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  • Off grid 24/7 solar vs diesel

    First, I was not wanting to be off grid. But the property we found is good and on a well maintained road. Just no electric.
    I am not looking forward to getting a sizable solar system since it "seems" expensive even with the tax credit. (I could be wrong since I have not gotten quotes yet)
    Looking at a battery bank and a diesel or gas generator only?
    I see some here use the Honda's but I figure a good diesel will last longer and use less fuel and be cheaper depending on diesel prices?
    location is near Talkeetna
    Family of 6 with another on the way.
    Living in RV in insulated and heated (and vented) pole barn initially. ...contractors and others did not seem to bat an eye at this idea...lol
    Putting in wood furnace.
    Having septic and well (Grundfos or rps pump or similar)
    Washing machine

    Thought about something like this generator? http://www.centralmainediesel.com/or...age=yanmar_4kw

    If I use an average of 20kWh each day as is Alaska average....that is about 4.4 hours run time for a 4.5kWh gen...being optimistic and assuming 100% efficiency. .34gal an hour for the above generator....optimistic.

    I'm sure this is a horrible generator for my needs and Kubota or similar is what I probably should get.

    So to clarify my question and I appreciate any thoughts...
    Is solar worth it????
    Go with a solar company or go with a local electrician?

    thank you!



  • #2
    I have used an Onan 5kw diesel generator for the last 5 yrs at our off grid cabin and itís worked flawlessly. Noise can be an issue and I recommend building a generator shed that can reduce the noise. It always amazes me how long 5 gallons of diesel would last in that generator. I think if I was to use one for my main house, I would want to go to a 10kw but that depends on your energy needs. My opinion on solar is that depending on your area, you will most likely need a backup generator to support the low sun light hours. The key to solar is lots of storage. You can produce as many kw as you want but if you donít have the storage then itís wasted energy. Just my two cents. Good luck<br/><br/><br/>Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    • #3
      Originally posted by rynreeve View Post
      I have used an Onan 5kw diesel generator for the last 5 yrs at our off grid cabin and itís worked flawlessly. Noise can be an issue and I recommend building a generator shed that can reduce the noise. It always amazes me how long 5 gallons of diesel would last in that generator. I think if I was to use one for my main house, I would want to go to a 10kw but that depends on your energy needs. My opinion on solar is that depending on your area, you will most likely need a backup generator to support the low sun light hours. The key to solar is lots of storage. You can produce as many kw as you want but if you donít have the storage then itís wasted energy. Just my two cents. Good luck<br/><br/><br/>Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Do you have a battery bank at your cabin?
      Ever do a calculation on you fuel usage and kw used? Just curious.

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      • #4
        Make sure to place your generator away form your RV. An entire family perished here several years ago from carbon monoxide poisoning from running a generator too close to the RV. Also have a CO detector in your living space.
        Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by SmokeRoss View Post
          Make sure to place your generator away form your RV. An entire family perished here several years ago from carbon monoxide poisoning from running a generator too close to the RV. Also have a CO detector in your living space.
          Thanks for the advice.
          I have a couple of them.
          plan to have the generator exhaust vented outdoors. I'm probably more worried about the propane heater in the RV more than anything. Don't plan to run that unless I have too and again...venting it out the barn along with sewer gases.​​​​

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          • #6
            To get an idea of how much power you using, the utility company can tell you the amount of Kw your using in a day, or month, winter or summer.



            Depending on the size of battery bank and battery charger you will be running the generator over four hours just to charge the battery. That about the frig and freezer how are you going to power them if the generator is turned off?


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            • #7
              Originally posted by MacGyver View Post
              To get an idea of how much power you using, the utility company can tell you the amount of Kw your using in a day, or month, winter or summer.



              Depending on the size of battery bank and battery charger you will be running the generator over four hours just to charge the battery. That about the frig and freezer how are you going to power them if the generator is turned off?

              Current use where I live, in winter with no AC, is about 600 kWh per month. (We are downsizing)

              Run fridge off a sufficient sized battery bank that is then recharged by either solar or generator?

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              • #8
                You will want to know the max kW (kilowatts or 1000 watts) of your cabin and then the kWh used in a month. The kW is the max capacity that you need at any given time in a month and the kWh is just the total capacity used over time. You might be able to get away with less capacity if you're careful about what you run all at once but most likely it won't cost you much more to cover it all. <br/><br/>Solar is a good thing to partner with a more firm fuel type source otherwise you'll need to get a big battery system to cover it all<br/><br/>Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk<br/><br/><br/>

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                • #9
                  Solar is plentiful during the time when most Alaskans use the least amount of electricity. If you don't use lights in the winter then solar is the way to go!
                  ďI would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.Ē Physicist ― Richard Feynman

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                  • #10
                    I'm building off-grid in the Northwest Territories and will be using a combination of solar with back up generator for the dark months.
                    The plan is to have a regular full functional home powered completely by solar for 8 months of the year and a combination the other 4 months.
                    I will have washer and gas dryer, electric fridge, dishwasher, tv's etc.

                    Cost for the entire system solar, battery banks, Honda 7kw inverter generator will be in the $15-$20K range with myself installing the system.
                    sigpic
                    www.arcticangler.ca
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy_7mPiqoqw&t=11s

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                    • #11
                      Drifter,<br/>It is a very optimistic outlook to have solar be a capable primary driver for 8 months of the year. Particularly for a system not connected to a grid. The battery costs to get to that 95 percent, 99 percent reliable get pretty high. In the midwest solar capacity factors are typically I'm the 25 to percent range, so 75 percent of the time it's not generating electricity. Just my opinion after seeing few of these systems in action. <br/><br/>Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk<br/><br/>

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DRIFTER_016 View Post
                        I'm building off-grid in the Northwest Territories and will be using a combination of solar with back up generator for the dark months.
                        The plan is to have a regular full functional home powered completely by solar for 8 months of the year and a combination the other 4 months.
                        I will have washer and gas dryer, electric fridge, dishwasher, tv's etc.

                        Cost for the entire system solar, battery banks, Honda 7kw inverter generator will be in the $15-$20K range with myself installing the system.
                        I have been doing enough research about this to wrap my head around the numbers and what they mean. However, if I set this up myself ...I am likely to kill myself.

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                        • #13
                          I have an off grid building similar to what you describe. It is in the high desert of the PNW. Will power ever be available? It would be a hard adjustment for most families to be off grid. My setup has about 2750 watts of panels, and a propane backup generator. The batteries are the expensive part.

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                          • #14
                            OP, you might stop by 907Solar on your way through Wasilla (Pitman Rd.). I met the guy that ran it and followed his postings on another site; he recently passed away but the lights are still on at his store. The original owner was very helpful to others and I hope that business model was passed on.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the replies.

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