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Thread: Off Grid Power Questions

  1. #1
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Default Off Grid Power Questions

    We currently run our whole house off of a Honda 2000eu and it works great. We do have to run a larger gen when we need the well pump a couple times a week. About 15 minutes to fill the pressure tanks.

    We burn 99.9% wood for heat but also need a backup system. I recently pulled out our direct (outside) vent propane heater (Empire brand) because it is a huge propane hog. Of course when we needed the heat the most (-50s) last winter, it puked and we froze up our water system.

    Soooo...I am contemplating going to oil heat for a backup, a monitor or toyo or ?. (Would a drip stove be appropriate for backup only?)

    As the most simple setup, I'm considering a 4 battery bank ,cheapo inverter and an automotive type charger (all in the basement). My first question: Is this realistic/reliable/a good idea?

    Does a monitor/toyo need clean sine wave power or is modified sign wave good enough?

    Secondly, I thought about maybe just putting a couple of lighting circuits from our panel on the same battery system so we have just a couple of lights for use in the mornings and before bed without the generator running. Would I then be better off going with a larger battery bank and putting in an combo inverter/charger with charge control, etc.?

    I dont really want a big battery system because I like the quiet running and gas sipping of the 2000 watt generator and would rather not have a 4-5 kW generator chugging away...

    Mr Pid, brav01, etc....any suggestions or advice?

    thanks in advance...

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    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    Is this a weekend get away, or round the year place?

    I think you would be better off with the drip stove, just because the toyos and the mont. have a very touchy computer in them to be running off a gen set.

    That being said I would like to hear what others think about this.

  3. #3
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    This is our 24/7 home...

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    Toyo stoves don't consume much electricity to run but they use more than I was comfortable with to run the start-up cycle. And since they don't burn a continuous pilot they may run the start cycle fairly frequently. For that reason I opted for a high quality drip stove with the non-electric thermostat. I didn't think I could maintain sufficient charge in the batteries to depend on the Toyo unless I ran the generator regularly, and since I've built my system to maximize solar while minimizing the generator, that defeated the purpose of the super efficient heater. A properly sized oil stove is pretty miserly for oil consumption and I've been pleased with mine. If I had grid power I'd have a Toyo.

    That's my opinion based upon my own analysis. I may be incorrect about the Toyo electric consumption. I don't know anyone who's running one full-time from an inverter system. I'll look forward to other reports.

  5. #5
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, my first choice was the drip stove, but the location of the stove makes a thru wall vent alot nicer... and I wasnt sure how they would handle idling all the time on backup duty..

    thanks again.

  6. #6

    Default Power

    I'm not familiar with heat requirments for your application. But between the two I would consider the oil drip.
    Toyos and monitors tend to like pure sine wave power and the fans/ blowers also consume power.
    Oil drip only requires gravity and that works 24/7 so you dont have to. They also use the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle you don't have to worry about their brain or deal with electrical problems.
    If you are going to run the EU2000 anyway go ahead and get a set of batteries. They can be charged while you're running your genset and then offer lights without the annoying hum of the genset when you just need lights to read. Not sure what your electrical needs are but you may be able to just use 12v power direct and omit a inverter. Inverters are not 100% effeceint and discard wasted power as heat. Some are however more effeceint than others. Xantrex makes some of the more effeceint inverters and they do offer a 700 PluS that is a good buy.
    Using energy effecient bulbs will conserve power and extend times between charges. Caution; Compact Flouresent Lights don't like extreme cold and may not start (when used outside).
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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    I know quite a few folks up in Caribou hills here that heat with monitors. Word is that it DOES take a pure sine wave invertor to run them. Straight off a honda, you will smoke them. Likewise with the less expensive invertors. So, between the batteries and invertor, and the wiring you are into it for 1500 or more. They can run a long time on just their batteries when set up correctly. Most of these guys any more have inverters and generators that talk to each other. Meaning that "it" watches the volatage levels in the batteries and turns the generator on by "it's" self and off again when the batteries are topped off. Slick setup, but you are into it for alot of $$$. I ran my cabin on a honda 2000 and most run 3000's. The guys living up there for the most part run bigger diesels with the setup mentioned above. If it is only for backup, I would look to a modern oil drip as well if you are happy with your electrical as is for your other needs.

