I appreciate you taking the time to put together and make available this information on going off the electric grid.
Hi Chris, Thanks for watching. Glad you found it helpful!
Hi Nick, I hope you don't mind me posting here, I couldn't figure out how to create an original post, all that seems available is a reply to post comment. 🙂
Thank you so much for putting this together; it is a real gift and I am learning so much already! I was just curious about the fan you have to vent the hydrogen off gassing. How do you prevent that opening to the outside from chilling or heating your batteries?
Thanks so much!!! Excited to learn more. Kristi
p.s. to previous comment - I forgot to ask if there's a broken link to the excel file? it comes up blank for me. thanks for creating a calculator for us!
got the calculator excel file 🙂 sorry for the confusion it worked. curious about the temp control though when you have a moment. thanks so much!
Very good video. Have background in electronics, but this was still very helpful. Will be going off grid this summer.
Looking forward to seeing your next video.
Hi William, Glad to be of help. You will enjoy going off the grid. It really is an awesome feeling to be energy independent. Have fun!
Thanks for making this video. What is you opinion of nickel iron batteries?
Hi Eric, You are welcome! I think nickel iron batteries have some excellent qualities, such as long lifespan and they handle deeper discharging better than lead acid batteries (can consistently use 70% of the battery's capacity, while it is recommended to only use 50% of a lead acid battery's capacity). One concern that is often raised about them is their efficiency, which can be as low as 50-70% (i.e. for every 100 watt hours you put into them, you only get 50-70 out). Some claim that the efficiency is higher than that, but I would want to see proof.
But regardless of that, the major issue I have with nickel iron batteries is the extremely high up front cost. To give you a comparison, a 24 volt, 804 Amp Hour GB Forklift battery runs less than $2,500 delivered. I just priced a comparably sized nickel iron battery (24 volts @ 900 Amp Hours) for over $15,000 including shipping! That's a lot more than our entire power system cost! While you could probably use a smaller nickel iron battery (due to deeper discharging each cycle), it isn't going to get the cost even close when you are talking about a difference of $2,500 vs $15,000.
I'm not necessarily arguing that they are bad batteries, just that they are cost prohibitive for most. Just my 2 penny's worth.
Find you videos very helpful. Thank you. I would make one suggestion.
The way your video is set up, I can not back up if I was not sure of what you just said. I have to listen to the entire video again. Or if I want to listen to a particular part of the video, I can not fast forward to just that section. If there is anyway to make the video so we can fast forward or reverse, that would help a lot in reviewing the details that you present.
Appreciate your work.
Thanks for the clear video and the useful info.
I looked for GB forklift batteries and found a laaarge table of batteries (http://gbindustrialbattery.com/Forklift_Battery_Sizes_and_Specifications_Zone15.html).
Is the 805 AH model you suggest a 24 or a 48 V battery?
Hi Clyde, You are welcome--thanks for watching. The GB forklift battery I mentioned is model # 12-85-13. It is 24 volts and is 804 Amp Hours at the 20 hour rate (if you are not familiar with 20 hour rate vs 6 hour rate, just say so--I didn't have time in this video to cover that). However, I am not necessarily recommending that particular size over another. It all depends on what your needs are, and that is where the battery size calculator comes in handy (may be downloaded on this page above).
Hope that helps!
I am curious where the forklift batteries are made. I am in the excavating business and several years ago I imported some machines from Japan. Some were sold and I kept some. I just recently replaced 4-12 volt batteries that lasted 16 years. They are regular car batteries. Two more will need replacing this year which will make them 17. They are Yuasa and GS brand. I could buy them about 15 years ago here in WV but can't find them anywhere. I did no maintenance at all on them. The quality is far beyond anything that the USA makes as far as car batteries. Thanks!
