Off-grid officially since March 4, 2011.
Since 1980 I had a desire of being able to power my home independently from commercial power. The last 2 years I have been extremely close to achieving that goal. I was somewhat tentative to just call and cut the cord though. Over the last 12 months I used commercial power for a week or two last summer for air conditioning.
As of March 4, 2011 I went cold turkey. The initial goal is to go 12 months on our own. Twelve months was chosen because the local member owned co-op back charges anyone who is disconnected for less than 12 months for missed line charges.
Sincerely hoping that I never have to resort back to depending on an external power provider.
Octobert 21, 2012 - still going without commercial power. The harbor freight generator was converted to propane in early summer. It is definitely nice not having to haul and store gasoline now
1 - 100 watt Arco Tri-Lam PV panel (in use since 1990 and 2 moves)
3 - 120 watt AP-1206 . 1 on line 5/1/99. 2 and 3 on line 7/9/99(Note 1)
4 - 130 watt KC130's . Online mid May 2008
6 - 205 watt KD205's . Online July 14, 2009
1 - 300 watt Southwest WindPower Air 303 mounted at 45 feet
on a Rohn 25 tower
2 - Outback FM80 80 amp mppt controller used for the solar panels
8 - US Batteries L16HC 6V/420AH, configured for 12V/1680AH In service 4/9/09
1 - Magnum Sine 2800 with Trace DC250 Cutoff
1 - Coleman PM9375 7.5kw 16hp generator. Converted to propane fall 2012
1 - Harbor Freight 66604 6.5kw 16hp generator, converted to propane 4/23/2012
1 - DC charge cart - 8hp briggs and 10 SI alternator. Converted using an adaptor plate from The epicenter
1 - SolarSheats 1500GS air heater
Service Note 1: Nov 5, 2011 - I was doing a panel check by turning off individual panel circuits whenn I noticed that one array was dead. Found that one of the AP-120's had a burn in the back covering about the size of a cigarette burn. Apparently there was a bad connection from the factory on one of the Cell interconnects. I think I was able to fix it. Cut through the covering and silicone. The burnt spot looked to be overheated but cleaned it up and resoldered. The cells on these panels have 2 tabs per side. Checking the connection on the other tab and it was open. Resoldered that and fingers crossed that it is corrected.
Service note 2: Nov 2, 2013 - While doing a monthly battery water check two of the cells had not used any water since last month. Checking them with a hydrometer and s.g. was barely able to float the float. Two bad batteries at 4 1/2 years, not the life expectancy I was wanting. I was able to rearrange my bank to a 6 pack. hoping to make it till spring with the remaining batteries but I will not be using US Battery again. I had 4 Deka L16's previously and they lasted 8 years.
Pictures of July 14, 2009 upgrade installation: upgrade
1 - Xantrex C-60A charge controller with DVM
4 - Rural King 220a/h golf cart batteries
1 - Trace DR2412 2400 watt inverter
2 - Sunelec 90 watt PV panels
1 - 20 watt PV panel
The garage power system while having only 1/4 the battery capacity and 10% of the charging capacity of the house is configured so that it can serve as a secondary backup for the house.
Alternative Energy Forums/Websites:
12 Volt power
Links to Alternative Energy Vendors:
Arizona Wind and Sun
the Alternative Energy Store
For those that think nuclear power plants are our salvation. I strongly recommend they read the following book available from www.thenewpress.com. I have always had a gut aversion to the concept of nuclear power plants. After reading the book I have become even more against them. The only good nuclear power comes from the sun.
From way back when I found the pictures on the left. In 1980, while in college I became interested in solar power. I constructed a panel from 36 Radio Shack 1 amp cells that the local store had to call most of the other stores in the state. The cost was around 10 dollars per cell. I fiberglassed a plywood board and used silicone caulk to place the cells on the fiberglass. There was a lot of heat stresses and at the time I didnt really understand all the "right" ways to do it. It worked for about a year. I kept a plexiglass cover on them when I wasnt around. Even with that I accidentally left the cover off one day and some pea size hail obliterated it. I ran one light bulb and an Ten-Tec Argonaut 509 off of it.
This wind generator is located in Ashmore, IL.