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    I went through all this when I was off the grid (14 years)
    I went with a napoleon oil stove. It takes no electric and is much more efficient than a drip stove. It is gravity feed and it has a reservoir and it uses a stainless steel catalyst burner. I was told this stove is what They computerized and it became the toyo or monitor. As it turns out I got natural gas a couple years back and I'm not using this stove any more. Very nice stove that you can see the fire and its blue colored. I have lots of stove pipe and even a 300 gal tank and stand. If you might be interested PM me and we can talk. This really is a nice stove and was just thinking I should find someone that could use this great stove. Andrew
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    That's still a drip stove in my book. Very similar to my Efel or several other brands that use the same or very similar fuel meters and burners.

  10. #10
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies fellas.

    I am going to look more seriously into how to make an oil drip work with my house layout. The chosen spot is/was against a wall on the eave side of the house.. I'll figure something out...


    I do like our current generator only system. Low maintenance, 8+ hrs on a gallon of gas, we only run it 4-5 hrs a day so its no more expensive than being on the grid without the money outlay and maintenance of a batt system. Plus that little Honda is going on 7 years and still runs great. Only trouble is that as we complete more of the house construction, the load keeps creeping up so that now we have washer/drier/dishwasher/chest freezer, etc..so we need to keep an eye on timing our loads to keep the amps down below 8 or so for fuel economy.

    I even rigged up a kill circuit so I can shut the generator off via a light switch near the bed at night without having to go outside in my skivvies...I was pretty proud of that one

    Brav, I was planning to do just as you mentioned and add a small batt bank (120 or 12v) for small lighting needs. I've experimented with pulling the cooling fan out of a 400w inverter and as long as you keep it in a cool place (and keep the loads small) overheating is not a problem and you dont have that power suck all the time. Add a small solar for spring/fall/summer when lighting needs are small anyway and it's worth it.

    thanks again

  11. #11

    Default Inverters

    Quote Originally Posted by dkwarthog View Post
    Thanks for all the replies fellas.

    I am going to look more seriously into how to make an oil drip work with my house layout. The chosen spot is/was against a wall on the eave side of the house.. I'll figure something out...


    I do like our current generator only system. Low maintenance, 8+ hrs on a gallon of gas, we only run it 4-5 hrs a day so its no more expensive than being on the grid without the money outlay and maintenance of a batt system. Plus that little Honda is going on 7 years and still runs great. Only trouble is that as we complete more of the house construction, the load keeps creeping up so that now we have washer/drier/dishwasher/chest freezer, etc..so we need to keep an eye on timing our loads to keep the amps down below 8 or so for fuel economy.

    I even rigged up a kill circuit so I can shut the generator off via a light switch near the bed at night without having to go outside in my skivvies...I was pretty proud of that one

    Brav, I was planning to do just as you mentioned and add a small batt bank (120 or 12v) for small lighting needs. I've experimented with pulling the cooling fan out of a 400w inverter and as long as you keep it in a cool place (and keep the loads small) overheating is not a problem and you dont have that power suck all the time. Add a small solar for spring/fall/summer when lighting needs are small anyway and it's worth it.

    thanks again
    The Xantrex inverter I mentioned has a thermostat in it that turns the cooling fan on and off as needed automatically to save power and keep the unit cool as well; they also make a 400 watt unit that does the same thing. I think they are about $60 at ABS.
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    FWIW, I needed a point-of-use small inverter to run a TV and DVD player when the main inverter was turned off. The big inverter makes some noise, which is no problem until you try to sleep. Anyway, the first small inverter came from Radio Shack and I was surprised to find it had a built-in fan. It was too noisy. After some internet searching I found Duracell has some small inverters without fans. They are made by Xantrex. Best Buy has them on the shelf. They have digital readouts and are silent. At least mine is. It does have a small ghost load but it also has an on/off switch. There's no load when its turned off.

    http://www.duracellpower.com/documen...-inverters.pdf

  13. #13
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    cool, thanks guys...

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