Most electricity that I have used at my property, has arrived in fully charged batteries, of my many cordless tools, work lights entertainment devices and vehicle. I have never really sat down to quantify my domestic power usage, at the property. Most of the electrical energy I use, is used outside, when I use chainsaws, hedge cutting equipment and carpentry tools. On an average day, I will go through a third of available battery power, on these devices.
The only things that are recharged at the property , are done from my vehicle battery. I recharge my phone and a small movie player. I'm not going without anything. There's plenty of light, I can access the internet, listen to music, or watch a movie, while talking on the phone.
But, now that I'm making serious plans to move there full-time, on-site power generation will happen. Solar panels have worked out much better than wind power, for my tenant. He put about $600 into each, but gets 90% of his power from the panel.
So, here's the breakdown.
Lighting. 50 Watts. If I switch on several of my LEDs, to light the whole place up like a greenhouse, it consumes almost 50 watts. Let's say I do that for 5 hours a day. That's 250 watt hours.
Water pumping. My water needs to be pumped vertically, 12 feet and about 100 feet horizontally. A Milwaukee 18 volt, cordless water pump can move 240 gallons on one charge of the five amp hour battery. I have enough battery power to move 1200 gallons of water. I generally use 20 gallons or less per day, but I could see stepping that up quite a bit, once I buy the pump. So, let's say we use 120 gallons per day. All of my Milwaukee batteries combined hold a little less than 1/2 of a kilowatt hour. So, I need 50 watt hours of electricity per day, to bring water to the cabin. The small amount of power required for a cigar pump, for the shower, is not part of this.
Radio. My Makita radio uses about 100 watt hours on an average day.
Television. I have a television that uses an average of 40 watts. Let's go with 5 hours for a total of 200 watt hours per day.
My cell phone, which is also my computer uses such a small amount of power, it's not included here.
Adding it all up
Lights 250 watt hours
Water 50 watt hours
Radio 100 watt hours
TV 200 watt hours
That comes to 600 watt hours. This is much more power than I've ever used in the cabin. It would allow me to run the lights more than I do, to consume considerably more water than I have before, to listen to the radio at low volume, all day, and to watch 5 hours of television. Seems like a lot.
A couple years ago, I talked to an electrician friend about the possibility of surviving on one kilowatt hour of power per day. He equated this to freezing in the dark. But, I have sat comfortably in the light , using my cell phone and movie player at the same time, and used less than a quarter of this much power. So, for me I think it's quite reasonable.
I've left out one big item. Refrigeration. I have only used a portable cooler and a rudimentary root cellar, at the property. If I decide to go with powered refrigeration, that would have to be factored in.
Otherwise, it looks like I could get by just fine on a system that produces and stores one kilowatt hour of electricity per day.
I would still always arrive at the property, with my cordless tools fully charged. In the event that I drain the cabin battery somehow, I would grab some batteries from the vehicle and continue in relative comfort and connectivity. When the cabin produces more power than is needed for evening use, I would charge up cordless chainsaws and other things that are used outside. As stated earlier, I generally arrive with enough power to keep me going for 3 days, so I don't think there's any need to build a huge amount of excess capacity.
That's about it. So, I'm going to shop for a one kilowatt per day system.
In the event, that the system proves too small, because I go in for more electrical stuff, or fill the cabin with other people, this small system will be moved to the little Greenhouse / Spa building, that has lower energy needs. Just lights and entertainment. Lighting for people, not for the greenhouse portion of the building. The sun works quite well at that.
I think that's all.
I enjoy all the benefits of having electricity, currently, and I don't have an electrical bill. My place is about $50,000 away from the public utility lines. I'd have to be nuts to hook up, considering my usage patterns. :-) After explaining this to a friend who is visiting, he asked why I don't just hook up to BC Hydro. Not exactly a mathematician. :-)
It sounds good, but it seems to me you only did half of the math. While watts and killowatts is a good way to calculate a persons energy needs, you also must calculate in your amperage requirements, or alternatively, what your generating system can produce for amperage. Most often, it is the amperage that limits a person, not the wattage.
Here is a case in point, I have slowly been gathering the electrical production I need for off-grid living. In my case I can produce 20 KW's, enough to power two houses without much electrical conservation measures. BUT it takes at least 60 Amps for even an old style service entrance, and many are 100 amp or even 200 amp service entrances. My off-grid system can only produce 83 amps. In short, I got the KW's to power two homes, but I sure do not have the amperage too do it.
Now having said that, you may or may not have enough amperage, but that is something that needs to be determined.
As for refrigeration, while propane refrigerators are NOT efficient in comparison to electric refrigerators, they do work and are readily available new at RV dealerships. I looked into them, and while they would not work for me, being so far away from the grid, you could justify the extra operational cost it would seem? You can buy an awful lot of propane versus $50,000 to hook up to the grid, or put another way, save yourself from buying a much bigger off-grid power system just to power a refrigerator. Others on here who have actually used them could give you better insight into their usage, but I was not sure if you considered a propane powered refrigerator?
