really Off Grid or not

Add "or how they got there or intend to" and I couldn't agree more.

Quote
We here believe in coming away from the grid for our future generations sake, and therefore getting our children to consider this planets future, but importantly it must be within a cost effective structure that makes sense.

Cost effectiveness is very different for different circumstances.

Quote
We do not take the FIT's, it is very awkward to do so, and I think its extremely immoral for the rest of society to pay your FIT's in their every increasing bills.

I suspect FIT's have been much debated on this forum before. The morality of the financial juggling to promote policies is a very wide subject and I would bet for every one shift in cost burden a person doesn't like there will be several they do, morality not withstanding. Personally, despite the many flaws in the system, I consider FITs to have been a good thing overall and I won't be insisting on paying pre-FIT prices for renewable gear.

I would put a smiley face here but I don't know how.
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« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2015, 08:15:01 PM »

Oh dear ... biff's opening post gave me hope that I might understand Off-grid. Now I am confused, so have decided to go back & rethink my whole renewable project ... EG:

Why do I want to be off-grid?
(1) Political: since it gives two fingers to the money and power obsessed elite who are running/ruining our country.
(2) Practical: since my cost of living has doubled, my pension has stagnated, and my savings are useless, all due to the corrupt political class in 1 above.

What is my greatest need? 
To be warm in winter, and reduce the cost of space and water heating.

What renewables are available to me?
(1) Hydro: 200 litres sec at 8m head.
(2) Heat Pump: From a fair sized river heat source that maintains +7 degrees temperature all year.

Wind and solar PV are not an option in my valley ... no wind and limited sun.

The hydro is presently a restored Grade II listed watermill with a 2kw 110 volt DC dynamo and a very ancient set of gears and belts to drive it. All very impressive Victorian engineering to look at, but not reliable enough for continuous use.

But the existing set up could charge batteries, and those batteries could provide power for water heating perhaps?

Or the waterwheel could be coupled to a modern pmg alternator using a modern chain or hydraulic or gearbox drive. But that would require listed building consent. Then fairly major re-engineering, and setting up some sort of generator control system, feeding perhaps a heat store and/or a water to water heat pump. Always lurking in my nightmares would be an overspeed of the 20 ft waterwheel and its generator & gearing.

Having looked at Navitron water turbines I am tempted to go for a medium head 5kw packaged unit. Probably feeding 230 volts to immersion heaters in a big heat store cylinder.  The turbine could be plumbed into the existing waterwheel penstock, where it would have 7m head. Presumably this would qualify for FITs which makes it even more attractive.

I already have a 400mm crossflow turbine stored here, but it requires 300 lts sec and is too big to use on this site.

But perhaps I am missing something in this off-grid scenario, there seem to be so many ways to make serious and expensive mistakes.  Any comments very welcome  horror
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camillitech
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« Reply #49 on: March 05, 2015, 09:06:20 PM »

Hi Vee Tail,


there seem to be so many ways to make serious and expensive mistakes.

Amen to that, there are more ways to go 'off grid' than there are to 'skin a cat' and few subjects on here that seem to arouse such controversy. There are many folk here 'off grid' or 'semi off grid', me included, and we all swear 'my way is best' when in reality what we mean is 'my way is best for me. You really have to weigh up your own capabilities, depth of pockets and most importantly needs. A small family in a sunny place has requirements far different to a property that is attached to a business. I managed for many years on 3.5kWh per day and south of here there are plenty of people who could go all year round with just solar. You can go 'off grid' simply and cheaply using cheap Chinese gear and get on just fine. It really depends whether you want a system you can leave alone for a few weeks to look after itself. Or whether your lifestyle enables you to be on hand 24/7 or at least never away from home for more than a few days.

Me, I've been 'off grid' so long that it's become a bit of a mission to squeeze as much energy out of the elements around me as is possible. Consequently I've set my self a target of well over 50kWh per day to completely supply a new property I'm building. It's my dream and the cost doesn't really bother me, I'll spend the rest of my life here and will probably be driving the same car I've had for 13 years in another 13 years. RE is my hobby as well as a way of keeping the house running smoothly.

In your case, if it were me I would get an Navitron AC turbine and 'AC couple' it into a large inverter/charger 'back feeding' a smallish battery bank with lots of dump loads for heating. With that kind of power (around 10kW) your battery bank is just a 'buffer' I guess, but you really would need some seriously reliable load diversions.

There are many other ways of doing it and I'm sure one of other 'off grid' members will be along shortly. Thank feck you don't need a generator or the air would be blue  hysteria  hysteria

Good luck, Paul
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« Reply #50 on: March 05, 2015, 10:00:42 PM »

Well said Paul
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billi
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« Reply #51 on: March 05, 2015, 11:13:52 PM »

When i got my gear 8 years back,   off course  ,i was under the impression  , thats  well advanced !

