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Tagged: solar wind cabin power
February 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm #36634
I have been off-grid over 15 years and I get a lot of questions from people that think living off-grid means going without common comforts and would be too hard of a life for them.
I would like to dispel the myth that living off-grid requires giving up all the stuff you have on grid- it just ain’t so!
I live in a house- not an rv, van, hut, or tree. I designed and built my cabin and it is very comfortable at about 400 sqft. It has all the rooms most homes have. I have a living area, dining area, kitchen and bathroom downstairs and a large bedroom and office upstairs.
I have power but my power comes from a small 470 watt solar and 125 watt wind system. That power runs my water pump, lights, two HD flat screen tvs, stereo, dvd, game system, laptop and misc. gadgets just like most people have.
I use propane for my furnace, fridge, stove, and OD water heater and have all the major appliances including a microwave and washing machine which I run off a small generator.
I have my own water supply from a free flowing well I drilled myself and I harvest rain water and recycle gray water for my garden.
About the only thing I use that may seem different than grid living would be my solar composting toilet which has to be emptied once a week into an outside composter.
What are the benefits of living off-grid ?
I own two small businesses and work just like most people but because I have no house payments and no utility bills I get to keep more of the money I make and I do not need much money so I can work when I want as I want.
I can also have a garden and raise animals to reduce my food costs and eat healthier fresh foods instead of the toxic food sold in stores.
I also have the freedom and time to enjoy my life and without the stress of bills I can spend time learning and being creative. After going off-grid I wrote two books and over 100 songs that I never would have finished before.
So, being off-grid does not mean roughing it and going without and if you do it like I did it will mean no house payments, no utility bills, more money in your pocket, more time for yourself, and freedom to enjoy life.
Living off-grid also does not have to be expensive. My cabin cost less that $2000 to build. My solar and wind system was under $3000. My property under $1000 so for about $6000 I have created a sustainable life.
LaMarFebruary 14, 2010 at 11:15 pm #40706
Lamar how well does your solar composting toilet work during the winter when covered by snow and the outdoor temps is freezing for four months of the year? would it be possible to provide heat from a wood fire?
What suggestions do you have for a young couple with a growing family regarding lifestyle. 400 square feet could be a bit crowded with youngsters underfoot and possibly confined indoors during inclement weather. You are evidently blessed with a well spring that bubbles to the surface. What would you suggest as the best way to pump water to the surface given your setup. Youngsters below grade school age tend to generate a lot of laundry. How much water do you presently use and how much flow rate can it sustain as a maximum rate.February 28, 2010 at 1:38 am #40728
Hi, I’m an alternate power user in New Zealand. I have lived in a ‘off the grid house’ all my life (16 years). I’m young but I do know a thing or two about power having watched my Dad wireing things around the house.
I’ll tell you what it’s like off the grid.
Our house’s power comes from solar, wind and generator (6.5Kwatt 2cylinder diesel) when needed. Our battery bank is 24volt and our inverter is a 2.2Kw modifyed sine wave one. And that inverter is a dam good one it’s been running continuously for over 25 years and never missed a beat.
Our wind generator is a 1500watt and you can hear it spinning from half way across the farm. When it’s going slow it’s just a whoosh – whoosh – whoosh but when it’s gusty you could swear there’s an Apache doing aerobatics over your house. It gives next to nothing on a still day but in a gust you get around 40 amps at 28 volts. Thats 1120watts. Not bad.
The wind generator generates high voltage around 400 volts and the contoller tapers the charging to the voltage of the batteries.
We have some small 12 volt solar panels running in series to give 24 volts and some nice new 24 volt ones. When the sun is shineing directly on the panels around mid day they give altogether 46 amps. Were using 2 solar controllers one for the old panels and one for the new ones. It’s really anoying because one of the solar controllers is a little dumb. For example it turns on (needle goes across 46 amps) voltage goes up and just hits 28 after about 5 seconds and it turns off. Then it waits (1/4hour)till the voltage goes down to 25, 26 volts before it thinks Oh, I should be charging! So that one wastes a lot of good charging. The other controller is almost always on. So you get 10 – 20 amps almost all day.
When the sun comes out and the wind is gusting the batteries will happly absorb 86 amps. When there low like round 25 volts I mean. There capacity isn’t that good anymore they need repacing I think. There made up of 12, 2volt batteries and a army of 12volt batteries in series.
Little Things You Should Know
Please don’t get a Modifyed Sine Wave inverter. Get a Pure Sine Wave inverter.
1. It makes everything make an anoying buzzing sound.
Some older amplifyers will buzz. Power supplies including computers, battery chargers (big power supplies like for car batteries, phone chargers and laptop chargers are all good) and motors will be louder because they will be buzzing.
2. Most modern apliences like washing machines and cake mixers use thyristor speed control which doesn’t agree to well with modifyed sine wave.
Mums trying to do some baking with the cake mixer and she puts in the flower. She crosses her fingers before she turns the mixer on the slowest speed because it will usually go full speed or nothing.
Nana gave us a digital alarm clock for christmas but when we plugged it in it went very fast. As it turns out the alarm clock counts the waves in the power because 230 volts 50Hz/sec. So it just counts 3000 waves then ticks up a minute. Thats a great design if you have Pure Sign Wave power! Trouble is, modifyed sine wave is like a pixelated picture of pure sine wave. Made up of square increments. The alarm clock counted the sharp increaments in the wave thinking it was a cycle. I suppose it had a purpose though, we were able to calculate there are 20 steps in each cycle!
In conclusion I think if you do it right off the grid can be a fun challenge!
But always seek expert advice before doing anything, if your not a competent electrician have one check your work before you power up expensive equipment like inverters and solar controllers. Remember that the output of inverters is just as dangerous as mains power. Also some wind generators output high voltage that could be more dangerous than mains power.
For more info you can read my speech I did for an english assessment.
It’s more dumbed-down info than the above. I had to make it basic so my class could understand it.
Please don’t copy it.
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