How long could I run appliances on these 200 AH batteries?

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Chay Hawk, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. Chay Hawk

    Chay Hawk Monkey

    Hi, I was going to ask this on Yahoo Answers but maybe it would be better posted here.

    I would like to try to live off the grid and am planning on getting 2 40 ft shipping containers and
    putting them side by side and cutting out the middle and making a little house. I drew up some floor plans in a CAD program on my iPad and it turned out very nicely, I was able to fit a master bedroom and bathroom in there, and had a guest bedroom there as well but decided to turn it into a storage room, also has a kitchen and living room. But anyways I plan on having an electric stove, refrigerator, electric washer and dryer, My Gaming laptop, 47 inch TV, Xbox 360, Wii U, internet and a few other things I might be forgetting. I plan on getting all the energy from the sun by the way of 15 100 watt solar panels. That might be overkill or not enough im not sure, but I also want to store the energy in 200 AH batteries. I cant post the links to them though cause im new, but they're 12 volt Deep cycle 200 AH solar batteries.

    Now the solar panels are 100 watt 12 volt and can charge the batteries.

    I have been trying to educate myself on electricity but my god is it confusing. So my question is, how many of these batteries do I need to run all this stuff? I use my Gaming laptop all day every day, I has to be plugged in to power or else the games will get throttled and slow down. I have my Xbox 360 and TV on quite a bit, but I don't have to have them on. My concern is the washer and dryer, and maybe the fridge. I could find an energy efficient washer and dryer though. Also how many solar panels would I need to charge however many batteries I needed?
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ok. 200AH @12Vdc = 2400 WattHours and that is for a Brand New Battery being discharged to Totally FLAT, which will KILL that Battery, DEAD, in just a few Cycles. Ok, your Electric Stove, Itself will likely be in the neighborhood of 4000 Watts, so that means it will be drain your Battery Totally DEAD in less than 30 Minutes.... You need to rethink how you power your Appliances, because Solar and Batteries, just are NOT going to cut it, and Especially at 12Vdc. Also keep in mind that that if you want to get ANY real Life out of your Batteries, you should NEVER discharge them below 70% of full Charge. I know of what I speak, as I live far out in the Alaskan Bush, and Generate ALL my own Power, and have lived here for more than four DECADES. I would look into Propane to power you major appliances. Cooking Stove, Refer, Hot Water and Dryer.... and a nice 1800 RPM Backup Genset....

    Another issue you will face with your Conex House is, Sealing up the Seem, along the Long Axis, between the two conex Boxes...
    My suggestion would be to build a False Roof over the Top of the Boxes, to provide Off Ground Storage, and keep that seem, out of the weather. Depending on the location climate, you might consider Refer Boxes, with the Refer Unit Removed, and an Insulated Wall, installed in its place. Otherwise, figure on insulating the inside of the Conex, or plan on getting Hot in the summer, and Cold in the Winter, and the box Sweating in High Humidity....

    Oh, Yea, Welcome, to the Monkey Tree.... Plenty of good Folks Here'bouts... some with lots of Off-Grid Living Experience, and lots of Great Information in the forums....
  3. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    BTPost hit the nail on the head - anything that involves heating is going to be a problem child on solar and propane would be a more viable and economic route.
    If you're serious about going off-grid, get serious about conserving energy. This alone will save you more than you can imagine. "Gaming laptop, 47 inch TV, Xbox 360, Wii U, internet" means lots of wasted power, especially if you leave them plugged in when not in use. Probably over 200 watts, just in idle mode.
    Even cutting back your usage waaay back, 1500 watts worth of panels is going to be rough to live with, and a 24 or 48 volt system is going to be better to start with, rather than having to convert (read: buy again) later on. Higher efficiency, less loss in the wiring...
    These may not be the answers you are hoping for, but honesty tends to work better IRL than hope ;)
    Welcome to the Tree...knowledge is power!
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    You may also consider wood as a heat source. An air tight wood stove is very efficient, especially if you are getting your own wood and not buying it. A proper stove, you can cook on in winter and partially if not totally heat your hot water while the batteries just run the recirculating pump.

    almost forgot...Welcome to the tree!
    Mountainman likes this.
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    No ReCirc Pump REQUIRED, if one builds a ThermalSyphan Domestic Hot Water System.... There are Posts in the Off-Grid forum, by @ColtCarbine, (Nice color ones too) that demonstrate the design and building of such a system. Also there is a Post that shows the ThermalSyphan System I have used for 40+ years.... My "Stinky Dankoff" 60Psi Domestic Water Vane Pump is 12Vdc@7 Amps, and only runs when the Pressure drops below 40Psi, and the Bladder Pressure Tank is empty.....
  6. Chay Hawk

    Chay Hawk Monkey

    Couldnt I link multiple batteries together? like 10 batteries? I dont plan on running a stove, i dont need one, I plan on eating MRE's. I found a company that makes good ones and i have tested them and are very good. but worse comes to worse i'll just buy one of those camper stoves. What about powering a microwave?

