New to off grid, need some help guys!!!! Wiring questions

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Shannon Wyatt, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. Shannon Wyatt

    Shannon Wyatt Monkey

    I am building my first off grid structure. Its a 16x20 cabin that I want to use solar panels/battery packs to power it. I am about ready to wire the inside and have some questions. I dont mind posting questions here, or can email someone privately. I just need some suggestions. We can start by talking about what size/type wire to use on the inside. Will have about 6-8 walls plugs, ceiling fan, and about 3 ceilings lights. Coffee maker, TV and possible small a/c window unit. I would like to have a battery pack charged by solar panels.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    You should wire the place for AC, just like you would if you were Grid connected. Bring each Load, individually, back to a Breaker Panel and do all your connections in the Breaker Panel. SquareD makes a very nice small 12 Breaker Panel that isn't all that expensive. Then using the Small Blade in each Outlet as Positive and the large Blade as Negative, you will be all set for up to 15 Amps on each outlet, using just standard Romex 12Ga wire. By doing it this way, "Down the Road" you can add an Inverter/Charger to the system, and convert the whole cabin to AC, without rewiring the Whole Place, and starting all over.... The most expensive part of the whole System will be the Battery Bank, and then the solar Stuff. You might just read my Alaska Wilderness Building Blog, to give you some practical Ideas, on just how to design the Infrastructure for your place. I wrote this a few years back to give Folks the basics of Off-Grid Places, and how to do it right, "The First Time" rather than having to redo everything, until you find out what works.... .....
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Welcome and please post your questions here. There are a few off grid types around this place ;)
  4. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Drop the coffee maker (pure dead short load) & use a propane heater for water , enough for dishes afterwards . Change your thinking plus as BT said all wiring as in code with the AC.
  5. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    The advice you have been given about wiring it for AC as you would any other home is correct. Beyond that, home wiring in general and solar/off grid in particular is more complicated than it appears and mistakes can have terrible consequences.

    And @Cruisin Sloth is also correct: No electric coffee pots, hair dryers, toasters...basically any high-current, purely resistive load is a no-no if your goal is to be on solar. The window AC unit is probably off the list too.

    If you are not already familiar with wire gauges, assigning loads, safety standards, etc., then wiring up an entire house from zero using instructions from the internet is not a good learning path.

    There are tons of competent people here who will answer your questions, but you will get better results if you find a qualified local person who will work with you or at least look over your project and verify that it's not going to burn the place down or electrocute anyone.

  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Never heard of anyone getting electrocuted from 12 VDC..... Now burning down a Cabin, Oh Yea, that happens on occasion with 12Vdc....
    @Shannon Wyatt if you are not comfortable with Wiring, Romex, and normal AC House Wiring, you might want to get some local Help, but this isn't Rocket Science, and most folks can learn it fairly quickly.... .....
  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Good advise there. Not much to add except to make sure you have every circuit protected with circuit breakers. If DC, there are RV distribution panels...

    The DC I worked with was a 120 VDC bus system with virtually unlimited amperage if you got across it. Yea, it could electrocute you....
    Shipboard DC systems I worked were 240 VDC, with two 500KW generators feeding it..

    Inteli-Power 4500 Series 90 Amp All-In-One AC/DC Distribution Panel and Inteli-Power Converter/Charger - Power Converters - Electrical
  8. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Once upon a time.

    I worked a Spanish Merchant Ship one time that was so old that the hull was rivited. Half the bilge pipes were covered in concrete to stop leaks!

    AND the 120DC was a single leg with the negative being part of the ships structure.

    I sure gald that I could read Spanish Marine Prints!
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    When I was doing SOLAS Inspections, I wouldn't have even walked up the GangPlank of a Tub like that, HK .... Even tied to a Dock...... Electrolysis likely would have melted the Hull Plates to nothing.... A vessel like that is a sure trip to Davy Jones's Locker..... ......
  10. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Agreed!! Sheesh! What a death trap!!
  11. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Even worse was that the Main Switch Arms in the engine room were down when on! Shipyard Festoon lighting was in place and at first glance you might think it a cold plant. Thanks to training I tested the fuse box before I started work.
    The ship had been in moth balls in Spain for years and I doubt it was used for more than a Target but still I had to build a Aux fuse box that was past repair.
    I have no idea what the Coast Guard had to say about the work at Todds.
  12. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Yard Dart likes this.
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