Probably the wrong thread here , but keep it simple is my advice   this was intended  to be posted  in the CM Sunny Island thread

It was a challenge  for me to learn   a lot about details , when i installed my system , no regrets  at all ...

But i do worry , that we , offgriders  slide away into a i phone managed technology , instead of keeping  the physics  of real world facts simple

Keep it simple !




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« Reply #52 on: March 06, 2015, 12:40:18 AM »

Quote
What renewables are available to me?
(1) Hydro: 200 litres sec at 8m head.
(2) Heat Pump: From a fair sized river heat source that maintains +7 degrees temperature all year.

Wind and solar PV are not an option in my valley ... no wind and limited sun.

The hydro is presently a restored Grade II listed watermill with a 2kw 110 volt DC dynamo

is it close to 8 kw   per hour  you can harvest from the water flow ?

So you are sorted big time

Quote
I already have a 400mm crossflow turbine stored here, but it requires 300 lts sec and is too big to use on this site.
  ok  pass it on to me then  whistlie  ,



 ......just a question  i have ,"What will happen if you utilize   this turbine ?"   too low voltage perhaps and  miserable efficiency  perhaps , but who cares  as long as it is a RE source ?

I have a small waterturbine cheap china   AC 230 Volt  rated at  a certain flow and head , but it does/would  not bother me to have   say 100 volts only  cause i can harvest every flow and voltage

Billi
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« Reply #53 on: March 06, 2015, 12:52:03 AM »

Keep it simple is right Billi,
                   My own system powers 3 places. The house, the Shed and our White Store, a 45ft insulated container that used to be my workshop and is now used for storing different types of fittings in such a way that I can access them without having to search for hours.
     My bank is located next to the turbine controller and inverter, The system is of course 120vdc, The turbine base is approx. 15ft from the controller.
  My dump loads are in dc, A fancy armoured cable takes the 220vac to the house, a distance of 150 ft. but 100ft in the opposite direction the 3,8kw array is sited, 2kww of this travels directly to a controller in the hall of our house, next to our heat storage/heater and the 2kw dumpload heats this with 1.8kw of pv, with the remaining charge heading back to the bank 150ft return journey. This controller triggers the dump load that little bit later than the other 2kw one which heats the DHWT. Then like I said before, when the real summer arrives, I add a 3rd controller ,set higher again to take care of the excess should one of the controllers fail or the Wind turbine and the solar combine to shoot out over the 4kw of existing dump load limits.
           My ac supply is quite simple, The power lines are in a straight line. 150ft travels to the house from the inverter, then  another 80ftstraight in the opposite direction to the standby generator below the tail of the 45ft container. There are two AC cables on this line. One to the generator area, to power the container and a further reach into the shed to power the shed. Each of the 3 points have a choice of either Generator or the normal wind/solar supply.
  This is done by simply pulling out one of two plugs and inserting them in one of two sockets. Everything is done manually and there is absolutely nothing to go wrong. If we decided we need generator power, I walk the 250 ft and start the geni, then on the way back I drop into the wind/solar control house and pull the house plug out of the w/s socket and put it in the generator socket. It is that simple.
    This year I hope to improve on it and have another dc geni with remote control which means we will not have to leave the house to start our standby geni as it will be driving  pmg through one of our standard controllers hardwired to the bank.
   If there was some safe way that I could have avoided laying heavy insulated 3 core x 2.5 cables going both ways from the generator to the W/S control house, I would have done it but safety is everything and it is designed to be operated by my wife with the minimum of hassle.
  There is  not a single item, controller, inverter, Etc that cannot be replaced within the hour.
  The system is not designed so that we have to be walking about fiddling with plugs. That only happens when we think that the power might be running low and we want to spare the bank (2 ton+) and we often go for 6 months at a time before the geni is asked to power the house.
  If I could make it any simpler, I would. This system would be ideal for beginners and old hands alike.
                                          Biff.
  
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« Reply #54 on: March 06, 2015, 06:16:07 AM »

 Roll Eyes  Roll Eyes  Roll Eyes

Here we go again,

Billi, if I could get 50kWh a day from 'keeping it simple' I would. I kept it simple for 9 years, one turbine DC coupled and managed just fine. However now I've 'moved on' and feel confident enough to explore other avenues.

Biff, two battery banks, cables you plug in and out, no auto start generator facility a turbine you have to lower manually, inverters and UPS systems that you have to switch on and off is hardly simple and user friendly.

