Off Grid living

Discussion in 'Farming, Gardening, & Homesteading' started by Atlas, Mar 13, 2016.

  1. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    Living off the grid isn't realistic for me at this point in time, but I still would like to incorporate some ideas from the off grid movement into my current house with the hopes of someday disconnecting for good. My main issue at this point is that I cannot create electricity for less than I can buy it from the grid, actually it's about a quarter as much by my calculations.

    My first plan to lessen my families dependence on the grid is to make the house as efficient as possible, while at the same time getting everyone used to not needing as much. The house is pretty old, so weather sealing and insulation will probably be first on the list this summer.

    The grid here isn't 100% so we do need back up power. For that I have a gas powered 5kw generator right now, that is enough to power our little house and the well pump easily. I'm also in the process of rebuilding and hooking up a Lister diesel engine with a ST5 generator head. When all this is done it will be a semi permanent installation complete with a long term storage fuel tank and all.

    We also plan to do a solar set up at some point, but it may not be for 10 years or more at this rate. I do have the beginning of a small set up to run my ham radio shack that is a deep cycle battery and charger, a small panel will go up for that one when I find a good deal.

    Here's a picture of the lister. 2016-03-13 13.57.54.jpg

    Right now I have it on a trailer so that I could move it around, but after I get the frame built up that holds the radiator, starter/generator and starring battery I'll drop it into place.

    What steps are you taking towards being off the grid or less grid dependent?
     
  2. Overlander

    Overlander Active Member

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    Wow. You're going to have an awesome little setup when you get done with it!

    Where I currently live, electricity prices are tied to oil prices. So right now electricity is "cheap" at around .22/kWh. But when oil goes back up, we'll be looking at .30-.40/kWh. Obviously not cheap. But at the same time, we're simple people with light electricity needs and I'm not sure that we would ever recoup our investment into solar because we don't use that much, and backfeeding into the grid isn't something the electric utility currently supports.

    Obviously we need to do something, and want to do so, but I'm not sure yet what that something will be. We just went without power for about 24 hours (Not uncommon here) and the need for something off-grid was made clear -- Especially if we eventually move out into the country where we'd like to be. I think wind might be something I want to look into because there is plenty of it here and there will be even more if we move up into the mountains.
     
  3. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    I would never do a grid tie solar set up personally. It seems pointless to me to have solar panels and no batteries, so that when the grid goes down you have no power still.

    A small gas powered generator like a Honda or Yamaha inverter type might be a good set up for you. They are quiet and efficient, but not cheap.

    We only use electricity to run the well pump, a refrigerator, some lights and whatever tools in my shop I might need irregularly. Our monthly bills average about $45 or so, but I can't off the top of my head think of the rate right now. I'll look at the bill tonight and see what they charge us.
     
  4. Overlander

    Overlander Active Member

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    It was my understanding that you could have a battery bay that, when full, you would feed back into the grid to run your meter back. I definitely wouldn't want solar without the off-grid capability....no point in that.

    I think a generator will be in our future. We just lost power again for a couple of hours today. The outages aren't anything severe, but they are mighty annoying and I'm always worried that this is the one that's going to ruin our freezer full of food.
     
  5. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    It is totally possible to have batteries with a grid tie system, just most people don't do it. If the grid isn't paying for it, why would a homeowner bother?

    A couple of freezers full of wasted food was all it took for me to buy a generator. It just plain makes sense.
     
  6. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    I made a video of the lister clone running today, I thought I would show it off.
     
  7. Overlander

    Overlander Active Member

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    Wow. I forget how much that sound relaxes me. Nice looking piece of equipment to boot. Looks like you'd be a handy guy to have around.
    Is the lister just running or is the generator head also functional? Looking good.
     
  8. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    The generator head is functional as well. I'm load testing it now, actually! This old guy has been in storage for quite some time and is about to go into service here at the house. I've given it a once over and now I'm modifying it before I set it in place and build a shed around it.
     
  9. Overlander

    Overlander Active Member

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    Very nice. Nothing like fixing and using old equipment like that.
     
  10. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    It does feel good to make things work, that's for sure. I ran the shop for an hour or so yesterday, nothing too big running yet, but it did power the lights and the other miscellaneous stuff good. Next up I'll run it with the air compressor and the welder to see how it goes. After that I'll switch it over to the house so that I can see how it does running the well pump. Really, that's all that I need it for actually, if the grid goes down I'll use it to run the normal day to day things like the well pump and the refrigerator. If I'm going to do any welding grid down I'll use the bigger gas generator.

    Part of the install on this is going to be plumbing in the 500 gallon fuel tank as well as sound proofing the space it will live in. Hopefully I'll be able to get the noise down to a whisper, just in case it matters.
     
  11. Overlander

    Overlander Active Member

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    Sounds like lots of fun work ahead. How long will the fuel stay stable in storage? Will you have to make plans to run through it once in awhile or maybe use it in your vehicles / other equipment?
     
  12. Atlas

    Atlas Administrator Staff Member

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    I believe the storage life of diesel is several years if treated with pri-D or similar. I don't currently own any diesel vehicles, but I'm still working on that one. Until then I will probably only keep the tank partially filled until I either have a need or it looks like fuel might be hard to get.
     
  13. Overlander

    Overlander Active Member

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    Ah, your plan of keeping it partially filled and treated makes perfect sense. Don't know why I didn't think of that.
     

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