Small, Off Grid "power station" idea

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Stevo, Oct 13, 2013.


  1. Stevo

    Stevo Monkey

    I'm still looking through the search function here, and I have not found specifically what I am looking to do, however;

    I use solar power now, about 10% of my actively-used-juice and all of my backup UPS systems are backed-up by solar at my small office. My idea was, since I have a system that's self-contained, so why not make your own off-grid "grid"... Like a somewhat-load-balanced solar array to power a small community.

    Find the best sun angles, but build it out like a utility co. would, in the sense to keep the danger (heat, maintenance, lead batteries and so forth) semi-centralized away from the children and pets.

    Am I crazy? Here in Georgia I get stellar sun-hours so I'm looking to invest in (after some acreage) a kind of redundant solar collection system that would distribute electricity throughout a series of small buildings.

    For lack of a better frame of reference, pretend you have 25 acres to build a small make-believe town on and need to partition it for food growth, power generation and residential (small houses/cabins).

    Bringing this up as, I see a lot of cool O-G communities who have silo-power generation happening. I am going to construct something that could have maintenance windows without inconveniencing people (also say I get my hands on an ethanol-powered turbine in the future, that would be feeding into the mini "grid").

    In closing (sorry for ultra long first post), I want to build that small little community where people run to after a ZOMBIE invasion or an election goes the wrong way ;)
     
  2. Troy brownrigg

    Troy brownrigg How my next home will be constructed!

    This is my concept of a solar/ wind generator, totally off grid. When I move I'll put it on a semi truck and off load it at the next location. I can attach up to 9,000/ 10,000 wats of solar panels to it currently at 3,200 watt 80 eighty, 40 watt panels. What it can power my submersible well pump 115vac. two 550 watt A/C units and about another 1,000 watts of whatever you want to run. without discharging the battery bank. I'm in Arizona the A/c units and well pump are run about 8 hours aday while the suns out. Units are on timers. Now your thought of twenty five acres, I'm thinking should be 500/1,000 acres, Go to United Country .com you'll find many of them in many states. What I would look for is water first lake river stream etc, maybe a well in place. When I talk off grid, that means you produce all the electric and natural gas. Not buying propane every time you need it. a battery bank that will supply your basic needs, and a very efficent monolithic dome type home. which requires a third less energy to heat and cool it. With a fireplace/ wood stove to heat / cook with. The extra land allow you to raise livestock goats or cattle, the acreage allows you to have a group setting , because it takes alot of work to maintain that size of property. When the next great depression hits, people are not going to be able to afford utilities. Forget the idea of 300-500 electric bills, water bills, propane / gas, that's all going to be what one can't afford. The acreage means another big plus no neighbors to mess with, anyone on the property or within sight is tresspassing. The group will be able to provide security as well.
    Storm Damage 042. Storm Damage 046.
     
  3. Stevo

    Stevo Monkey

    We're in the same neighborhood of idea Troy, for sure. I was just tossing an arbitrary number. Trust me, if I could stop working long enough to grab more coffee and find 500+ acres..man..I may quit tomorrow!

    I like the portability of your system. My end design is similar to what you've written though, security, sort of like a small fortress. You're on the money about the next depression for sure. That's where I see public infrastructure failing in the next 50 or so years. I don't want it to affect me and "my people". (Whoever comes with me! haha)
     
  4. Troy brownrigg

    Troy brownrigg How my next home will be constructed!

    We're on the same page except I'm 52 years old and maybe reseached the idea a little longer. I live in Arizona on a 55 acre ranch surrounded by goverment or indian reservation. It sits on Arizona's largest water table. I'm getting ready to sell it to a casino developement, as they need the exsisting registered water wells. We're talking 1.5 2.5 million. It's only about 45k per acre. What I'm thinking is a comunity where each has or maintains about five acres each with thier respected home sites, and contributes to the entire 1,000 acre+ ranch. The live stock has a very important factor of reducing forest fires from destroying everthing built. Every building would be made from the monlithic dome design process from Monolithic domes out of Texas. Those dome can't burn are earthquake and termite proof and will last hundreds of years. As far as your idea of suppling electric to everybody, I think everybody could have a private setup, and a shared water source. Water is easy is you have a good well, and the water rights. P.s. I already know from experience it would take several people working together to make this work. There is way to much work for one or two people.
     
  5. Stevo

    Stevo Monkey

    We're talking two different phases at best . I understand what's involved long term.
    Right now I'm looking at the math for centralized collection. It's phased approach. The Reduce/Reuse part (lowering consumption, making adjustments but still living a modernized comfortable life). Good luck with your sale.
     
  6. reosolar

    reosolar The Solar Guy

    Stevo, There are many examples of off grid systems in the configuration you are referring to. Some examples can be found powering islands, military bases and villages. Essentially they are micro grids distributing power from solar, wind and battery sources rather than electricity from fossil fuels. If you want I can point to in the direction of some case studies to look at. Solar technology has advanced to a level where large off grid systems can reliably meet any electrical demand and function even better than our countries electrical grid. My company specializes in ogg grid solar power systems and what you are questioning is not out of the realm of possibility.
     
  7. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    [lolol][BSf] The above Statement needs a considerable amount of description, and definition of the System Parameters, to even come close to being true.
    1. One would have to define the Storage Capacity of System, in that without Storage, Solar can only provide Power when the Sun is Shining.
    2. Storage Capacity is directly tied to the amount of LEAD, Iron, Nickel, or Lithium, available in the Battery Storage Device.
    3. There has NEVER been a Town, City, or Country, that has a Solar Only Powered Electrical System. The reason being there are practical Limits to the Size of a Energy Storage Systems, and they are smaller than what such a Town, City, or Country, required of a Power Distribution System.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
    Gopherman likes this.
  8. reosolar

    reosolar The Solar Guy

    Maybe I should remove the word "any" but there are examples of solar/wind only distribution systems in the Caribbean and well as in the Florida Keys. We are not talking about supporting major cities with large industrial electrical demands but rather smaller residential islands and villages in developing third world countries. SMA designed their "Sunny Island" inverter for such applications. A little research will show that areas with relatively large electrical demands can be bet with these systems.
     
