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Homestead solar power

Discussion in 'The Homestead' started by cariboo, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    The system we have now cost around 6 thousand Canadian 20 years ago. Today I could buy the same power output for 2. Saved 14,000 in fuel cost and that much worth of exhaust. Electricity was cheap but we had a purpose. |Still have it. I'll drop into Canadian Tire once in awhile and buy the panels on sale. $175 for 100 watt that 10 years ago was 800. I bought a 100 watt panel, 30 amp controller and a lot of cable on Amazon for $250 and realized there were even better deals.
    Crazy, we have surplus panel. Once we'd scratch are monies together to buy one.

    I threw this together to keep our freezer going in the summer. Found I could run a bench grinder and the freezer on a sunny day. A metal frame laying around, some scrap plywood and a couple of wheels. The panels were clearance stuff. 2 deep 6 batteries cost. They've doubled in price in 20 years.[​IMG]

    We built a tracking system for tilt and angle. When you work at home you can turn it.[​IMG]
    Again the tracker cost $50 in scrap.
    The system's a little bigger now by a few 100 watts. With these 2 systems we've increased our exposure by 45%. We eliminated the ropes after we put a steel roof on our cabin.The reflection off the steel almost made the tilt obsolete.
     
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  2. Le Loup

    Le Loup Nomad

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    We only have a fridge freezer, but our solar system runs the whole house day & night all year round. Like you, we had other reasons for going off grid, & other reasons for using solar power besides saving money on grid power.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    24 volts DC is converted to 240 volts AC.
    Keith.
     
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  3. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    That's a great system. You could run some tools with that.
    We went a different route though. Money was tight when we first arrived. Same idea but when my partner and I made the move here in '97 we started with nothing except land and a run down cabin in the bush. We started small and tried to get the most of what we had. We still do. Today we have 4 small systems. The biggest is 416 watts charging six, 6 volt on a tracker, that we move. It powers the shop[​IMG] and our home (cabin); led lights and a few small 110w machines. When the sun is high in the summer we hook up 2 more - 8 batteries.[​IMG] It's on the way to our shop so it's not a chore to keep it on the sun. The second is static 150 watts that runs the well pump, radio/music/cd's/tapes and a few lights in the kitchen. The 3rd is a 190 watts on wheels with two 6 volt golf cart batteries, controller. Self contained that we can move around in the yard and track the sun. It's heavy but it works. The forth is a 100 watts and controller on an a frame for maintaining, boosting batteries. We've a few farm and road vehicles. It's proven itself essential. The systems are 12 volt and easy to maintain. We've got our fix of electricity. Just thought I'd share this with folks because anyone can do a small system in their backyard, porch on there garage roof for 2 or 3 hundred dollars.
     
    #3 cariboo, Jun 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
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  4. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Oh I just wish I could do this unfortunately I rent my home so not allowed. I keep pestering the landlord to install solar but no luck even after nearly 20 yrs. It will come one day. I'm determined !
    It's much harder to get a bit of land and live on it here... nigh on impossible unless you have money and buy a smallholding.. I still dream of it though.
     
  5. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    Here's a picture of our cabin. 800 square feet, 3 of us. We've lived here since 1997.
    (edit for a better picture)

    [​IMG]
     
    #5 cariboo, Jun 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
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  6. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    I'm sooo jealous! I just want a bit of land to grow veg and a few chickens for eggs, and a log cabin close to some woodland that I can use for wood harvesting and hammocking. Even though I live very rural it's still toon much civilisation for me. Neighbours are too close and too many rules. I even have to ask permission for a pet! I would get it easy enough but what rubs is that I have to ask!!!
     
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  7. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    For dependability, I really do like the dispersed system = your set up isn't "all or nothing." Great strategy.

    My panels are up on the SW wall of my house. My little system was meant only for emergency purposes
    for our frequent power failures ( 60 per day, maybe as few as 1 x 6-8 hrs per week).
    LED lighting was the solution to consumption issues in our winter with short days.

    Cariboo: Might you not be Scott/Cariboo Blades. perhaps?
     
  8. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    You're Brian T from WCI? Led lights changed things here in the winter.
     
  9. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    Brilliant guesswork on our parts! I've haunted WCI since long before the BIG HACK.

    There's a wealth of wood carving talent in BCUK.
    It's mostly campcraft and really elegant spoons, a few wood spirits and maybe a greenman.
    Every once in a while somebody will post the other carvings they do = quite a sight.
     
