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off-grid yes or no?

 
pollinator
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We are having a warm climate garden and the main reason why we want electricity is that we aim for a bore. We will install water tanks also (10K litres plus some smaller ones) water is something I want double and triple secure.
The second reason is power tools.
There is electricity on the property BUT there is a meter installed which looks pretty much like a smart meter to me. We are both opposed to smart meters and would never put that thing close to a dwelling etc, but we also don't want to be enablers of a smart grid.There are as well concerns that they might light a fire, but I don't know whether or not this happens with Australian meters (we are very close to bush).
What do we have to consider for a solar setup? What would the cost be? Or maybe a generator would do the trick? Is it even a smart meter?
20210119_062751-1-.jpg
the meter looks like this:
the meter looks like this:
 
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Hello Angelika
When you say you want a "bore", I'm assuming you mean what Americans would call a "drilled well", is that correct?  Yes, it's very doable, though some homework needs to be done on your part.  To design a well-functioning off-grid system you need to start with a good accounting of what all your electrical loads might be.  Bore pumps (submersible well-pumps) in the US come in many flavors, either 120V or 240VAC, or either low voltage or high voltage DC.  They are typically rated in size, being documented in horse-power (hp).  I'll just give you the specs on my pump, for which I've been running off solar only for years now.  It's a 1hp Grunfos, running at 240VAC consuming ~2200W while running.  My pump is positioned about 120m down the bore, and pumps about 20L per minute into 20,000L tanks about 60m higher than the well-head.  When the pump is off, the water can flow back down the hill to my home via gravity.

My rule of thumb is to have twice as many watts of solar as my single largest load, the pump, so with a draw of 2200W, I installed 4500W of solar panels (15-300W grid-tie panels).  This in turn charges a 48V Trojan L-16 battery bank, which feeds a Schneider XW+ 6848 inverter.  There are lots of other inverter choices, divided into two big categories, either high-frequency, or low frequency.  High frequency units like the MPP, and Growatt are very economical, but are only really good at resistive loads, such as lights, the toaster, or your kitchen's slow cooker.  Low frequency inverters like Outback, Schneider, and Magnum are transformer based and have high surge capacity.  You need high surge for things with motors that start under load, such as  the refrigerator, air-conditioner, power tools and pumps.  In the case of my pump, it's running amps is about 9.5A (2280W), but the 1 second start-up surge is 38.0A (9120W).  The surge rating is usually one of the specs the inverter manufacturer gives you.

Keep in mind though that if the intent here is just to save money, a off-grid system typically will NOT do that.  The expense of all the electronics, plus good batteries represents a steep initial investment, and those people that try to put something together on the cheap discover what they threw together doesn't work.  In my own case, I installed my own system because I'm 40km up an unpaved dirt road, with the nearest power pole placed at least 30km from my front gate.

Once you get more specifics on what exactly you need to power, we can help you design a system that meets your needs.  In the short-run what you might find is that a 5000-6000W petrol generator will likely meet your needs in terms of water pumping.  I have to say though that the day I was able to stop running my generator was a thrilling day for me.  Take a hard look at Outback's Radian GS8048.  That inverter with 400Ah of batteries and 4000-5000W of solar is likely to be all you'll need.

BTW, I have a niece living in Adeleide.  I'm looking forward to a ski trip in the Blue Mountains some July in the future.
 
pollinator
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Angelika Maier wrote:We are having a warm climate garden and the main reason why we want electricity is that we aim for a bore. We will install water tanks also (10K litres plus some smaller ones) water is something I want double and triple secure.
The second reason is power tools.
There is electricity on the property BUT there is a meter installed which looks pretty much like a smart meter to me. We are both opposed to smart meters and would never put that thing close to a dwelling etc, but we also don't want to be enablers of a smart grid.There are as well concerns that they might light a fire, but I don't know whether or not this happens with Australian meters (we are very close to bush).
What do we have to consider for a solar setup? What would the cost be? Or maybe a generator would do the trick? Is it even a smart meter?


The newer digital meters are actually much safer then the older turning dial models. Is that one a smart meter? Hard to say if by smart meter you mean it communicates with the utility wirelessly then probably if it's less than 10 years old. Usually the concern is the wifi signal but my personal opinion is the transformer, and communications gear required for an off grid system will be putting out more electro magnetic radiation then the wifi equipment on the meter.
Not many people talk about that though... if the power is there I would say use it. You could always leave the meter far away and branch from it to the house. That is a not uncommon solution.
Cheers, David
 
pollinator
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I agree with David.
Perhaps you can put a Faraday cage around the meter to cut electromagnetic fields.
Faraday cages

I have a property near Bendigo in Victoria.
My house is off grid and a workshop is on grid, because the house is too far to run power at a reasonable price. $$25K.
My solar cost about $15000 secondhand.
The solar always needs to be maintained, checked etc.
If I had a choice I would have the power connected at least to a big workshop.
 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks for all the replies! THe great thing John Is that our driller who does the bore (which is probably the same thing you mention) that he uses grundfoss pumps too. I have to get into the technical details once we decide what to do in general.
It is NOT about saving money. I think it is very clear that hooking up the grid is the cheapest option. IF it's a smart meter (and I need to find that out) then we simply don't want to be part of it. It is a political decision not helping the smart grid along and if it's a smart meter we want to figure out how to get off that grid without breaking the bank. Maybe my first step should be to figure out whether this is a smart meter or not.
 