Hi Van, Thanks for sharing that info. Very interesting. The GB Industrial batteries are made in USA. GB is not the only company out there, they are just one of the more cost effective options. Crown and Deka are a couple other brands, but are more expensive. The problem with car batteries is they are shallow cycle. So while they may last many years in a car which should never discharge them very deeply, we could quickly destroy them in an off grid application where we are regularly discharging them deeply. But it would be interesting to find if that Japanese company made deep cycle industrial batteries and if they would be reasonably priced. I'll have to keep my eyes open. Thanks!
This has been the easiest and best explained for a beginner like me. THANKS
Hi Joel, Thanks for your comment and I'm glad this was helpful to you!
Excellent video, Nick. Thanks! I'm new to the offgrid idea and was completely ignorant of batteries. I'd love to go off grid but think we consume waaaay too much energy to make it affordable and it also seems very complex. We are trying to cut back, but our last month bill was still absurd (2314KWH consumed!).
I hope to know if we can make it happen after your series.
May God bless you for helping people like us!
Hi Ryan, Thanks for your comment. At 2,314 kWh per month, you are over twice the national average, so unless you are doing some exceptional things that require enormous amounts of power, I would suggest you do some investigation to see if your power bill is correct. Another possibility could be if some large equipment is malfunctioning and running full time.
Anyhow, in the next video I'll show you around our home and you can get a taste of what it's like to live off the grid on less than 2 kWh per day (or 60 kWh per month)! You might be surprised. And I'll cover some strategies you can use to dramatically reduce your power usage. So maybe we'll be able to come up with some workable strategies for you.
Nick, Thank you for the video and your insight. I've been off-grid since 2012 and would never go back. Through my company, Independent Energy Systems out of Carewood, ID, I am the local Central Boiler outdoor wood furnace dealer. I also am a dealer for Solar One HuP batteries (which I use in my setup) and Iron Edison NiFe batteries. Thanks again and I look forward to more videos.
Was nice to see the L16 vs. Forklift comparison.
Do you know of any reason not to use a battery desulfator in these systems? Our neighbor brought this device to our attention. He had installed one on his system, and increased his battery life (L16) from 6 to 12 years.
The device usually costs about $30 or so, and can be had in different voltage levels to match the system at hand. It take a little power from the battery, and then returns it in a higher-voltage "ping" that cleans the sulfate off of the plates, like a micro-equalization.
Installation is extremely simple, and maintenance of the desulfator is basically zero. It reduces the frequency of standard equalization required. If it does indeed increase the life of the battery bank by even a few percent, it would pay for itself handsomely. So, it would seem that it would be standard equipment in every battery box.
What are your thoughts?
Hi Christopher, Thanks for your question. I think desulfators are an excellent item in your battery tool kit. I personally use one on my battery bank and my dad does too. Some claim they see little to no improvement, but I have heard really remarkable reports about one particular desulfator--the Battery Life Saver. That is the one we use.
There are only 2 situations I know of where a desulfator might not be a good idea. One would be with a brand new battery. There are questions about whether a desulfator might void the warranty. Not sure, but something to check on. And there is not as much reason for using it on a brand new clean battery. The other situation is if you notice strange things going on with your charge controller. I have not heard of very many occurrences, but there are a few folks who have encountered issues where their MPPT (maximum power point tracking) charge controller doesn't allow the solar panels to charge as much, and once they disconnected their desulfator, their solar power production went up significantly. We have not encountered that, nor have I heard of anyone using the Battery Life Saver brand who has experienced that. But just tuck that away in case you find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out a strange anomaly.
Thank you very much for your genuine love in making and providing this(soon to be these) very informative and extremely simple to follow videos. I'm looking forward to the next one.
May God bless you.
will these videos be available to buy after they are all finished?
Hi Dale, Thank you for your question. At least for the present, we don't have plans to sell these videos. They are our free gift to anyone interested in going off the grid! However, if you are interested in purchasing further in-depth training about off grid systems, our full "Off Grid Boot Camp" training course will be available very soon and covers quite a bit more than we have time to cover in these videos.
Hi, Nick. Say hi to your dad. What do you think about a re manufactured fork lift batt.
Hi Kenny, No matter what kind of battery, brand new is definitely my first choice, since the lifespan of the battery is directly related to how it was used (or abused) and maintained.
