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A new design: hybrid off-grid system

Posts: 30
Location: Altadena, CA, USA
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Hello Everyone,

I would like to present my project because I hope it is of interest to this group.
A lot of people I know do not qualify for a big solar rooftop installation because they either rent, don't consume enough energy, or don't have the money to invest in a grid-tie system. So I thought maybe a small scale PV setup would be enough to focus on a few key appliances (Fridge, internet modem, laptop, chargers...) that run 24h a day.
Triggered by the big power outage in DEC 2011 in Pasadena where I was out of power for 4 days I started developing a new type controller to build a "hybrid off-grid" system. It is DIY and works with a wide variety of inverters, charge-controllers, and batteries.

I have built a prototype that I call a "solar UPS controller" and it does monitor your energy usage and decides which power source is best to use. When the sun is shining it uses solar, at night it uses the utility power and during a black-out the batteries. It would not require permits to run because it does not feed back into the grid -- similar to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) you plug your computer in which gets powered by solar. Here is a link http://solar-trap.com/?page_id=874 to a more in-depth explanation on a web page I created.

I currently have only one prototype system that is fueling my own fridge and a few other appliances in my home. I want to help increase the sustainable use of energy but I definitely cannot do this alone! You are all involved in permaculture and would like to get some feedback because I am thinking of applying for crowd-funding.
Any and all information that you deem relevant to this is much appreciated, and much needed! Grassroots projects only work when we come together and share our information and resources. If you like the idea of a hybrid off-grid solar power supply and want to see it grow from prototype to common backyard contraption, please share your input with me!

Thank you
Posts: 75
Location: Calgary Alberta, Canada
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It's a cool idea. I'm renting in an apartment and the biggest challenge I see with your idea is finding a way to work with the management company to allow me to hang a PV system and run power into my place. It may indeed be a case of asking forgiveness is easier than asking permission, but that's the challenge I can see.

I do like the idea of getting the benefits of a PV system now, rather than storing the units for when the power does go out.

It's a cool concept. I'm a huge fan of PV and wind power so I applaud your effort.
Markus Loeffler
Posts: 30
Location: Altadena, CA, USA
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I know apartment management can be quite demanding but I was thinking that if you just lean one panel against the wall (i.e. balcony) that should be barely visible.
You guys wanna see my fabulous new place? Or do you wanna look at this tiny ad?
Learn Permaculture through a little hard work
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