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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DH and I would like to begin working on getting off-grid this year. However, we know nothing about it. We have a generator that runs off gas that we got free with our 5th wheel camper. We live in rural south GA in a single-wide MH. It gets real hot here. We would like for some things to be off grid; however, we have a 220 hot tub that I have to get in as much as possible for back and leg and knee injuries and surgeries. We also want to keep air conditioning as long as we can. We also can't afford to change refrigeration at this time. We even looked at a small solar system to charge 12 volt batteries and try to incorporate 12 volt appliances. However, we don't know what we are doing. We don't want to make mistakes if we can avoid them. If anyone has advice, we would appreciate it. Can you hook part of the power up for solar and keep the high voltage items hooked to the grid? We have a 200-amp disconnect box outside (if this info helps). Thanks in advance, firegirl969
 

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Just howling at the moon
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How about solar hot water. That would work for the trailer and the hot tub and have about the cheapest/quickest payback. Visit http://www.builditsolar.com/ for ideas.
 

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The easiest thing is to go with a simple 12 volt or 24 volt system to run some lights, laptop computer, radio, etc. You can learn a lot about a PV system doing this. If you can't afford to change your refrigeration to a more efficient unit, you certainly can't afford the solar panels and batteries to run it! As you replace any appliances, make an effort to get the most efficient ones you can as replacements. This will save money while you are on the grid, and save money invested in a renewable energy system in the future. As a general rule of thumb, every $1 that you spend on reducing your electrical usage will save $3 or more on a renewable energy system. I agree with WWW about the solar hot water. Do that first, maybe using a solar powered pump to circulate the water, as the "payback" for solar water heating is usually the quickest of any renewable energy.

Edit to add: And yes, you can have a seperate low voltage system. Look at Home Power magazine on line for some ideas and info.
 

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DH and I would like to begin working on getting off-grid this year. However, we know nothing about it. We have a generator that runs off gas that we got free with our 5th wheel camper. We live in rural south GA in a single-wide MH. It gets real hot here. We would like for some things to be off grid; however, we have a 220 hot tub that I have to get in as much as possible for back and leg and knee injuries and surgeries. We also want to keep air conditioning as long as we can. We also can't afford to change refrigeration at this time. We even looked at a small solar system to charge 12 volt batteries and try to incorporate 12 volt appliances. However, we don't know what we are doing. We don't want to make mistakes if we can avoid them. If anyone has advice, we would appreciate it. Can you hook part of the power up for solar and keep the high voltage items hooked to the grid? We have a 200-amp disconnect box outside (if this info helps). Thanks in advance, firegirl969

I Feel if you are thinking about going to Solar panels to produce electricity To Save Money-----you better stay on grid. It cost alot to set-up a "BIG" solar set-up and keep it up and takes years and years to get some return.
If you are thinking solar to help the enviroment and to get some self-suffiency, and the cost to do it is not on the top of the list then Get Going with a Solar Set-up. There are so many people that feel(don't know better) they can go to Harbor Freight and get the $200 solar panel kit--a couple batteries and get off grid when their electric bill is $200 per month-----No Way, not even with a few thousand dollars. BUT, yes you can spend a few hundred bucks on some solar panels and battery and can start Learning about Solar. Keep in mind that your Hot Water, electric stove, electric dryer, electric heat/cooling and your Hot Tub are going to be the largest part of your electric bill. Trying to build a Solar Panel set-up to run all them would cost you in the 6 figure's--HUGE SET-UP!! Without a low energy refrigerator--it could take a couple thousand bucks and more in a solar set-up just to keep the fridge running. Some people get on solar panels for their small electric things and gas for their big appliances, but then they have a gas bill.
I hope all this helps you to understand a little more about solar panels. There is So Many Things you can start working on to help lower your power cost while you are getting started in a Solar set-up. One thing is--If You Need the Hot Tub--do you know they make wood heated hot-tubs?? Can you Use and find something that would work just as good, but uses a LOT less water/hot water?? There is wood fired Hot water heaters that you can make easy. There is also solar water heaters(think about how hot that water gets in a water hose that is layed out in the sun)------If you live where you can have a out door fire you can cook over a open fire a few times a month or do like I am setting up--a wood fired stove under a shed. Cooking outdoors also helps on cooling in the warm times of the year. If you have shade tree's, you can set up a outdoor living room with TV etc and use it Alot during the year while your AC is off in the house with the windows open, then when the house cools off at night you can go in and go to bed with a fan and no AC. Just Learning to turn off lights, tv's etc when not in use can save some. There are So Many More Things you can do to lower that light bill!! Best Wishes!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to all who have responded to my post.

PD-Riverman: you made some great points that I am working on now. I don't use the clothes dryer as I have a clothesline and our weather is condusive to using it almost everyday. I wait until I have good size loads of laundry to run the washer. Also, nothing smells as good as fresh sheets off the line!!! I am working on the issue of turning off lights with the kids. They are getting better. We are going to have to replace the washer and fridge in the next couple of years, so we will definitely make those changes at the required time. We put in a wood-burning stove on our big screened porch and enclosed it with plastic and it will heat the entire house with the use of reversed ceiling fans. We do live on the porch practically except during the worst of summer. We grill a lot for our cooking and use the crock pot. DH even cooks chili and soups and stews on the woodburning stove this winter. I saw a 12-volt crock pot that would work great with a solar system. So, we are beginning to become more energy conscious. I guess I can say that our major motivation is the fact that our power company is going up over $3 a kwh this month. That will make you stop and think!!! We also want to become more self sufficient in the future and it is even sweeter that we will be helping to use less for the future as well.
 

