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Off Grid Solar and Wind - Still in Design Phase - Looking for Advice

 
Posts: 46
Location: Rural North Texas
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We typically run around 1kW per day of usage especially with the power tools.  I was hoping to learn from you guys what works well, what doesn't work well, and what you would do differently if you had to do it all over again.  Since ours will be a new system, maybe we can avoid some mistakes that others have already made.  We are looking at some property that has a well but no electrics.  The water is potable but we haven't done solar before so we are not sure how this might work.  

I have about a million questions and I would love to pick your collective brains about this. I am a tech geek by trade so we have to have power for electronics and interwebz so I can work remotely.  Hubby needs a metal and wood shop so between us we pull a lot of power.  I am already planning to convert to propane for some of the larger appliances (stove, oven, clothes dryer, water heater, winter heating).  That still leaves the AC, fans, fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, hair dryer, lights, TV, and all my techie gear sucking power.   If any of the other power pigs can be converted to DC, I am definitely open to suggestions.

For the shop, DHB (Dear Hunny Bunny) needs to be able to run saws, lathes, drill press, press break, air compressor, and possibly some CNC stuff (which we will need to acquire).  His welder has its own generator so that at least isn't an issue.  Some of his things will run on DC just fine but not everything so some stuff will require an inverter to function.  

I know that I need 2 separate systems with one for the house and one for his workshop.  When we had a regular grid tied house, I would have to shut things off for him to do work so that we didn't blow breakers and we ended up going to 200 AMP service from the grid.  That was the highest amp service we could get without getting a second meter.  We were actually looking at getting a 2nd electric meter with separate service for his workshop when life threw us a curve ball and we took an overseas assignment.  Anyway, splitting everything into two systems brings down the both the amps and the volts that would be necessary to manage to safer and more reasonable levels.  I prefer to keep volts and amps in the "OW" range or maybe the "OW and bad words" range and out of the "Fried" range since DHB isn't always super careful about throwing breakers and testing to be sure things are no longer energized.  Hes been better since he discovered that the water heater was still on the hard way but I would rather not have a crispy DHB.

I would love to hear your experiences with solar only vs solar and wind hybrid systems.  Texas is pretty flat so hydro is probably not an option.  However, when its not sunny, its usually pretty windy.  Its generally pretty windy even when it is sunny so our thought was to use wind, particularly overnight when our consumption drops to almost nil, to help make up for cloudy days.    I am particularly interested in the Lead Acid vs AGM vs Lithium advice anyone can give.  Space and weight aren't that much of an issue for us since we plan use a small shipping container to house the batteries and most of the gear.  
 
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Posts: 438
Location: North central Ontario
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Lisa Sampson wrote:We typically run around 1kW per day of usage especially with the power tools.  I was hoping to learn from you guys what works well, what doesn't work well, and what you would do differently if you had to do it all over again.  Since ours will be a new system, maybe we can avoid some mistakes that others have already made.  We are looking at some property that has a well but no electrics.  The water is potable but we haven't done solar before so we are not sure how this might work.  

I have about a million questions and I would love to pick your collective brains about this. I am a tech geek by trade so we have to have power for electronics and interwebz so I can work remotely.  Hubby needs a metal and wood shop so between us we pull a lot of power.  I am already planning to convert to propane for some of the larger appliances (stove, oven, clothes dryer, water heater, winter heating).  That still leaves the AC, fans, fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, hair dryer, lights, TV, and all my techie gear sucking power.   If any of the other power pigs can be converted to DC, I am definitely open to suggestions.

For the shop, DHB (Dear Hunny Bunny) needs to be able to run saws, lathes, drill press, press break, air compressor, and possibly some CNC stuff (which we will need to acquire).  His welder has its own generator so that at least isn't an issue.  Some of his things will run on DC just fine but not everything so some stuff will require an inverter to function.  

I know that I need 2 separate systems with one for the house and one for his workshop.  When we had a regular grid tied house, I would have to shut things off for him to do work so that we didn't blow breakers and we ended up going to 200 AMP service from the grid.  That was the highest amp service we could get without getting a second meter.  We were actually looking at getting a 2nd electric meter with separate service for his workshop when life threw us a curve ball and we took an overseas assignment.  Anyway, splitting everything into two systems brings down the both the amps and the volts that would be necessary to manage to safer and more reasonable levels.  I prefer to keep volts and amps in the "OW" range or maybe the "OW and bad words" range and out of the "Fried" range since DHB isn't always super careful about throwing breakers and testing to be sure things are no longer energized.  Hes been better since he discovered that the water heater was still on the hard way but I would rather not have a crispy DHB.

I would love to hear your experiences with solar only vs solar and wind hybrid systems.  Texas is pretty flat so hydro is probably not an option.  However, when its not sunny, its usually pretty windy.  Its generally pretty windy even when it is sunny so our thought was to use wind, particularly overnight when our consumption drops to almost nil, to help make up for cloudy days.    I am particularly interested in the Lead Acid vs AGM vs Lithium advice anyone can give.  Space and weight aren't that much of an issue for us since we plan use a small shipping container to house the batteries and most of the gear.  


Hi Lisa, your situation sound similar to a lot of off grid users who do trades type shop work. Usually in your case you would only do one system but a good one and dear hubby would have to adjust his work somewhat to an off grid life. The heart of your system would probably be up to 5kw of solar, a 48 volts DC inverter system that would do 220 power and a larger than usual generator that can carry hubby's biggest single load with a 2 to 4 kw reserve for battery charging and house loads. If he is doing small power tool work the inverter handles it if he has a heavy draw day planned the genny is on... I'm partial to the outback radian with their fm100 or the stacked magnum 9kw inverters with their pt100 charger. If you can swing the expense you will never regret it. If you try to cobble up a system for large loads you will be saving dollars but buying a lifetime of fiddling around and unmet goals ...
Cheers,   David
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