    I was thinking of talking a long strip of metal and having it welded, or making some kind of rubber gaskets. I think gaskets might be better than straight out welding it because then it can be undone later if i need to move the house. I do like the false roof idea though. I live in michigan, we get plenty of snow and rain during their respective seasons. I was planning on making it look nice inside the boxes, wood floor, or at the very least, carpet. finished walls with insulation. I know how to hang drywall. My uncle owns his own construction company so I could ask him for building reference if i need to.

    I never even thought of propane before, not sure why, but I could definitely use that for more energy intensive stuff like washer and dryer, heating etc. what about the fridge though? can you even run a fridge on propane? or is there some kind of conversion device? I want to be able to use the batteries, chained together for powering my devices, like PC, ipad, xbox, tv etc, i'll chain as many of them together as needed, but i guess if i can use propane for that I will, however that works, not sure how to convert propane to electricity though. My goal is to live off the grid and have the place be as self contained as possible without having to rely on the outside world as much as possible. The propane will run out and i'll have to go buy more, and that goes agains what im trying to do but if its the only sensible option then there really inst any getting around it.

    i looked for 48 volt solar panels but didnt see any on amazon, unless thats not what you meant.

    Yes, i would rather have honest truthful answers than one i want to hear any day :)

    "You may also consider wood as a heat source. An air tight wood stove is very efficient, especially if you are getting your own wood and not buying it."

    That's an interesting idea too, wood would be excellent for heating the home, but as i mentioned before, I'd liek to be as self contained as possible.

    I'll take a look into that. Also I would like to get some kind of water recycling device for the shower, I'll have to look into that as well.

    Thank you for all your suggestions and welcomes!
  7. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    First: Welcome to the tree.. Theres a lot of Michigan and the climate varies. A yupper in a steel box in the winter with a winter blizzard blowing at 50 mph... Southern Michigan would be warmer, but still can be bitter cold. You will need to have those containers well insulated.. The false roof would be an exellent idea, especiely with a steep pitch to shed all the snow.

    Every travel trailer has a propane refrigerator that will run on electric. They work well however the storage space in them is SMALL!! But workable.. The cooling abilities of them are dependent on the air temperature around the condenser coil.. If the air temp. is hot, it will not cool as efficiently.. A couple ice cream buckets filled with ice, or snow as Michigan has a lot of that, will greatly improve it's efficiency.

    If you run the washer/drier run the generator.A simple propane stove without the electric ignition, clock, lights and all other power using sources works great. Batteries are expensive so take care of them. Those used in an off grid system do have a definite life span and need to be taken care of to get the best value from them.

    I have lived of grid for 15 years. Heat with wood that I invest a lot of time and effort in gathering . And theres nothing like the smell of a simmering stew on the wood stove in the winter. Again welcome..
    Tully Mars and kellory like this.
  8. Chay Hawk

    Chay Hawk Monkey

    "You will need to have those containers well insulated.."

    Oh yeah, i plan on having the interiors finished off, insulated walls, carpeted floors, it will be really nice inside.

    "If you run the washer/drier run the generator."

    I was looking at a silent electrical generator, I cant post the link to it yet but if you look on amazon it's called the Goal Zero Yeti 1250. Im trying to avoid anything gas, although gas is better it's also expensive, it would be a different story if it was cheap though.

    "I have lived of grid for 15 years. Heat with wood that I invest a lot of time and effort in gathering "

    Yes i like the idea of wood for heating, I think i'll use that as a heat source during the winter, I can get a bundle of wood from wal mart for $3. Also instead of an electric stove i could just get a wood burning stove and it would double as a way to heat the house and cook food, but I wouldnt want it to get hot in my house everytime i wanted to cook something.

    Also here is a rough draft of my floor plan for my shipping container house:


    Any suggestions would be appreciated, I had a nice floor plan yesterday but was using the trial version and couldn't save it.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  9. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    Okay, not poking here but please understand that a generator and a "silent electric generator" are two completely different things. One is an internal combustion engine configured to turn mechanical energy into electricity, the other is an expensive kit with a solar panel (or more than one), a charge controller, a battery and an inverter, all in one nifty, injection molded plastic case (all but the solar panel.

    Keep in mind that the reason we use fossil fuels for power is that for energy density, you can't beat it. You stated you are in Michigan...Um I used to live in Chicago (which is south of Michigan) and in the winter we could go weeks at a time with zero sunshine. Solar simply cannot be your only and in the winter may not be possible as your primary source of electricity (depending on where you are).

