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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wanting to build a camp Off Grid. i have seen several things on wind, solar, generators and others. Can get confusing at times. I am thinking of having power right now just for weekend use 4 days max. We are very hot so AC is needed to be "cool".
I need to power two 950 watt 115 volt ac units, a 1/2 HP well jet pump to go into tank( can cut ac units off to do this) ceiling fans with light kit (2) and 3 16" wall fans, small load of regular 110 plugs. I am thinking a generator when you have to run the AC units, along with a inverter\charger with battieries and a solar panel.
Question, what type/size inverter/charger? how many and what type batteries are best?
Generator size and type fuel?
So many options, would like help from some who have done it before.
Thanks
 

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performing monkey
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of everyone on the forum, Nadja probably has the most experience being completely off-grid...

I personally like a grid-tied system that way there are more options for when you need that 'little bit extra' ;)

IMO as far as AC goes, you might be better off with fans, or evaporative cooling units (you can build them easy & cheap... I built my first one with a used aquarium pump, cut up corrugated cardboard box, a $5 can of waterproofing, an old box fan & some scrap galvanized sheets) that use so little electricity they can be powered by a small solar panel/battery

there are other things to consider

is there a refrigerator, freezer, or other appliances (heat at night?) to run? or power tools?

how far are you from a population center?

sooooooo many other things, my mind is filling up right now :gaah:

P.S. ultimately, you have to decide what is right for YOU
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am 12 miles by boat for town. I was going to use coolers right now for cold items, thinking the longest time spent will be about 4 days right now. Wanting to run the two 950 watt ac units, have a 6500 watt gen set plus a inverter with battieries and solar panel to work just lights or small 110 loads in the day time, Thanks for any help!
 

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YourAdministrator, eh?
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BunkerBob, MMM, GS are all off-griders and fairly self-sufficient when it comes to taking care of their business.

If you want to start-out small and grow from there in your camp, snag 4 deep-cycle RV-batteries and hook them up to an 80-watt solar-panel with charge-controller. That basic setup would cost around $150 to $175 per battery, figure in around $100 for wiring (connectors, wires, etc) and I just checked eBay for prices for a solar-panel and found this one for just over $200 (I paid almost $1000 for my 80 watt panel :gaah: ).

As far as inverters go, you need to figure out what you want the inverters for. An off-grid camp would be best served by getting rid of the 110-volt AC stuff and going with DC-powered equipment (12-volt DC fans, 12-volt lighting, 12-volt stereo, etc) and use the AC sparingly.

If you haven't purchased the inverters yet, consider getting something that puts out 5000-watt with a 10,000-watt peak (similar to this one currently on eBay) that can power high-draw tools if required.
 

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I invented the internet. :rofl:
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of everyone on the forum, Nadja probably has the most experience being completely off-grid...

...
bunkerbob would be the off-grid guru here. He has an awesome set-up. Like he said, go to his site for information. There's quite a bit to setting up a system as you describe. A small solar power system with generator back-up as described by Naekid is probably the best bet for starting out.

When thinking solar power here's a quick heads-up: If you average five hours of direct sunlight a day, and have a 100 watt solar panel, because of electrical losses inherent in they system you'll have enough power to run a 100 watt light bulb about 3.5 to 4 hours a day.

There are a lot of things you can do to make it more practical (like low watt bulbs, appliances, etc.) but the point is, dodn't go off-grid expecting to live like you do on grid. The power just isn't there unless you want to spend thousands of dollars on your solar power system.
 

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Thanks for the pat on the back Naekid and MMM.
It has been a long and sometimes expensive goal to live off-grid. It's taken quite a few years, with small steps at times to accomplish where we are now, still not perfect but great to see the local electric meter reader scratch his head when he drives by looking for a RF signal with our usage for the month:dunno: Out here in the rural area they hook up a RF xmiter so they can glean the usage info without getting out of their truck.
The battery bank is now on it's 9th year:2thumb: starting to show signs of depletion, 30 T-105 6v and 10 AGM 12v not counting the 20 AGMs in the "pit". Probably start replacing 6 this month, then follow every month 'till complete. At $115 each it will set us back some.
 

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Look at my simple website for more info bunkerbob
Blob you hurt my feelings, this is my second home with renewable resources, this home is in it's 7th year off-grid completely.
Oh my gosh, Bob, I'm so jealous!!! You are soooo doing it my friend!!!

You will be my go to if and when I get to upgrade mine more.

Jimmy
 

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performing monkey
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bunkerbob would be the off-grid guru here. He has an awesome set-up. Like he said, go to his site for information. There's quite a bit to setting up a system as you describe. A small solar power system with generator back-up as described by Naekid is probably the best bet for starting out.

When thinking solar power here's a quick heads-up: If you average five hours of direct sunlight a day, and have a 100 watt solar panel, because of electrical losses inherent in they system you'll have enough power to run a 100 watt light bulb about 3.5 to 4 hours a day.

