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Thread: off the grid

  1. #1
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default off the grid

    I'll start by asking the question. Has any one done any recent research or built a good size cabin (800sqft) and figure how to install solar power and maybe wind with batteries in a do it yourself manner. What was or is the most cost effective way to achieve this. What is the best mixture of using gas appliances(do you even have or want) and electric to achieve a off the grid retreat cabin living a tad more of a comfort level than Frank Glaser or Dick Proenneke. Pictures of how and what you did it would be great. The bottom line is what would it cost for the alternative power sources achieve this. Can it be done a limited budget?

  2. #2

    Default Solar

    The definitive answer is: it depends.

    It depends on what you are expecting. A little light and a radio/cd player? Or, lights, TV/DVD player, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, clothes washer, microwave, and toaster oven? The first requirements are easy and won't be that hard to meet. The second requirements need a significant investment.

    I guess right off the bat, if it is making heat (heater, stove, oven, coffe maker, etc.) you are probably better off with propane or oil. You need a lot of juice to create heat. Second, for light, compact fluorecents are your friend. For 13 watts you get the same light output as a 60 watt regular bulb.

    With a reasonable load, you are probably looking at $500 to $1000 for a system. To power a typical urban house you're looking at thousands more.

    There is lots of help out there online. Find a chart that gives the average wattage of common appliances. List all the things you can't live without. List how many hours per day you expect to use each item. Multiply the hours per day times the wattage for each item, that will be how many watt-hours you need each day you are at the cabin for that item. Add up all those numbers and that will be your total load (in watt-hours) that your system needs to supply each day you are at your cabin.

    There is a lot more to it than that, but it will give you a start on what you need power-wise or what you might decide you don't really need appliance-wise.

    One very big thing to consider in this state is that you have lots of sun for half the year and not so much the other half. For a cabin you will only use in the summer - solar only should work great. For a cabin you will use in December and January, you should considered a generator to help out.

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    Default What is a limited budget?

    How do you define a limited budget? If it's a thousand dollars, you don't get anywhere, not even close. What do you want the system to do? It's an exercise in math that's all. Know your demand, install accordingly. You will become VERY power conscientious, for good reasons.

    Utilizing mother natures resources is immensely rewarding, and a lot of fun. Solar and wind energy ideally complement each other. Our initial investment for the alternative energy we have now was rather significant, but well worth it.

    Allow me to keep this somewhat general, it would help if you elaborated on your specific needs a tad more.

    Gord

  4. #4
    Member Dirtofak's Avatar
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    Default

    I plan to use a propane stove, RV hot water heater and fridge. 2000W gen for casual use (heater fan or ceiling fan, limited lighting and RV water pump) and 4500 to 6500 watt for high use. Unless I can find a little Lister or similar diesel gen set.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Member anonymous1's Avatar
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    Default Off grid

    I live off grid most of the year and get about 80% of my power from wind and solar. I have a AirX marine wind generator from South West Energy and 2 - 4amp solar panels feeding into 3 8D deep cycle batteries. All my lights are 12v and I have a cheap 1500 watt inverter for tv and small appliances. For back up and wash day I have a 3000 watt gas generator that also charges the batteries. Stove and reefer are propane. I think you can get set up pretty good for under 2 grand and be very happy if you have a windy location with sun
    good luck

  6. #6
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    Default Source in Anc

    Mike n'all

    You might want to check with Kirk Garoutte at Susitna Energy in Anc, he has a great variety of off the grid items and his prices are real fair. There you may find your new diesel genset, it's not a Lister, but a Northern Light. I am planning on installing one for a back-up to the Lister we have.

    susitnaenergy.com

    Gord
    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

  7. #7
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    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

  8. #8
    Member Michael's Avatar
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    Default

    We have a 12x24 cabin in Glennallen. Solar power and propane for stove, refer and heat. My wife and daughter pretty much live there May thru October quite comfortably. We have 2 solar panels and 2 6V Rolls Royce batteries. With he controller and inverter we've got a couple thusand in the system. Lights, TV and appliances are 120V. Microwave popcorn requires the generator. November and December we use the cabin on the weekends and a little more. We make sure the panels are clean and at the optimum angle when ever we can and watch electrical use very close. January to May we migrate to Mexico.

    We are not pleased with Propane for heat. It's unreliable in extreme cold and vents too much moisture. We will be switching over to oil. The cooking stove and refer work great.

    Our water system is 12 volt. We use a 300 Gal outside tank in the summer. Our pump is a sensor Max and an aqua Star on demand water heater by Bosch. When the weather is freezing we have a 30 gallon tank inside. The big drawback to the bosch is it is direct vented outside, so when the weather is cold you have a chimney sucking hot air out of your cabin. Or plug and unplug the vent as you use it (PIA). During the summer it is a magnet for skeeters. (We finally just lit a PIC below and let it vent up (PIA)).

    All in all it works pretty well. Not as cushy as it could be, but by no means uncomfortable.

    Remember Attitude is the difference between Adventure and Ordeal.

    Enjoy.

  9. #9
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Remember Attitude is the difference between Adventure and Ordeal.
    That is one of the best quotes I have heard in a long time.

  10. #10
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    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

  11. #11
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    Default 90 solar panels in Nome

    FWIW

    http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/rural...-9404794c.html

    Once a guy started harnessing solar power he looks at the sun even with more admiration than before. I can't get enough of it, what a marvellous concept!

    Gord
    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

  12. #12
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    Thumbs up Wind power coming to Savoonga in 2008

    More and more bush communities are going to harness wind energy!

    http://aprn.org/2007/12/03/wind-powe...es-soon-after/

    Gord
    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

  13. #13
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    Default Off grid...

    Sounds like power panels can really be more costly than what is gained from them.GR
    Last edited by Rovingarcher; 12-21-2007 at 09:03. Reason: spelling

  14. #14
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    Default

    I use solar. I have had great success with it, and a lot of fun along the way figuring out how to get the maximum benefit. If I had flowing water I'd rather have a water turbine. Turbines spin in the dark. Very cool.

    The best educational source I've found as well as the best on-line store is here.
    http://www.windsun.com/

  15. #15
    Forum Sponsor BHMStaff's Avatar
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    Default

    tboehm,

    These articles by Jeff Yago,

    Walden Pond, the solar version

    Walden Pond, the solar version, part 2

    Battery powered weekend retreat

    might help you get started.

    Jeff is
    a licensed professional engineer and certified energy manager. At the end of the articles are links that will take you to forty-odd more energy-related articles we have online.

    Please let me know if you find any of them useful.

    Thanks.


    Oliver

  16. #16
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks Oliver, I read all three articles and they were very helpful. I have lived off the grid for over twenty years in Maine but with a big diesel generator. With my move to Alaska I wanted to get away from the full time generator and more to a solar/battery/generator system with a smaller generator that uses much less fuel. Your articles were very helpful with that.
    If you take the woods out of the woodsman you have nothing left but a man in the woods.

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