A Place To Discuss And Ask Questions About Living On Solar
I found your blog while looking for items to purchase from Home Depot. What is necessary to run a house completely on solar (and possibly wind too). I would imagine one tracker is not enough. Do I have to replace all of my appliances with solar power ready versions? I do not have a big budget so I am wondering if going solar is possible.
Hi hasaru,You may want to look at my website http://www.livingonsolar.com There is a lot of info there that might answer some of your questions. What do you consider a big budget? Providing solar for a whole house can be expensive. I will be glad to answer your questions. There is a whole lot to consider in going solar on a large scale.Jim
hey jim, nice design. i've been imagining this for some time, i call it the "analog tracker", but you pretty much nailed it. the only thing i added (in my mind) was a linear actuator or manual screw jack on your rear pipe that you could adjust, say monthly, to the vertical angle of the sun as it changes through the seasons. good job, and hello from alaska. incidentally, we get our strongest solar in april, when there is still snow and over 12 hours of sun. hard to beat the 20 hours of sun in june though for continuous production.
Hi Roger, The linear actuator is a good idea. I have not allowed for any adjustment since I use mine for a short time. The linear actuator is also a good idea for controlling the movement of the solar panel. I have not figured how to control it using time.
I came across your youtube video about solar cooling . I live on the gulf coast with high humidity . Do you have a plan that can handle those conditions ?
Unfortunately I do not have any.
I just inherited some land without electricity and this is completely new to me. Do you have a electric refrigerator? I know their are a lot of appliances that can be run off of propane, do you also use propane? Is their a generator hooked up to your batteries for back up if you don't have sunny days? I live in Hawaii but in the wetter part of the state, I am worried about going from having electricity to having to cut out things from my everyday living. Do you think its possible to live the same lifestyle "off the grid"? Thanks for your time. Nikki
Hi Nikki,I do use a propane refrigerator. My solar electric system does use a backup generator. During the winter, there are consecutive days of no sunshine. The inverter that I use also is a battery charger. When I connect the generator, the batteries get charged and the AC power can be used while that is happening.What island do you live on? I have been to your wonderful state several times and have been to several islands. I live the same lifestyle off the grid and have done it for 23 years. I do conduct my life different than others though. My idea of living a certain lifestyle may be different than others. I watch TV and use the microwave like most other people with such conveniences. I do not have conventional air conditioning or use electric water heaters or have electric freezers. If you eliminate the big users of electricity, you can pretty much live the same. Microwaves and hair dryers use a large amount of electricity but for just a short time.If you live on the wetter side of the islands, solar may be a little more difficult. It will depend on how much sunshine you get between rain.Hope this helps. If you have not been to my website, take a look at it and the videos there. It should give you a good idea how solar works for us.Jim
Thanks for getting back to me. I have looked at your website and have talked to a few people here so I am trying to absorb all this info. I live on the Big Island, we do get a lot of sun and I don't mind starting the generator every so often to charge the batteries if the weather isn't so nice. The idea of living on solar is really growing on me and it just seems like the right choice being that it would cost upwards of $60K to get electricity. Is there any grants that you know of for going solar? We are still some months away from getting started on building but the more I know, the better I will feel.
There have been tax credits by the Federal Government for solar. I think they still exist. With a tax credit as opposed to a tax writeoff, you can actually reduce your taxes by an amount that you spent for solar. I believe it has a maximum of $2500 for personal credits. The State of Hawaii mught have some incentives. You can find out more about this at www.dsireusa.org. It has a lot of links to states as well as federal info. I have not checked it in awhile but I think it is still up to date.Do you live on the Hilo side of the big Island? You can spend much less than 60K for a complete system. Solar panels have come down a lot in the last several years. You might look for a solar installer on the island. There might be one. They can certainly help with what you might need and what you can afford. You can also buy everything you need through the internet.
My property is located between Hilo and Kona near Honoka'a. So its not at wet as Hilo, but not as sunny as Kona. I do have a friend that just put solar on her home and a cousin that has solar so I need to sit with them and gather as much info as I can.I will look at that website and apply for any free help out there. You have been very helpful. Thanks again. Nikki
currently, we have 420 watts solar panel, 30 amperes solar charge controller and 1000 watts power inverter. we have three units of battery total of 200 amperes. we do not have problem using our appliances during day time such as washing machine, desktop, rice cooker and fan. we use 61 watts for all of lights in our house alternately during night time. do you think our set-up is enough to run a 30 watts electric fan for eight hours? based on our experience our battery became low after three hours using 30 watts during the night. thank you very much. Bas
Dear Bas, Your system should run a 30 watt fan 8 hours easily. You did not mention the voltage of your batteries but since you said three, I might assume they are 12 volts. Your 420 watts should generate an average of 2500 watts per day based upon a good 6 hours charge. If your batteries are 12 volts, they store 2400 watts. A safe load on your batteries should not exceed 25% of their capacity - roughly 600 watts. You can do more, in your case up to 1000 watts, but this will cause the batteries to not last as long over time as they could.It seems to me that you may be using a lot of power during the day and not getting your batteries fully charged. If you have meters to monitor this, you should know if your batteries are fully charged by evening. If you use 61 watts of light for 5 hours, that uses 300 watts. Your fan for 8 hours uses 240 watts for 540 watts total. This is about 25% of the batteries capabilities. Easily done if they hold 2400 watts. You need to replace that plus about 25% more (or about 675 Watts) the next day to fully recharge your batteries.If you use more during the day than what would charge your batteries, your batteries will not be fully charged and the fan might not run all night.I usually wait until my batteries are fully charged before I run large appliances like a washing machine. That way part of the power is coming from the panels and the rest is coming from the batteries. I still use other small items like a computer and tv without worry.Hope this helps,Jim Eddy
My husband and I have purchased a home off the grid powered by solar panels (12) with 10- 12 volt battery bank. We are so excited but also are very green to all of this (pardon the pun :). Any suggestions of great resources for solar living? We want to learn what we can expect as far as available amperage and how we will know what we can use. For example- and this may sound ridiculous- but can we use a toaster, will our kids be able to use the computer while someone else is watching a movie etc? The house seems to have quite a sophisticated monitoring system but it all seems greek to us. Any print or Internet resources you could recommend would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much
Hi disneymom, The first advice I suppose I would give you is to try things out and see what happens. That being said, It is certainly a good idea to educate yourself. Having lived off the grid for over 26 years, I am not that familiar with all the latest and greatest equipment or what books are the best to read. There is a lot available on Amazon and Youtube especially that might help.If you have not watched some of the videos on my website www.livingonsolar.com you might get a little boost from doing so.You mentioned you have 12 panels. What is their wattage? I originally purchased panels that were 50 watts each. You can now get ones that are 300 watts each. What capacity is your inverter. Mine is rated at 2800 watts. With my system I can run a washing machine, toaster, microwave or hair dryer, just not all at the same time. I have a propane refrigerator which reduces my electrical needs significantly. Lights, computers, TV's and stereos do not use a large amount of energy as long as they are not left on all the time. Running a toaster while those devices are on should not be a problem. Just don't do a load of wash at the same time.I assume you have learned to conserve energy. You don't have to go overboard, but don't leave things on if they are not being used (including computers). I wrote an article that you might find useful. The link is: http://ezinearticles.com/?Saving-Energy---Phantom-Loads-Are-a-Menace&id=2506931.I would be glad to answer questions that you may have. I am not the expert when it come to the latest and greatest, but I have been living off grid for 26 years.I hope this helps some.Regards,Jim Eddy