There are a lot of things you can do to make it more practical (like low watt bulbs, appliances, etc.) but the point is, dodn't go off-grid expecting to live like you do on grid. The power just isn't there unless you want to spend thousands of dollars on your solar power system.
IMO those little Dollar Tree path illuminating solar lights are good enough for the interior lighting of a BOL & I've used 1 cell to power 3 lights... in Ohio (where the sun is sometimes just a memory) ! :eek: The motion sensitive solar multi-LED security lights that can be purchased from hardware stores or online for $30 to sky's-the-limit pricing aren't too terrible :cool:

Look at my simple website for more info bunkerbob
Blob you hurt my feelings, this is my second home with renewable resources, this home is in it's 7th year off-grid completely.
mea culpa, mea culpa! :surrender:
I originally included you but I thought you were off-grid for < 10 (which is still impressive as Hell), but hasn't Nadja been off-grid for 16 tho?... I also figured that if the OP searched for Nadja's posts s/he would find your input in the same threads
 

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performing monkey
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Thanks for the pat on the back Naekid and MMM.
It has been a long and sometimes expensive goal to live off-grid. It's taken quite a few years, with small steps at times to accomplish where we are now, still not perfect but great to see the local electric meter reader scratch his head when he drives by looking for a RF signal with our usage for the month:dunno: Out here in the rural area they hook up a RF xmiter so they can glean the usage info without getting out of their truck.
The battery bank is now on it's 9th year:2thumb: starting to show signs of depletion, 30 T-105 6v and 10 AGM 12v not counting the 20 AGMs in the "pit". Probably start replacing 6 this month, then follow every month 'till complete. At $115 each it will set us back some.
have you considered opening them up, scrubbing the plates & replacing the acid (re-distilling it if you care to also)? it can be dangerous, but it does save quite a bit of money... unless the plates are damaged. If you decide not to this time you can always take em' apart for spare parts if/when you try it ;) My g-pa used to do this with batteries way way waaaay before recycling & the 'green' movement were en vogue :sssh:
 

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The wanderer
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We're completely off-grid and have enough solar to run a 10-cf fridge, but I think it would take an awful big system to run those two air conditioners of yours.

Will this camp be in the dry part of Texas or the humid part? If it's the dry part, could you switch to swamp coolers? They take less power.

Can you design and build the cabin/cottage/camphouse to have good air circulation to cut down on or eliminate the need for air conditioning? What about thick walls (adobe?) and/or lots of insulation? Earth-sheltered, to take advantage of the cooling effect of the earth? (And keep warmer in winter months).

It IS possible to put in enough solar to run the air conditioners if you have the money to do it. Wind turbine would depend on whether you have steady reliable wind over 5 to 10 mph.

Our solar power system is adequate for our needs, but simple. Others on here know more of the technical stuff, and people like bunkerbob have the experience! :)
 

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have you considered opening them up, scrubbing the plates & replacing the acid (re-distilling it if you care to also)? it can be dangerous, but it does save quite a bit of money... unless the plates are damaged. If you decide not to this time you can always take em' apart for spare parts if/when you try it ;) My g-pa used to do this with batteries way way waaaay before recycling & the 'green' movement were en vogue :sssh:
I've done the scubbing method with chemicals and then replacing the acid before with very limited success. Some of these are showing age with slightly bulged cases also. Not alot of spare parts and the dealer gives you a better price when exchanging them for new.
The new generation of T-105 batteries from U.S. battery look very promising, they should with care, last longer than the first bank.

Alright your forgiven Blob.:beercheer: But does Nadja have a off-grid "pit".:D
 

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Ok, I guess it is time to chime in on this. First of all, I remember you saying early on that you would only be using this about 4 days or so tops at a time ? Then do not invest thousands of frn in panels. DO NOT buy "rv" batteries. Sorry Naekid, this is where we will disagree. They will not provide you with the long discharge times of the trojen t-105 golf cart batteries. For what you are doing, why don't you install about 4 of the trojen batteries , in series and parallel to pick up the 12v, put them on a charge controller of quality and also an inverter with a large battery charger built in to it. My 2512 Xantrax Sine Wave inverter has I believe a 120 amp battery charger in it.

What my wife and I did about 17 years ago before our first solar panels, was as described above with the exception of the inverter we could not afford, so we went with the Old Trace 1512 inverter which was much cheaper. We would turn on the generator in early evening, which would charge the batteries, watch a movie on the Vhs player / tv, take our showers, wash dishes etc. When we were done with the movie , usually about 2 hours , we would shut off the gennie and of course then we had power for the water pump (12v) and of course lights and a car stereo also 12 volt. It works well, and will not set you back both arms. One arm maybe , depending on your choice of gennies. After you learn a little more about that part of the system, it will just naturally just step you up to one or two solar panels. Life gets better as you go and learn. Stay away from all things Chinese , especially to electronic things and solar panels. They may work kinda sorta ok for a little while, but keep in mind my solar panels are going on 17 years and still going strong. Quality counts when you have put yourself in this position. Again Naekid, sorry but I never recommend things I have seen so many people have trouble with. Nadja
 

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I've done the scubbing method with chemicals and then replacing the acid before with very limited success. Some of these are showing age with slightly bulged cases also. Not alot of spare parts and the dealer gives you a better price when exchanging them for new.
The new generation of T-105 batteries from U.S. battery look very promising, they should with care, last longer than the first bank.

