Since I have been asked by several of my readers what kind of offgrid electric system I use here on Lee’s Ridge, I’ll explain my system in the hopes that it will save someone who is just starting out a lot of the headaches I’ve had trying to figure things out.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I’ve been completely offgrid for more than 15 years. In the area where I live no outside power is available so if I wanted electricity, I had to make it myself. When I first started information was hard to find and I wound up having to experiment with what worked and what didn’t. Also I had to figure out what was cost effective. Not being particularly affluent cost was and is important.
There is much hype on different websites and other media extolling the virtues of one type of system over another. On Social Networking sites like Facebook, every day I see posts about “how to do this or that for free or a little bit of nothing”, or how to build a wind generator with a car alternator and a fan blade, and if you want to believe that hype, you’re welcome to it. I’m not going to try to sell you anything, just tell you what works for me. Yes, you can buy some of the things you will need through my Amazon links but frankly, I don’t care if you do or not. The commission rate is so small that it will not impact my budget at all. If you do buy through the links on my website, THANK YOU, it helps pay for the website, but do not feel obligated.
My home (humble though it is) consists of 2 buildings. I built it that way for convenience. One building is kitchen and bath, which allowed me to put all the plumbing in one building. The other is living area and bedroom with a small office area. For each building I have a separate solar system.
The kitchen building uses electricity mainly for lights (12 volt RV fixtures). The refrigerators (2) both are propane as that is the most economical and cost effective type. Electric fridges use a compressor which is huge energy consumption. The propane fridges and water heaters can be found at any RV salvage yard for a reasonable price. We also run 12 volt fans in the summer almost constantly.
The kitchen solar system consists of a 60 watt solar array which can be bought from Amazon. The 7 amp charge controller comes with the solar array. I use 2, 6 volt golf cart batteries to store the power until I need it. This provides more power than I have ever used.
The bedroom and office system consists of one 120 watt solar array and one 50 watt panel. I also have a 250 watt wind generator attached to this system. My charge controller is a Coleman Air, C 60 PWM (60 amp). I use 4 golf cart batteries (6 volt wired in a series to produce 12 volts) to store power. I can run this system down if used too much on the numerous cloudy days in a row that we often get in the winter.
The bedroom system powers 12 volt lights and inverters for computers, satellite uplink for internet, modems and routers. We run 12 volt fans in the summer, sometimes all night.
Lest anyone should think I’m a purist about it I also should tell you that I also have a back-up generator which I run to power electric drills, saws, battery chargers (for too many cloudy days in a row), and other things around the place. Oh, I should mention the air conditioner which I run in the evenings when it’s hot and the wife’s vacuum cleaner also require the use of the generator.
My water system for the house is gravity flow from a 1200 gallon tank on the hill above the house which I keep filled with a gas water pump. I also use a gas pump to irrigate gardens from the creek in the summer growing season.
If you look around my site you will find articles about our systems and how we put them together, and other things of interest to an offgridder or anyone interested in living a more independent lifestyle, and a page of links to most of the equipment I’ve described here. If you care to buy through my links; Thank You. I’ll receive a 4% commission.
After doing considerable research and testing I have finally found what I believe to be the best panels at the best price. They have a 25 year guarantee and shipping is free. These are the panels I buy for myself;
Ramsond Mono Crystalline Solar Panels