U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
Jump to a detailed profile or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Business Search - 14 Million verified businesses
Search for:  near: 
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 01-31-2012, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Murphy, NC
2,901 posts, read 5,142,777 times
Reputation: 1153

Advertisements

I noticed the name of this forum (Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness) doesn't talk a whole lot about self-sufficieny energy-wise in a home in the few months I've been following this forum.

I want to hear from anyone with solar, solar heated water, small or big wind turbines, and maybe geothermal, and any others I missed.

What are your energy needs powered with renewable technology?
What kind of panels, batteries, inverter, etc do you have?
Where are things placed?
How much did you pay for them?
What are your savings?
Do you recommend them?
What would you have done differently?

Unlike many people, I look at everything from the $$ aspect and the "off-grid" aspect more than the "be green as possible and pay more" aspect so any insight on that will help. I know many people get solar to offset climate change and all that which I respect. I think at the end of the day they all serve the greater purpose.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 01-31-2012, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
2,445 posts, read 2,830,465 times
Reputation: 4378
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhanu86 View Post
Unlike many people, I look at everything from the $$ aspect and the "off-grid" aspect more than the "be green as possible and pay more" aspect so any insight on that will help. I know many people get solar to offset climate change and all that which I respect. I think at the end of the day they all serve the greater purpose.
I hear ya! While I can't speak for what we presently use (er...grid power), what we have planned is for 2 purposes only: to save money, and to save money!

We're going with a 12V system, with a battery bank of 8 deep-cycle batteries. That's the heart of the system, right there. Ya gotta have the battery bank. To read what some folks here have planned, they want to spend a gazillion bucks on solar panels, and run A/C from that. You need a way to store electricity, from whatever source, and batteries do that.

How you charge those batteries is just secondary. You can use solar panels, wind turbines, hydro, or generator. For a basic start-up for not too much $$$, start with your battery bank, and get a small (3-6Kw) generator. You only need to run the genset for an hour or so a day to charge up the batteries. When you get some more cash, THEN you buy your panels, turbines, or whatever. Pretty basic.

As it is, the system produces 12V. When you start getting into inverters you reduce your efficiency in the change from DC to AC. Meaning, you waste some of your expensively-produced electricity.

One of the best thing an off-gridder should do is buy a coupla books on maintaining, repairing, and setting up 12V power systems for boats and RV's. No rocket science there. You can power most anything with 12V DC: lights, refrigerators, pumps, whatever. If you just have to run that hair dryer, hey -- that's what the generator is for!

Just my .02
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-31-2012, 01:35 PM
 
2,850 posts, read 3,199,641 times
Reputation: 1407
I posted this on the cabin thread but here it is again. Posted by my DH back in 2004 when we were off-grid.

Solar Power in the mountains of North Idaho
We live in a remote off the grid cabin near Priest Lake Idaho. We use 12 Shell SQ-80 panels and 6 SM-110 on three arrays. Each array is adjusted seasonally for angle. We mounted the arrays on schedule 40 4" steel pipe securely set in concrete. We also have a 400Watt wind turbine (we live on a river so we get wind thru the valley). Our panels and wind turbine feed into a battery array made up of 12 LH-16HC battery's from Trojan. They are wired series parallel for 12v. The batteries feed a Prosine 4000W TrueSine inverter/charger. We use parallel trace C-60 controllers to for charge control. Battery monitoring is achieved thru a TriMetric meter programmed for 80% of capacity at 94% efficiency meaning that we figure 6% parasitic loss - this is conservative so we don't heavily discharge the batteries. We also religiously check specific gravity with a hydrometer. Equalization is done when the cells specific gravity readings start to vary +/_ 0.002. We have a seperate battery box with positive ventilation for outgassing from the charging process. We use a remote start Honda EM5000 generator for backup in winter and when we need high wattage (ie daughter is trying and curling her hair with the toaster going). The house is wired conventionally for 120V power thru out. We use a propane chest freezer and propane frig. Our oven is a standard propane oven range without a glowbar from Sears. We use the Sears Kenmore Elite front loader washer and propane dryer because they are both water and power efficient. We use an Aquastar instant propane water heater for hot water.