  9. Silversnake

    Silversnake Silverback

    Backwards plan. Define the endstate, then evolve the steps to achieve it from the endstate to where you are now. What do you need to do in this community that must use electricity? How much power in KWH do you need to be able to use in a given time period? What is the peak requirement? How do you deliver that to the device? How do you store it? What is the loss in efficiency in each step in the process from collection, to storage, transportation, conversion then usage? How long will it take you to replenish what you need in a given time period with each proposed collection method? How do you plan to supplement solar (with wind, etc.)? What can you do to mitigate your points of friction and exploit your strong points?
     
    chelloveck likes this.
  10. reosolar

    reosolar The Solar Guy

    I should also note that the systems I am referring to utilize some kind of storage (i.e. batteries). Obviously a solar only system will not give the power needed at night.
     
  11. Silversnake

    Silversnake Silverback

    There goes my plan to take over the world. Back to the drawing board.
     
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  12. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    What size system would I need to run say 10 15w led lights, a refrigerator, maybe occasional appliances? I know your living it and I'm shopping systems now. I saw a 4k system for about $3,500 but that sounds like a lot of power and if I don't need it I don't want to spend the money on it.
    I guess a larger unit might be beneficial on cloudy days?
     
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    What I have found in 5 decades of living the Prep'er Lifestyle, is that most modern Single Family Residences can be run on 3Kw, with some judicious Load Management, under Emergency Power Loss situations. That is enough to keep the Furnace, a few Lights, the Refer, the Freezer, a Cooking device, and the Radio/Tv/Comm Gear, operational. That does NOT include AC, Clothes Dryer, Electric Hot Water, or Electric Heat, as these are Luxuries, that one can LIVE without. Now if one lives Off-Grid, and generates ALL their own Energy, I find most Outfits can live very comfortably with 3Kw of Generation, that only needs to be active when the Energy Storage needs to be replenished. The question that needs to be answered, IS, what does ONE NEED, to live, and what does ONE WANT, that they don't NEED, to live, and how are you going to obtain the Energy, required to make those things operational. In Off-Grid Systems, it is the Energy Storage System, that is going to be the Highest Cost for the whole system. Likely at least 50% of the total cost, or more. ...... YMMV....
     
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  14. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    Thank You, Experience is always the best teacher, but only a fool refuses to learn from another's. Pride Cometh Before The Fall!!
    We already own a wood cooking stove, that should provide us with heat, the system I am building, IF, it works like I designed it to, it will also heat my water, one way or another we will at least have the main living walls underground as far as the roof, I can super-insulate with spray foam, several coats if necessary and heavy insulation, or I can shore it up and waterproof the heck out of it and earth cover, Concrete on corrugated metal forms is also an option.
    I have heard that forklift batteries are good, or do you recommend all Deep cycle marine?
    I'll post a video of my water heater/stove/ forced air heater,when I finish it. Again sincerest Thanks!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  15. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Traction (forklift) Batteries are a GREAT resource for Off-Grid Energy Storage Systems. They come in various AmpHour Capacities, and individual, 2 Volt Cells, that are then connected in Series to make up a Battery bank. I have used them, in the past, when they become surplus, due to the forklift, being Junked. New they are VERY Expensive. Marine Deep Cycle is a Salesman's Hype label, rather than a valid Battery Type. One must LOOK at the Individual Battery Spec's to determine if that type is right for your operation. I have a 24 Vdc Bank of L15HDs (1200 AmpHour) and a 24 Vdc Bank of AbsolyteII AGMs, (700 Amp/Hour) that I use every day. Each has it's Pluses and Minuses but both preform the functions that they are used for, and have for a decade.
     
    Gopherman likes this.
  16. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    I also have a 4000w water/Turbine generator, can that be plugged in and charging the same set of batteries as the solar, or, do the need to be separated?
    Do you have a few minutes for a quick chat? I'll stay tuned here for an hour its 5:10 central time her. Thanks
     
  17. reosolar

    reosolar The Solar Guy

    The best value for your dollar are Iron Edison Batteries. Look them up. They will outlast "forklift" batteries any day.
     
  18. reosolar

    reosolar The Solar Guy

    "Traction (forklift) Batteries are a GREAT resource for Off-Grid Energy Storage Systems. They come in various AmpHour Capacities, and individual, 2 Volt Cells, that are then connected in Series to make up a Battery bank. I have used them, in the past, when they become surplus, due to the forklift, being Junked. New they are VERY Expensive. Marine Deep Cycle is a Salesman's Hype label, rather than a valid Battery Type. One must LOOK at the Individual Battery Spec's to determine if that type is right for your operation. I have a 24 Vdc Bank of L15HDs (1200 AmpHour) and a 24 Vdc Bank of AbsolyteII AGMs, (700 Amp/Hour) that I use every day. Each has it's Pluses and Minuses but both preform the functions that they are used for, and have for a decade."

    New is the only way to go when attempting to use the larger 2 volt cells. Wouldn't touch a used one. Also, when comparing the $/Amp Hour cost of 2 volt industrial and standard L16 type batteries the choice is clear. Over 1050 AH at 48 volts the better value is with the 2 volt industrial. I am a dealer for most major makes of batteries and there are a few brands I would recommend if anyone is interested in learning more.
     
  19. Silversnake

    Silversnake Silverback

    [pop]
     
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