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rws
06-23-2010, 10:48 AM
We got a notice in the mail our electric provider has changed, and the new one is going to enact our Govt's "Smart Grid" crap. Not only does this new company want every type of personal information you could think of (and why would they?) we the customer gets to pay for the new meters! My wife is livid!!!

She wants to go off grid and tell them to stuff it. But convincing her what a change and expense it would be is not easy. There are of course some things we could do to LESSEN or usage, but to totally go off grid is a major undertaking.

So I was wondering if anyone here has tried, succeeded, or partially gone off grid.

Carld
06-23-2010, 11:00 AM
Where are you at and what is the power company?

Tinkerer
06-23-2010, 11:19 AM
Have not went off the grid... but that is BS. Ask them if you move can you take your meter? And if they are going to list "your" meter as their asset.. bet they will be. I know it's futile and in the end you'll get pinch for it.

I know it can run many thousands to get off the grid... or a few hundred for the Amish way of living. Get your wife a new off the grid washer and drier (wash board and line) after a week see if she still feels the same way about the meter. :D

BWS
06-23-2010, 12:05 PM
Our next house will probably be entirely capable of running "off grid".It will be designed from the ground up to simply turn it off,so to speak.Its not that big of an undertaking,mechanically.Our house now is an 1815 retro(that fools folks who really should know better),and have done lots of preservation work.........The problem,if you want to look at it that way is more of the mindset that it takes to "live" off grid.There's so many things that we take for granted.But hey,it keeps my mind out of the gutter thinking up solutions.Best of luck,BW

TGTool
06-23-2010, 12:38 PM
I have a friend in Kansas who lives off the grid. He has some solar and wind generation stored in batteries. He bought used batteries from phone company relay or backup stations in the upper midwest which I think worked out well. One slight snafu was having a battery fall off the trailer somewhere in Iowa which made him responsible for a hazmat situation. :(

A.K. Boomer
06-23-2010, 12:42 PM
Put it this way and it might make you feel better,,,

whether they bill you for the meters or not - YOUR going to pay for them.

Its just a matter of if their going to be upfront about it - or if their going to sneak it in in your monthly bill...

bborr01
06-23-2010, 12:45 PM
RWS,

I have been off grid in my 5th wheel for months at a time, while living in Arizona.

I still have a need to run a small generator at times but get most of my power from a small wind generator and a couple of 140 watt solar panels.

If I were to go with alternative energy on my home in Michigan, I would go with a grid tie system.

That way you can use all of the power you can generate and bank the rest with the power company.

When the alternative system is not keeping up, you draw power off from the grid.

This saves many thousands of dollars on batteries and maint.

I also have solar hot water heat on my home and have had since about 1979.

Hard to say how much this has saved me in dollars, but I have used the solar exclusively for a month without any gas to my water heater and had plenty of hot water for everyday use. This was in the summer when there was plenty of sunshine and the days were long.

The system seldom runs in the winter though.

There is an awareness that comes with making your own power.

You will find yourself wasting a lot less power than you do when the power company is supplying you.

Brian

Vern2
06-23-2010, 01:02 PM
I'm not off grid, but the watt hours I generate, I pull back off the grid at night (running meter backward). Without going off grid I generate all my electricity. Zero out bill. So it cost a mint. I over generate because I can.
http://www.enichesoftware.com/solar/index.htm

Thinking has changed. What can I do with electricity...
Charge electric car.
Put a heating and cooling in shop.
Build a guest house, no electric costs.

Notes:
1) Their is a bill a foot to MAKE electric companies buy back your excess.
2) using batteries is a 50% loss in the two conversions. Don't do it!
a) solar (DC) to batteries
b) batteries to AC (110v)

rws
06-23-2010, 01:03 PM
I live in the Shenandoah Valley in VA, near Winchester. We used to have Allegheny Power, but now it is Rappahanock Co-Op.

While there are things that could be done fairly easily to reduce electric use, to completely sever the tie is a big step. I think of the small things, you know, refrigerators, freezers, A/C, lights.....We heat predominately with wood, but still have that electric when needed.

