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First understand that my solar system was not designed to be totally off grid. Instead it was designed to sell excess power back to the grid with a small battery backup ($2400) for power outages which happens several times a year here. But the local power company seriously reduced how much they were paying for power I made so we are now mostly off grid which means a much larger (and more expensive) battery bank.

While we already had put some effort to becoming more energy efficient we really got serious about it when we moved to being mostly offgrid including switching to propane for the stove, some house heating, and hot water. By mostly off grid I mean the inverter monitors the incoming grid but doesn't pull power from the grid unless the batteries get low. To avoid power company line service charges we must use some electricity so the clothes dryer in on a circuit that is grid fed. Our power bill runs about $22 most months but if it rains for several days in the winter the batteries will get low and the inverter will pull some power off the grid automatically and we'll get a $45 power bill that month.

The trick is to get more energy efficient. The 1st year I lived here using a lot of wood heat and central AC we averaged 1150 kwhs a month. We now average about 680 kwhs a month total electrical usage including the clothes dryer, mini-split AC and heating. well pump, and all other electrical needs. Part of the savings was from moving to propane cooking and water heating. Part of the savings was from more efficient appliances like going to a 22 seer mini-split with heads in several rooms.

There is no reason why a person couldn't get by with a smaller battery bank being grid tied. The inverter would simply pull power off the grid more often but you'd still have battery power for emergencies. @Trihonda
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Trihonda,

That's a nice battery system but for the cost I wonder if you could build your own that has twice the capacity.

I sized my PV system to be "net zero" +% 50 so it would have positive cash flow all year. I have an incentive to save energy now (bigger check) but when my contract expires in a few years the opposite will be true. All my excess production will go back into the grid and I won't get a dime for it.

I'd like to isolate my living room circuit and run it completely off batteries that would be charged with the excess. The loads are pretty low (the TV and a few lights), I could run it off a pretty humble battery bank.
 
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