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Old 09-16-2019, 12:06 PM
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I'm looking at an off-grid home listing in New Hampshire. It has a 4200 watt solar system, well and septic. My question is if that system will provide enough power to live a normal life without relying on a back-up generator. Not sure about sun strength there and solar in general. The appliances appear to be natural gas, so my biggest concern is the well. It's far off the road so I'm also curious if my tractor would be able to plow a dirt road somehow. Probably a stupid question, but I'm in Florida and we don't get snow.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:24 PM
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Depends on the location. Panels on the North side of a hill don't do much. Trees shading the panels part of the day really hurts. Older battery banks can be weak and not really up to the task of winter duty.

Google earth, look at the site. There are on line places that will give you data about solar performance for an area. The owner's likely have the actual data for the system. Solar requires some involvement to get the max out of the system.

Plowing snow works if you have a place to push it too. Snow blowing works good unless it gets rained on, then you need a dozer.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:29 PM
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I'll check on the age of the system, orientation, shade, etc when I narrow down the field. Right now my question is generalized if everything is installed properly and in good working order.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:54 PM
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Really hard to give much advice without knowing what you and your family's normal life consists of. You will however want a backup generator if the place does not already have it included. Double check if your appliances are NG or LPG. The latter would mean you need propane delivery services to fill your tank. Also find out the ratings of any supplied inverters and your battery bank.

Tractors can plow snow if you have them setup for it. There is also the consideration of keeping it warm enough through a heated storage building or installed block heater. Electric block heater might be a problem for your off grid system in terms of loads.

Be aware that the watt rating of the solar system does not necessarily mean you actually achieve the level of power. Most often it will be considerably less with perhaps in full sunlight of 75% of rating. Then there is partly cloudy days, shading from vegetation, landscape, and bad weather days to reduce how much you will get.
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Old 09-16-2019, 01:16 PM
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Man, it would be nice to have someone from that area, on a solar system, pipe up with their experience. It's just my wife and I. We like to take showers every day, do laundry, wash dishes in a dish washer, vacuum carpets and that sort of thing. I questioned the realtor on the power and he was telling me it makes enough to power two homes. Doesn't seem right to me, but what do I know. Good tip on the engine block heaters.
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Old 09-16-2019, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WILL View Post
Man, it would be nice to have someone from that area, on a solar system, pipe up with their experience. ....
Although he is in Maine, Forest Beekeeper would have the best input since he has a large solar collection system.

One thing I can say is that just about everything I have seen is you have to adapt your electrical usage and can not just act like you have grid power 24/7. When you set out to be your own utility company it involves a great deal of learning what you can do and how you can maximize what you have. You need to understand base loading and peak demands. This might mean that if you are running the vacuum cleaner you can not run the dishwasher at the same time.
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:37 PM
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Although he is in Maine, Forest Beekeeper would have the best input since he has a large solar collection system.

One thing I can say is that just about everything I have seen is you have to adapt your electrical usage and can not just act like you have grid power 24/7. When you set out to be your own utility company it involves a great deal of learning what you can do and how you can maximize what you have. You need to understand base loading and peak demands. This might mean that if you are running the vacuum cleaner you can not run the dishwasher at the same time.
My gut agrees with you. If that's the case, we're not interested in going that rout.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
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My gut agrees with you. If that's the case, we're not interested in going that rout.
You just have to budget your power usage. It's not rocket science. It might take a little getting used to it but that's the fun in life.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WILL View Post
I'm looking at an off-grid home listing in New Hampshire. It has a 4200 watt solar system, well and septic. My question is if that system will provide enough power to live a normal life without relying on a back-up generator. Not sure about sun strength there and solar in general. The appliances appear to be natural gas, so my biggest concern is the well. It's far off the road so I'm also curious if my tractor would be able to plow a dirt road somehow. Probably a stupid question, but I'm in Florida and we don't get snow.
I have 2 ? for you .Why are you considering this move and why is the guy who is leaving doing it .
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:19 AM
steve marshall steve marshall is offline
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Storage capacity is where to focus as 4200 watts sounds like a lot.
There are 3 homes with solar panels nearby that I'm aware of. 2 are always covered in snow in Winter. They might be snowbirds? Depending on how the panels are sited and how high up might be a good idea to check. Natural gas or propane? Find out for sure. People plow with those little ATVs so using a tractor is NBD. But be aware, some people know how to plow while others never get the knack. The record snowfall was only 8 or 9 feet for the season. Sounds like a lot but that's spread out over a dozen storms or so. Higher elevations will get more as will some sections depending on wind patterns. Closer to the ocean and southern tier will get less. Then too it matters how long and what pitch is the driveway and how large an area you want clear. Worst comes to worst and you don't want to deal with it, there are plenty that would be glad to do the plowing.
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Old 10-23-2019, 05:12 PM
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Hope you like long winters!
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:54 PM
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I’m off grid in Ny , but see a lot of -0 and it snows every day .
I have 4500 watts +- .
From feb thru April if there is no snow on my panels I get enough power to charge my battery’s all most every day .
From April thru October my system runs it self with no power worry’s at all , I turn off some panels on sunny days or my battery’s are charged by 10 am .
Starting after thanks giving I fuel up the generator , thing go south fast ,it’s like some one turned off the sun .
I can go 3 days with little sun and 2 days with no sun .
I choose to just run my Honda every day for one hour , I put the coffee on walk out to the generator shed and pull the cord . I could start it automatically from inside but it’s not a big deal to pull start it .
I set my out back 3600 watt inverter charger to charge , in a hour I turn it off .
Then I have a 31’ paint rolling pole with a foam squeegee and I clear the snow from the panels .
It’s no big deal really unless I get nailed with a foot of snow or more, from DEC to the end of Jan is dark and the sun is very low in the sky . My Honda 2800 runs about 100 hours a year mostly in DEC and January or when I have feet of snow covering my panels on the roof and I don’t clear them .
I use about 20/25 gallon of fuel and Chang the oil once in feb and once in may .
So I use 75 $ a year in fuel and the Honda should run for at least 1000 hours with just oil changes spark plug and air filter so 10 years I have a lot of equipment here that has way more hours then 1000 .
The truth of it is , my cabin is 2800 sq feet and runs on 200 watts of power day in and day out, I don’t do wash or run a dish washer for only 2 people I just wash the dishes and cloths go home every week or so .
Battery’s are a lot of money so I choose to not beat them up for no reason .
Snow plowing is hit or miss , ive been pushing snow my whole life , as long as you push the snow in 6/8” lifts it go’s easy .
If you weight till the end of the storm and you are pushing 2/3 foot of snow it not easy , in a big storm 30” plus I get 6 ‘ drifts across my road ☹️ The town clears the main road with a cat loader with a 5 yard bucket .
Up till now I’ve been ok plowing with a 1/2 ton pickup with a 7’ western plow it’s a 4000 dollar truck that I keep in the garage year round just to push snow , but I will get a tractor with a cab and plow with that when the truck dies .
I
My place is on top of a Mountain in the middle of nowhere up a 2500’ Jeep trail to the house at the top .
If I should pass wifey would just run the generator to charge 3 months a year 200 hrs a year and pay a plow guy or stay with the kids in the winter .
Sooooooo the The short version is yes you’ll need a generator🤣
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