Alright your forgiven Blob.:beercheer: But does Nadja have a off-grid "pit".:D
First of all Bunkerbob, Nice elect. system, but you gotta know what my first questions are. 1. How are you running 16 panels unless you are bringing them in 24 volts or 48 and using the outback charge controller to throttle them down. What size are your panels ? and oh by the way, my windie thingie is prettier then yours. Look in my avator and you can see it. LOL ,,, No, I do not have a pit. I don't want to go anywhere under ground. I was a guest of the military back in '65-69' Dark places underground give me the ibbie jeebies. LOL
 

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We're completely off-grid and have enough solar to run a 10-cf fridge, but I think it would take an awful big system to run those two air conditioners of yours.

Will this camp be in the dry part of Texas or the humid part? If it's the dry part, could you switch to swamp coolers? They take less power.

Can you design and build the cabin/cottage/camphouse to have good air circulation to cut down on or eliminate the need for air conditioning? What about thick walls (adobe?) and/or lots of insulation? Earth-sheltered, to take advantage of the cooling effect of the earth? (And keep warmer in winter months).

It IS possible to put in enough solar to run the air conditioners if you have the money to do it. Wind turbine would depend on whether you have steady reliable wind over 5 to 10 mph.

Our solar power system is adequate for our needs, but simple. Others on here know more of the technical stuff, and people like bunkerbob have the experience! :)
GypsySue. This may be a surprise to you and all out there, but was told just last week of a new ac unit (small) that will work on a med sized solar system. Was told this by a local solar guy. Will do some checking on this a little closer next week if I remember. I make a list for my wife when treking into town, get to the store and have to call her because I forgot my list...... Yup, I am getting mighty old.
 

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Jack of all trades?
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GypsySue. This may be a surprise to you and all out there, but was told just last week of a new ac unit (small) that will work on a med sized solar system.
I have a small 5,000 btu ($92 at wally world) that only draws 480 watts on the "Kill-a-watt". I also have a trace 1500 watt (mine is the Trace 1524, not 1512) and I am curious to know what size window unit it can handle. I will have to hook up the 5,000 btu window unit to the Trace 1524 and see what the amperage draw from the battery is.
 

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The wanderer
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GypsySue. This may be a surprise to you and all out there, but was told just last week of a new ac unit (small) that will work on a med sized solar system. Was told this by a local solar guy. Will do some checking on this a little closer next week if I remember. I make a list for my wife when treking into town, get to the store and have to call her because I forgot my list...... Yup, I am getting mighty old.
Yes, that's a suprise to me, but then I have no need for air conditioning in NW Montana (where it's been in the pleasant 60s and 70s all week!) and don't pay any attention to what's available in air conditioners! :D

What I DID notice is that the OP says he wants to run two 950-watt air conditioners, on solar if possible. That's quite a load, even for 'only four days max.' at a time.

So my comments to him were based on what he was wanted to do with what he had and listed. However, there are people reading this who are in climates where air conditioning definitely makes life more bearable, and I'm sure they'll be interested in that information!
 

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YourAdministrator, eh?
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Again Naekid, sorry but I never recommend things I have seen so many people have trouble with. Nadja
'tis alright.

I was basing my recommendation on the ease of finding the deep-cycle RV batteries and the fact that they are fairly inexpensive. I have been running two 6-volt batteries in series on my camping trailer for a couple years now and have had no issues with their quality or their reserve capacity.

For the OP's question about starting on his quest for power in his camp that is 12-miles from town by boat, I figured that it would be sufficient for a weekend getaway that could be expanded upon easily enough as time and funds allowed.
 

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First of all Bunkerbob, Nice elect. system, but you gotta know what my first questions are. 1. How are you running 16 panels unless you are bringing them in 24 volts or 48 and using the outback charge controller to throttle them down. What size are your panels ? and oh by the way, my windie thingie is prettier then yours. Look in my avator and you can see it. LOL ,,, No, I do not have a pit. I don't want to go anywhere under ground. I was a guest of the military back in '65-69' Dark places underground give me the ibbie jeebies. LOL
The 20-160watt 24v panels on the rack are wired as pairs in series for the controller, the next 2-160watt and 2-205watt panels on my roof are wired in parallel for the Bergey control panel. Plenty of charging power, up to 70amps indicated on the Outback controller.
The Bergey XL-1 turbine has been running for about 10 years now without a hiccup.
I guess a Cadillac truck is prettier than my Dodge, but....:D

The "pit" is all but dark, plenty of light, and even a growing area for plants and veggies.:flower:
By the way just replaced 12 of my 40 batteries in my bank with the new T-105 U.S. Batteries, some of the old ones were 9 years old, regular maintenance and equalizing is the ticket. The battery store wanted $115 each, got them down to 6 for $500 cash, exchanged.
 
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