Off grid help

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by jasonl6, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    I am looking at a house in MT that i may be purchasing. The house is totally off the grid. Currently it has 8 100 watt panels (unknown manufacture, installed in 2001), It also has a 450watt turbine (again unknown at this time). I have emailed the owner but she only checks her email once a week. There is also a 15,000 watt propane generator that auto kicks in when the batteries get too low. I don;t know what voltage the system is or any of the charging or invert until she gets back with me. I do know there is a seasonal stream that i can go hydro from.

    I am looking for some basic info as i know the current system will require me to run the genny allot more than i want too. Since the system was installed in 01' I'm sure the batteries will need replaced soon or have been recently replaced. I am looking at this time for source info for places that sell batteries and solar. I've googled it but I'm sure there are places people know about that won't show up on the first 10 pages of Google. I would probably be looking at getting a pallet of panels or maybe getting a large bank of batteries since from my understanding they should all be replaced at the same time. Hydro is up in the air until i can find out what type of head and flow i can expect. The property is 4500+ in elevation so I'm hoping there is some good measurable head.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    You need more information than you have BEFORE you can make any reasonable decisions. Hydro will REQUIRE a Permit, I suspect, due to Water Rights... Best check that out, BEFORE you plunk down any FRNs....... ......
  3. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    I would do the hydro myself. Not sure on permits, sometimes it's better not to ask, Since micro hydro has a small footprint and won't be using water just the energy from water. I'll ask around before i ask officials. Would hate to find out it's 8k for a permit because once they have a record of interest they will be looking for it, as opposed to just doing it.

    I'll get more info shortly regarding whats there. I am just looking for general info. What batteries people have used that have worked well for them (lead acid, gel, ect and the manufacure). Also looking for solar supplies.

    Tyler Danann likes this.
  4. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    L16HDs and T105s are the most common, for Home systems.... If you can score a Traction Battery from an Electric ForkLift, those are well worth the difference in price, as they are usually, much BIGGER, in both Weight, and AmpHours....

    Do NOT get caught doing a Hydro Project without first making SURE, that you buy, and OWN the Water Rights, ON YOUR PROPERTY. If you do NOT own them, the Fellow, or Outfit, that does, Can, and Will SUE your Pants Off, and have the local Sheriff, ARREST You, for Theft, even though you didn't use a drop of the water. You are looking in Cattle Country, and as such, most of those Water Rights have been Owned for over a Century, and they think of Water Thieves, the same as Cattle Thieves. It used to be a Hang'en Offense, and Range Wars have been fought over Water Rights, in that Country, in the past. Not the best way to meet the Neighbors.... ......
    jollyrodger13 and kellory like this.
  5. kellory

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

    Listen to BTPost, Water Rights used to be a killing offense. I like the idea of hydro, but make sure you are on the right side of the law on this one. Some places are even talking about a rainfall tax. (stupid) and others places forbid cisterns, for water collection. KNOW what is legal there, first.
  6. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    Ok you have convinced me on the water issue. Thanks for the info on the batteries. I am hoping for some more info on what is installed in the next couple of days and will post info then.

    kellory likes this.
  7. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    OK so i have a little more info on this solar system. The Inverters appear to be Xantrex Trace inverters x2 unknown size yet, Still not sure of the charge controller.The system has 16, 6 volt batteries. My question for the day is what type of batteries should i be looking for to replace these when i need to. The current setup is Flooded lead acid, the battery box is sealed and vented to the outside. These are allot cheaper than the sealed AGM or Gel batteries. Also a good supplier that anyone has used in the past for batteries.

  8. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    These are the best pics i can get guys. The realtor sent me the basics. I'll have someone on site next weekend hopefully that can take better pics.

    DSC00668. DSC00711. DSC00714.
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    I use InterState Batteries, as they deliver to the Barge Line that comes here, AND they are good quality Batteries.... They make both L16's and T105's which are both 6 Vdc Batteries. Using 6 Vdc Batteries gives you maximum Amps, with a variety of Bank configurations, as needed while growing the system. Yes, Flooded Cells are a LOT cheaper than AGMs, Gells, or any Sealed Batteries, for the same AmpHour Capacities....

    Those are Trace SW Series Inverters SineWave type... Looks like they are setup for 240 Vac Operation. they come in 2.5, 4, and 5 Kw Ratings. Volts are 12Vdc, 24Vdc, or 48Vdc Bank Voltages.

    Batteries are connected with more than 6 Cells in Series, so at least 24 Vdc, and maybe 48 Vdc. Can't tell for sure because the picture doesn't show the whole Battery Bank.

    Have them take a closeup of the DataPlate Sticker on the Left End of the Inverters.
    Have them take a CLEAR Picture of the Whole Battery Bank, that shows ALL the Jumper Wires, and a closeup of the Data Sticker on the Top of ONE of the individual Batteries. With a special Note on the Battery Manufacture Date, or Install Date.
    TnAndy, Yard Dart and kellory like this.
  10. troubleticket

    troubleticket Monkey+++

    Zapp Works - Nickel-Iron Batteries Edison batteries, NiFe, not lead-acid. Larger than lead-acid, not as energy dense, BUT you do not have to replace them every 6-10 years. Buy them once, replace the electrolyte around 20 years.
  11. Troy brownrigg

    Troy brownrigg How my next home will be constructed!

    When you purchase a property, make sure those water rights are part of the purchase, part of the escrow/ title work. In Arizona I purchased this 55 acres and three well sites registered throught the dept of water resources. I had my Realestate agent do the work on the wells The wells are capable of 550 gpm for the 16" wells and 30gpm for the 8". I have the registration #'s andcheck on them from time to time with dept of water resources, as people are trying to register wells that do not belong to them. In Arizona you can not get a permit for a well over 35 gpm( non exempt well) in certain areas, If you think you can just drill one they will arrest you and give you a court order to stop.The wells can be sold seperate from the property, buy making a utility easement for the water. I have a Indian Casino interested in leasing a well site with easements long term. The well site is now worth more than the property. Bottom line don't purchase a property without the water/ mineral rights. Spend the extra money in escrow/ title seach to get it done, and have the property surveyed. If you can't afford to have these items done don't buy.
    kellory and BTPost like this.
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yep, I have been preaching "Water Rights" here for a long time.... Know what you have, and understand your State Statutes, that govern these "Rights"...... ......
  13. reosolar

    reosolar The Solar Guy

    Looks like the old Trace SW Inverters there. They are a workhorse. The first step is to evaluate the batteries as in my line of work (solar installer) I see the neglect of batteries on a daily basis. Most people do not take the time to understand battery maintenance and really do a number on their batteries. The L16 type (6V 390AH) is the most common battery used on home systems. Take voltage readings and test the electrolyte in each cell to determine the actual state of the batteries. It is my assumption that they have been neglected and will need to be replaced. If you do get new batteries I would recommend a single point battery watering system. This will turn the few hour chore of watering each cell of a large battery bank into a quick 30 second task. Trust me, if you are spending thousands of dollars on batteries a watering kit for a few hundred is cheap insurance.

    The inverters are probably fine and I would hold off on replacing them. If you do upgrade your array use all matched modules and wire as a high voltage string rather than at nominal voltage. The use of a step down charge controller will facilitate this. Good Luck.

    In terms of a microhydro system the law regarding water usage is different. Here in Colorado small hydro systems for personal power are not as strictly regulated as larger utility sized ones that have greater environmental impact. If there is not a loss of water from the hydro system (and there shouldn't be) then you should be fine. Remember, hydro systems do not use water to make power, they use the force and flow of the water. You are simply tapping the energy of that water which is not classified as a use.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2013
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