    There are a lot of generators out there using a number of different fuels. You are now, based on a previous post, looking at propane for cooking...well, consider a propane powered generator and increase what you have stocked away. Yeah, gasoline (and diesel) are expensive. Propane is more than it used to be but it's not nearly what it could be, its longevity is far greater and you can use all different kinds of containers for it. If you are serious, please don't discount the fuel burning electric generator, at the very least for backup.
    Erm...not entirely sure where you are going with this. I have to assume you realize that a $3 bundle of wood from WalMart will be gone in less than a day and very likely in a matter of hours, right? To get through a winter, even with an efficient wood burning stove and a small footprint house like you have below, could need anywhere from 2.5 - 3 cords (minimum)...probably more. A cord is a neat stack that is 4ft tall, 4ft deep and 8ft long. So you would need a pile of wood (densely packed) that was as wide as your house, 4ft tall and 6ft deep (or 6ft tall and 4ft deep) for 3 cords of wood. You will almost definitely use more your first winter as well.

    If heating with a wood stove, don't be surprised if you need something to circulate the warm air from the stove to the furthest point of the dwelling, especially since you have a LOT of walls, corners and doors.

    Looks good, where will you eat, where will your stove go, do you have a back door or any windows? Where is your cooking stove (only see a sink)? How wide is that hallway and have you measured it out in the real world to see if it would be too narrow? Where else are you going to store stuff because that room is going to fill up surprisingly fast and not give you nearly as much as you think it will? How will you do hot water? Have you considered not having your washer and dryer in the middle of the dwelling due to drainage (washer) and exhaust (dryer)?

    Those are just the initial things that jumped out at me.
    VisuTrac and Pax Mentis like this.
  10. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    That is going to be one really tight fit. I'd suggest you go with a more open floor plan. I.e. skip the interior walls and doors ('cept for maybe the bathroom.) and every visitor would need to walk through your bedroom to use the lav.

    Plus with no interior walls, you won't need to have separate heat sources or ducting between rooms.

    That said you are going to be pretty crowded in there. Food, water, household dishes, your stuff. You might want to take a look at Tumbleweed Tiny House Company to get an idea on how to maximize your floorspace while still maintaining storage for your stuff.

    I'm here in Mitten and heat with wood. I burn through 4.5 - 7.5 cords of wood per year depending on how long the winter is and how cold it gets. Those 3 dollar bundles are one full load in the woodstove, good for about 6hrs. Cheaper to buy it by the truckload.

    As for solar? Only if you are a master of conservation and watch every watt. Summer we get lots of sun. Winter? Not so much. Get yourself a Kill-a-watt device and see how much energy your electronics use, add the usage of how many lights you intend on adding to illuminate your abode and appliances. You might find that you'll not be able to produce enough electricity during most of the year by solar alone (well without having a solar array larger than your containers). I'm suspecting you will build a power house where you will house your battery bank.

    What are you going to do for water? Well or storage? If storing, you'll have to keep it from freezing in the winter and that will need to be heated to some degree too.

    Are you in the Mitten or the UP? East or west of US127?
    Dunerunner and ghrit like this.
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I have been thinking about this for a day, now, and I think the Open space Idea is Good.... However since you are doing Conex Boxes, how about Stacking two, High, and move the Bedroom, Den, and Water Storage into the Upper Box, with a Stairway thru a hole cut between the boxes.... Water Storage in the Upper Box, gets you two things. One your Water Storage is inside the Insulated Box and will not be subjected to the Cold Wx, and Freezing of Pipes and such. Two, It also gives you Gravity Head for the Kitchen, and BathRoom so the Only Pump needed is one to Pump the water, up into Storage Container. Around here we use the 350USG Food Grade Containers, with an Overflow Pipe to the Outside.... Just turn on the Pump and pump away until water comes out the Overflow... Domestic Hot Water via Thermalsyphan on a Wood Stove, that doubles as a Winter Heat Source, and a Propane Tankless Water Heater, for summers when you do not want, or need, to heat the place with the Wood Stove. Washing Machine takes more Juice than a $20KUS Solar System can Generate, so a Propane Fueled, or Bifuel Propane/Gasoline Genset for use on Laundry Day, is advisable, and you have a Backup Power Source, to charge your Battery Bank, in the winter when the storms are Raging.. I would look for an Older Onan Genset from a Wrecked RV.... For a Refer/Freezer, check out those that come out of Wrecked RVs... some are BiPowered (12Vdc/Propane) and some are TriPowered (120Vac/12Vdc/propane) and can be easily built into your Box. Not huge, but big enough for a Single Guy, or a Married Couple. Dryer should be Propane fired, and a small 12Vdc or 120Vac Draw for the Control System. Lighting can be CPF 12 12Vdc, or 120Vac with an Inverter, or LED using that same Power Source.