Like I said, everyones needs, abilities, and budgets are different, don't 'AC couple' if you don't understand it. The last car I bought was in 2001 and it cost me 1000 so spending 11000 on inverters, batteries, turbines and panels does not make me flinch, especially if they have a five year 'no quibble' warranty.

Cheers, Paul

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« Reply #55 on: March 06, 2015, 09:25:42 AM »

Wow!  interesting replies ... I guess RE becomes a way of life once we get seriously into it.

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biff
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« Reply #56 on: March 06, 2015, 09:55:52 AM »

  "Here we go again She,s  back in town again"
   She,ill break my heart again,,,,,,,, One more time"
       Ray Charles did a lovely job on that one.
Paul.
        The days of the 2 battery banks are long gone. I am sure our turbine will not be coming down anything like as often as it used to and even if I feel the need to lower it, It can now be lowered much more easily and quicker in one run.
   It is,  as the thread states "Off Grid for beginners" and as such I try record, what I believe to be, the safe and sure route to success.
  Once one is established and generating the power, one can learn the mysteries and secrets of the Sunny family.
  I see nothing wrong at present in walking 250ft to turn the key on the silent running geni, then switch plugs on the return journey to the house,
 I have no intention of moving on and generating enough to power the village.
   The plan this year is to link my 2kw x 120v pmg to a remote starting geni (Chinese affair) and have it hardwired into the bank through one of our standard 2kw controllers.       And not a Sunny in sight.
   You have gone many years with out a worry on your old system. Hopefully you will be able to say the same about the Sunny side of things.
  I believe that they are just that bit to mysterious and complicated, especially if they tend to withhold the vital pieces of information.
  But that is just my own personal opinion and not the Navitron verdict. I am still a beginner you see  facepalm
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« Reply #57 on: March 06, 2015, 10:07:08 AM »

Wow!  interesting replies ... I guess RE becomes a way of life once we get seriously into it.



Indeed, and seems to get some of us 'hot under the collar' (including me). The title says it all really 'Off grid for beginners', well to me that means a beginner to being 'off grid' and not a beginner to learning to read and write or whatever. Anyone of any ability can go 'off grid', you have to ask yourself, 'what are you comfortable with'. Me, I'm an engineer so am comfortable with engines and turbines, they're are not a mystery and I know a good one from a bad one and have no qualms about buying second hand. If you are not comfortable with those things then avoid them but don't knock others for choosing that path. You may be an 'off grid beginner', have a job in the city and a wife that likes the 'simplicity' of being dry her hair whilst the bread is in the oven. In that case use your well earned cash to get 'an all singing dancing professional job'.

There's a gazillion other types of folk, peeps that trawl eBay and car boot sales for old UPS systems or broken power supplies and have the ability to fix them, connect them to some old telecom batteries and have a perfectly usable and reliable system. Fair play to that but don't go advising the merchant banker to do the same. I've come across people on the internet who have systems so complex they have more in common with the hybrid ferry I work on than the 'off grid' cabin they're supplying.  However they are of little use if you do not understand them, and don't just knock them because you don't.

There are many of us on here that have had an amazing 'off grid' journey and have decades of experience but we all need to realize (me included) that there is no such thing as 'one size fits all'. My system suits me is reliable and my wife can use it, and that I think is what we are all striving for on our chosen path.

Start off with something you understand for sure, but don't get 'stuck in a rut' and 'move with the times' (says he who still has a Nokia C2 and 29 year old Land Rover  Roll Eyes ) Stay within your abilities and don't 'bite off more than you can chew'.

Me, if I were in your position I would not be asking on here I'd cruising the internet and seeing how other people do it, there's CM's blog here http://www.echorenovate.com/ mine in my signature. There are hundreds of folk on the US and Ozz forums 'off grid', have a read, see what your comfortable with and what suits you. Then I'd be looking for some unbiased advice on here.

Good luck, Paul
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« Reply #58 on: March 06, 2015, 10:19:07 AM »

Well first of all,
               Everyone who starts into R/E is a beginner, !.
    No matter how well qualified you are, you need the hands on experience to be able to tell you what you can and cannot do or get away with.
  No amount of theory will get you up and running. It the basic knowhow that comes from hard earned experience, either your own or someone else,s  that gets you over the line.
  You need to be able to see that all the rubbish written by these miracle batteries needs to be taken with a massive pinch of salt.
  I see nothing wrong with asking on here. Certainly, looking online is highly recommended but 9 times out of 10, Navitron can help.
                                                                                 Biff
 
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« Reply #59 on: March 06, 2015, 10:29:54 AM »


  I see nothing wrong with asking on here.
 

Well, I do, cos all we get is forum members (including me) sniping at each other.

Cheers, Paul
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http://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/

'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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