Installing my solar system has been a long project! I began Bartering years ago with a friend who is a solar installer and we finally completed the system last month.
Above is the solar arbors I built last year (pic on left near the well rig). You can see it's not ideal for sun as its in shade often. The location was a compromise since the best spot was hundreds of feet away. In addition wire had become very expensive and hard to find last year. I had used recycled wire for some of the project. But in retrospect I don't think collecting wire for ten years (and then finding a few pieces not good enough) was the best choice. I would probably just buy as-I-go if I had to do over.
The bulk of the equipment was bought from www.backwoodssolar.com.(BW) They designed the system for free after I send the specs for distance and what my power needs were. They provide incredible customer support, a must for a novice like me.
SYSTEM: 24v-1000w of panels, 200ah battery
I had almost no experience with solar. However I have wired up three houses of my own and did some panel work. Being a novice, I still haven't figured out the programming but its getting there.
Here are some details you might find interesting:
MANUAL GENERATOR CHARGING: I added a sub panel at the generator: 30amp breaker for a cable and plug I recycled and made to fit into generator. This allows me to just 'plug' in the inverter when it needs charging in winter. It also allows me to run another wire from subbox/generator plug to the well. All I have to switch between the two circuits is to toggle the off and ons (the Honda generator also has a switch at plug site which is turned off and on loads to protect demagnetizing at generator).
You can attach a remote wire switch to this honda model but the switch kit was over 400$.
DESIGNATED GENERATOR connect ADDED: I ran a wire from sub-box to a small panel near house to connect generator and my well direct for manual charging. Though I planned to use the gene. to pump the well it wasnt necissary in the end. When we drilled it was only a low flow (100g per day) so I bought a 400 DC solar kit from RPS Pumps. The oversized generator will be a back up in winter to pump well when the new DC well designated system is in.
THREE BUILDINGS ON SYSTEM: My energy needs are small so the system is small.....1000w of panels, 200ah of battery. It can't handle all three building at once running a lot of devices and lights. But so far I power my art studio, guest house and cabin with the system and it works great! UPDATE:In the summer there is endless power, however I run my generator to charge battery about every 3 days from october to march.
INVERTER TOO BIG?? I am still trying to figure things out and can only get so much help from others. I think the inverter is big and seems to use 22w of energy(?). My neighbor claims its better to have smaller inverters. But I do love the Victron durability. I was told by backwoods that it has an eco mode to program so will do that asap.
DAILY USE: My daily use seems to average 90 watts. This amount is used by the following: mini fridge, inverter draw, a few lights carefully used, and movies at night. I use a lot of power tools right now so a few days a week I use more energy....But It is saving me $ on gasoline! I find myself charging every four or five days in April.... and it only needs an hour to charge system. The huge 7000w genie is underused as the inverter only uses about 1500w. Luckily the Honda has a gas saving inverter mode. But a 3000w Honda would have been better for this system.
So far: WITH low use...(1000w, 200ah system) it takes maybe $40 in gas a month. With ethanol free gas getting more pricey, I hope the summer brings more sun and saving.
-big generator might be overkill, though its mentioned on internet to use double your inverter charger #(ex: 3000 w inv/ch then use a 6000 w generator) I found this unecissary and other off grid neighbors who use oversized generators waste a lot of $.
-solar panels maybe should have been in higher light area (but wire cost would have been high)
-saving old wire for jobn(didn't save that much and wasn't always right wire)
-using solar charger from a kit I had leftover didnt make me comfortable so ended up buying a victrom model enabling me to double panels down the rd.
Hi! I am an artist and a carpenter living in the woods of Washington! This is my off grid story.
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