Having said that, if my budget was such that a new battery was out of the question, then the only used battery I would really consider paying much of anything for is a forklift battery. "Refurbished" is a variable term that can mean different things to different people, so I would make sure you know exactly what was done to "refurbish" the battery. It is possible that all they did was change the electrolyte (battery acid) and paint the case (maybe not even all that). In that case, you might not be much better off than you would with a plain old lightly used forklift battery that's in good shape. Or it could be that they put it through an extensive reconditioning process that really does some good. You won't know until you find out. The other thing that is nice about a refurbished or reconditioned battery is that it will usually come with some sort of warranty. It would be unusual to find a used battery with a warranty.
Bottom line...if your budget dictates a used battery, then proceed with caution and try to get the help of someone who is good with batteries to help you evaluate it (unless you are good with batteries yourself).
Hope that helps. Take care!
Thank you Nick.
I'm having trouble with the calculator. Could you email the excel.file or post the formula?
Thanks in advance for any assistance
Hi Kim - Sure, no problem.
Please add me to your mailing list. Thanks. God Bless
Consider it done!
Thanks, Brother! God bless you richly for your unselfish sharing!
Nick this is awesome! I can't wait to see the rest of them.
You are truly being true to your calling to help others prepare...
Let us know how we can help you promote these 🙂
Hi Donna, Thanks for watching and for your feedback. I'll send you an email to discuss. Thanks!
Charles (Dan) Agnew
ARE PEOPLE USING A THIS TYPE OF OFF GRID SYSTEM FOR RV'S? WE HAVE A FIFTH WHEEL. WE ALSO INTEND TO PUT A SYSTEM IN OUR HOME.
Hi Charles, Yes, almost all RVs have some sort of alternative energy system. Usually it's a small bank of batteries that are charged by a generator and/or perhaps charged by an alternator that is connected to the main engine. However, there are a growing number of people RVers who are mounting solar panels on their roof to charge the batteries.
I like your idea of forklift batteries.
Can suitable forklift batteries be maneuvered into position by human beings, or must heavy equipment be employed?
Can't forget the practical angle…
Thanks for your question. While it is more difficult to move a 1,200 pound forklift battery than it is to move a 120 pound L-16, there are some things you can do to make it quite feasible. Here are the top five options that come to my mind, with #5 being one of the most important.
First is to choose a location for your power room that is easily accessible.
Second, if you or a neighbor have a medium sized farm tractor with a front loader, you'd be amazed what you can do!
Third, short sections of small steel pipe may be placed under the forklift battery to roll it on a solid floor (we and many others have used this to great advantage).
Fourth, even a come-along can be very useful in moving or lifting a heavy battery (of course, this is within limits and may not apply if you go with a very large forklift battery, but we carefully used one to lift ours).
Fifth, when ordered from a dealer that is used to working with off grid customers rather than warehouse forklift applications, it is possible to order some of these forklift batteries with removable cells, where that 1,200 pound battery could be split up into 12 separate pieces, each weighing not much more than 100 pounds.
That begs the question of where can I find such dealers? Here are a couple that carry the GB forklift batteries and are familiar with ordering removable cells:
-Quality To Last
-Stoves & More
Canice John from Canada
very informative and comprehensive, thank you
Can't get it to play
Hi Ralf, Sorry for the difficulty you are experiencing. You might try closing your browser and re-opening it. Sometimes if a browser has been open for a long time it gets bogged down and may have trouble playing a video. The next step would be to try re-booting your computer. If neither of those get it playing, please let me know and we'll try troubleshooting further.
Have known people who bought batterys from the phone company, have you heard of this? Would this be a good starting point?
Hi Doug, I don't have first-hand experience with telephone company batteries, so this is just what I have picked up from others. From what I understand, they are usually built for intermittent use. This means they are excellent for sitting unused for long periods of time and can last much longer than most batteries when used that way, but if used continuously (as they would be in a typical household) they may not hold up so well. So it all depends on what you are needing.