Solar domestic hot water I think is something very doable. Our cook stove is propane now, we could go with a propane dryer to reduce electric, when we can't hang clothes outside. A/C is the big killer. I'm 55, and when I grew up, we didn't have A/C, and my memory hasn't completely left me. I would rather not go back to that situation.

A grid-shared (tie) system is something I could wrap my hands around, let me generate what I can when I can, and then suck off the grid the rest of the time.

MTNGUN
06-23-2010, 01:51 PM
While there are things that could be done fairly easily to reduce electric use, to completely sever the tie is a big step.

A grid-shared (tie) system is something I could wrap my hands around, let me generate what I can when I can, and then suck off the grid the rest of the time.
You got it. :)

I would love to live off the grid, and could easily do so ........ except for the shop. Powering the shop tools and shop lighting and shop furnaces would require a big generator and lots and lots and lots of fuel.

It makes more sense to pump your homemade power back into the grid, zeroing out your utility bill, but still having the grid there when you need it.

Yeah, dealing with monopolistic utilities suxs. As Lily Tomlin used to say in her AT&T skit, "We're the phone company, and we don't care, because we don't have to."

vincemulhollon
06-23-2010, 02:05 PM
Not only does this new company want every type of personal information you could think of (and why would they?)

Welcome to monkeywrenching. None of their business, and all they're going to do is profit by selling your personal info to marketing companies. You have no moral, legal, or ethical obligation to tell the truth. In fact you have a moral and ethical obligation to lie on that form. Have a good time!

Black_Moons
06-23-2010, 02:31 PM
Going off grid will NOT pay for itself, unless you get SERIOUS goverment grants (Some are avilable depending on area) to foot the cost of the equipment, Infact just solar panels alone (depending on local electricity cost) barly pay for themselfs in the 20 years they are stated to last.
.. Not counting cost of converters, batterys, energy lost in conversion, etc etc etc.

That said, you pertty much HAVE to convert over to:
Gas heating, Gas stove, Gas hot water and gas cloths dryer to even consider going off grid. It would cost SERIOUS money to get enough off grid electricity and inversion capability to run any of those.
Heating: 20~40A, Stove, 40A, Hot water: 20A, Cloths dryer 30A
and thats at 240v, Basicly each one will use more then the rest of your house combined, assuming your tools don't come on.

a generator is pertty essential as well, for well, any tools or large loads you have left over, and for incase its just not winding/bright enough for long periods of time. And generators cost a LOT more in gas to produce electricity then the power company charges you.

Re: Monkeywrenching
Love it! haha, I do that all the time on online registration forms. Fake address, fake name, phone number, Fake everything but my e-mail and password required to register.

Being the power company you might want to give them a real name, but then again the power company here did'nt mind sending bills to my dead mom for years after she died.

danlb
06-23-2010, 07:25 PM
Going off grid will NOT pay for itself, unless you get SERIOUS goverment grants (Some are avilable depending on area) to foot the cost of the equipment, Infact just solar panels alone (depending on local electricity cost) barly pay for themselfs in the 20 years they are stated to last.
.. Not counting cost of converters, batterys, energy lost in conversion, etc etc etc.

That statement is not universal. It depends on where you live, how much you use, what you choose to install and what you get back from the utility.

Here in central California we have a tiered rate. The highest rate (which I hit every month) is 40 cents a Kwh. I used 180 kwh at that price last month.

If I got a device that generated 180kwh a month which cost less than $70 a month to pay for, then I'm ahead of the game.

A little math says that if I can buy a 1.35 KW grid tie unit it will generate around 180 Kwh per month (4 hours a day of quality sunshine). Assuming that my power company would actually offset my energy use (probably won't) I'd save $70 a month because I would not be buying the most expensive power. If I could buy a solar system like that for under $5600, the purchase price would be covered in 7 years.

Oh! Look! there is such a device.
ASG Power 1.3 kW GT Schott Kit - All American - $5,577 http://www.affordable-solar.com/asgpower-1350-watt-schott-grid-tied-kit.htm

If I lived in an area where the power was cheap, it would not work out as well. If the power was not tiered, it would not work out as well either. If I could get my wife to agree, it would already be on the roof.


