Author Topic: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...  (Read 522259 times)

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Offline old_guy

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #1500 on: September 19, 2019, 09:13:02 AM »
Its been too quiet for a while here on countryplans.  A good time for me talk about solar.

We started building in NE Tennessee in July of 2017.  We got the walls framed and partially sheathed, and the roof sheathed and covered with underlayment, before that winter.  Wall sheathing completed, some windows in, half the building wrapped, and metal on the roof in 2018.  We now have stairs to the second floor and most of the windows in.  We hope to get the siding on this year and begin moving in next summer.

It is over 1.5 miles of gravel road from the house to the pavement and power lines.  A mile of that is on an easement along the property line between 2 neighbors, the remainder through our own land.  The power company wants $7/ft to bring in power.  So, $55,000 PLUS purchasing easement(s) from the neighbors, and clearing those easements, to get power brought in.  Brought in through the forest, where every breeze blows down a limb.  Uh, no thanks.

We got serious about solar this spring.  I had read everything I could find for a very long time, and learned a lot, but was very aware that there was much more to know.  I sent an email to our Dave Sparks, got a quick reply, and soon found myself telling him “let’s do this!”,

Our Tennessee location has its challenges.  We are on top of the hill, but in what is basically a notch in the forest.  Tall trees on the east and west sides of our clearing, as well as neighboring hills, block both early and late sun.  With clear info on our site Dave helped us find a good panel configuration and array locations, and he determined good electronics to support it.

I spent 3 weeks there in July, installing a water system, receiving the shipments of solar equipment, and starting the solar install.  We installed and wired up the electronics and the batteries, built the ground mount for some of the panels, and ran the wires from array to house.  As always, I needed one more day, and did not get the panels installed.  My son and neighbor continued working on it and, 2 days later, sent me a photo of the readout showing we were generating almost 2900 watts.  Woo-Hoo!

The system is 48 volts (batteries), with 27 310-watt panels planned (only 9 installed so far).  We planned to have 24 2-volt batteries, but the distributor could not meet his delivery promises, so we are temporarily using 8 6-volt 210 Amp-Hr golf cart batteries.

With just 1/3 of our panels installed, and using batteries with only 1/5 the planned capacity, the solar has changed everything.  We can run a huge 120V window A/C, an old full-sized refrigerator, all the lights and stuff we could want, and still charge the batteries to float every day.  We must turn off the A/C as soon as the sun gets too low or it will deplete the batteries.

And QUIET, without the generator running.  We had been using about 10 gallons of gasoline in the generator every day before turning on the solar.  I just spent a week there and did not use even the 5 gallons in the generator fuel tank.  What little I did use was only because I had left the AC running too long after sunset and wanted to top up the batteries.

I started frequenting CountryPlans years ago for the building info, and have learned and applied much from here.  The OFF GRID POWER thread became more important as I was ramping up our solar plans, and Dave was a welcome bonus.  I am retiring next summer and moving then to our Tennessee home.  Thanks to everyone here for your help along the way.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: OFF GRID POWER; various thoughts on...
« Reply #1501 on: September 19, 2019, 09:36:07 AM »
I'm happy to hear you hooked up with Dave. He knows his stuff and is good to work with.  Solar sure beats gasoline any day.   ;D
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.


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