Great information. Perfect timing for me. God REALLY IS ON TIME. The things you shared are exactly what was shared with me in the past 2 weeks as I have been learning about the solar system energy source. I did not see the calculator on the site. Can you please send it to me?
Hi Rochelle, So glad to hear that this was helpful to you. Sorry about the calculator. It should be below the video and should have appeared about the time when I mentioned it on the video, but if you were skipping around, that may be why it didn't appear in time. No worries, though. I'll email it to you. 🙂
Thank you for originating this series. Very informative.
I am from South Africa and there is a very dire need for consumers moving to alternative energy sources. Escom is our national power utility and is facing huge challenges in providing power to the nation. Escondido practices intermittent power cuts for about 2 hours 3 days a week ( in South Africa, we call this "load shedding"). This is mostly done at peak times.
Needless to say that the majority of the consumers are ignorant about alternative energy sources. I, in particular have practiced as an engineer for many years and now I am involved in education and training in the VET.
I have written a few manuals that we use for training purposes and I must say that your series really compliments my manuals.
Again, thank you for this wonderful series.
Hello Sachinder, Thank you for your fascinating comment. It is always interesting to hear what is happening in other parts of the world. Even though it seems hard for most Americans to imagine, I could see us being in a similar or worse situation before too long. Time will tell. It really does give one peace of mind to not be depending on such entities for an important commodity like electricity. "More power to you" in educating your countrymen about how to become independent for their utilities!
hi. thanks for your willingness to help others!
what are the decisive factors in choosing a 24 volt or 48 volt system?
Hi Evelyn, I'm assuming you are asking why 24 or 48 volts would be better than 12 volts? There are a number of reasons. One reason is that you can have a larger battery bank with 24 or 48 volt systems without running into complications. Another is that when you double the voltage, the current (or amperage) is cut in half. That means that you can use smaller wire, or run wire of the same size a longer distance. It also means that components in your power system will be able to handle more power. For example, let's take a solar array that is 1,800 watts. With a 12 volt system it would require that you purchase 2 charge controller, where a 24 volt system (or 48) would only require one.
I like 24 better than 48 for most small to medium power systems because there are more DC appliances available in 24 volt options than 48 (but that is steadily improving). The other reason is that a 48 volt system requires a minimum number of batteries in order to add up to 48 volts, and if you are going with large heavy duty batteries, it may be that 48 volts requires you to purchase a larger battery bank than your needs actually require. But if you are putting in a large system, than 48 volts is definitely the way to go!
please email the calculator... it doesn't show up on the screen. thanks you!
Consider it done 🙂
What a phenomenal video! I learned a lot and much of it will apply to my two Studebakers, one of which has ongoing battery issues due to lowrider hardware on board.
My question will probably come up in a future video, but I'll ask it anyway. It seems like most electrical items in the house run on either 9 volt, 12 volt, 120 volt, or 240 volt. How do you run things on 24 volts? Do you buy all new items that run on 24 volt, or do you step the voltage up to 120 volts? Also, is everything run on DC, or do you convert the DC to AC?
Hi John, Thanks for your comment and I'm glad you found this video helpful. Most appliances in a home are set up to run on 120 volts AC from the power company. So we use a quality sine wave inverter to invert the low voltage DC power from the batteries into 120 volt AC power that is just as clean if not cleaner than what you get from the power company. DC appliances are generally more efficient, so you certainly can run them off your battery bank if you wish, but they are also usually more expensive than their conventional AC counterparts. The three most common DC appliances found in off grid homes are water pumps, refrigerators/freezers, and ceiling fans. There certainly are other miscellaneous items, but those are probably the most common. And for those items, there are a variety of quality 24 volt options. While it is true that there are a host of 12 volt appliances out there, much of them are made for the RV market (read: temporary use on vacation) and in my opinion are cheaply made and are not the greatest for continuous use in a year-round home. I know that not all 12 volt appliances are cheap, but a lot of them are. I find that most of your 24 volt appliance are generally of a higher quality, being made for continuous use in an off grid home rather than in a travel trailer. But if you ever needed to run a 12 volt appliance from a 24 volt battery bank or vice versa, there are many converters out there that can step the voltage up or down.
