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Hi Roger, 

Thank you for this fascinating thread. I've had dreams of off-grid living and self sufficiency probably since being a kid in the '70s and watching the Good Life. Sadly, I'm lacking the skills and increasingly the energy to make it happen, but I can still dream and I like to read on the subject to know what is possible. Despite Tom and Barbara's fictional successes in suburbia, I imagine that a decent sized rural property is ideal for true self-sufficiency ... perhaps 3-4 acres? Just focusing on off-grid living, I suppose that would be easier in suburbia nowadays, with solar and wind power for light, heating, cooking, and entertainment. It's the water supply that does seem to me to present a challenge. A well or a borehole would be great to have, but perhaps a bit difficult in a smallish back garden. I wonder if it would be possible to drill a borehole on a property like mine. How would I find out?

What percentage of your water comes from the well and what from collected, Roger? 

You are an inspiration. 

Best wishes,              

Darren

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Hi Darren

Ref borehole as part of my job in oil and water extraction in the past you need to find geo maps to find what is possible but to give you some idea a 30mt hole today would cost you about 15k if you have good access.

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Hello Darren

                      Basically all our water comes from the well I do have a couple of water butts to catch some rain water but usually finish up filling them from  the tank supply in the summer!!!

I am not sure about a bore hole in your garden but I think a well would be polluted.

Solar panels would ok but a wind turbine would probably need planning permission and they do need to be well above the roof lines etc to catch good wind(remember all the hype about putting one on you chimney?)

They were never going to work as the air is to turbulent  and the vibration noise would drive you mad plus the chimney would probably fall down and kill you in your bed!

Yes you would need 3 to 4 acres to be self-sufficient.

Here is another little mod I did to our gas fire/boiler(its behind the fire)

When I installed it I used a piece of single skin pipe to join the gap between boiler and flue liner so it lets heat into the room!

But then I decided to box it in and installed 2 X 12volt fans at the bottom behind grills on the sides and one grill at the top facing into the room as I reasoned air being pushed past would pick up more heat and push it into the room!

So any time the boiler is on the fans run(simple relay circuit as we have 24volt power all around the Cottage so 2 x 12v fans in series does the job and no electronics needed!)

So my reasoning is our 70/75% efficient boiler is a bit more as some heat would go up the flue is salvaged(and it works as you can see from the thermometer hanging there!)

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45 minutes ago, JohnD said:

Roger,

You could be the last person in the UK to get CoVid-19!

Tucked away in your enclave, you wouldn't have to meet anyone you didn't want to for.... months!

JOhn

Hello John

                  Does that me and the Memsahib can not go to India next Wednesday????

Still if the grim Reaper is after you there is nothing you can do!

Roger

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22 hours ago, Neil T said:

Hi Darren

Ref borehole as part of my job in oil and water extraction in the past you need to find geo maps to find what is possible but to give you some idea a 30mt hole today would cost you about 15k if you have good access.

Hi Neil, 

I didn't know you were involved in oil and water extraction. Interesting stuff. 

I thought I'd probably have to get some sort of survey done, but before such undertaking a look at any geo maps available for my area could save some wasted effort and money. As it is, I don't think it's something I'd consider for me current property, especially at that sort of cost, but if as I hope I one day find a few acres well out in the sticks, I'd definitely look into it. Getting the timing right to move is the difficult bit ... don't want to leave it so long that I'm too knackered to work on the property, but cannot move just yet as I have too much tied up in the area I'm in.  

 

21 hours ago, rogerguzzi said:

Hello Darren

                      Basically all our water comes from the well I do have a couple of water butts to catch some rain water but usually finish up filling them from  the tank supply in the summer!!!

I am not sure about a bore hole in your garden but I think a well would be polluted.

Solar panels would ok but a wind turbine would probably need planning permission and they do need to be well above the roof lines etc to catch good wind(remember all the hype about putting one on you chimney?)

They were never going to work as the air is to turbulent  and the vibration noise would drive you mad plus the chimney would probably fall down and kill you in your bed!

Yes you would need 3 to 4 acres to be self-sufficient.

 

Thanks Roger. A borehole or a well, on the right property, does seem to best bet then. I'd definitely want solar panels on the next property and if there was space a turbine too, perhaps. What percentage of your power comes from those two sources, do you know? 

Lots of 3-4 acre smallholdings for sale in Wales that look appealing to me. I always thought that a mill house with a working waterwheel would be perfect for generating electricity, but such places would no doubt be behind my budget. 

Darren     

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Hello Darren

                     It is difficult to say but we only run the generators for about 200 to 250 hours a year  and they would be charging the batteries at a rate between 80Amp and 10Amp depending on the level of charge in the batteries.

I made 2 solar panels in the early days when they were VERY EXPENSIVE!

I bought the cells loose and seconds(bits broken off) I then made a simple jig to hold them to solder them together.

I then had 2 pieces glass cut to size and tempered.

I then put a blob of silicon on each cell and pressed one sheet of glass onto them.

When it had cured I lifted it out of the jig and put spacers to hold the second sheet off the cells.

I then filled the gap all around with silicon except about 1"  were the cables come out.

I then waited for a good sunny day and positioned them in the sun to get really hot and drive out all the moisture then sealed the gap.

They seem to have a bit of moisture in them now but they are about 20 years old!!!! but they still make the odd amp or two.

