Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chapter 14...Our Solar Set Up

Off Grid...Chapter 14

Hi everyone. "Our Solar Set Up"

This chapter is mostly about our solar "Off Grid" system and our Wind Generator. Mike has more than 1/2 of our system installed and most of the wiring complete. We are producing some power now but by the end of this week we should be producing "ALL" of our own electric. How cool is that? We are so excited to finally be at this point.

This is a quick basic guide on how an off grid solar set up works. There are 4 main components to make a solar system. The solar modules, the charge controller, the battery bank, and the invertor.

The solar modules(PV Panels) are wired through a charge controller before it goes to the battery bank. The charge controller prevents the batteries from being overcharged and it also eliminates any reverse current flow from the batteries back to the solar modules at night.

The battery bank stores the energy produced by the solar array during the day for use anytime day or night. The battery bank is wired to the invertor.

The invertor is an electronic device that converts 12volt DC into 110AC. It allows the use of all household appliances including TV's, power tools, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and kitchen appliances.

A Wind Generator, which has it's own built in charge regulator, goes directly to the batteries and then through the invertor and into the house.

This is what our system looks like inside the house

This is a break down of our components

The Inverter

Blow ups of our system

This is our Battery Bank of 12 6volt batteries with 225amp hours each.

And our Battery Box

This is our Wind Generator

Our first set os 3 Solar Panels Installed, but not wired yet.

That is basically our whole set up. We will be adding 5 more solar panels for a total of 8 and possibly one more invertor for more amps.

Here is a breakdown of our system components and the costs:

12 6volt batteries $940.00
Battery cables 40.00
8 135watt each Kyocera PV Panels 5200.00
Outback Flexmax 80 Charge Controller 650.00
Air Breeze Wind Turbine 600.00
Poles and anchoring for the wind generator 85.00
Outback VFX2812 Invertor 1950.00
All wiring, panels, and electrical parts 500.00

Back up Honda generator 1800.00

This is a smaller system but with our house being semi underground, extra insulation, white roof, gas fireplace, wood burning stove, and all gas appliances it should supply all the power we need. We can always add to our system if necessary.

Back to our story
Thursday July 24, 2008
Mike has been working on the wiring for our solar system. It's a very slow process. There are a lot of details involved. He has to figure everything out and make sure all the wiring is correct. Since Mike has never done solar before it is very challenging and he is loving every minute of it. He thinks it's so cool because he's never done this before. Mike likes to try things he's never done. Why do you think we are doing this house? He's built regular houses before but never anything like this. I basically stay out of his way, keep him company, and help whenever he asks. Pretty much I'm being "a dutiful" little wife. Ha, ha- sorry that's a joke with us and always makes Mike laugh. Seriously I don't want to disturb or interrupt him while he is working on the electrical. After all I want it to work.

This morning we went to David's and I got to go shopping. Unlike some women, I got all excited about buying seed, straw, and more curlex. Mike says I spend too much money(jokingly). I'm actually really cheap and proud of it. After all, this whole project is a future investment right? We also bought one more wood post and another gate for the side of our house.

When we got home we both got to work. I started working on the back hill again. Yes another hill. I raked it, put seed down, and unrolled 1920 sq. ft. of curlex.

While I was doing that, Mike took a break from the electrical and picked up about 2500 rocks and threw them into the ditch. We don't have a lot of big rocks on our property but we have tons of smaller ones. At least he was able to do something mindless for a little while. Mike really needed a break from the electrical and wiring. He also put seed and straw down on some of our yard. This is what we did today.

Later that night we took out some barbed wire, dug in another wood pole, and installed another gate. Then we redid the barbed wire for that section.

This is where I go to take the dog for hers walks and also where my future garden will be. It was getting old climbing through the barbed wire everyday.

We had to go to Lowe's and pick up more supplies for the house. Mike had to get more electrical supplies and we also got our water heater, toilet, kitchen sink, faucets, some of our plumbing and paint samples for the exterior of the house.

While we were in town we also stopped at the concrete plant. We were told they make pre-formed stackable rock look retaining wall pieces (that's a mouthful-sorry I don't know what they are called). They were closed but we got to see them and they look pretty cool. They are about 3ft x 4ft for each section and they are paintable and stainable. They are also interlocking I'm sure they weigh a ton. We need to stack these at the front of the house "on each side". Then we can fill it in with dirt and we won't have to worry about any washout.

This is where we need these.

We got back to the house and guess what Mike did? You got it, he worked on more elctrical.

The first thing I did was paint the 3 samples on the house to choose a color.

This is the color we chose. It is called Au Lait Ole.

I don't think the color is very accurate on your screen but it does blend in well with our surroundings.

I then helped Mike re-do his brackets for the first set of solar panels. He is mounting 3 panels to 2 brackets. When we finshed that we brought the solar panels up and installed them on the roof. Mike siliconed and bolted them into the roof.

Then he went inside the house and put washers and nut on the 4 bolts.

Mike made his own bracket and mounting system because he knows it's secure. The pre-made brackets that are sold from the solar companies are not secure and the panels can be stolen. We are not really concerned about theft here but you never know what the futre holds.

This evening we started working on our pole for our wind generator. We decided to mount it next to the battery box and also next to the house. Now it will be much closer for all the wiring. Mike dug the hole and I mixed the cement.

We put a 10 foot pole 4 feet into the ground and poured the cement in. Mike also made a bracket to secure the pole to the house.
After that we disconnected the original pole with the wind generator on it which was on our building. We connected that pole and wind generator to the pole that is cemented into the ground next to the house.

Our house is between 3000 and 3500 feet in elevation so we bought a smaller wind generator. We usually have a nice breeze and it's enough to make it turn. With the larger wind generators you need a lot of wind to make them work and they end up motionless most of the time. Mike finished up by hooking the wind generator into our batteries. It's getting dark so now we have to stop.

Lisa and Mike


  1. Just curious ... non of my business I'm sure. Do you folks work "regular" jobs or retired?? The "off the grid" system you have is so cool. I would like nothing better than to NOT have to pay an electric bill.

    1. Mike is retired and I got lucky, lol. We do the house flips and land projects to make money(hopefully) and give us something to do:)

  2. Wow! You guys truly are "Living the Dream"! What a great set up you have. I hope to do the same some day. Thanks for sharing your story and the great information!