  10. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    There are regulations on the fires we can start depending on how dry it is, hunting and the laws of the land.
    Our closest neighbours are 20 kms away. We visit every few years. We grow our food, cut all the wood we need. The cabin, shop, sauna, every morning one of us starts up the cook stove (usually Aki my partner). All are wood stoves. We've never cut a live tree for firewood. We're surrounded by crown land full of standing dead trees. We don't have a phone. One sink and the grey water goes to the fruit trees. Don't get me wrong, it has been a lot of work and damn hard at times but I feel lucky. Like we won a lottery because when we moved here 22 years ago after leaving our jobs and selling everything it was only a on an idea that there was an option to find more freedom.
    We've experimented a lot with the electricity we need, building different set-ups. After food, shelter and warmth there is electricity.
    [​IMG]
    This view is looking from the cabin
     
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  11. MrEd

    MrEd Native

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    That is inspirational. I dream of living like that! Pretty jealous :)
     
  12. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    It's not the easy dream life being off grid tho. You need to be fit and able to mend anything that goes wrong without calling the repair man everytime anything goes wrong.
    I think we all dream of the big escape and a peaceful cabin in the woods with a couple of dogs and a loved one.
    So sad that most of us have to make do with a boring 9 to 5 and a semi in the suburbs.
    Well done for getting your dream into reality .
    I've lived in caravans and mobile homes in rural locations. Even in a British winter it's not for the faint hearted.
    I still dream of a log cabin in the woods though! A nearby river, a canoe and a dog.
    Haaa! ( soft wistful sigh)
     
  13. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    Aki goes for a walk most morning with her camera. She takes all the pictures. The long shadows in November and December before the snow stays is a special time in the boreal forest..
    A couple of mornings ago a big live spruce had fallen across an old logging road, bushy it was. She went into the ditch to navigate around the spruce's top. As she cleared the top a dozen wolves, chasing our 2 dogs, met her on the other side. They were all a few metres away from each other.
    The three of us have had close encounters before with 2 or 4 wolves and haven't had a camera. Aki was amongst a pack and she had a camera.
    Aki and the wolves looked at each other. Up close, the majesty of a wolf is breath taking . Cool temperaments, They turned away from her and headed back down the road. Then she remembered the camera.
    [​IMG]
    Photographs by Aki Yamamoto


    Of course the dogs started to chase. Their hearts are in the right place. It gave Aki another chance for a pic.
    [​IMG]

    The pack was spread out in the bush. She ordered the dogs back, they stood beside her waiting for the order to attack, The wolves turned away and were gone. As she and the dogs walked home. Aki could feel she was being watched.
    This is why we live here.
     
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  14. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    There's no stopping a solar power system, even if you rent. The whole thing is stand-alone
    that you pack up and take with you. The solar panel(s) connect through a charge controller to the batteries.
    You must have lots of capacity to store the "juice" the panels make.
    The batteries feed an inverter to make mains-type AC. That's it. + to + and - to -. Match red and black connectors.
     
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  15. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    Sorry, back on track.
    ...and one can start with one panel, one deep cycle battery and a controller.
     
  16. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    WOW! Amazing experience. !
     
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  17. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    Cariboo, it is said that the efficiency of the panels gradually deteriorate, and most panels need to be replaced after about 10 years.
    Would you say that is your experience too?
     
  18. cariboo

    cariboo Forager

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    I've read they lose output over years of use. We haven't checked the current because there has been no need. Haven't noticed any drop in energy. If they have become less efficient it is by not very much. We have BP panels that are 22 years old. 2 panels that are 17 years old. We had a panel that was shorted out in a lightening storm 15 years ago and a controller that went with it. That was my fault. I was new at it and hadn't grounded properly with no fuses. In fact I was lucky I didn't burn our cabin down.
     
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  19. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    The solar panels run better the colder it gets.
    Hard to measure performance as any changes at all to the light intensity and temp will change activity.
    There are all sorts of inefficiencies when you cannot turn the panels with the sun.
    Mine are fixed to a vertical wall which faces SW. On the roof they would be buried in winter snow.

    I run the system with a light load about once a month for a couple of hours.
    The switching capacitors need reforming or they short out and cook the entire inverter.
     
  20. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    We were advised here ( by a friend who has a business importing and installing them) not to get any. He told us to insulate the house properly instead and to get a high efficiency AC, and to upgrade the AC system when a significant tech improvement is done.
    Cheaper to run our house that way. But then we are not Off Grid. Just have low bills. Low Grid?


    We are thinking of installing solar in our new house in Norway though. Couple it with a heat pump. We have an heat pump in the old house there already. Fantastic.
    We will have a couple of conduits run inside the walls for the electrics in case we do a couple of panels.
    The Heat pump we will have anyway, so a decently small extra investment.

    I cool my (un insulated) garage here on Island with a split system heat pump. Of course it runs the 'other way' from the Norway system.

    I wish I knew about those heat pumps in UK.
     

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