How do I go off grid?

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by manfred, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. manfred

    manfred Well-Known Member

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    I've got a great house sight but the electric co. wants $7,000 to run the wire to me. Sounds like a good incentive to go solar but where do you find qualified people to wire the house and design and install the voltaics and various equipment? I don't want to start with a patched up job. Advice anyone?
     
  2. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Would probably help to know where you are located, if solar or wind is better, or even likely to work. You can fill out your profile & mention what state you are in for just a basic location....

    Are you good at conserving, or do you want to use every switch/ light/ outlet you have, run a welding shop, do you have a deep well, do you need airconditioning, and so on - what are your power needs going to be? :)

    It comes down to sunlight available at your location vs the amount of power you need. The less power you can live on, the cheaper your system will be.

    --->Paul
     

  3. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    $7000 just for the grid hook-up seems like a good incentive to seek alternative energy sources. don't we also have a tax incentive this year?
     
  4. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Many areas have a solar-power contractor listed. I would call them.
     
  5. RobinAnn

    RobinAnn Well-Known Member

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    Tax incentive is a maximum of $2000 from the feds. Many states have incentives also.
     
  6. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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  7. manfred

    manfred Well-Known Member

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    I live in a hilly area of Eastern Oklahoma. Loads of sun, little wind. The homesite is cleared of trees. I live on grid about 1/2 mile away and wish to build the house for my daughter, she's not likely to need a welder and I have rural water but would like for her to have electrical use that isn't a pain to deal with every day.
     
  8. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

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    Its pretty easy to do yourself too. And dont forget you can start small and add to the system as you get money so it doesnt kill you at once. You can try
    http://www.thefarm.org they run installation classes to certify people for solar, maybe they know of someone
     
  9. Ed_Stanton

    Ed_Stanton Well-Known Member

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    It's easier than one thinks and MUCH harder than one thinks. For me it was much harder to go off grid for the set up as I'm not great at math and understanding electricty. The wiring is nothing really special or different than a normal house. The solar panels need it's own wiring that usually comes with them. You'll likely also need a generator back up and batteries. Cables for those will come in different sizes depending on need and budget.

    I'd say that $7000 is not a bad cost for use of the grid and that may be a "minimum" for a low end solar system, which I'd be very surprised would run like your grid system would. Adding batteries, a strong enough generator with good output "peak" voltage enough to charge the batteries when the sun can't and a good Pure Sine Wave inverter, plus the solar panels, enough to charge a good set of large batteries to run a house "normally", could be more than your grid connection quote?

    Also, there is always ongoing things to do with this sort of system, keeping track of consumption and state of charge and discharge via a meter, such as the Tri-metric and interpreting it. As well, there is battery and generator maintenance to consider. No where near as easy as a grid system, but certainly not at all difficult to do, but one must take care of the batteries.

    I bought my system "precisely" because of a growing families needs and "the wife" did not want to have to think about the "off grid system", vs. just throwing a light switch on day or night. They paid $30,000 to connect to the grid and I paid them $9,000 for their complete system including a like new 7.5 kw diesel generator, but no solar panels. They'll be another $9,000.
     
  10. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The power company wanted over $20,000.00 to connect us to the grid so we sunk that into our own solar and wind system instead. Luckily for us, my husband is an electrical engineer but one source you might contact is Solar Energy International: http://www.solarenergy.org/
     
  11. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Its going to depend a lot on her.
    How big a house? what ya gonna spend tobuildit? How many in her house?
    I had an off grid place in Alaska. Stove,hot water ,lights and heat are all easy to make propane. Radio, a few lights and incidentals can be cheep 12volt. There are a lot of 12volt appliances but each will add to the load. Refridgeration is an issue.propane isnt cheep 12volt isnt very handy and 110 volt uses a LOT of power.Sorta the same with TV there are good 12 volt Tvs but they are not real big ,bigger ones use a lot of power if you are converting it.
    We had well pump washer and dryer and microwave on 110 when we were useing one of these we would try to use all of them run the generater for that time and also use it to rechargeour 12volt batteries.had a water resevoir in the attic that the pump would fill then.
    How to get the power into the batteries? solar is good .Like I said we recharged batteries while the generater ran. I also had my pickup set up so that I could easily sling batteries into it and recharge them as I drove but since you are close yu might be able to run a wire fromyour place to hers that would handel a small battery charger . And you could build a gas powered battery charger.
     