Nick: Thanks for the great reply. That brings up another couple of questions. #1) do you take the battery bank output, run it through an inverter, and then directly to a circuit breaker panel which would then have separate circuits like a "regular" house?
#2) I assume you have to run separate house wiring for 24 volt appliances. Do you then have separate electrical outlets that are 24 volt only, or is everything hardwired?
#3) I like the hydrogen gas venting in the battery area, but I am concerned if the fan ever goes bad or loses it's power source. Possible explosion hazard? Maybe some kind of alarm is warranted?
Hi John, Yes to #1. Your wiring setup in an off grid house is essentially the same as an on-grid home with the exception that the main breaker box will be fed with power from your inverter rather than with electricity from the power company.
For #2, you would run separate wiring for any DC appliances. Generally you run a separate circuit for each appliance. Each DC circuit originates in the DC disconnect box and has it's own breaker. Generally it is then hard wired into the appliance, but it is possible to wire a receptacle if you need to easily unplug something.
For #3 - The power vent is not always a necessity when the vent is short and mostly vertical, as passive ventilation can occur with the hydrogen being lighter than air. The power vent probably isn't absolutely necessary in the situation shown on the video, but it was installed as an extra precaution. This particular model (made by Zephyr Industries) has a very sensitive check valve and in addition that can be opened with the slightest draft, and in addition, there are some small holes in the valve that will allow passive venting in case of fan failure. If you had a large battery bank or if the slight risk of fan failure concerns you, then it is always an option to install two fans and vents for redundancy.
Hope that helps
please add me to your email list
Nick I saw some battery calculator info and links on this page earlier this morning, but they are no longer there. Could you direct me to those? Thanks! ... and thank you for the awesome work you are doing!
Hi Nathan, Thanks for your comment. Just emailed it to you. Take care!
Thank you so much for this excellent video with straightforward explanation. We have had solar on our roof top for 3 years. Not off grid as we live in town and the extra power is banked in the Xcel grid. We are making about 2X as much as we use as I purchased a watt meter and cut usage back from about 6,000 KWh per year down to 3,500. Of course we have natural gas heat and hot water heater.
I help out at a 1,000-acre spiritual retreat in the mountains here called New Beginnings Ranch which has a restroom, hot showers, washer, and dryer off grid. So I am very interested in how all of this works.
I look forward to watching the other 2 videos
Are the Can-pulsers that come on at 26 volts and put an electrical pulse thru your batteries supposedly to reduce sulphur build up effective ?
Enjoying your presentations they are very good.
Hi Shelley, Are you referring to "desulfators"? If so, I personally use one and know more than one person who has seen some pretty amazing results. There are some people who are skeptical of how well they work, but everyone I know of who uses the "Battery Life Saver" brand seems to have good things to say about it. That's what I use also. Just be aware that you probably don't want to use it on a brand new battery (there are question marks as to how it could impact the warranty). I would use it as you would use medicine--as needed. In other words, if you notice your battery capacity going down and suspect sulfation as the issue. The one exception to that rule would be for an older battery. Why not use it on an older battery all the time and get some additional life out of it? You really don't have much to lose, right?
Is there a way that I can copy these videos onto my computer so I can share them offline with my family?
Hi Lorrie, Thanks for your question. I'll email you...
Great info please add me to your mailing list thanks
Thanks Chris! Consider it done!
Me too please. Or written material if available. Thanks so much.
Hi Ron, You are all signed up to receive updates! Thanks!
I am looking forward to this series. I like the fact that I can easily take notes while you talk because you are not going too fast for me, a newbie at off grid information.
Hi Sara, Thanks for your comment! So glad you have found this video helpful.
We are going off grid in Arizona soon, you answered more questions in these Videos then I got answered in 2 years research. To calculate all the electrical pieces of the puzzle is for most of us complicated. I was looking for straight and simple answers and you truelly came through. Thank you for that. Now my question, how can I download your videos?