    The rule of thumb for Inverters is: 1Kw to 2 Kw needs only 12Vdc Battery Bank ... 3Kw to 4Kw needs minimum 24Vdc Battery Bank... and anything more than 4Kw needs a 48 Vdc Battery Bank.... Batteries are VERY Expensive, so they need to be taken Care of, or you will be replacing them Often.... Solar Panels come in 17 Vdc and 34 Vdc (Panel Output Voltage) Panels, that can charge 12 Vdc and 24 Vdc Battery Banks, respectively... Most modern MPPT charge controllers will do the conversion of your Panel Voltages to your Battery Bank Charging Voltages, for you, automatically. solar can be Series'd, and or Paralleled, for Higher Voltage, and Current Outputs, that may be required to charge a Bigger Battery Bank.

    All the above, is Tried and True, technology that I use every Day....
  12. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    @Chay Hawk
    Methinks you are starting at the wrong end of your electrical thinking. Would be worth your time to first figure out what your kwh demand will be, then figure out the battery requirements in conjunction with your ability to recharge them.
  13. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Wow really well thought out post @BTPost very nice use of resources
    kellory likes this.
  14. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Chay, you do realize 10 deep cycle batteries will cost you nearly $900.00, and you will have to provide a heated space for them that stays between 55 and 75 degrees, ideally.

    I like BT's stacking idea, sleeping quarters upstairs would stay nice and toasty with your wood stove on the lower level just damped down to where an good sized log burns all night. BTW, I would suggest a wood stove that accepts a 24" log as it eliminates the amount of time you spend running a saw. Barrel type stoves work great and are readily available. TMS STOVE-2346 Portable Military Camping Tent Steel Wood Stove:Amazon:Sports & Outdoors
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Here are lots of versions of shipping container homes. Take a peek, and see what others have done and why.
    Studio H:T's off-grid Shipping Container House
    HomeBox offers family living in a space no bigger than a standard freight container
    Shipping container-based office is Made to be Moved
    (Or just put "shipping container home" in the search box at gizmag to see all the versions that have come up recently.)
    You really do need to see how much power you need, first, and if you are going to stack two high, you could use enough for an entire second floor, and the gap beneath would be your carport/shed/shaded patio.
    I might suggest investing in a computer backup battery pack, and using a kill switch for everything else that can be turned off to save power. That would maintain power to your games (if it is large enough) and could be recharged solar/wind/ generator when it is on, for larger power drains.
    As for your main power needs, I will leave you with the experts.
    Welcome to the monkey tree.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  16. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    We had a very mild winter this past year and I used about 3 cord of wood. We only get single digit temp's for a week or two.. Have had winters that I have gone through about 7 cords of wood.. I like to keep a window open.. and thats heating 900 sq.feet.. It usually takes 3 stove loads of wood to warm this place up and I don't always start a fire.. Why wast wood if Ia'm only sleeping..
    @BTPost gives very good advice and is well worth thoughtfull consideration.. You have made a good choice by researching and asking advice of those that live as you are thinking.. Can save you from a lot of cold dark nights..

    I have seen where people have come out here with the intentions of living independently or self sufficiently and thought they could live through the winter in a tent.. Hell. even ran across a pole structure with blue tarp's and black plastic covering it with a barrel stove in it, wood pallets for a floor.. Not a well thought out plan.. Seven "P's"... Just my random thoughts..
  17. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    I agree with the group that you need to get away from the idea of using electric to heat, cook or cool anything except maybe a small frig and even that would be better with propane. Yank the kitchen out of a travel trailer and use it. It will have everything you need. In fact RV appliances, electrical and plumbing fixtures are perfect for a small house. Even the propane furnace runs on 12 volts.
  18. john316

    john316 Monkey+++ your own tank(s) around for gas..........around here the trade in 20lb tanks run $19-22 (most with only 15lbs of gas)......we drive 18miles to fill the tanks to 20lbs at $2.58 per gal............thats around $9 per tank. refill 10-15 tanks per trip...............even if you have a large tank..........if you own it can shop around for gas.........the dealer in the next town over might give you a good price for 100-500 gal it in the summer when the price is low
    kellory, BTPost and Dunerunner like this.
  19. AmericanRedoubt1776

    AmericanRedoubt1776 American Redoubt: Idaho-Montana-Wyoming Site Supporter+

    Goal Zero is junk. Check out and
  20. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey++

    What do propane-powered refrigerators and/or freezers cost these days? Are they still as small as the ones we had in the 60's?

    BTW, why 1,800 RPM?

    William Warren
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