Dan

wierdscience
06-23-2010, 08:37 PM
I live in the Shenandoah Valley in VA, near Winchester. We used to have Allegheny Power, but now it is Rappahanock Co-Op.

While there are things that could be done fairly easily to reduce electric use, to completely sever the tie is a big step. I think of the small things, you know, refrigerators, freezers, A/C, lights.....We heat predominately with wood, but still have that electric when needed.

Solar domestic hot water I think is something very doable. Our cook stove is propane now, we could go with a propane dryer to reduce electric, when we can't hang clothes outside. A/C is the big killer. I'm 55, and when I grew up, we didn't have A/C, and my memory hasn't completely left me. I would rather not go back to that situation.

A grid-shared (tie) system is something I could wrap my hands around, let me generate what I can when I can, and then suck off the grid the rest of the time.

I would ditch the electric hot water heater and buy a demand gas unit to replace it.Solar is nice,but you do runout of hot water fairly quickly depending on gallonage and use and the recovery time is slow.Not a problem with a gas heater.I replaced mine and the neighbor did his.$30 worth of electricity was replaced by $10 worth of propane with no luke warm experiences.

danlb
06-23-2010, 09:31 PM
Going completely off grid is a problem for home shops simply because our toys tend to be power hungry. You need to have not only enough power to take care of household needs (lights, cooking, etc) but you need storage to handle days at a time when you have insufficient wind, sunlight, etc.

Then you look at a good sized lathe pulling 10 amps, or a welder pulling 20- 50 amps. To put that in perspective, my whole house typically uses 15 amps, 35 when cooking. An hour in your shop may use as much power as a whole afternoon for the rest of the house.

Energy storage takes many forms. Hot water, heated rocks, batteries and gasoline are all forms of stored energy. If you go off grid you will need a sizable generator to get you through the doldrums. But that's OK, since you can use the generator to power your shop tools and not deplete your batteries. Some folks compromise by getting off the electrical grid but keeping Utility provided gas. That's not really off-grid, but it does allow an automated generator that will kick in if the batteries start to go low.

There are many 'homepower' forums that discuss the issue.

Good luck

Dan

Too_Many_Tools
06-23-2010, 09:33 PM
Anyone with a home shop off grid?

If so, I would like to hear how it was done.

TMT

CCWKen
06-23-2010, 09:39 PM
If the proposed "Cap & Tax" bill passes, everyone will be moved to the smart grid system. And you'll be responsible for the "upgrades". It appears to work similar to some of the trial "regulated thermostat systems", for air conditioning, being used in some large cities. The thermostat is controlled by the power company. If your house gets below 78-79 degrees in the summer, the power company starts cutting the "on-time" of the air conditioner. On the smart grid system, If you start using too much power, the system will start shutting off outlets in your house until the level of consumption is below a certain kW/h. But, of course, you'll be able to pay a "fee" to use more than your fair share of electricity in addition to a higher kWh rate. :cool:

wierdscience
06-23-2010, 09:48 PM
This is why among other reasons I want a recipricating steam genset and a soild fuel boiler.Wood grows on trees and we have tons here rotting everyday.

danlb
06-23-2010, 10:16 PM
What cities actually have the ability to cycle your AC? I've heard of volunteers who have set that up, but no wide spread deployments. Businesses will sometimes opt for a lower rate in exchange for promising to run off generators during heavy demand periods, but that's not automated either.

The smart meters they are installing here can report usage back to the power company. I don't see anything that says that it will remotely turn anything on or off.
It might be able to turn off the power to the whole house, but I've not seen where it says that explicitly. Model focus axr-sd

Dan

huntinguy
06-23-2010, 10:37 PM
What cities actually have the ability to cycle your AC? I've heard of volunteers who have set that up, but no wide spread deployments. Businesses will sometimes opt for a lower rate in exchange for promising to run off generators during heavy demand periods, but that's not automated either.