Roger

                       

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9 minutes ago, rogerguzzi said:

Hello Darren

                     It is difficult to say but we only run the generators for about 200 to 250 hours a year  and they would be charging the batteries at a rate between 80Amp and 10Amp depending on the level of charge in the batteries.

I made 2 solar panels in the early days when they were VERY EXPENSIVE!

I bought the cells loose and seconds(bits broken off) I then made a simple jig to hold them to solder them together.

I then had 2 pieces glass cut to size and tempered.

I then put a blob of silicon on each cell and pressed one sheet of glass onto them.

When it had cured I lifted it out of the jig and put spacers to hold the second sheet off the cells.

I then filled the gap all around with silicon except about 1"  were the cables come out.

I then waited for a good sunny day and positioned them in the sun to get really hot and drive out all the moisture then sealed the gap.

They seem to have a bit of moisture in them now but they are about 20 years old!!!! but they still make the odd amp or two.

Roger

 

Impressive that you made you own solar panels, Roger. 

I bought a 100W solar panel a few years back, mainly with the intention of learning how to set it up. Then a lot of TR jobs took my focus off it and it's sat in the garage. However, having read your thread, I dusted it off yesterday and having misplaced the charge controller I bought at the same time, I got myself another. It's a 30A controller, which if I have understood what I've read, should be fine for this little project. Anyhow, I've made a little trolley for the batteries and the controller, so I'm now getting ready to wire it up. Fun to experiment!

Darren    

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Hello Darren

                      A 30A controller will be way over the top you will only get about 5 to 6amps @ 12volt

MPPT type are the best as they match the output to the batteries so you get a few more amps

This will explain it.

Probably not worth it for one panel!

https://urjos.com/mppt-charge-controllers-what-is-mppt-and-its-advantages/

All our panels are 80watt you can get them for as little as £60 now 

I think when we bought our first 4 they were £200 + each!!!!

I bought 4 more a few years back for less than we paid for one!

Roger

 

 

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Hello Darren

                      I think you will find the MPPT type are a lot more expensive so may not be worth it for one panel?

I have one of these going spare if you are going to increase your panels it was working when remove but I did a whole system upgrade a few years ago when the original Inverter burnt out

https://solarconduit.com/shop/blue-sky-solar-boost-50l-no-display.html

Probably a bit over kill for you?

Roger

 

 

 

 

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Hello Roger, 

I've had a read up on the MPPT type charge controllers and see what you mean in terms of efficiency. Much better. 

I could be interested in that controller you have going spare, but for the moment I'm just dabbling with this small system. Once I've played a bit and got a better understanding of how things work, I'll certainly think about building a larger system. It would become more urgent if we moved to the sort of property I'd like, but that's a little way off yet.

Best wishes, 

Darren

 

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  • 1 year later...

Hello All

              A bit of an update and a 24volt alternator question

Well as I said earlier the old 8-1 generator had burnt out.

I was thinking of buying another generator this time I liked the look of a Perkings unit @ 7Kw it is a nice 3 cylinder diesel running at 1500rpm and water cooled.

I was at the point of placing an order £4800!!!!!! then I thought one last look at the old 8-1(we have been together for 46years!)

well I managed to repair the starting circuit(2 sets of windings so it is a Starter and Alternator)

But had no luck with the AC side so then I had a thought why not just fit a 24volt Alternator to it as most of the running time is just to charge the batteries

I had a good look around and bought a 24volt 80amp one of a type that is fitted to Volvo trucks brand new delivered for £78.50:smile:

I have removed on of the vee belts so I can drive it from the Starter/Alternator pulley that runs at 1500rpm and a 3 to 1 ratio pulley so it is running at 4500rpm which according to the makers site would give about 78amps.

Now the question because it starts making power before the Engine is up to a speed were the mechanical govenor takes over and opens a micro switch to drop the starter contactor out it is taking longer to get up to speed and I recon the Alternator is spinning at about 3500rpm which means the the starting current is still being applied which may cause trouble long term?

At the moment it is wirered so the Aternator excitation circuit is powered on at the same time as the starting contactor via a 3 to 4w lamp.

What I want to know is if I altered the wiring so the Alternator does not get the excitation power until the starter contactor drops out(easy to do as another contactor operates.)

But both the Aternator B+ and B- are connected all the time would the Alternator be damaged by in effect switching it on at 3500rpm?

To me it is only the same as turning on a very large load on in your car when it is running at speed!

Roger

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Well outside my area of expertise but....... I'm pretty sure I've seen dire warnings about the risks (to the alternator) of spinning alternators without excitation voltage.  That said, I have done it a few times without melting anything......

Many modern cars (going back to Fords in the late 90s even) had external controls and an extra wire to vary charging loads via ecu control, but I'm not sure how it was done in electrical terms, or whether it could be applied to what you have.  Is it as simple as reducing the the excitation power?  Probably not......

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  • 4 weeks later...

No, specifically intended for PV storage

http://www.frankensolar.eu/download.php?file_uid=f7897cf0-61fb-0694-2550-f7c8ebea0552

but the batteries are only part of an integrated system intended for direct connection to PV panels by the looks

one of these

https://www.bidspotter.co.uk/en-gb/auction-catalogues/robson-kay/catalogue-id-ro10307/lot-59fca831-9c50-4ff7-809c-ad9500b642d1

plus one, two or three of the batteries….. And the panels of course.

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Hello All 

               I think I will stick to a simple system I understand and seems to have worked for us for the last 10 years!

Its a bit like having the latest phone/car/etc not sure it makes sense?

But probably just me being an old fart!

Roger

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