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Home Forums General Discussion 12 volt is the best off grid choice Re: 12 volt is the best off grid choice


Going through all of our stuff and selling off what we are not bringing West has forced me to think about this.

There is NO QUESTION that with regular auto wiring, (heck, speaker wire at 12 ga even) will work fine for LED lights running on 12 volts. The biggest error I see people doing all the time is thinking that thicker is better.

One thing to remember is the more strands, the better. A huge 120v wire for a home that would work great for triple phase 440 will not work as good as 12 gauge speaker wire for 12 volt DC. (I encourage you to check on this with an actual scientist, not a prepper you know who THINKS he or she knows.)

I have done the homework on this and I have to agree with Chowan. The way I intend to wore my earthship is to have white switches and black switches in the wall. Everything white will be 12 volt and powered all the time.

The black circuits will only be generator powered…like the big screen TV, the washing machine, My home audio amplifiers…etc.

If you look at the wire load balance, you can use very small wire if you wire it more like a car. Running 4guage to the main distribution block with about 6 batteries, keeping the system 12 volt allows you a HUGE power draw into the home for about 30 bucks. You keep the high-draw items close to the 4guage.

For example, running a single 4 gauge line into the bedroom would not be needed for an LCD TV and a regular shortwave/alarm radio.

I have seen people elsewhere on the net say doing things this way is unsafe, but if you use fuses and keep them well under the load ability of the wire, you will never generate any heat at all.

For us, keeping it all 12volt is a no brainer…as long as I can fire off the genset every third or fourth day for an hour or two.

My Linn LP12 is a MUST for me as is the rest of my hi-fi. But using a car amp and the CD player for daily use brings the power needs down to near zero.

When I want to play vinyl and really sit down to listen, I can fire one of the gennies and do laundry as the vinyl spins and I make a ton of heat with the class A amps. A couple of diodes and switches will make this a painless operation.

I have to say, the idea of using 120v stuff off grid just does not make any sense to me. If you are running on batteries, you are trying to be very frugal anyway…so the power needs are minimal.

In fact, as a joke, I have run 5 of the harbor freight LED mini flashlights in a room with diffusers on them.

I encourage you all to give it a shot. if placed in a plastic wiring box and daisy chained, you can have wonderful lighting in a 15X20 room from 5 of these units, at a total cost of about 17 bucks including everything…less than the cost of one good 120v LED light bulb.

(We used the frosted light covers normally used in ceiling fans and while I would not read with it unless I went for 6 and aimed one on my page, for every other function, it was great!)

I would really like to see anyones ideas for 12volt stuff in the home.