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Just howling at the moon
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I'd like to see the wattage figure of the crock pot. Even it is is as little as 200 watts since it is ran for long periods of time (6 to 12 hours) it would cost alot to run on solar. Most likely it's a cheap product made for truckers to put in there trucks for the day where they don't have to worry about how much power it takes as they run down the road.

A better solution for this type of cooking would be a solar oven. I have one and don't knoe if the thread the about using it still exists. Might search for "SOS solar oven" for the thread. If it's been removed from here I know it still exists at the http://www.solarpowerforum.net/forumVB/index.php forum under product reviews. Build it solar also has several links to solar cooking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The crockpot is 68 watts. You can see it at amazon.com. Thanks for the link to the solar oven. I have heard of them, but never really considered one. I will look into that, and I am going to visit that forum for views from others concerning all aspects of solar. As I stated earlier, we are just beginning our research into solar possibilities and have a long way to go, but no time like the present to begin my research.
 

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Just howling at the moon
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Is this the one?

http://www.amazon.com/ROADPRO-RPSL-...1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1231372606&sr=8-1

Like I said earlier it's not designed for solar but for truckers so they can throw a pot together in the morning and then drive all day to produce the poewr to run it.
Always nice when they post conflicting numbers

300W, 6.5 amp draw
300w at 12 volts is 25 amps (big OUCH!)

6.5 amps at 12 volts is 78 watts (not as bad but still ouch)

Not sure which is right. I'd really want to run that thing on a meter before trying to use just to get an accurate number of what it takes. It may pull a lot more getting warmed up than it uses after the contents is warm.

Useing the low number (78w) that would work out costing about $1400 to $1750 for the solar system to to support it. Those numbers are based on:

6 hr usage
4 hrs solar insolation (national average, what's a big city near you I can get more accurate numbers)
off-grid or battery backup system at $12 to 15$ a watt
 

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Hi, we've been totally off-grid for almost 10 years now. Our system is 800 watts of solar power, a turbine rated at 900 watts, 12 deep cycle batteries, with the controllers and inverters. We power our house & shop with this system. It cost us (mind you, almost 10 years ago), $12,000.00 for the solar set-up, and about the same for the wind turbine, and 60 ft. rohn tower it sits upon. We did have a contractor that helped us with this (he had been off grid for almost 15 years. We've been very happy with the set-up, we did however keep our regular refrigerator, and it is our biggest draw. But, Jim the solar guy had it figured in, and it's not been a problem. We make plenty of power for our computers, tools, t.v. radio, house lights (cf), shop lights, and until 2 years ago even used our furnace in the house (propane, but still used a lot of electricity. We use wood heat both in the shop and house now. I do not use small appliances like crock pots (as pointed out, they are a horrible waste), electric skillets, blow dryers, etc. There is only the two of us, so that helps also. In our situation, when the time came to move out here, we started everything from scratch. There is no power lines close to us, and was going to cost a minimum of $14,000.00 to run, just to the driveway. And if we went underground it would have been over $50,000.00. My husband worked for a major power company for 30 years, and neither of us cared to see another power pole on our property, or the lines. So far, so good. It is expensive to set-up, but we would have been paying the price to have the lines out here anyway, and a bill on top of it. Good luck.
 

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Rockin In The Free World
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My motto is to use electricity wisely, wherever it comes from. If you're fortunate enough to be on the grid, why not take advantage of it?

Instead of striving to be off-grid, strive to reduce your grid usage by 10%, 20%, 40% etc.

You can certainly use alternative energies to help offset your use - and even consider something like grid-tied systems or solar heat.

I like being on the grid - its cheap, convenient and extremely capable when compared to solar or wind power.
 

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We aren't totally off-grid, but have been learning how to cut back on the amount of electricity we use. We bought a wood stove this year and it works great at keeping the house warm. I've even put things I would normally put in the crock pot on the stove to cook. We usually use our kerosene lamps at night. We actually spend a lot of time in our RV which is not plugged into the grid at all. We have a little solar kit DH bought for our water well. We don't have a solar water heater here, but when we were in Florida we did and it did a great job.
 

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firegirl969 you can't run all that off grid. if you want to get off grid to save money forget it. now if you would like to learn about solar i would be willing to give you two kc125 solar panels, a roof mount for the panels and a prostar-30 charge controller as well as an outback combiner box. these items are about 3 years old but never used still in the box. i would even be willing to give you some 12v ceiling fans they are used but working when i took them down. this will provide you with very little power but a chance to learn. this is stuff would cost around $1200 last I checked pm me if you would be interested.
 

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My motto is to use electricity wisely, wherever it comes from. If you're fortunate enough to be on the grid, why not take advantage of it?

Instead of striving to be off-grid, strive to reduce your grid usage by 10%, 20%, 40% etc.

You can certainly use alternative energies to help offset your use - and even consider something like grid-tied systems or solar heat.

I like being on the grid - its cheap, convenient and extremely capable when compared to solar or wind power.
while i agree with your motto i think it is a good idea to strive to be of grid
for a number of reasons.

1 cost you may not save any money at the moment but energy costs
always rise "almost always" and the money spent in going of grid
is likely going to be money well spent later on.
i was paying 35 cents per kwh which is cheap in terms of alternate energy but hwy robbery compared to city prices.
2 reliability the grid is ageing and at least my local power company PGE
is not repairing and upgrading as it should be the main power pole onto
my property was slated for replacement in 2002 it is hollow from termites
and leaning heavily.many inspections in the last 18 months have got
agreement that it is ready to fail but still no replacement I have got to
wonder how many other such poles are out there?
3self sufficiency if you use and depend on the grid you will find things like
the water may not flow without electricity or the heat does not work even
if it is gas. same goes for ovens and hot water systems.
light is also one of my favorite things.
4 other reasons apropriate to the S&EP forum.
 
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