Going off the grid...Does anyone use solar for energy in their home?

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by chickymama25, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. chickymama25

    chickymama25 Out Of The Brooder

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    My DH and I are considering what we need to do to power our lives with solar energy:D. We do have a rather large old farmhouse, which we heat with a coal stove.
    We are looking to replace the electric bill for something cheaper and more environmentally friendly [​IMG]. We don't really even know where to get started with this venture. We also don't have the money, but want to start looking for possibilities (I know there are possibly some grants/fed incentives to go solar. Has anyone done this yet? We appreciate any advice...
     
  2. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    I don't live off the grid now nor have I ever lived off the grid. I did live in New Mexico where I looked at buying a place off the gird and where I knew people living off the grid.

    Advice:
    Research, research, and research some more.
    Decide if it is feasible where you live. Do you have enough days of sunlight.
    Determine your electrical needs and plan for more than you think you need.
    Figure out ways to cut back on electrical needs, like use a solar clothes dryer (clothes line).
    Determine cost. You need solar panels and batteries to start with not to mention the electronics involved. It ain't cheap.
    Incorparate passive solar heating. Plant for summertime cooling.
    Insulate and caulk. You want more than just going off the grid. You want total energy savings.
    Convert your coal to wood.
    Consider wind and geothermal.

    That's just a start.
     
  3. buc

    buc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I use a very small PV cell for a electric fence charger, it works great.

    The scale you are looking at would be huge, the main advice I can give is talk with a good local contractor first, see if you have the space within your home for all of the hardware that this is going to take, like the battery bay to store the electricity your PV's will produce and the new wiring it will take to move off grid.

    a google search found this:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=solar+panels+going+off+grid+a+how+to+guide
     
  4. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2007
    Connecticut
    We have recently been researching this option. we are thinking of buying a "kit" and testing it out by powering the garage with it and see how that goes. Figure we can learn the ropes and test the systems ups and downs. Unfortunately, even large systems dont gover our KWH in a month, but we are working on bringing that down....
     
  5. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Leesville, SC
    Plan, too, for great expense.

    If you wish to use solar power for your electricity needs, you will spend a lot of money, by design.

    If you do not intend to modify your lifestyle and especially if you want to retrofit an in-place installation, were talking beaucoup bucks here for a solar electricity installation. The use of passive sources can help, but only a portion. Heat in winter will be your biggest hurdle.
    If you can build from the ground up with solar and you are willing to change to become a Sunnie, then you can expect to double your costs, at least, over conventional construction.

    Such is the state of the science and business of individual solar power generation. The big conglomerates dont want you as a single POU producer. They want you tied to them and frankly, much of the current development in the solar field is geared towards it's use on an industrial scale... they make it, you buy it.

    In time it will be seen that we should reverse that: each household and business should produce their own solar power and pipe the surplus back into the grid. The "power companies" will then become grid managers as well as manufacturers. Every rooftop in the nation should be a producer. When will that happen? Not soon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  6. 1acrefarm

    1acrefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 3, 2007
    Georgia
    I do not power my home with solar energy. I have done alot of research on the subject. I personally would not want an off grid solar system. I don't think maintaining a very large battery bank would be economically or environmentally friendly.

    I personally would want a grid tied system. Ideally in a properly setup grid tie system you would produce more power than you use in daytime spinning your meter backward. At night you would feed off the grid. The people who are grid tied and conserve really well can be net producers. Some people actually get paid by the electric company but this is not typical and they really have their stuff together. Special switching equipment on your house is required so if the grid power goes off your power does not shock a line worker. The rules and particulars on this really vary from state to state. If this interests you I would do a search on grid tied solar because volumes could be written on it.

    One of your best steps in your quest is lowering your total electric demand. As someone mentioned caulk is your friend. Clotheslines are great because dryers really suck the power and heat the house. If you keep a coffee maker going alot invest in a thermos or insulated carafe so you can turn the coffee maker off after coffee is made. My wife used to waste 9kw per day by running the coffee maker 10 hrs. CFLs can cut your lighting demands by 3/4. Little things like this when added up go a long way on your power bill. This is getting long and boring so I will stop for now. lol
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  7. chickymama25

    chickymama25 Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, desiring to be more self sufficient and environmentally friendly is quite the uphill battle. It is really crappy that the industries want to keep people from becoming more conscious of our carbon footprint. [​IMG]
    Thanks for all of your information! I guess the best I can do for now would be to try to insulate more, turn electronics off, and plant more (tee, hee, my DH is gonna kill me with all of my planting)! [​IMG]
    But I will keep researching and perhaps get a smaller system to supplement...[​IMG]
     
  8. chickymama25

    chickymama25 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2008
    Quote:I use a very small PV cell for a electric fence charger, it works great.

    The scale you are looking at would be huge, the main advice I can give is talk with a good local contractor first, see if you have the space within your home for all of the hardware that this is going to take, like the battery bay to store the electricity your PV's will produce and the new wiring it will take to move off grid.

    a google search found this:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=solar+panels+going+off+grid+a+how+to+guide

    We had a solar fencer a few years ago, but our black angus, Ebby (aka: Big Momma), figured out how to turn off the switch button underneath with her tongue, and then she would pop up the metal fence posts to eat my tiger lilies on the hill. Plus we needed a higher voltage, she was getting pretty immune to the little shocks. Beefers are too smart for their own good...[​IMG]
     
  9. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Washington State
    The solar chargers don't cut it for electric fencing in my climate (way way too much green stuff growing way way too quickly).

    I'd love to do a combo solar/wind power here. I just need the money, like most of my projects.
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Go to the websites for Mother Earth News and Countryside magazines....they have some very comprehensive articles and reference material on solar energy. They have some great articles on people who are tapping into government grants for resources, about grid-backed systems vs. battery backed, cheap ways to make your own home a solar heater with the use of cheap materials and seasonal solar directions. Don't give up! There are ways, if one is real handy, to make a difference in your own home without costing you a packet. They even have ways of pre-heating your hot water using solar energy, before it gets to your hotwater tank! The whole field of solar and wind energy is fascinating and there are folks out there doing it in nonconventional ways that don't cost as much.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008

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