Thank you for your help, we surely need it,
Ottmar M Schmidt
Hello Ottmar, Thank you for your comment! That is very encouraging. Well, we have even more coming your way. Tell you what, the player doesn't have a download link, but here is one that should work for you: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD. Bear in mind that this is a large file, so it may take a while to download. Also, you may need to right-click (or CTRL+Click on a Mac) and the link and then select "Download" or "Save File As" or "Save Link As" or something like that.
What about a 12 v for a smaller use say like in a chicken coop? Lights, waterier heaters fans ect
Hi Danny, 12 volts is perfectly fine for small systems, it is just limiting if you ever want to enlarge. But in your particular situation, as long as there is not a lot of power usage, I don't see any reason why it would be necessary or even advisable to go with 24 or 48 volts.
Any insight into Tesla' s new residential battery system for comparison sake?
You are providing a service to all humans that want to become self sustainable and also survive the coming break down of the way we all live. Thank you very much for what you are doing. I will watch all your videos and also do my best to help others. I am going off the grid this summer, building a cabin up in Northern VT or NH still looking for land. I will share all I can from my own experience and hope we all find our way to a better way of life. I am constructing kenitic energy bicycles for keeping me and family fit and at the same time charging the batteries. Look fwd to next videos.
I am unable to register OR watch the video. I have restarted both my android and my laptop, still no luck. I'm also very interested in taking the paid class, when will that happen?
Hi Wendy, Thank you for your comment. So sorry for the difficulty you have had. I just sent you an email to get more detail so we can troubleshoot this and get it working for you. Thanks!
Thank you, Just what I needed! But I couldn't get the register button to work (to put in my email @) Can't wait to get started!!
Hi Barbara, Thank you for watching! Sorry that you had trouble signing up, but no worries--I just manually signed you uo, so you should have a confirmation email in your inbox. Thanks!
I took notes through the whole video and for a woman with no male partner wanting to be off grid....your video was awesome! I have read books and have been confused and overwhelmed. You presented things so straightforward at a good pace. Good job! I too would love to have the formula for the calculation emailed to me if you will please. THANK YOU!
Thank you so much for your comment, Jayne! I'll send you the calculator.
Register me for the videos this way please.
Sounds very interesting.
Two questions. I'm sure these will be of interest to others as well.
1) You refer to not going below 80% charge or 50% charge. But how do does a person know when they are at those points?
2) I can see where it would be easy to accidentally exceed he capacity of the system to provide electricity. What happens when you "go too far"? Do you experience brownouts? Is it possible to damage electrical devices when this happens?
If you reply to this post could you also send me a copy via email? Thank you.
Hi John, Thanks for your questions.
1 - The "gold standard" method for determining battery state of charge is to check the specific gravity (you can use a hydrometer from an auto parts store or I much prefer the "HydroVolt meter" shown in the video. However, that is not a very convenient method for keeping daily track of the system, so for that, you would use a system monitor such as the "Trimetric" meter shown in the video. There are other good ones as well, but it shows you the current voltage of the system and estimates the current battery state of charge as a percentage (i.e. if it says 60%, that means you have used 40% and have 50% left).
2 - 20% state of charge is the point which you never want to let anything fall below. It is possible to permanently affect the lifespan of the battery if you do--especially on a regular basis. It should not affect anything else in the system. However, if you discharge your batteries too far, the voltage could drop so low that your inverter's automatic cutoff would kick in and shut it down as a safety. This is yet another reason why I recommend trying to not discharge your batteries lower than 50%--it gives you a large safety net in case you do accidentally let it go too far. Say you accidentally surpass 50% and find that it is down to 35%. No harm done!
Thank you Nick. You have really stimulated my thinking in actually doing something instead of just 'talking' about it. Our average monthly usage is about 1500 KWH. Max monthly usage looks to be about 2200 KWH. Will an off grid system be 'reasonable' cost wise? I am a Chemical Engineer, retired, and we are on fixed income, from a few sources.
