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Small scale off-grid system

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Modeler, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    Hi all,

    I'm currently finishing up a new shed build project and I'm considering power options. It's 10'x16' and will for now just be a garden shed with general storage, boxes, lawnmower, etc. I'd like to have some power for lights and keeping the lawnmower battery charged, etc. It's roughly 130' from the nearest power panel, so running power would be kind of expensive and labor intensive with my rocky soil. Because of that I'm considering some sort of 12 volt system powered by PV and/or wind.

    Does anyone have any experience with setting something up? I don't think I'll need anything more than a single battery and some LED lights. I know I'll need a charge controller if I go PV, do I need one if I go with a wind generator? What would be the best battery to get? What happens to the power generated when the battery is full?
     
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner You'll Never Know Well-Known Member

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    I would go PV. here is a complete system for less than $300 ... Amazon.com : Complete Solar Panel Kit 100W Off Grid:100w Solar Panel+10' Solar Cables+pwm 10a Charge Controller+z Bracket : Patio, Lawn & Garden

    As for batteries, I would buy 12V Marine or RV batteries on sale at Bi-Mart ~$60. Connect them + to +, - to - in parallel. If you want A/C, get and 2000 W inverter and hook that to your 12 VDC batteries for hours of free solar power. A pure sine wave inverter is pricy, but will run everything Amazon.com: Samlex 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter PST-2000-12: Patio, Lawn & Garden
     
  3. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    Adding self to thread to get updates.

    Peter
     
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  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner You'll Never Know Well-Known Member

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    Going all DC is a great idea, thanks SW!!

    I'd still add the inverter just in case you want to run a small power tool out in the shed. I will add that an array of 10 - 12 volt RV Deep Cycle batteries will last quite a long time. Say each battery is rated at 75 Ampere Hours. An array of 10 batteries would provide 750 Ampere Hours at 12 volts. Now, assume there is a 10 amp load on the inverter at 120 volts. That would translate to approximately a 100 amp load on the battery array. Projected low voltage cut out at 10% of remaining battery, that array would last for 6 hours.

    Somebody check my math, it's bee a long time since I played with power systems.
     
  5. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    When I did my enclosed trailer system I bought all my solar stuff from, Solar Panels, LED Lights, 12 Volt Bulbs, Micro inverters

    I run 4 Trojan 6v batteries. I paid for them what I would have for standard deep cycle but a much better battery.

    Go LED and 12v power with as much as you can. It will be way more efficient as others have said.
     
  6. Hook686

    Hook686 Northern California Active Member

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    If all you want is to run a few lights, look at the Harbor Freight 45 watt Solar kit. It comes with all you need (except a 12 volt battery) and is very simple to set up. Look for coupons as the abound (typically 25% off). An inverter is not necessary if all you are looking for is a little light. A good deep cell battery is needed though.

    Solar Panel Kit - Save on this 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit
     
  7. richdav

    richdav oregon Member

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  8. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    I'm really looking at wind mills again.We're supposed to be the sunny spot of the NW but with that we get a constant breeze and some hellasious winds.
    Seems perfect for wind mills
    I went with 2 6v batteries cause they are supposed to have more capacity? I just need to buy a few more
    But all this would make my landlord happy and maybe he won't raise my rent any more,since he pays the power bill.
    Any more links???
     
  9. WhyteCheddar

    WhyteCheddar East of Moscow by the Willamette Well-Known Member

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    Just my 2¢ worth..
    Unless your prime goal is to be off the grid I would still get a quote for sub feeding off your existing panel. You might be surprised at the cost comparison.
    Oh, and don't forget to include the cost of a good grounding system no matter what option you take.
     
  10. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    If I do run power out I'll be doing it myself, so there's no quote to get other than materials ;)

    The overall plan for this portion of the property is the shed out at the back corner of the yard and a greenhouse we got off CL a little bit closer with a chicken run in between. We'll need lighting of some sort in both outbuildings and my wife has always had an interest in off-grid systems, so we're thinking of doing a system for both outbuildings. OTOH, we'll need to run water out to the greenhouse anyway, and trenching another 40' to the shed wouldn't be that big of a deal. I seem to recall that you can't put power and water in the same trench though?
     
  11. WhyteCheddar

    WhyteCheddar East of Moscow by the Willamette Well-Known Member

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    Your local code would determine if you can share the trench but I believe it's more of a commercial/utility issue. If I was doing it myself I'd make a slightly wider trench than you really need, use direct burial wire but still run it through conduit. Separate the power from the water in the trench in parallel fashion, Never run the water line above the power
    And use extra heavy pipe for the h2o. I would also make sure the water line, if pvc is locateable with a tracing wire or better yet equipped with heat trace to prevent freezing if that can be an issue there.


