What's off grid like?

Discussion about OutBack Inverters in Off Grid Applications

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Pacifico
Forum Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:47 pm
My RE system: Outback Radian GS 8048A inverter + load center
Morning Star TriStar MPPT -600Volt charge controller x2
MATE3s display/controller
Solar One HUP lead acid battery - 840 amp hour
4200kw array - twelve, 350 watt SolarWorld monocrystalline panels
MT Solar galvanized, single pole mount for the solar array
Kohler 12RES propane generator
Honda EU6500i gas generator
Note: panels mounted about 600' away hence the high voltage
charge controllers (higher voltage = smaller wire for the long run)

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by Pacifico »

JRHill wrote: Mon Jan 24, 2022 11:21 am
Pacifico wrote: Sat Jan 22, 2022 11:11 am We are in the fourth year of our off-grid living experience and I can report that basically, in nine months out of the year, we don't give it a second thought.... I hope this helped.
Pacifico, well written. I drafted an addendum but it evaporated. While the original post to this thread was about power there is so much more to the story of off grid. Land and its classification, taxes on improvements and law land, usage... Marketability, and on and on. Those can be terrible after the fact of your off grid dream.

Sometimes the power part is inconsequential compared with other factors.
Thank you for your kind words. It sounds like we share a few similarities in our off-grid journey. I agree, there is so much more that goes into developing a piece of property and so many ways to fail if done unwisely. If one does their homework though, the rewards can be great.

Interestingly, I always told myself I would never go through the building process. Why endure all those headaches and risks when once could buy a nice house already built? Well, life can take its twists and turns and taking on this off-grid adventure has been worth the effort. I'd do it all again if I had to.
JRHill
Forum Emperor
Posts: 2391
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:12 am
My RE system: 48v OB inverter and charge controller, hub and mate3s.
Location: PNW
Contact:

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by JRHill »

So Mr Pacifco, related to Off Grid, how do you coach the family about the off grid system? If you broke a leg (Lord forbid), etc, how do you manage the details? You have a bunch of infrastructure. But how do you continue on if you are not there?

This is the long time dilemma. This is an Off Grid thing.
Pacifico
Forum Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:47 pm
My RE system: Outback Radian GS 8048A inverter + load center
Morning Star TriStar MPPT -600Volt charge controller x2
MATE3s display/controller
Solar One HUP lead acid battery - 840 amp hour
4200kw array - twelve, 350 watt SolarWorld monocrystalline panels
MT Solar galvanized, single pole mount for the solar array
Kohler 12RES propane generator
Honda EU6500i gas generator
Note: panels mounted about 600' away hence the high voltage
charge controllers (higher voltage = smaller wire for the long run)

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by Pacifico »

JRHill wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 11:37 am So Mr Pacifco, related to Off Grid, how do you coach the family about the off grid system? If you broke a leg (Lord forbid), etc, how do you manage the details? You have a bunch of infrastructure. But how do you continue on if you are not there?

This is the long time dilemma. This is an Off Grid thing.
That's a fair question. Though I'm the primary one looking after the system, my wife has taken the time to learn how to water the batteries and run a monthly equalization charge in my absence. With the recent installation of the Kohler 12RES generator, we've been able to enjoy the level of automation that the Outback system is capable of delivering.

Our old Honda EU6500i generator was not designed to auto-start and required being set up and run manually but we used it for the first three winters since we already owned it before going off-grid. I'd hate to have to throw that job on my wife's shoulders or someone else's. The original system design included the Kohler generator but we put off purchase and installation as a way of spreading out construction costs over time.

Now that the Kohler generator is hooked up and programmed, it comes on automatically whenever conditions dictate. It's been nice having the Kohler kick on automatically when the battery gets low compared to having to anticipate a low battery and hook up the old portable to charge things up before the system went into shutdown. Having this task automated is a fairly big deal. Needing generator run time no longer requires having someone on site, capable and knowledgeable about setting up the portable generator, slinging gas cans, plugging in power cords, starting and then stopping the generator.

We're confident that we could plan to step away from our system for a month at a time (unlikely) before someone would need to add water or run an equalization charge. The guy who designed and installed our system is available to contract with for servicing our system if we wanted/needed someone to come and tend to our system in our absence.

