Our off-grid system & life
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Our off-grid system & life

This is a discussion on Our off-grid system & life within the Alternative Energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro etc) forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; Hi, this first post will be a pretty much non-technical brief summary about why we did what we did. When I met my husband (2015) ...

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Thread: Our off-grid system & life

  1. #1
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    Our off-grid system & life

    Hi, this first post will be a pretty much non-technical brief summary about why we did what we did.

    When I met my husband (2015) he'd already had and lived on the 8 acres for about 6 years, built a small one-room cabin by hand out of scrap lumber, donated windows, etc. He hauled water from a lake nearby, filled drinking water jugs at friends, and for power - propane stove for cooking, woodstove for heat, a little windmill up on the high spot that had recently seized up (high windstorm), an old generator to charge up 2 car batteries, and a 1000w inverter to run a couple lights and a TV for a few hours a day. We lived like that for a year; loved it.

    Our second year, we decided to make this place our permanent home...and to 'improve' it to make life a little easier so we could stay here when we got really old & feeble, lol, in our 60's now. Briefly considered having power run in - but it would have been over $35K for this far out, so nope. Mostly though, just wanted to stay 'un-hooked', so stand alone system was the choice.

    First was to have the well drilled - so we'd know depth & therefore pump requirements... and what kind of power was needed to run it. Ended up at 200'. Too many options/choices...and my knowledge was general rather than deep enough to make a good selection - so I called in a pro to help design based on our needs. Over the summer of 2016, we built an addition on to the cabin and incorporated a 'power room' in that, for the battery bank (16 Rolls 6v, 428AMH, configured for 24V) and all the component parts. Also built a treated 4x4 framework for the 9-panel array (crystalline, 235w each), which is 100' up above the cabin.

    Though comfortable doing all the house wiring, etc, we decided to have this system installed by a pro. We did all the build & trenching; he did the hookup. Also having him come up once a year to give everything a good check-over; we maintain the 2 ton (lol) worth of batteries, checking every 6wks for h2o levels, topping them off, and if they need to be equalized we do that then. Been over a year now, so far all good.

    It was likely an over-build. I dont care, even though the pro said we could get by with a smaller system. The main thing was and is - sufficient watts coming down the hill to keep an oversized battery bank charged (it only dropped once below 90% after a week-long rain last summer, so we fired up the gen to top them up) to meet our needs.

    Our needs? 220v Water pump. Efficient (480kw/yr) GE fridge/freezer <-and that can be shut off, if needed.
    Our extras? Lights, TV, Washer(110), fans
    Our biggest surprise? There was so much power coming down in the full sun over this last summer that we were able to use a stand up window vented air conditioner - for the few days it got over 90 up here - and the batteries didn't drop off 100% while using it.

    I'll post some pics later, and happy to answer any questions. I think I still have the spec sheet somewhere on everything in the system, and can post more particulars if anybody wants.

    And since you're probably curious as hell - the 'parts' ran just over $12K and the 'labor' was $4K. The labor included not only the install - but the design, ordering, receiving, hauling everything way up here, and working with us to do it spread out over several months...as we got the needed infrastructures built.

    All comments welcome.
    TG, Redneck, Vasily 1945 and 12 others like this.

  2. #2
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    Not sure how many pics I can put in one post - but here are 5.
    1. Hubby building the array structure.
    2. Finished structure. Had to offset the third one, ran out of flat. lolol
    3. Panels installed, not yet wired. By this time, power room was ready to go, still needed to trench for wires.
    4. Batteries in place, waiting for hook up; components ready to install.
    5. Pro hooking up system.

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    Our off-grid system &amp; life-panels.jpg

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    Last edited by MountainGirl; 10-31-2017 at 01:31 PM.

  3. #3
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    I think I can honestly say you and your husband may be the envy of many here, how fortunate for you to be able to set yourself up as said, I for one are looking forward to learning about your gardening and food preservation methods,I assume you heat and cook with wood and propane backup or how are you setup? Feel free to share , there is also much to learn from many here.....
    MountainGirl and Mule13 like this.

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  5. #4
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    Love your post. I explained my solar set-up a while back but it is nothing like yours. Please keep your posts coming. Also, what kind and size generator do you have? Gas or diesel?
    MountainGirl likes this.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rstanek View Post
    I think I can honestly say you and your husband may be the envy of many here, how fortunate for you to be able to set yourself up as said, I for one are looking forward to learning about your gardening and food preservation methods,I assume you heat and cook with wood and propane backup or how are you setup? Feel free to share , there is also much to learn from many here.....
    Hi rstanek.