    Full disclosure, I was an electrical designer and drafted for a consulting engineering firm for 11 years, but there are guys here who are far more intimate with ohms law than I am. In my experience in dealing with jurisdictional authorities and contractors and architects and pretty much everyone involved in the construction process, as a homeowner you can get away with a lot of stuff a pro in the field would never be allowed to consider. But e enough doing it yourself it never hurts to get an experienced pro to give your plan a good once over.
    What you are doing sounds like fun. Pictures of the final product would be cool.
     
  12. Brutus57

    Brutus57 Skagit County Well-Known Member

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    Anybody use water power to generate electricity on a local creek, water fall out in the boonies? A small peloton wheel or some such. Yes, I know I am sure there are all kinds of "regulations", but I am thinking more when the rule of regulation fails or for high water times in fall, winter, spring and then use solar wind, summer.

    Brutus out
     
  13. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    Getting professional help with the wiring will be no big deal, both my brother-in-law and my mom's husband are IBEW electricians :)

    Here are a few pictures of the shed. I'm waiting on the rain to stop so I can get out and do a few things, tomorrow is supposed to be nice and a friend is coming over to help me finish everything up. We're going to be putting on the roofing, moving the collar ties 1/3 of the way up the rafters (they're currently at the base) and installing rafter blocking. Maybe building the door too, we'll see how it goes.

    Foundation is PT 4x6 on 10" diameter x 12" deep poured concrete footings:

    IMG_20130926_133118_474_zpsf8909842.jpg

    Flooring is PT 2x6 12" o.c. with 3/4" T&G fir plywood:

    IMG_20130926_181909_042_zps6bc9c408.jpg

    2x4 walls and 2x6 rafters:

    IMG_20130930_181804_393_zpsc691343a.jpg


    The inside:

    IMG_20131003_143245_454_zpsae3170df.jpg

    As it sits now. Hoping to have the roofing on tomorrow!

    IMG_20131003_143304_459_zpsf2f7a217.jpg
     
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  14. Sodbuster

    Sodbuster Beaverton, OR Chief Cook/Bottle Washer

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    Nice. Very nice shed.
     
  15. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    Thanks!
     
  16. Colt Carbine

    Colt Carbine Oregon Gears-N-Guns

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    There is nothing is the Plumbing Code requiring you to do so, since you know some sparky's ask them if it is in the Electrical Code. I do not think there is residentially but there is probably a requirement for the type of cable to be buried when doing so. If you were going to put water and sewer in the same ditch that would be different, from a plumbing code aspect.

    If it was me, I would separate them anyway by at least one foot and put them at different elevations in the same trench, put one off to the side on a shelf. Water piping needs to be at least 6" below the frost line of your area, which is 24" below grade.

    Rather than use PVC as suggested by others, you might consider using a PEX product instead. PEX is far superior than PVC and the tubing will not burst if subjected to freezing temperatures. It does cost more than PVC and does require a special tool to install for the fittings. The beauty of PEX is besides the resistance of bursting due to freezing in can be purchased in rolls rather than 20 ft. lengths, meaning it could be installed from point A to point B under ground without any fittings/couplings/90's.
     
  17. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    Can PEX be direct-buried?
     
  18. Colt Carbine

    Colt Carbine Oregon Gears-N-Guns

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    Yes, it can. It would need to be protected if it passes through cement and/or masonry.
     
  19. Colt Carbine

    Colt Carbine Oregon Gears-N-Guns

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    Home Depot carries PEX, the fittings and the tool for the crimp ring style fittings that they sell.
     
  20. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    I haven't added up the receipts, but here's what I can remember:

    $1955 - Original order for lumber, concrete and galvanized fittings (hurrican hangars, post bases)
    $100 - Fastenings (galvanized 16d nails and stainless 8d nails for the siding)
    $50 - Extra lumber
    $295 - 3-tab roofing, tar paper and drip edge

    Plus $250 for the skid-steer rental and buying the ground fabric (I already had the gravel) and $55 for the laser level and tamper. I still have to buy paint, windows, exterior corner and window trim and door hanging hardware. I'll also have to spend some money on ramp materials, although I haven't decided how I want to do the ramp yet. It's important to note that these prices are with actual plywood instead of OSB. I'm not a fan of OSB.

    And of course there's the requisite "new tool" (a $529 dollar air compressor on clearance for $318) and 150' of air hose.
     
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