Author Topic: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..  (Read 9140 times)

Offline whatmecrazy

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Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« on: August 22, 2016, 06:47:19 PM »
Yes I know it's not your lightsaber Luke, but I don't really care...  No Hydro available, Wind would have to have a 50' + tower...  I am looking at piecing together an ML Solar system with a battery back up with 12 batteries..  Any luck from anyone up there.  I lived in Oly, and Tacoma for 5 years, so yes I know the winters and the beautiful summers...

Offline Cedar

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 07:07:32 PM »
I know a bunch of people in northern BC who run solar and a 12 battery bank and run more things that I ever imagined. Like welders, big screeen TV etc. Their cookstove is a HUGE wood cookstove (like a 12 burner, never seen anything like it) in the winter, propane in the summer. Washer, dryer, fridge, freezers are propane.

Cedar

Offline whatmecrazy

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 07:16:41 PM »
CEDAR!!!!!!  How are you!!  it's Keith from Zello....  Awesome news!!  We are looking At Harstine Island to maybe build an off-grid house...

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2016, 07:22:21 PM »
Not in the area, but here's a great solar 101 article:
http://www.backwoodshome.com/installing-your-own-small-remote-off-grid-solar-system/
It's getting a little dated on the particular parts, but the fundamentals still apply.  Hope it helps.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2016, 07:28:23 PM »
KEITH!!! How are you?!? Let me look up a couple YouTubes for you that you might want to really look at. I think this island is in the same area as you are looking at (maybe?) and it is also 100% off-grid for power and water. I am unclear if it is a vacation home or full time residence. It might be a few minutes, but I will look for them now.

Cedar

Offline whatmecrazy

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 07:33:58 PM »
Thanks Alan, and Cedar, the island is in the South Sound and it will be a primary residence, and I want it to be off-grid....  But sizing the solar array for winter is my concern...

Offline Cedar

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2016, 07:40:53 PM »
Thanks Alan, and Cedar, the island is in the South Sound and it will be a primary residence, and I want it to be off-grid....  But sizing the solar array for winter is my concern...

I am still looking, trying to get my kid into bed, and you WILL need a backup gas generator.

Cedar

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2016, 07:49:40 PM »
Thanks Alan, and Cedar, the island is in the South Sound and it will be a primary residence, and I want it to be off-grid....  But sizing the solar array for winter is my concern...
The rule of thumb for starter numbers is to work out how many amp-hours you'll be using every day, then multiply by something between 4 and 8 to get the total battery size needed.  The wattage of the panels you'll need works out to be roughly equal to the battery bank's total amp-hours.  After that, Cedar is right, a backup gas generator is your friend when the chips are down.

Offline whatmecrazy

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2016, 07:50:02 PM »
I know about the Genny, and have zero problems with knowing how to rebuild and maintain any combustion engine..  The goal is to be done with the grid completely...  I am so damn sick of the BS...  Still going to be connected into the community and building the farm, just like before..  But, I have had enough....

Offline whatmecrazy

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2016, 07:51:23 PM »
The amp-hours are the easiest to calculate, it's the 9 months of no sun that is throwing off my calculations..  Because I made them in Colorado....  Where there is an abundance....

Offline Cedar

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2016, 07:54:33 PM »
Solar and wind map for Washington State
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange/greenenergy_maps.htm


(Still looking for the 2 vids I want to show you)

Cedar

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2016, 07:55:34 PM »
The amp-hours are the easiest to calculate, it's the 9 months of no sun that is throwing off my calculations..  Because I made them in Colorado....  Where there is an abundance....
I'm afraid that there's just no answering that one with solar.

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2016, 08:47:47 PM »
I'm afraid that there's just no answering that one with solar.

Yes there is. More batteries, more panels (or larger watt ones), and a generator.. I have seen it done. They live on an island in that same general area, and have electric, water catchment, hot water showers. I still think you can do a hybrid.

Still looking, but I got waylaid for a bit..

Cedar

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2016, 11:44:18 PM »
First, see what you can power in a sustainable, non-electric way, to lessen electric load. Look at what your needs are, and how to fulfill them, rather tahn just transforming how you live now to there.

And, I get what you are saying about propane and gas, that is still part of the grid, you can do without, if you realy want to.


Wood. You have access to plenty of that, so space heat with wood, cook with wood, heat water with wood.

Biogas. Contact Hestia Biogas about your area, they have even relocated to Washington state and are the experienced designers of Pacific Northwest Biogas, and home biogas plans and units. Biogas can cook your food and  heat your water, someimes there is enough excess to power a generator, but contact them about this.

That leaves lights, refrigeration, clothes washing and gadgets. None of which is absolutely necc for survival, although I like them.

Assuming it gets cold there when the sun isnt out ? So, for refrigeration, look to a thermal mass refrigerator with an electric compressor for back up -- Mike reynolds in his Earth house systems book describes this. Basically, this is a built in place refrigerator. Lots of mass inside ( in his case he plastered in sixpacks of cheap beer on the inside, but whatever you choose, thick inner mass to hold "coldth", surrounded by insulation, and then, key part, is an operable opening to the outside cold night air. You also build in a standard DC refrigeration compressor, so when the sun has been out, you have solar and it uses its compressor, when you have little solar, it is cold outside, and you let the cold in.

There are other ways for keeping some food cold.

So, if you build in your thermal mass refrigerator, that leaves lights, clothes washing, and gadgets.