    I sure hope there'd be no envy, but IF there was it should only be of our lack of fear to try and live the way we want to live. It would be so much safer and easier, and definitely smarter, to live in town... especially at our age. We might die up here, who knows. And, it's a LOT of hard work. But the good parts are sooooo good, especially the peacefulness of it all. Living remotely is not for everyone though - especially with young families and work obligations or those who are very society-inclined. Everything up here was bought with our savings; by having no debts (paid off through hard work) we can do this on very small soc sec income. And, if SHTF/WROL hits and/or soc sec stops?...we'll get by fine, until we don't, and then whatever comes will be okay.

    I have TONS to learn about doing this, especially food preservation/storage/gardening. Right now we're buying ahead from the stores - with little place to keep things...so one of the projects for next summer is to configure a 'root-cellar' of sorts. Most of the 'looks like dirt' spots have solid granite about a foot down...so will need to get creative! Especially with any fencing, without post holes, lol

    We heat with wood; cook & hot water with propane. Two 100lb propane tanks, hooked up separately to its use. The kitchen one lasts 6 months, the water one 2 months. We haul them down for re-fill when going for supplies & always have a 3rd one here, full. When/if propane is no longer available, it all switches back to wood only.

    Thanks for your reply - and all ideas/suggestions are very much appreciated. We're always learning as we go and we don't even know yet what we don't know!

  7. #6
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    I live in Houston, among the crazy people. You live in the mountains, away from the crazy people, but I am not envious, not me, because I......oh screw it. I am enviouse as hell.............
    MountainGirl, Redneck and Mule13 like this.
    " All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: Freedom, Justice, Honor, Duty, Mercy, Hope" .Hidden Content

  8. #7
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    Oh, I may be a little green....we can't live too secluded due to wife's health and a growing multitude of grandkids, but good for y'all. Seriously. To be able to do this, you should be very proud of yourselves.
    MountainGirl likes this.
    Just because I am peaceful does not mean I have forgotten how to be violent.
    If I am to die tonight I shall see that the night does not pass quietly.

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  9. #8
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    You should write a book, being off-grid and making a go of it. Its damn hard work, everything is manual, labor intensive. Not sure at my age if I could do the same, good to see that peoples dreams can still be had.
    MountainGirl likes this.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chiefster23 View Post
    Love your post. I explained my solar set-up a while back but it is nothing like yours. Please keep your posts coming. Also, what kind and size generator do you have? Gas or diesel?
    Hi Chiefster, we picked up a Honda EU7000is. One great feature is the 'eco' setting that lets it idle slow and when there's a demand surge it kicks up the rpm.

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    That 2016 pic shows it in its temp location...with a power cord plugged into the 240 side, to run the well-pump. It was so nice to have water up here, even before plumbing was in. And power for the tools to finish the addition build, without having to keep the old gen running, lol, which is now in storage as a backup. It's gas. Decided that way as everything else here is gas: chainsaws, splitter, etc.

    Where can I find your solar set-up thread? I love reading how others are doing it. Thanks!
    Crunch likes this.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainGirl View Post
    Hi rstanek.

    I sure hope there'd be no envy, but IF there was it should only be of our lack of fear to try and live the way we want to live. It would be so much safer and easier, and definitely smarter, to live in town... especially at our age. We might die up here, who knows. And, it's a LOT of hard work. But the good parts are sooooo good, especially the peacefulness of it all. Living remotely is not for everyone though - especially with young families and work obligations or those who are very society-inclined. Everything up here was bought with our savings; by having no debts (paid off through hard work) we can do this on very small soc sec income. And, if SHTF/WROL hits and/or soc sec stops?...we'll get by fine, until we don't, and then whatever comes will be okay.

    I have TONS to learn about doing this, especially food preservation/storage/gardening. Right now we're buying ahead from the stores - with little place to keep things...so one of the projects for next summer is to configure a 'root-cellar' of sorts. Most of the 'looks like dirt' spots have solid granite about a foot down...so will need to get creative! Especially with any fencing, without post holes, lol

    We heat with wood; cook & hot water with propane. Two 100lb propane tanks, hooked up separately to its use. The kitchen one lasts 6 months, the water one 2 months. We haul them down for re-fill when going for supplies & always have a 3rd one here, full. When/if propane is no longer available, it all switches back to wood only.

    Thanks for your reply - and all ideas/suggestions are very much appreciated. We're always learning as we go and we don't even know yet what we don't know!
    I realize envy is a sin if taken to an extreme , a little bit can be productive in motivating one to better themselves....

 

 
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