The Mechanics of My Off Grid Home.
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The mechanics of my off grid home in upstate NY.
Here's some information about how I power and heat my off grid home. I'm totally off the grid here, about a 1/2 mile from the closest power pole. I do have a land-line telephone and the wire simply laid on the ground for the first nine years until Verizon finally buried it in 2007. My system was designed and installed by Kirk Herander, the owner of Vermont Solar Engineering, located in Burlington, VT. I found Kirk to be extremely knowledgeable, trustworthy and reasonably priced. I would recommend he and his company to anyone in the northeast who's considering living off the grid and looking for a reputable dealer.
Front-end loader digging a trench for the solar panel conduit.
6 AstroPower Solar Panels.
Here are the solar panels I'm currently using:
Solar Panels (now GE Energy) on top, and
115 watt, 12vdc Solar Panels on the bottom.
My Trace / Xantrex SW4024 Power Panel:
Xantrex SW4024 Sine-Wave Inverter.
DC250 250-amp breaker with enclosure for SW4024.
AC Power Inverter w/high efficiency
and bi-directional operations.
AC pass-thru power at 120 VAC.
three stage, temperature compensated
250 amp DC disconnect breaker.
AC disconnect / bypass breaker in box.
DC wiring in conduit.
/ Ground Bonding Block.
coated steel back-plate
(40" H x 43" W x 1" D).
500 amp / 50 mV shunt (for
Boost 50 Charge Controller with
24 VDC nominal, Digital Display.
3000 VA Step-up Transformer for 220vac water pump.
Monitor: Bogart Engineering 2020 Tri-Metric meter.
LA302DC Lightning Arrestor, for DC protection.
6v, 220 ahr Trojan T-105 Batteries / 24 Volt Battery Bank.
DS-500 Desulfator for 24V Battery Banks up to 500 ahrs.
Here's Some of Xantrex's Newest Technology:
The XW Hybrid Inverter/Charger is a true sine wave inverter/charger that can be used for both residential and commercial applications; stand-alone, grid-backup, and grid-tie with battery energy storage. Capable of being grid-interactive or grid-independent, the XW Series will operate with generators and renewable energy sources to provide full-time or backup power.
The Xantrex XW System is a fully-integrated, battery-based system, designed for residential and commercial solar and backup power applications. Engineered using a complete systems approach, the XW System stands out from its competition, with a reliable, clean, compact design and integrated balance-of-systems components.
Onan Spark-Ignited Two Cylinder Generator Set
Model GNAA 60 Hz
Propane - 7.0 kW, 8.8 kVA, Standby
6.3 kW, 7.9 kVA, Prime Power
My old generator was also an Onan. A four cylinder 15KW J-Series which really was overkill for my setup. I still have it, and sometimes miss it, as repairs were easy to do on my own.
Everything on the new one is highly electronic and you practically need a degree to do much more than change the oil and spark plugs. It's been relatively dependable however, and uses much less propane to do the same job. If I were to do it over however, I'd prefer a smaller version of my old J-Series generator.
My Amish Coal Bin / Generator Shed with an
Onan Two Cylinder, 7.5 KW Propane Generator New in 2006.
I use a Sunfrost RF16 Refrigerator & Freezer that runs straight off the battery bank on DC power.
It's really been a workhorse running continuously for the last seven years without missing a beat. The Sun Frost refrigerator employs an array of design innovations to achieve its exceptionally low energy consumption. The cooling system on the Sun Frost is top mounted. This configuration reduces energy consumption several ways. The heat generated by the compressor and condenser (black coils on the back of many refrigerators) does not re-enter the refrigerator and also with a cooler running condenser, the efficiency of the cooling system is increased.
Fewer Solar Panels
The Sun Frost refrigerator typically reduces refrigerator energy consumption by a factor of five compared to the typical household refrigerator currently in use. The accompanying cost of the solar power system is similarly reduced. The Sun Frost RF16 12 volt DC model consumes 15 KWH per month, or an average of 42 amp hours per day. Producing the 110 KWH needed to run the typical refrigerator on a solar power system would require an investment of around $12,000 in hardware, batteries, and inverter. A Sun Frost RF16 will reduce this cost by a factor of at least six because of its increased efficiency and the elimination of inverter losses. Inverters convert DC battery power to 120V AC at an energy loss of about 10%.
The cooling system of the Sun Frost refrigerator contains a minimal number of moving parts. Both the DC and AC compressors incorporate highly reliable, hermetically sealed, brushless motors. The efficient thermal design of Sun Frost refrigerators also contributes to their reliability. The top-mounted cooling system runs at a lower temperature than most, which prolongs the life of the system's lubricants and reduces mechanical strain on the compressor. The cooling system should provide well over 15 years of trouble-free operation. Worth the price, but each one being custom built, they are not inexpensive. The RF16 DC model I own currently lists at $3,215.
Kodiak Coal Stove:
After 15 years of heating with wood I switched to anthracite coal in September of 2007 and wouldn't go back to wood if you paid me. I bought a Kodiak Coal Stove from Alaska Stove Company and it's simply been the best stove I've ever used. No more chainsaws, backbreaking wood splitting, stacking or hauling wood into the house.
I built a coal bin inside the right third of the generator shed that holds about three and half tons of anthracite coal. The back side of the shed is conveniently located along the edge of my road so the coal truck can easily fill the bin from the back window of the shed.
Throughout winter the stove burns about a five gallon pail, or roughly 40 pounds of coal a day, and you just can't beat it. The stove holds up to 120 pounds of coal, and the fire burns uninterrupted for hours and hours at a time. Unlike burning wood, the temperature in the house hardly ever varies. Cleaning is a snap, and the ash is great to have around when my road gets icy.
to see images of some of the neighborhood critters
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that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves
of men, and that men themselves have some wild oats still left to sow before
they become submissive members of society. Undoubtedly, all men are not
equally fit subjects for civilization; and because the majority, like dogs
and sheep, are tame by inherited disposition, this is no reason why the
others should have their natures broken that they may be reduced to the
David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher,
author, naturalist. "Walking" (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau,
vol. 5, p. 235, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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