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Discussion Starter #1
A FAIRLY large house, about 3600sq ft. Lots of roof space.
Live in northern Michigan so running AC is not a problem
Heat with pellet stove(110/120)
Propane furnace back up(110/120)
Standard type fridge(110/120)
Freezer(110/120)
Water pump(110/120)
microwave(110/120)

rest of house usual 110/120 applications... TV, lights etc Just the two of us now so we really aren't using the whole house.

ONLY 220/240 lines are for
water heater
dryer
stove

To run the house without any kind of shortfall or problems and not considering the 220/240 appliances,

How many batteries
how many solar panels
how big a converter box
and ballpark on costs?

I have read up on it but you cannot really understand that "stuff" unless you have actually done it. LOts of gremlins pop up that they never seem to cover in the information.

If I want to be able to run the stove(220/240), say an hour a day, can the storage batteries be boosted to handle it or would that be too much draw unless going to something that would power a WWII sub?

NOW as for connection... I do my own electrical work and have actually run separate outlets to the different rooms that are dedicated to just the generator when we lose power, so I already have a separate box system I could plug into without any problems.
OR

if it looked like a long term issue I can always feed the main panel.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have read a lot of theory but not a lot from folks have have done all the grunt work and figured out how to make it really work.

To give an idea on power requirements..
When we lose power in summer or winter I can run most of our life with just an 1800 watt generator until I need to charge the fridge or freezer or run the water pump to top off the two pressure tanks..
 

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Your gonna have to record some useage to get any answers.

It won't be cost effective to run an electric stove.


Costs will also depend on of you do it yourself or pay way too much for an install.
 

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I would suggest having a non electric backup for anything that produces heat. The stove, dryer and water hearet(?) Would be be extreamly expensive to run on battery power.

A fridge or freezer will burn about 1 to 2 kwh per day. The more efficient you can get and the less you run it(stored in coolest part of the home) the cheaper your system can be. I would also run 12 volt LEDs for lights. A 2 watt led puts out the light of a 40 watt incandescent and by being 12 volt you dont have to run it through an invertor.

The well pump may draw a lot of power. For short term it may be cheaper to run it on a generator any time you need water.

Solar and battery storage is very expensive. A first step should be to figure out the minimum appliances you want to run then find put how much power they draw.

I have a cabin with 900 watts of solar and about 1.2 key of useable battery and mppt charge controllers. When the sun shines I can run a 1 hp motor for hours and still charge the batteries. At night I am limited to a 2 watt light a nut of tv/DVD, a tiny bit of power tool use and a fridge. If it is cloudy the next day I cant keep the fridge going.

It doesnt sound like much but when the other option is no power it feels downright extravagant.

My system was compleatly second hand except fo thr charge controllers and cost around$400. It may produce 50 cents worth of power a day and store 12 cents worth of power at night.
 

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You can't run all that unless you want to invest $50,000 on a system. You have to cut all the extraneous things out first. Led lights, a laptop, water pump, couple of fans, a tv, fridge, and freezer are easily ran off grid. Crank a generator to wash clothes, and hang them to dry. As for the freezer, I'm still running an ac freezer off of an inverter, and it uses about 450 wh a day. I put a water tank on a platform about 8 feet high. I use the pump during the day to fill the tank, and gravity feed it from the well into the house. I have 630 watts of solar, and another 500 that are mostly in the shade. I have a 360 ah battery bank. I have less than $2500 in the entire system. I have everything I need, but first you must ween yourself off all the luxuries.
 

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How much money are you willing to spend? Battery storage gets very expensive.


You need to keep in mind how much you can discharge your batteries. If you want maximum life out of them you don't want to discharge them more than 20%. That means for every 1 kwh of usable power stored you actually need 5 kwh's of battery storage.


Going to a 50% discharge tends to be a happy medium(depends on the type of battery you have) The batteries won't last near as long but since you only need half as many batteries for the same usable power so the final cost/amount of power over the life the the batteries tends to be pretty close to if you only discharged the batteries to 20%.


Or if this is only an emergency system for short term you may want to consider draining the batteries even further with the knowledge you are destroying and will have to replace them way sooner than you otherwise would. This is the cheapest short term solution but the most expensive long term.

Instead of hard wiring everything in in my system the 12 volt lights are run on a lamp cord extension cord with an inline switch and battery clamps on the end. I just run the light where I need it through the rafters and if I want more light in a specific area I move the light. I also have no 110 wiring coming off my inverter. I use a short extension cord to run 110 items or have the fridge right next to the inverter.