Now, about monitoring battery charge level...can this be automated, so that when the 50% level is reached the system kicks in to recharge the batteries?
We would consider a solar array on the south side of our house, and probably have room for sufficient solar panels. We would also consider wind generation, and fueled generator backup sources. For the fueled source is natural gas a good option? (with natural gas or propane we do not have to be concerned about keeping a small tank on the generator filled with gasoline or other fuel).
Finally, will we be able to buy a detailed how-to video/manual package from you when this 'opportunity/salivating' series is complete?
Hi There Nick. Thank you so much for posting these videos. God has blessed you with experience and knowledge about off grid living and now you are blessing us. My family made the big move from city living to the country, we are so excited to start living off the grid. Thanks again.
thanks for the calculator, it makes it easy! I plan to have a gasoline generator (unless otherwise advised), do I choose it in relation to the battery bank size, the inverter or something else?
Well, there are a number of things to take into consideration when sizing your generator. The basic idea is to come up with a reasonable scenario of how many electrical items could be running at the same time, and then make it a little larger. I like to be able to multitask while running the generator (saves fuel), so a common occurrence in our home is to do laundry during those few times in the winter where we have to run the generator. For instance, you would want to add up how much power for the washer, the dryer, the water pump (since the washer will be using water), the iron (if you iron while doing laundry), some lights in the house, refrigerator, and don't forget the battery charger (inside the inverter). That would be a common way of sizing a generator. However, if you have an especially large piece of equipment that you need to run on the generator, then you should still do the other exercise mentioned above, but if the number you come up with is less that what your large equipment needs, then you would want size the generator for the equipment.
Most off grid home owners find that 5-8 kW is a good size (larger homes might use on up to 12 or even more). Typically the more efficient you are, the smaller your generator needs to be. And you want it to be large enough but not so large that it guzzles fuel needlessly.
Thanks for this series and your wise tips. What is the best way for me to share with my cousin? (a link, forwarded email, downloads, etc?)
Hello Dustin, Probably the best way is the send a link to this page. Be sure and tell your cousin to use the email signup form if interested in receiving similar info in the future.
Thanks so much!
Back on Evelyn's topic of generators, what fuel do you recommend? We have a 1,000-gallon propane tank, which we use for heating water and backup heating, so we could use that also for a generator, but I hate to spread it too thin when it is in short supply. The other choices are gasoline or diesel. What about wood gas? Also, I've heard that a portable generator is better than permanent pad-mounted, because a portable one can be taken to be serviced, rather than having to have the service come to the generator. The pad-mounted, however, can be set up to run automatically, as needed. Thanks.
You know, each fuel option has it's pros and cons. The big advantage to propane is that you don't have to worry about it going bad (like you would with Diesel or gas). Other advantages are cleaner burning, which mechanics tell me results in cleaner oil, less fouling of spark plugs, and longer engine life than gas (all other things being equal). The main advantage to gasoline generators would be the easy availability of gas and the wide variety of selection for generator models (that can also be a negative since many of those models are cheapo!). Diesel, in my opinion, is king--but it comes at a cost. Significantly longer lifespan, generally better fuel efficiency, no ignition system to deal with, and multiple fuels options (such as vegetable oil, bio diesel, and the like). However, all that is going to cost you, sometimes twice as much, sometimes less than that. So in my opinion, I would try to determine how much you will actually be using the generator every year and use that to determine whether Diesel is the best option for you. For me, I only run the generator around 100 hours or less per year to supplement in the winter (and that amount should be greatly reduced this next winter due to more solar), so with such a small amount of operation, it would take me many years to wear out a good quality Honda gas generator. It just would not be worth the extra investment for me to go with Diesel, even though I like it better. If we were running the generator a lot, then Diesel would likely be the best way to go. And some folks go with Diesel just because they like it (in spite of the extra expense) and that is perfectly fine. But for me, it just isn't worth it.