  12. okiemom

    okiemom Well-Known Member

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    remember some girls have high usage items like curling iron and hair dryers. These things are often overlooked in a usage budget.

    When we did an electrical budget is was eye opening to how much electricity we really use in a day. Vaccume 5 min a day, hair dryers 5min, switch on light 4min. coffee pot.....

    Reducing usage will have to be #1 goal. That was not the problem for us but the high heat was. Air conditioning broke the bank.

    Making an electrical budget is like a nometary or dietary budget. EVERYTHING must be counted. Vaccumes, hot water, air conditioning. Living in Ok w/o air conditioning is not something I could live w/. Our sustem was going to cost $25,000 just so we could use a little air conditioner in a small room. A generator was also going to have to be bought.

    If the needs are very simple it won't be a problem, but modern day living probably won't be possible on a small system. If she is willing to "camp" at home then she is ready to go off grid.
     
  13. Ed_Stanton

    Ed_Stanton Well-Known Member

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    Quote: "...If she is willing to "camp" at home then she is ready to go off grid."

    Hmmmm, not sure if you're kidding or not? But it's FAR from being accurate. I live off grid missing nothing that I had when on the grid. I have all the appliances, electrical gadgets, etc., even being able to use my diswasher. Off Grid living need not be anything whatsoever like camping. It is very easy to live just like anyone else in any grid connected home.

    What you say about the energy budget is helpful, as is your point about conservation, but everyone off grid or not, should do both. We are such a wasteful society, especially when it comes to electricity. All conservation means though, is that one runs a generator less often, or one needs fewer batteries or solar panels, etc.. One can always throw money to solve any problem, so it's more cost effective to conserve rather than waste, but one doesn't have to conserve to be off grid.

    Going off grid is VERY EASY but it isn't always as initially cheap as one thinks, especially if one also wants to live and be as wasteful and not concious of use, as if one was connected to the grid. For off grid, the cost are up front and recovered over many years, while being connected to the grid can sometimes have high upfront costs, if one needs a really long connection, but often it's like a loan that just won't go away. Both types have monthly costs otherwise.

    Today we had a wicked wind, snow, rain storm and the power in town went off and on 15 times I was told and off completely in many other regions. There were many "Grid" folks "camping" today. I'm 20 miles from town and my power never went off, nor was it affected at all by the very rough weather. I was enjoyably working on my computer all day, with the stereo on, a mug of coffee nearby and great stove top cooking (and baking and raw food as in a salad), all while the blizzard raged on outside. Folks in the valley "connected" to the grid, now at 9 pm, are "still camping". Not me.
     
  14. okiemom

    okiemom Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't really kidding. Where are you located Ed, I figure you are farther N.I couldn't tell? I would go off grid in an instant if air conditioning was not a problem. the heat and humidity started this year in March and didn't end until Oct. I tried to put off turning on the air but when everyone started in on each other because they were hot and cranky (85 in the house at 8pm) and sweaty I gave in. If you don't mind being sweaty then might not be a problem, but getting rady for dates,work, special occasions and being really hot is not up there with the most fun. You try to get ready and your makeup and clothes are ruined. If you never have to dress up this might not be a consideration.

    I am a wuss in heat. I think most people who are condtioned are. I can not work at half of the speed if there is not some relief. In my budget I could run every gadget plus some form solar excpt hot water, air conditioning, and electric refridgerator, stove and oven. propane can cover most of these easily, so no loss of quality. But for anyone to air condition a house would take closer to $50,000. Propane generator would run a nice size window unit but it would run a lot.

    If I lived up north ( parts of colorado, NM, Ont,Canada places I have been)I would gladly go solar/off grid. Anywhere where the humidity is not so bad. I believe there are a few Okla. families off grid with a system like yours ($7,000) so they could tell you the exact limits that they have. I asked them lots of questions before I made a decision.