Perhaps other systems are more fickle and need more frequent supervision? If so, my system does not seem to be one that demands a constant level of supervision. I do keep a close eye on how my system is functioning but that has mostly given me confidence that it will take care of itself for the most part. Hopefully I don't break a leg.
fcwlp
Forum Czar
Posts: 997
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:40 am
My RE system: GS8048A, FM80 w/3,600W PV Fixed, FM80 w/2,700W on Zomeworks tracker, Mate3, 24 Trojan 2V L16 1100AH @ C20, Grid-Tied with Kohler 14RESA LPG Generator and MEP-803 Diesel if needed.

I install and maintain grid-tied and off-grid systems in my area and consult on solar system design/operation.
Location: 80 miles NE of Phoenix at 5500'

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by fcwlp »

Pacifico wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:45 pm Now that the Kohler generator is hooked up and programmed, it comes on automatically whenever conditions dictate. It's been nice having the Kohler kick on automatically when the battery gets low compared to having to anticipate a low battery and hook up the old portable to charge things up before the system went into shutdown. Having this task automated is a fairly big deal.
I have an off-grid customer who has been off-grid solar for 35+ years (ranch has been in family since 1919). It took the principal about 6 months before they trusted the AGS to start their Kohler 12RES when needed.
JRHill
Forum Emperor
Posts: 2391
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:12 am
My RE system: 48v OB inverter and charge controller, hub and mate3s.
Location: PNW
Contact:

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by JRHill »

Other than the equipment itself, the land, taxes, etc., I can't believe I didn't mention weather, access and security.. This is something fun to experience each year. And each year is different with new and different kinds of fun! :roll:

I know there are people further remote than us. Our remoteness is only two miles from the state highway and power lines and utilities which is on remote highway. In the first half of those two miles of trail there is little elevation change and the road is really tame. The last half is an 800' incline on a true logging trail. It is mainly made up of boulders pushed deeply into the base long, long ago by BIG equipment. It's not like rock climbing as a city Subaru driver would fathom from a magazine but it is 4wd with adequate clearance year around in a capable rig. The warning signs don't overcome stupidity. Its IS funny to see plastic underbody pieces, bumper pieces , etc. scattered about. I collect them and pile them up at the 1st of 3rd gates by the warning sign. Nope, they don't get it. And I have to tell you that some of these people are not lost, they are scouting.

So there is access. And there is security. There is no USPS or UPS. And the lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! Gosh, we love it! And we love our dogs. We couldn't have these in the city but they are EXCELLENT forest dogs.

OK, now back to solar stuff.
fcwlp
Forum Czar
Posts: 997
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:40 am
My RE system: GS8048A, FM80 w/3,600W PV Fixed, FM80 w/2,700W on Zomeworks tracker, Mate3, 24 Trojan 2V L16 1100AH @ C20, Grid-Tied with Kohler 14RESA LPG Generator and MEP-803 Diesel if needed.

I install and maintain grid-tied and off-grid systems in my area and consult on solar system design/operation.
Location: 80 miles NE of Phoenix at 5500'

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by fcwlp »

Our local utility has been down for 13 hours and another 5 hours expected. Those off-grid and on-grid with battery backup, like to point out to those on-grid only that they did not notice. :grin:
raysun
Forum Emperor
Posts: 7795
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 am
My RE system: Flexpower Two: (2) FXR3048A-01, (2) FM80, MATE3s, FlexNetDC
6 SimpliPhi 3.8-48 (48v @ 75AH. 450AH total)
Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
Honda EU7000is gas fuel generator

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by raysun »

fcwlp wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:31 am Our local utility has been down for 13 hours and another 5 hours expected. Those off-grid and on-grid with battery backup, like to point out to those on-grid only that they did not notice. :grin:
I'm always the last to know when there's a power outage in our area. (While I feel for my beleaguered neighbors, I'm always the last to care about a grid outage as well.)
JRHill
Forum Emperor
Posts: 2391
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:12 am
My RE system: 48v OB inverter and charge controller, hub and mate3s.
Location: PNW
Contact:

Re: What's off grid like?

Post by JRHill »

raysun wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:05 am
fcwlp wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:31 am Our local utility has been down for 13 hours and another 5 hours expected. Those off-grid and on-grid with battery backup, like to point out to those on-grid only that they did not notice. :grin:
I'm always the last to know when there's a power outage in our area. (While I feel for my beleaguered neighbors, I'm always the last to care about a grid outage as well.)
I see outages in the newspaper a few week after the fact. I would complain too. Maybe the PUC could get rid of the clouds, snow and ice on my panels along with providing uninterrupted wire service to grid users. I'd pay, say, $10 / month for panel cleaning. But they might want a monthly account charge too. One thing is for sure, they have the equipment to get here.
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