We power our two bedroom house (1300 sq feet), remote lighting in six stall barn, chicken coop lighting, well pump (100' using 12V shurflo slow pump), booster water pump (Dankoff booster into a pressure tank from 1000 gallon cistern). In the house we use high efficiency lighting, three ceiling fans, outside lighting. We heat with propane using a combination of a Waterford stove and two small Jotul stoves in the bedrooms.



What we learned in building this house:
1. By the best you can afford and build incrementally
2. Don't go cheap on batteries - it will bite you
3. Get expert advice
4. By from people based on service not price
5. Use propane where you can to reduce power requirements
6. Build your array with enough panels for most of the year
7. Don't waste money on trackers, add panels instead (at least in the north)
8. Don't undersize wire - always oversize so you can grow
9. Remote start gensets are a life saver in the winter
10. Don't use cigarette lighter plugs for 12VDC - they are a fire hazard
11. If you run 12VDC inside, use larger wire and UL approved wall sockets
12. Believe your hydrometer and remember to temperature adjust the readings
13. Balance your power loads if possible
14. Buy appliances for energy efficiency not price if possible
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-01-2012, 10:29 AM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
6,691 posts, read 5,578,855 times
Reputation: 6341
Also, if you search through some of the really old threads here, it seems I remember a few on this topic. I didn't really pay much attention to them, since I'm working toward not needing/using electricity at all. But there was some good info and I think some links to off-gridder sites and advice on power.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-01-2012, 12:29 PM
 
3,766 posts, read 4,238,532 times
Reputation: 3868
We heated our water for an outdoor bathtub with a solar hot water heater in the summer. We found it at a yard sale for $25, so THAT was the one savings!

Now that there is no high fire danger we are using a chofu heater & stock tank hot tub outdoors. The chofu cost around $800, so no savings there LOL. We have tons of firewood, tho, so that is a positive.

Our solar set-up to run 2 computers on wild blue & a few lamps, 6 batteries, inverter, charge controller, 2 panels cost around $8K, including installation. We mounted the panels on a railroad tie base right next to our cabin where there was excellent sun exposure. Our well also is run by solar panels for added expense. We have no choice but to run solar since we are remote.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-01-2012, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,958 posts, read 8,388,035 times
Reputation: 7193
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhanu86 View Post
I noticed the name of this forum (Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness) doesn't talk a whole lot about self-sufficieny energy-wise in a home in the few months I've been following this forum.
For a great many people the how's and where's of energy, water supply and sewage disposal,in a forced "off grid" situation, is the elephant in the room that they can't mentally deal with.

People may know ,or sense, that they will need shelter and food but beyond that it's all a blank. This what will fill the FEMA camps all across America.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-01-2012, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
2,445 posts, read 2,830,465 times
Reputation: 4378
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandpa Pipes View Post
For a great many people the how's and where's of energy, water supply and sewage disposal,in a forced "off grid" situation, is the elephant in the room that they can't mentally deal with.

People may know ,or sense, that they will need shelter and food but beyond that it's all a blank. This what will fill the FEMA camps all across America.
I believe that this is absolutely true...and so sad.

It isn't difficult to deal with water, sewage, and very basic power needs. But people have become so "soft" and used to living with city utilities. They don't want to hear about what they'll have to do without.

I'd rather do without power and a septic system, than do without my freedom! Where have all the cowboys gone???