The smart meters they are installing here can report usage back to the power company. I don't see anything that says that it will remotely turn anything on or off.
It might be able to turn off the power to the whole house, but I've not seen where it says that explicitly. Model focus axr-sd

Dan

It has been experimented with in Kalifornia for A/C units. It is part of the cap and trade legislation (that will mandate the system). The smart grid technology allows that. If you start to learn about the new energy smart appliances you will find that they can be remotely controlled.

I don't know for sure if this is how they will do it but, IP over Power has been around for years. When I was in school for IT we had the ability to turn of and on computers via cat5 or IP over Power if it had the correct hardware. That correct hardware is what is being installed the all the new energy smart appliances.

some reading ; http://www.marketwatch.com/story/california-smart-grid-center-completes-successful-demonstration-test-of-wireless-pneumatic-thermostat-retrofit-solution-from-cypress-envirosystems-2010-06-03

"Once installed, the thermostats enabled remote control and monitoring of zone setpoint, temperature, and branch pressure (heating or cooling demand) via an operator station. The system can also interface with existing automation systems using BACnet, and has a built-in interface compliant with the OpenADR protocol developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, which allows communication with utilities for Auto-Demand Response. This interface allows buildings to automatically curtail electricity use during periods of high demand (by increasing the setpoint temperature for thermostats, for example). "

CCWKen
06-23-2010, 10:46 PM
A pilot project was implemented in San Antonio, Texas last year. It was strictly voluntary. I haven't heard of much feedback on the system. Maybe they couldn't get enough folks to stay on it. I wonder why. We had 90+ days over 100 last year. :eek:

CCWKen
06-23-2010, 10:55 PM
Oh yeah, forgot to mention - You will be mandated to install the "net enabled" wall outlets in your home. The power company will then be able to monitor usage and load remotely. And guess who has the patent rights to the wall outlets that you will HAVE to buy? The fine gentlemen that have proposed and written the bill. :D

ammcoman2
06-24-2010, 10:15 AM
Our local utility, Toronto Hydro has a peak saver system for AC units:
http://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/electricityconservation/residentialconservation/Pages/peaksaver.aspx

I haven't taken this option up yet. The $75 credit is the only incentive, but it will work if enough folks feel that the environment is important.

Geoff

P.S. we have time of day meters now so off-peak rates are half that of peak rates

rws
06-24-2010, 11:31 AM
Oh yeah, forgot to mention - You will be mandated to install the "net enabled" wall outlets in your home. The power company will then be able to monitor usage and load remotely. And guess who has the patent rights to the wall outlets that you will HAVE to buy? The fine gentlemen that have proposed and written the bill. :D


I believe you are right about that. This whole Smart Grid is backed by GE. GE is heavily invested in the ObamaCare system too.

ObamaCare...Cap and Trade......GE......Who is one of Obama's biggest energy advisers.....Jeff Imelt........GE CEO..........and huge campaign contributors....GE..........by golly I think there is a pattern here........

Vern2
06-24-2010, 12:20 PM
I'm total electric. I'm generating all my shop power. How about 1,800 KWH a month. Take a look at what I'm producing (day, month, year).

Solar panels (Sunpower) guaranteed 25 years. Inverters (SMA) guaranteed 10 years.

Cap and tax, bring it on.

https://www.sunpowermonitor.com/residential/kiosk.aspx?id=811CFD16-7605-4C98-B2C4-773C5426EDF6&type=address

danlb
06-24-2010, 06:17 PM
I'm total electric. I'm generating all my shop power. How about 1,800 KWH a month. Take a look at what I'm producing (day, month, year).

Solar panels (Sunpower) guaranteed 25 years. Inverters (SMA) guaranteed 10 years.

Cap and tax, bring it on.

https://www.sunpowermonitor.com/residential/kiosk.aspx?id=811CFD16-7605-4C98-B2C4-773C5426EDF6&type=address


OK. I'm impressed. You are generating almost 2 megawatt hours per month. Even I would have problems using all of that. :)

Are you battery backed or grid tied?

Thanks

Dan