You can also wash clothes without an electric washing machine. Look to Lehmans non-electric catalog for bought options. Or, scour the internet for DIY plans to run a washing machine off a pedal power or what have you.

That leaves lights and gadgets.

Anyways, you dont need any electric, look at the Amish. So, if you want a small solar and battery backup for gadgets and electric lights, and can afford it, you will also survive just fine on days when your batteries dont have any juice. I realy like the Aquion batteries, check those out if you are going to put in solar/batteries

edted to add thoughts on having water : Duh. Sorry about that. Can you have a tank just a bit uphill ? My tank is barely uphill, and gives enough pressure for the downstairs. Rainwater catchment ? Well ? well pump can get water out of the ground to your tank when the sun is out. small rain catchment tank built into your second story ? or uphill ? for when You have your long sunless, but rainy times. You may also be able to hand pump frpm your well. I hear that not that long ago, it was a short, daily task for a member of the household, often a young boy, to hand pump water to a small tank on the roof, that would be enough for the households needs for 24 hours. You can let the rain do that for you
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 11:57:48 PM by mountainmoma »

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2016, 12:16:36 PM »
Hey whatmecrazy

I'm not far from you.  I live in south King County. 

I have recently started working with a portable solar setup for field use of amateur radios and other gadgets.
As Alan and others have stated, sizing the battery bank is key.

In theory I'd rather have way more battery than way more solar panels.

In mid-sun during July, my 100 watt Renogy monoscrystalline panel output 6amps.  This is on the high side, but I watched it on the meter.
For summer time at mid day, I can count on at least 4 hours @ 5 amps from that panel.  So very conservatively that's 20amps.  When I'm only working with a 35AH battery at a picnic table in the park, that's more than enough for an afternoon running a 100watt HF transceiver if I arrive with a charge battery.

I think of solar systems like water catchment.  You gradually capture small amounts over time, and once you've accumulated a large amount, you have pressure (or current) that's usable.

That all said, the economics for solar in WA are about the worst ROI for the USA.
The base rate for my location is $0.0849 per kWh

That's 1000 watt hours of 110 voltage for less than 9 cents an hour.  Not to mention of relative lack of full sun for a lot of the year.

Carl and I did the math while talking on the echolink once, and it'd take me almost 30 years for my portable solar setup to pay for itself based on these rates.

In summary, solar is cheaper than ever and does work well - but it only makes economic sense if you CANNOT get grid power.




Offline Carl

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2016, 12:34:15 PM »
If grid power is available...why do you want to spend MORE MONEY for the ability to say that you are off-grid?
Between high solar costs ,poor sun hours,and high battery maintenance costs (they do wear out you know)
you are not likely to break even with the cost for solar compared to grid  costs...though emergency power is
a thought for a small solar setup..

Look at the cost of running a diesel generator and battery system as this is almost as cost effective as grid power.

Offline whatmecrazy

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2016, 03:52:21 PM »
Honestly Carl, I'm doing a cost - benefit analysis...  and I am sick being beholden to companies...   

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2016, 03:56:26 PM »
Honestly Carl, I'm doing a cost - benefit analysis...  and I am sick being beholden to companies...

yup.  I get that.  I guess Utah pays less than the national average (for whatever reason - our own coal mines, natural gas, whatever), and the scuttlebutt going around the solar companies right now is that Rocky Mt. Power is going to raise rates to match the rest of the country - not because it is costing them more, but because they can.  Course, that could be just them trying to get more Utahns on the soalr bandwagon.  I honestly do not know why more are not doing it - we have LOTS AND LOTS of sun, even in the colder winter months, if you don't live in a valley with a permanent smog inversion  :P

Offline Carl

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2016, 04:18:44 PM »
Honestly Carl, I'm doing a cost - benefit analysis...  and I am sick being beholden to companies...

I would be interested in hearing what you work out ,maybe the technology will surpass the level it was at 4 years ago when I tried to make the numbers work out,but just could not.
Perhaps combined with a new home and a "GREEN" tax credit or two....$10 cents per KWH here.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2016, 04:37:45 PM »
Puget Sound Energy is one of the few monthly household bills I don't curse at under my breath.. well except for December when we've got all the Christmas lights out and the heat turned up.  Then I yell at my kids for leaving the hall light on - just like grandpa used to. 

It helps I live in a relatively new home that's pretty energy efficient.

Back to topic, figure out what your amperage (current) draw will be, and then we can make this an engineering conversation where money is no object.

Offline Carl

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Re: Solar Power Off Grid Near Seattle..
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2016, 05:04:34 PM »
He can't really know his average bill unless he is in the home...my 1800 sq ft home uses 750 KWH average per month,
but I have gas water heating and rarely need the gas central heat,though the summer Air Conditioner may balance the equation...
my average electric bill is $75 . A grid tied system will only pay back at wholesale rate (about 2 1/2 cents KWH) in my area
so GRID TIED does not pay back and the battery cost is such that a fully off grid would not make a break even point even in a 40 year period
the last time I hurt my head with math and the power company hit me with the cost to add solar to my home.

So my BOL is my off grid test and the diesel/demand with 10 KW battery works pretty good so far with my 2 week at a time full time occupation...
but to be fair,the BOL needs no AC or HEAT as it is constant 68 to 72 degrees with a small dehumidifier running part time.
But then solar is not about what you can run...but what you can do without.

Plan your system around as few electric appliances as possible and you may find that it CAN WORK as solar ,with tax incentives,might just work
with a lifestyle change.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 05:20:47 PM by Carl »