"Give me liberty, or give me death!" - Patrick Henry
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-01-2012, 06:28 PM
 
2,850 posts, read 3,199,641 times
Reputation: 1407
The first 18 months we lived here, we used an outhouse and took baths with water heated on the stove in a big tub that we hauled in off the porch. We used candles and Aladdin Oil lamps for light till we got our power system up and running.
Of course, we knew that we could leave at any time and go back to our suburban home in AZ (we were in the process of selling it) but it really wasn't all that hard or tough to do. I think people can easily rise to the occasion if they need to.
There is a message scrawled on the inside outhouse wall in crayon by one of my daughters: "Outhouses are not as bad as I thought!"
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-01-2012, 11:09 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
6,691 posts, read 5,578,855 times
Reputation: 6341
I recall responding to a thread awhile back on this forum about basically the same topic. I asked something to the effect of whether anyone had thought of not using electricity at all--doing without. You could have heard a pin drop (on the thread after that for a time). Then I just got a bunch of negative responses as if I was suggesting suicide or something.

It's something I sort of decided on a long time ago. I've been a bit "wavery" on a couple of points where, to feed an important passion of mine, I do need electricity. But really, only for that. And I could get away with a very small solar cell for it. Everything else, I'm pretty much convinced I'd be fine not using electricity at all. It's the sort of thing that, if I wean myself off, and the power grid blows or some malfunction happens to an off grid system, I won't miss it because I didn't have it to begin with.

The post above this one talks a bit about doing without electricity (and plumbing!). I'd really like to hear from more people who have done this. I realize the fact that I'm on the internet right now means that only folks with electricity of some sort can reply. So I've got a "biased audience," so to speak. But have any of you purposely lived without electricity for a length of time in the past? If so, how did it go? Or is it in your plans for the future?

I guess I'm kind of lucky because a know a couple of folks from older generations who grew up without electricity. And I've picked their brains over the years about the experience. Of course, they tell me, electricity is convenient. But at the same time, it's a trade off. You're loosing something as well by "hooking up." From my conversations, at least I know what to expect and the good and bad.

An analogy keeps coming to mind. I grew up with no cell phone. There wasn't such a thing. At this point, I do have one, but I hardly use it (its a prepaid and I spend perhaps 20 bucks every six months on it). It's the sort of thing that I really could do without and not have a problem at all with it. It's a convenience, not a necessity. But, you talk to a teen or a twenty-something about not having a cell phone and in many cases you get a look of panic or a look like you were a pioneer crossing the plains in a covered wagon pulled by oxen. I think it's kind of like that with electricity and the last of the older generation that is still alive who grew up without it. It's not that big a deal if you've been used to it in the past. It's just that my generation (and the younger ones) have never done it. Thus the negativity (or even hostility) when someone asks "could we do without?" The conversation soon turns to how we can build a nuke-proof generator, rather than how we could just forgo it altogether. But I can't help going back to the idea that it really wouldn't be so bad at all if it was a part of your lifestyle. You wouldn't miss it, after being used to not having it, just like you wouldn't miss the cell phone or computer, etc. Then again, you would be used to not having a hand if you didn't have it for awhile! But that's different...

So again, have any of you done without it for an extended time? How was it? I have the same question about the days of "outhouses" too. But I do have a bit of experience with those from my childhood years. I agree with the statement above--it wasn't that big a deal. It even had some advantages.


Note: Sorry, I'm guilty of an attempted hijacking here. Perhaps a new thread should be started about this. But, in my defense, it is related.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-02-2012, 02:28 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
9,228 posts, read 7,120,155 times
Reputation: 16239
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
I guess I'm kind of lucky because a know a couple of folks from older generations who grew up without electricity. And I've picked their brains over the years about the experience. Of course, they tell me, electricity is convenient. But at the same time, it's a trade off. You're loosing something as well by "hooking up." From my conversations, at least I know what to expect and the good and bad.
Can you explain what you are loosing by "hooking up"? I can think of only one thing, one advantage to living without electricity or producing your own, and that is that you are not inconvenienced by power outages. Some outages can be rather extended - a week or more - whether caused by hurricane, earthquake, ice storm, or wind storm. And people's lives are severely disrupted when that happens. So that advantage is quite clear to me. Are there others?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $84,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:30 PM.

2005-2014, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 - Top