As for why I chose gas over propane…maybe it sounds silly, but it is painful to fill up a large tank of propane, and with a propane generator we would burn through it much quicker. So maybe I'm quirky, but I find it easier to buy smaller amounts of gas a little at a time (even a 55 gallon drum) rather than having to put so much money into propane in one lump sum. 🙂
Great video. I spend 6 to 8 months a year off the grid in my 5th wheel on my mining claim and hope to bye property to be able to go off the grid completely . I have 6 Interstate 6 volt battery s that seam to do very well and 2 solar panels 110 amp with a 550 Onan generator. What do you think of the Interstate Deep cycle 6 volt batters ? I am looking forward to the next videos.
I have a question about the battery capacity information space on the batteries needed space on the spreadsheet. I have 12v battery system set up and want to see how well it is fairing with the things we periodically run off them at out cabin. The battery ratings info I have from the batteries are that they are a 27m 20AH@80 RC150 CCA@ 0* 650. I cannot find what the capacity number is that you refer to on the spreadsheet @ 20Ah amount I should put in. Can you clarify where I can find this number or calculate it from the information I have from the battery?
So my generator choice is not related to battery bank or inverter? It might need to recharge my batteries sometimes.
Your choice of generator size is more a factor of totaling up the power use of all the things you could anticipate running at the same time while charging your batteries (including the charger that is typically inside the inverter). So if you figured up all the appliances you could see running simultaneously WHILE charging, take that number and add to it the maximum power usage of your charger (i.e. if it is 100 amps at 24 volts, then 100x24=2,400 watts).
That is a rough sketch of how to size a generator. The caveat is if you have a particularly large tool or appliance that you need to run on with the generator. In that case then you might need to make the generator larger than you otherwise would (i.e. if you used the method above and found that you needed a 6,000 watt generator, but you needed to sometimes run a large tool that required a 7,500 watt generator then you would go with the larger size). Also remember that it is better to get the generator a little larger than you need. Equipment lasts longer when you are not maxing it out all the time.
Nick! What about Nickel-Iron batteries or Edison batteries? They are practically indestructible, are promoted as "Lifetime batteries" expected to last 100 years, and actually have. As expected, they are super expensive initially, but the fact that their lifespan is so much longer than anything else, makes them the wisest choice if one is truly interested in long term self reliance. For example, the smallest 24 volt, bank is 6kWH, and offered by Zapp Works for $7500.
Have you researched Lithium-Ion Batteries? Are they still too expensive or require too much management to be practical?
Just might have saved me from a big mistake. I was planning on buying the forklift battery, but I will probably be leaving my cabin for up to six months at a time. From what I hear you saying I need to get the sealed batteries.
Your video prompted me to actually look at our power bill. Our lowest month usage was 3200 and highest was almost 10,000 kWh. The largest usage is in summer and is no doubt the pool heater - obviously we could eliminate in a "grid down" situation. We have a 20kw natural gas generator which handles things nicely during the very common winter storm outages. I've been curious if solar, and an appropriate battery bank, could be a 3rd tier power source but it would appear that I'd need a pretty sizable system at even the 3200 rate. Am I interpreting this correctly?
Thanks, for the video. Very well done, and as a promotion for your boot camp, it's excellent. Clearly you've done significant, and valuable, research in this area.
I noticed you are offering 12 coaching calls over 6 months. I am not working on my off the grid system yet so I was wondering can those 12 calls be used later in the future when I will be setting up the system. Will you be offering the class again in the future? For some reason I have the impression that I would need to take the class when I am working on the off grid system. Please advise.
If you would like to defer your coaching calls until later, I can do that. Just send me an email after you enroll. I would highly recommend that you do your learning BEFORE working on your off grid system. One of the major purposes of this course is to help you avoid mistakes when designing, purchasing and setting things up. The only way it can help you with that is if you jump in and learn ahead of time. So if you are hoping to go off the grid in the future and want to have a successful experience, my advice would be to learn all that you can now--ahead of time. And there is not a time limit on how long you have access to the material (it is downloadable as well for indefinite access).
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