solar for small cabin

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by randallatha, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. randallatha

    randallatha Monkey

    going to be moving to a prefab cabin soon, me and my wife want some peace and quite especially now that the kids have moved away to college, we have talked,planed and saved for this for year the cabin is 797 square feet, three room, the fridge is gas as is the stove, we only plan to use power for 4 led bulbs, a 26 inch roku tv our tablets and our sat set up from hughes net. its in the beautiful mounts of west Virginia, my issue is with the solar, where we will be it will cost our souls to get aep to run us power so we are planning on solar, how many watts? a friend told me that a 400 watt set would do it but that seems low, any suggestions?
  2. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Welcome to the Monkey!!
    duane likes this.
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Welcome aboard.
    Rather than try to regurgitate the HUGE amount of information already on the monkey, I'd recommend a bit of reading in this forum. There are a number of relevant discussions on sizing and power arrangements. The very first step is to find out what ALL the loads will add up to. Then we can get down to more interesting details.

    The "400 watt set" is one indistinct descriptor. What is in the "set?" The general monkey consensus is that it's far better to design and buy your own components with an eye to future than it is to just buy a collection of parts that may or may not be compatible with future choices.

  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Welcome to the Monkey, and what @ghrit said..... [winkthumb]
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  5. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    way out & Low
    Say for what you posted in truth , and your area , you need 2K panels and Mppt controller , 48 Vdc system , MIN for your dream !!! as posted !!

    Seepalaces, sec_monkey, Dont and 2 others like this.
  6. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Cruisin Sloth is right. The major limiting factor now is storage. The panels are so cheap, as long as the government doesn't figure a way to drive up the cost, and the controllers are so good, that there is no good reason not to have 2 k worth of panels. You have already made the big decision that most people ignore, cutting down use of electricity with gas stove, etc. The storage you need for 2 or 3 low sun days or a week if really want security, would cost thousands of dollars, but the storage for the bare minimum, lights, a lap top computer, can be a few hundred and with a small propane back up generator, you can cover your needs for weeks. In my garage I use solar and work most of the time on sunny days and harvest the excess production and use it as I wish. On dark and rainy days, I reload or do something that requires little power. When I weld, use compressor, use table saw, etc, I fire up the genset. Works very well for me. Best advice is to talk to people who are doing off grid as most grid tied is a political and ecological game with no real contact with reality and the advise you get is either given to enhance someones ego or pocket book. As said, go back thru threads and see what luck others have had, and look at solar as a storage device, not a solar generation device.
    Given the location, what is your potential for wind power? OPSEC is bad, but wind blows at night and often is strongest when solar is at its weakest, storms, etc. A small unit can be tied to your solar batteries and enhance the system. I want to do that next at my garage rather than buy more batteries.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018
  7. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    Yes. Here is one. Read THIS POST before you go spend money unnecessarily. Don't guess. Don't estimate. Calculate your actual power needs and work from there.

    Power Required (watt hours) --> Necessary Storage (battery bank size) --> Charging (Panels & Controller)
  8. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey

    Welcome to the monkey from another mountan dueler..
    Seepalaces and sec_monkey like this.
  9. snake6264

    snake6264 Combat flip flop douchebag

    Hey what a great idea and welcome
    Seepalaces likes this.
  10. Out in the woods

    Out in the woods off-grid in-the-forest beekeeper

  11. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    I agree with @ghrit ...this topic has been very thoroughly covered, so the search function on this website is your friend.

    I will say that a 400 watt solar power system is relatively easy and inexpensive. The only warning I'll offer is that you may find that " 4 led bulbs, a 26 inch roku tv our tablets and our sat set up from hughes net" gets kind of boring after a while and at some point you may want more. Plan accordingly.
    Seepalaces likes this.
  12. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    First thing you do is don't buy anything.
    The biggest mistake people make is buying stuff and not understanding really what they are buying or they buy some pre-made kit.
    A lot of the affordable kits out there are over rated, use cheap under sized batteries not appropriate for solar power duty, junk power inverter and junk charge controller.
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  13. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    So far as building any system especially if there is the potential of growth is to build it that way from the beginning .
    If you've got the space and sunlight you might also consider solar thermal for heating and hot water.
    Also as you build your home consider windows that face south and a mud porch glass enclosed It can add a great deal to the house heating .
    Also consider a rather large battery bank. I refer to mine as primarily a "battery system" using several forms of generation, solar, wind, and generator, and a little off the grid as well, for heavy equipment . If you've got the wind, a Mill is good contributor.
    All of my components are switched and fused so that at any time I can isolate each component and test it . Though all my panels differ in brands and sizes, on the amp meter you can see the individual contribution of each .
  14. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Forgot to add earlier.
    400w worth of panels is only going to collect 2kwh per day, best case scenario.
    The average 2 person house with gas appliances can easily use 20kwh per day during your non heating and cooling days.
    Asia-Off-Grid and Seepalaces like this.
  15. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    You got some pretty good advice so far on this thread. As one who actually LIVES out in Bush Alaska, and generates ALL my own Power, I will add only ONE thing.... What ever you decide on for Solar, Make absolutely SURE, that you have a BackUp Generator, or second Source of energy for Battery Charging, included in you design... It doesn't have to be Large, but it MUST be available, ALWAYS, and in ANY and ALL Weather conditions... I have neighbors that get by very well with 3Kw of Backup Power, using Petroleum Based Generators. 3Kw can easily run their Whole Places if needed. Wind is nice if you have wind, but you can't count on Wind 24/7, and the same is true, to some extent, with Hydro, as the Water source can Freeze Up in the winter.... The last thing you want to happen, is an Ice Storm with plenty of Snow, that Freezes up your Wind Generator, and Hydro-Plant and clouds, block you Snow covered Solar for a week, or two.... I know you think that it couldn't happen to YOU, but let me enlighten you, IT CAN, and If you are Lucky, and plan ahead for it, it WILL, and you can ride it out with your 55USG Drum of Fuel Preps.... . "Two is One and One is None"...
  16. Seepalaces

    Seepalaces Monkey+++

  17. Borrego

    Borrego Monkey

    I just finished installing a system at my cabin this past winter...I had someone design it and help select the equipment and then I did the install myself......Definitely listen to the good advice on here, go with good quality equipment......I have (6) 330 watt panels and (8) 6 volt AGM batteries for a 48 V system. It has been nothing short of awesome! There is a lot of good stuff on Youtube as well....
  18. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    So, something like 48vdc, at maybe 240 AH? Not bad a'tall.
  19. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    There is ALSO alot of KRAP on U-tub

    As posted ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ , the links to the power forums are the best to ask & question .

  20. BenP

    BenP Monkey++

    This is what I use to power our 1600sqft house, we have a gas stove, wood stove, electric refrigerator and electric heat pump water heater:

    Solar Panels 1400W - $800.00
    Schneider Electric Conext XW MPPT 60 Amp Solar Charge Controller - $500.00
    Schneider Electric Conext SW 4024 3,400 Watts, 24VDC Inverter 120/240 VAC - $1,500.00
    Schneider Electric Conext XW+/SW System Control Panel (SCP) - $211.00
    LiFePO4 Prismatic Batteries 24V, 300Ah - $3,800.00
    Unistrut/Bolts/Nuts/Hardward for Panel Rack - $500.00

    The LiFePO4 batteries are much more expensive than lead and would be a good place to cut costs if needed, I chose them for their excellent life span and safety.

    We have 2 kids that need baths every night so our water heater is our biggest power consumer.
    Cruisin Sloth and Asia-Off-Grid like this.
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