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Auto Gen Starting for Off-Grid Systems  RSS feed

 
Chris Olson
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Location: Northern Wisconsin
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Not a lot of folks live off-grid these days. But for the ones that do, usually a generator is going to be an integral part of your off-grid power system. It is virtually impossible to get by without one off-grid if you want to keep the power on all the time. For smaller systems that are part time like weekend or seasonal cabins having an automatic generator start system is probably not necessary. For larger systems in full-time off-grid homes you will either abuse your batteries or be married to the system and never be able to leave it unmonitored without AGS.

Properly setting up an AGS is a daunting and very complex task for most off-gridders. But it's not as bad as you think. I made a little video that gives an overview of how the AGS is set up on our system and a demonstration of it in action.

 
Len Ovens
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Chris Olson wrote:Not a lot of folks live off-grid these days. But for the ones that do, usually a generator is going to be an integral part of your off-grid power system. It is virtually impossible to get by without one off-grid if you want to keep the power on all the time. For smaller systems that are part time like weekend or seasonal cabins having an automatic generator start system is probably not necessary. For larger systems in full-time off-grid homes you will either abuse your batteries or be married to the system and never be able to leave it unmonitored without AGS.


Interesting. I think that was well presented. It also brings to light some of the things many of us don't think about when we think about off grid living. That is, the rest of the family.

My first thought was that I didn't need all that stuff... cook and heat with wood.... just enough power support to keep meat froze and veggies cool, some light and entertainment (computers and such). Now my wife shows enthusiasm for off grid living, but the reality is that it would be my thing and if she wanted to run a hair drier... it should just work. We may not have time to hang clothes outside to dry.... or get them in before it rains either. Off grid is fine, but it should not mean rationing power at least that would be my wife's view. My children would feel the same, but they could still be told to tough it out and they would find a way. Certainly a genset will be a reality at least at first in our off grid life, but I think also in the long run, though hopefully less often as time goes by.

I can't see ever cooking with electric, I would prefer wood, but will probably start with propane. I could go down the list of where I would not use power, but in the end there will be some power use and batteries are a major outlay, there has to be some way of protecting them. Frozen food is one of the other must protect things... a full freezer can be over $2000 worth of food... and all a person has if they are snowed in or unable to get out for some other reason (no, snow does not always mean the frozen food can be kept outside, food should be kept at least 10 degrees below freezing).

So there you go, not just a good video on how things work, but thought provoking about the whole off grid power issue.
 
Chris Olson
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Location: Northern Wisconsin
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You are very right, Len. Off-grid living does not have to mean a life of going without. We do not use propane here, as my wife will not allow it. When we first moved here we went without for several years and it was very hard, especially for my wife. But the reality of it all is that few folks last more than four years living off-grid because it gets to be too much work and they can never leave their system for more than a few hours. What if you want to go someplace for a week in the middle of winter and you heat with wood? What if you or your wife get sick and laid up and can't do the work to keep it all going? It is simple really - install an electric heat pump as a backup heat source and let the system power it while you are unable to manage it. But you have to have a way to do that, and you are not going to do it on solar power alone in the dead of winter.

There are lots of "theories" about off-grid living from people who have never been there. Once you pull the plug and make the move you find out it is WAY different and not near as "romantic" as all the books and theories and Home Power magazine make it out to be.
 
Amedean Messan
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Ah, the legendary Chris Olsen everyone! Well.....at least epic in my mind. I highly appreciate all of your threads for the record, big fan over here.
 
Chris Olson
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Amedean Messan wrote:Ah, the legendary Chris Olsen everyone! Well.....at least epic in my mind. I highly appreciate all of your threads for the record, big fan over here.


Well, I certainly am not legendary or epic. But I have long tried to help other off-grid folks set up their power systems. Been a long time builder of off-grid wind power systems for folks who need and can use wind power. And generally try to provide hints and tips to those thinking about moving off-grid to make their experience more realistic and comfortable.
 
Amedean Messan
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Your too modest. The videos you provide on YouTube are some of the most informative DIY off-grid power solutions I have come across on the web.
 
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