My entire system is portable-ish. The two main batteries, charge controller, power inverter and 12volt plugs are in a box that a strong person can pick up an move. The panels are attached to the wall and by removing a few screws I can take the panels down. With an hours work I could remove the panels from the cabin and have them mounted on my roof. Or I could take just the batteries box, put it in the van and have portable power for work or play.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
WOULD SAY... up to $10,000 do it right the first time?

Rather not spend that much but I also don't want to regret not spending the bucks up front for a system that is nothing but problems down the line.

Make sense?
 

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At 10k you would really have to reduce the amount of power you use. Just from looking around online quick it looks like batteries are about $500 per kwh. Then assume $1250-ish per kw of solar panels(If you by cheap panels that price includes controllers and mounting hardware, and assumes you do the install yourself)

You need to decide when do you want to use the power you produce. If you have a lot of panel but little battery you can use a lot when the sun is shining but very little when it isn't.

If you have a lot of battery and little panel you can use a lot of power when the sun isn't shining but it may take several days of sun to charge the system back up.

If you have a balanced system you would have enough battery to store what your panels produce in an average day.

The system I have is horribly out of balance, I have way too much panel and not enough battery. Which means I can use tons of power when the sun shines but have to conserve when it doesn't. Although with that much panel, that little battery and mppt controllers my system can actually do a good job of charging my system as soon as the sun is up even if it is totally overcast.

With my system a fridge is a poor thing to run because an over cast day and two nights the fridge would totally drain my battery, a chest freezer would be better. It would take several days without power for things in a chest freezer to begin to thaw. And as soon as the sun starts shining I could power the freezer all day to bring the temp back down.

The biggest trick to using a reasonable sized solar array is reduce your NEEDS of electric as much as possible and then to make those NEEDS as efficient as possible.

In all honesty if it weren't for the noise and the fact that I got all my stuff second hand it is much cheaper to just use a generator. My system new would be about $1800 and I already own a 1k generator. I could run that thing for many years on $1800 worth of fuel.

Where solar really shines is in new construction where running power to the site would be cost prohibitive AND you can get by with minimal electric use AND have a generator AND use have switched all appliances to LP instead of electric.

I am not trying to talk you out of it, I just want to make sure you understand what you are getting into.
 

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Born 120 years too late.
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Discussion Starter #8
I DON'T mind doing electrical. My father owned a construction company for a while and I have wired and plumbed over 100 houses in my life and did all the wiring on my present place.

With just the wife and I we only really live in 3 or 4 rooms any more. I could pop the breakers on all the rest of the house we don't use.

I tried to get the wife to let me put in a propane stove and water heater but she will not hear of it. She thinks all gas operated things will eventually kill you with fumes or explode.. but she is OK with the propane furnace. :confused:
Then again we hardly ever run that since we heat with wood pellets.

I understand the generator bit.
I have 4 different ones, 5 if you count the one I loaned the neighbor and keep around 300 gals of stored/treated gas I regularly turn over by filling the cars and trucks and such when needed.
but
even that can run out after a while if things go poorly for a couple of years.
I can keep pretty comfortable for about 2 gallons a day in winter and even less in summer.

Just looking for alternative solutions for staying in my home.
 

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I DON'T mind doing electrical. My father owned a construction company for a while and I have wired and plumbed over 100 houses in my life and did all the wiring on my present place.

With just the wife and I we only really live in 3 or 4 rooms any more. I could pop the breakers on all the rest of the house we don't use.

I tried to get the wife to let me put in a propane stove and water heater but she will not hear of it. She thinks all gas operated things will eventually kill you with fumes or explode.. but she is OK with the propane furnace. :confused:
Then again we hardly ever run that since we heat with wood pellets.

I understand the generator bit.
I have 4 different ones, 5 if you count the one I loaned the neighbor and keep around 300 gals of stored/treated gas I regularly turn over by filling the cars and trucks and such when needed.
but
even that can run out after a while if things go poorly for a couple of years.
I can keep pretty comfortable for about 2 gallons a day in winter and even less in summer.

