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Is solar the cheapest way to go?

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by FDaniels, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We were originally going to build a cob house but have decided to turn our shed into the tiny house we've been wanting. It's about 155 square feet. It needs some work done: new roof, new floor, new back wall, outlets added (the shed is already wired for electric but only has a couple of outlets so we'll have to add a couple more here & there), insulated, windows, new door and then just the cosmetic stuff like interior paneling, flooring laid down, paint, etc. It's only for 2 people, 1 dachshund & 2 cats so we think 155 will be fine for us. We're going to continue living in our trailer right now until we get it built & then tear down & scrap the trailer for whatever $ we can get out of the aluminum & frame. It's a 16x80. But here's where our question comes in: would it cheaper for us to continue to use power through Alabama Power or should we invest in solar? What all would we need solar wise? And how much would solar cost us given our 155 square feet? We'd have a normal size fridge, an oven, 1 over head light & a couple of lamps, we've got 2 computers and 2 cell phones to charge & our tv/dvd player. Right now we pay about $230 a month just for power & my grandparents pay less than $100 for their stick frame house & they have about 3 huge freezers that are always running, lights on all day long and a ton of other stuff that we don't have & their bill is so low! Is it safe to assume that once we start living in this tiny shed that the bill will decrease dramatically & we won't need solar or should we go solar? We live in a sort of hole where only a couple of spots get nice sun exposure. The shed is surrounded by trees but we can always cut some down. What would be cheapest way to heat the shed & keep it cool? Should we use some sort of rocket stove & just make sure to run the chimney up first before we add the new roof? Thanks guys!!
     
  2. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And if you think solar would the best/cheapest way then we could maybe use what $ we get from the trailer scrap to get what we need
     
  3. Clifford Odel

    Clifford Odel Out Of The Brooder

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    We live in the south and the majority of what we have right now in terms of electric cost for our coop is lighting and a heat lamp. I hooked up some cheap solar panels from costco and some backup emergency light batteries just to do a test run. My cost was little to nothing. Being that you have shade, your cooling for the coop would be less too. We plan to put in an automatic door too which I hope to run off solar. Ours will have rain water collection for the drinking water. Just haven't had time to install it yet. I would imagine that with a little investment over a longer period of time it would definitely pay off. Anyway hope it helps. Happy chickening https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/862078/solar-powered-coop-for-broke-folks
     
  4. Plough

    Plough Out Of The Brooder

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    Trees are usually invaluable for stable temperatures. They're much better at cooling a house then ac depending the coverage arround the house. Also the protection as a wind break can help with severe winds/drafts. Of course types of trees and placement could vary the situation. Depending on property a stand alone solar might be an option. Or a patio covering stand alone could be nice as well.

    Also solar is still pricy. Yes it will come out cheaper in the long run but usually takes about 10+ years. But the benefit of self sufficiency could be invaluable to you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  5. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about wind turbines? And is there a safe way to heat 155 sq ft 24/7 so that we can leave it on while we're at work? I read about an Envi heater that's supposed to be ok left on 24/7 unattended & safe around pets because it attaches to the wall & supposedly puts out 1/3 less energy? If wind turbines end up being just as pricey as solar do you think it would be smarter to just continue to use our electric company since I'm assuming the smaller sq footage & the less energy it would need should drastically lower the bill? What about water? Right now our water bill is about $25-$28 a month. There is a well already dug on the property but it's covered & for the 11 years we've lived here we've never used it. How could we go about using it? Annually we would collect about 2650 gallons of rain water a year so I don't know if that would be enough for 2 people a year? Or would it? Is there a way to cheaply eliminate our water bill or should we just continue to use the utility company for it?
     
  6. Clifford Odel

    Clifford Odel Out Of The Brooder

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    Solar really isn't that expensive when taken in small doses. A wind mill could pump water out of that well for free. There's an African kid that did it with car parts. I've heard that turbines don't really produce what you need unless you have constant wind. A solar panel will trickle charge a bank of batteries all day and provide you with pretty good power.
     
  7. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Where could we get a cheap windmill & how would we use it to get the water out? We've never used a well before. How exactly would we use that water for drinking, laundry, baths etc? Do we need to put anything in that water to make it safe or filter it somehow? What sort of cheap solar system would you recommend for 155 sq ft? Or if we decide to stay in the trailer & fix it up, what kind of system would you recommend for 1280 sq ft? And where's the cheapest place to buy what we would need? Amazon or another site?
     
  8. Clifford Odel

    Clifford Odel Out Of The Brooder

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    I think I would tell you like I tell my kids, do your homework. There is all kinds of information on google and youtube for solar. Sometimes you have to jump in and get your feet wet before you know whats going on. Bear in mind that anything that produces a lot of heat will pull a lot of power. Like the red brooder bulbs or a space heater. Try buying a cheap car inverter and plugging in a hair dryer or space heater while your car is running, that's what we did. If you're going to run appliances I would say get a deep cycle battery or two, a charge controller, and an inverter. I don't have one because we are just starting up or I could give you some advice on which one to buy. Look at the ratings on amazon and read some reviews. Just running some leds for light can be done with a couple $13 6volt batteries from MacMaster Carr and three solar panels from Costco. The solar panels basically trickle charge your batteries all day and they in turn run the lights when you get home after work. In the future we plan to get several solar panels and just run them to the meter, no batteries. This pushes the power straight back to the grid and reduces your bill. In the event that zombie chickens take over, we can quickly unhook it and MacGyver it to fight them off.

    Our rain water goes to our trees in the yard. I didn't want to move a hose to mow so I dug trenches and buried 3/4" lines and hooked up a 1/2 horse pump. You could use an rv filter or get a filter from Lowes that could filter the well water down to do laundry. I wish I could tell you more about the windmill but all I know is that it can be done. Heck a 1/2 horse pump would pull water out of that well all day long. I'd suggest adding some bleach to it to kill the algae. One of the big problems with collecting rain water is the algae build up. A lot of words for little information. Hope it helps. :)
     
  9. Clifford Odel

    Clifford Odel Out Of The Brooder

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    Just re-read your original post and now I see what you are doing. Be sure and insulate the crap out of that tiny house. Any investment you put into insulation will pay for itself quick. If it were me I would put a metal roof on and pour a slab. Fighting skunks is no fun while under a house. I would also keep power connected and begin small with a bank of two batteries and expand from there.
     

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