John C Daley
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Can I ask what the political issue of Smart meters are?
I found this when trying to find something about it.

From Values in the Smart system

Investing in smart grid infrastructure is a key enabler for the transition to low carbon energy systems.

 
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The current dislike of smart meters is a (theoretical) increase in  EM emissions, and de-facto ability to track daily activity in the house they are attached to.
Wake up and take a shower? The surge from your hot water heater is trackable, turn down the lights and go to bed it can be noted...in fact every daily activity can be quantified and tracked....live in an oppressive society and harbor fugitives?…the extra drain of energy by additional showers, cooking, etc, puts the lie to closed curtains, want to grow a little bud in the basement without having the tax stamp?... grow lights are a notable drain.

The theoretical gain to smart meters, is less meter men (hooray for unemployment!) and the potential to build less infrastructure (hooray for unemployment!) via monitoring grid wide use and shutting down unimportant / less important areas for the benefit of higher paying more important customers....
The whole smart grid, / smart house, / smart device push is about closer and finer granularity and control of resources.
Electricity moves at the speed of light so less infrastructure (fewer dams, co-gens, nuclear facilities, power lines, etc,) can be built if you could shut down west coast users during peak east coast demand...and vice versa and ship the electricity as needed to best funded highest demand...
 
David Baillie
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Angelika Maier wrote:Thanks for all the replies! THe great thing John Is that our driller who does the bore (which is probably the same thing you mention) that he uses grundfoss pumps too. I have to get into the technical details once we decide what to do in general.
It is NOT about saving money. I think it is very clear that hooking up the grid is the cheapest option. IF it's a smart meter (and I need to find that out) then we simply don't want to be part of it. It is a political decision not helping the smart grid along and if it's a smart meter we want to figure out how to get off that grid without breaking the bank. Maybe my first step should be to figure out whether this is a smart meter or not.


Angelika Maier wrote:Thanks for all the replies! THe great thing John Is that our driller who does the bore (which is probably the same thing you mention) that he uses grundfoss pumps too. I have to get into the technical details once we decide what to do in general.
It is NOT about saving money. I think it is very clear that hooking up the grid is the cheapest option. IF it's a smart meter (and I need to find that out) then we simply don't want to be part of it. It is a political decision not helping the smart grid along and if it's a smart meter we want to figure out how to get off that grid without breaking the bank. Maybe my first step should be to figure out whether this is a smart meter or not.


Angelika could you explain what you mean by smart grid and what the issues are with it? In Ontario the term has a lot of meanings most of them mixed. Right now all it means is the meter will feed its readings to the company so they can avoid sending a meter reader around. There is a lot of talk about a smarter grid that can monitor solar and adjust power in the lines and reduce production by the utility but most of that is speculative at this point. Perhaps even turning off heavy loads like ac during periods of high demand temporarily to cut how much peak production is required. That is a good thing as peak production is usually the oldest most poluting generation. If the meter signal is the issue then a simple metal plate on the inside of the house should effectively direct the signal outwards... Everything has a cost, while I believe in a solar distributed energy future there are environmental  costs and drawbacks to any system.
Cheers,  David
 
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*puts moderator hat on*

Just a reminder that politics can't be discussed outside the cider press. If you want to talk about the politics of smart meters, please start a new thread in the cider press.

*takes moderator hat off*

I wonder if a DC solar pump would be a good idea? If you have somewhere that you can gravity feed from, you could pump to a tank when the sun is shining, and then you wouldn't need an inverter or batteries for that system. Or if the pump is just for irrigation and you can't gravity-feed then maybe a solar pump would still do the job for that.
 
Kate Downham
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I've found that off-grid can be cheaper than on-grid if the household needs are modest.

We don't use electricity for cooking, heating, or hot water, and are careful about the times we use other things and the amount of electricity we use in winter, so we don't need much electricity at all, and our household solar system cost less to set up than 2 years of electricity bills.
 
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Our off-grid solar is/was very expensive, but our property doesn't have grid access. Once you get used to it, it's fairly easy to manage. We have a well-pump that is on a timer so that it only pumps during daytime hours. It pumps up to 2 tanks totaling 5000 gallons that are then gravity fed to the houses. There are things that I like about being off-grid. It forces you to be hyperaware of your energy usage. But you are also going to have times where just nothing works properly and you have to wait for parts or help, etc.

 
David Baillie
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Kate Downham wrote:*puts moderator hat on*

Just a reminder that politics can't be discussed outside the cider press. If you want to talk about the politics of smart meters, please start a new thread in the cider press.

*takes moderator hat off*

I wonder if a DC solar pump would be a good idea? If you have somewhere that you can gravity feed from, you could pump to a tank when the sun is shining, and then you wouldn't need an inverter or batteries for that system. Or if the pump is just for irrigation and you can't gravity-feed then maybe a solar pump would still do the job for that.

point well taken. I did not want to be pro or con via smart meters just curious. If it came across that way I apologize.
Cheers,  David
 
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I’m curious if you found out about that meter without getting into the politics of it?? And if so what is your decision? Thanks
 
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