Just looking for alternative solutions for staying in my home.
Do you own a garage or some place you can store a propane stove and propane portable water heater? You can find the water heaters new for around $100 and LP stoves can be found cheap or free on Craigslist all the time. If you store them, a couple 100 pound LP tanks and the necessary hose and fittings(put it all together before hand to make sure you have the right parts) that way if you ever have a power outage that lasts a few days you can drag the stove and water heater into the house and set the up temporarily . That is what I have how I am set up. I have a vent less LP heater, a LP camper stove and an lp fridge. The fridge and stove are built into a cabinet along with a sink with 12 volt pump for a portable kitchen. It fits in our cabin, or our camper or our van or if needed in our house.

I have two 100 pound tanks for it. The entire set up was free except $85 to fill one of the tanks(the other I got for free and it was full) and about $60 worth of fittings, hoses and a regulator. Looking back on it I could have use the regulator that came from the camper I got the rest of the parts from but at the time I wasn't sure it was big enough to run the heater as well.

Most of my preps are portable(heaters, cooking, water, toilet, solar power and generator. The idea is I can put it all to use in the cabin but in the winter I put it in the ice shack, I can take it with when camping and if needed I can put it in the house. I figure I can get more use from them and am not throwing away money on something I hope to never need. It also allows me to get first hand practice using them and I can fine tune the systems as I find out what works and what doesn't. The one down side is I am making the assumption that I will be able to drive to where the items are and back to my house when they are needed. At the moment the solar and wood stove and toilet are in the ice shack( about 3 miles away). The heaters and stove and tanks are at home.

Not that my way is the way to do it, I am just giving you ideas that may work for you and the wife may be okay with.
 

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You should also think about what you want your battery voltage to be. I went with 12 volt for mine. In doing so it made it more expensive. Low voltage means high amps, that requires bigger or more charge controllers and much bigger wiring with shorter runs. 24 or 36 or 48 volt would be better if I intended to then convert it to 110.

The reason I kept it 12 volt is because I wanted to use most of it as 12 volt rather than run it through and inverter to use as 110. Anything in campers or vehicles or phone chargers are designed to work on 12 volt. It is pretty easy to find anything you want that runs on 12volt dc. Once you get into higher (or lower) voltages you can't find things that will run on it as easily and you need to us an inverter or DC to DC step down.

By being 12 volt I can use it to start a vehicle or use a vehicle or alternator to charge it , or I can use a regular battery charger to charge it off grid as well.
 

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Well , my system consists of 24 295 watt panels a flex power one 3600 watt 48 volt inverter charger a mate programmer 2 fix 80 charge charge controllers 16 golf cart battery
I have iron ridge mounting system .

You don’t want to heat any thing with solar . So water heater , stove , dryer needs to be gas . In December and January I run a generator every day for one hour .
It snows every day here in my location so I have a 31’ pole to clear my panels of snow .
I do get power all year but in the winter you have to watch your usage .
I set my inverter on search mode to save power in the winter .
8 months out of the year I have way more power then I can use, December to the second week of Jan is rough put I use led lights run a tv or radio all day .
You don’t need a microwave but if the sun is out it’s not a problem.
My cabin is 2800 sf I use 10 15% of my battery over night now in the summer i use less .
I’ve been running a chop saw table saw and compresser to work on the house.
I run a freezer in the summer .
My system cost me 11600 and I installed it my self , the place was built to run on low power. I heat it with a few splits of wood a day @ 20 o
Below 0 and I have to stoke the stove more
I will have radiant heat in the floor at some point but there is no heat source for it yet

My well will pump to a holding tank when the sun is out .
 

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Several people here have said don't use solar to heat and to a large degree they are right.

Long story as to how my solar system go to where it now is but 5 years ago it was 4500 watts in panels and a 19,000 kwh battery bank. After federal tax breaks it cost me about $12,000 self installed and properly wired into the house (NEC compliant). It basically ran everything for 3 people but the clothes dryer which has always stayed on the grid.

Electric stove, well pump, microwave, toaster oven, dishwasher, and I installed a 1.5 ton mini-split for AC and to provide much of the heating. Propane for hot water. It worked and since it was grid tied the inverter automatically pulled power from the grid when the batteries dropped below about 65% charge. A person could live on it full time with major conservation during low sun rainy days without ever tapping into the grid. But it did present some lifestyle changes. Raining? Don't wash clothes or the dishwasher until the sun comes out.

So yes, you can sort of run a modern home off a 4500 watt solar system.

I later enlarged the battery bank to 38,000 watt hours and the panels to 6000 watts. I also installed a larger propane tank with two 10,000 btu wall mounted propane heaters and a propane stove. We've always used some wood for heat but with both of us working long hours it's nice to have the propane and not need to time when we'll do laundry.

If SHTF ever happens and we can't order propane the propane tank always has enough propane to give us hot water and cook for a year (never drops below 100 gallons before ordering more).
 

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Your gonna have to record some useage to get any answers.

It won't be cost effective to run an electric stove.


Costs will also depend on of you do it yourself or pay way too much for an install.
electric stoves use a lot of power for the same reason electric heaters do

they operate by being deliberately inefficient with electricity ;)
 

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A FAIRLY large house, about 3600sq ft. Lots of roof space.
Live in northern Michigan so running AC is not a problem
Heat with pellet stove(110/120)
Propane furnace back up(110/120)
Standard type fridge(110/120)
Freezer(110/120)
Water pump(110/120)
microwave(110/120)

rest of house usual 110/120 applications... TV, lights etc Just the two of us now so we really aren't using the whole house.

ONLY 220/240 lines are for
water heater
dryer
stove

To run the house without any kind of shortfall or problems and not considering the 220/240 appliances,

How many batteries
how many solar panels
how big a converter box
and ballpark on costs?

I have read up on it but you cannot really understand that "stuff" unless you have actually done it. LOts of gremlins pop up that they never seem to cover in the information.

If I want to be able to run the stove(220/240), say an hour a day, can the storage batteries be boosted to handle it or would that be too much draw unless going to something that would power a WWII sub?

NOW as for connection... I do my own electrical work and have actually run separate outlets to the different rooms that are dedicated to just the generator when we lose power, so I already have a separate box system I could plug into without any problems.
OR

if it looked like a long term issue I can always feed the main panel.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have read a lot of theory but not a lot from folks have have done all the grunt work and figured out how to make it really work.

To give an idea on power requirements..
When we lose power in summer or winter I can run most of our life with just an 1800 watt generator until I need to charge the fridge or freezer or run the water pump to top off the two pressure tanks..
I dont think solar is a good solution except for digital type electronics and maybe a refrigerator.

A small generator on a large propane tank would be my preference for emergencies.
 

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Several people here have said don't use solar to heat and to a large degree they are right.

Long story as to how my solar system go to where it now is but 5 years ago it was 4500 watts in panels and a 19,000 kwh battery bank. After federal tax breaks it cost me about $12,000 self installed and properly wired into the house (NEC compliant). It basically ran everything for 3 people but the clothes dryer which has always stayed on the grid.

Electric stove, well pump, microwave, toaster oven, dishwasher, and I installed a 1.5 ton mini-split for AC and to provide much of the heating. Propane for hot water. It worked and since it was grid tied the inverter automatically pulled power from the grid when the batteries dropped below about 65% charge. A person could live on it full time with major conservation during low sun rainy days without ever tapping into the grid. But it did present some lifestyle changes. Raining? Don't wash clothes or the dishwasher until the sun comes out.

So yes, you can sort of run a modern home off a 4500 watt solar system.

I later enlarged the battery bank to 38,000 watt hours and the panels to 6000 watts. I also installed a larger propane tank with two 10,000 btu wall mounted propane heaters and a propane stove. We've always used some wood for heat but with both of us working long hours it's nice to have the propane and not need to time when we'll do laundry.

If SHTF ever happens and we can't order propane the propane tank always has enough propane to give us hot water and cook for a year (never drops below 100 gallons before ordering more).
19,000 kWh battery storage??
No way
 

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@NW GUY
Are you connected to a electric utility company?
If yes, do you know if they offer what's known as "net-metering"?
"Net-meeting" is where you can send surplus power to the utility company and they give you a credit on you electric bill.
Also........ what does your electric bill say? (kWh/day) or (kWh/total)
 

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@NW GUY
Are you connected to a electric utility company?
If yes, do you know if they offer what's known as "net-metering"?
"Net-meeting" is where you can send surplus power to the utility company and they give you a credit on you electric bill.
Also........ what does your electric bill say? (kWh/day) or (kWh/total)
there's two caveats to this, in my mind

1) only if i can manually disconnect from the grid easily during a SHTF to avoid browning out my home grid due to supplying the neighbors

2) i'd have to be ok with the added risk of EMP vulnerability that grid-connection gives you
 

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there's two caveats to this, in my mind

1) only if i can manually disconnect from the grid easily during a SHTF to avoid browning out my home grid due to supplying the neighbors

2) i'd have to be ok with the added risk of EMP vulnerability that grid-connection gives you
If you go with net metering you still need batteries to be able to use your system when the power is out.
 
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