One other thing; be wary of clean and dirty power. A lot of people think this refers to green or renewable energy, but it really means how safe the sine wave is for sensitive electronics.
My neighbors have a Meth Lab and as such operate under the radar and without being grid-tied. They are forever blowing electrical motors like what is on their well and such because they just use a portable generator. Those do not produce "clean power" like other power sources. Others are better suited to explain this, but it is something to be sure of before relying on it for life.
We live on 1.5-2 kw a day and live a "regular" life style. we're not what people call traditional off griders. We just happen to be. We are very remote and Off grid is just a result of that. I enjoy tv and like lights lol. anyways, heres kinda what we do.
1k solar, useless right now
1000 ah 12v forklift battery
8k diesel genny for house (very little use in summer, 20-30 gal a month in winter) you never really DONT have an electric bill....unless you dont use it i reckon
5k genny for pumping water to my cistern, house is gravity fed. 1000 gal, fill every three weeks ish/ 1 gal gas
shop has 6500 genny and small battery bank for light and small tools
propane refrigerator mounted half in the house half out. its been off for a month or more now as we use the outside air to cool it (10-20 deg average outside) stays just above freezing and uses no energy
all meat goes in the snow in the winter and the freezer in summer. helps balance energy needs IE solar offset
propane dryer, high efficiency washer
Most of my stuff was purchased used, accept the inverter. dont scrimp there. forklift battery was 800 bucks works great, better than the 6 trojan l-16's i had. I would build at least a 2kw system or more. The reason for that is % lost in the system. like from the panels to the charge controler and out, from that to the inverter and out etc. Math sucks and almost doesnt work in off grid energy situations. It took me two or three tries to figure out our system, and I'm still adding stuff as money comes.
I won't be using propane. I never do anything, where there is a fire of any type, burning while I'm sleeping. My masonry stove runs out of fuel, if I stop feeding it for 20 minutes. Then the lid covers the feed mouth.
When refrigeration happens, I will buy a suitable system to handle an efficient chest refrigerator.
I'll show the supplier of the components, all of my chargers and other equipment that I intend to plug in. From this, they will be able to direct me to the right system. The component with the heaviest draw, will probably be my Milwaukee battery charger. It will only be plugged in during periods of surplus, since I'll want to be sure to have enough power on hand for lights, radio etc. If they tell me to go bigger, I will go bigger. $1,000 this way or that is not going to break the bank.
I am quite certain about the amount of power that I currently use. I've checked out the amount of power that my batteries can hold when at full charge. There will be some losses during charging. I think all that matters is that I am able to provide suitable power to run the chargers, without wrecking them. If this proves problematic, I'll spend $500 on more Milwaukee batteries and only charge when I'm on grid power. This would leave just lighting and water pumping to, to be handled by the home system.
My tenant has had a simple system like this, for several years. It powers mostly lights and electronics. There's a 12-volt RV water pump that feeds from an elevated tank, so no head to fight.
Almost all power is used after dark. Therefore, I'm just drawing what's in the batteries, and wouldn't expect any sort of surge, which might come with changes in light intensity. So, it would seem that the battery charger or voltage regulator for the household battery bank, needs to be able to handle variation. Then, I would simply be dealing with 12 volt power, with the longest run being about 20 feet. My tenant always stops using his system, when the voltage drops to a given threshold. I think it's 11.5 volts.
The spiel below, is cut from Milwaukee's website. I've seen numerous positive reviews for this pump. One 9 amp hour battery, could provide me with several days worth of water, moved to my elevated tank. This is something that I will always take with me, since I will use it for other purposes. Nothing left at the cabin for thieves. Well pumps that kick on and off, can cause problems for other things that are plugged in. I may eventually go with a submersible well pump.
The Milwaukee unit will be useful to me in many other ways. Great for transferring filtered pond water to a truck mounted tank. Quantity pumped can be determined simply by putting a suitable size battery on it. When the battery runs out, it stops. I have a couple hugelkultur beds that are quite remote from the water source. I could see running a couple hundred gallons to them, for a heavy watering, maybe twice a year.
Faster Water Transfers, Faster Service Calls. The M18™ Transfer Pump brings new to world cordless innovation to the industry with the fastest setup in the marketplace. With a self-priming pump, you can connect and go quicker than ever. The tool’s flexible impeller and powerful pump moves water at up to 480 gallons per hour, generates up to 18’ of lift and produces up to 75’ of head height. As a part of the M18™ System of tools, it is powered by REDLITHIUM™ battery packs, which deliver up to 240 gallons moved per charge on a XC5.0 battery pack. Onboard REDLINK™ Intelligence can recognize when the tool stops moving water and automatically shuts itself off to avoid dry pumping. Additionally, REDLINK™ provides optimized performance, and overload protection abusive situations.
It sounds like both of you fellows use far more power, than I do. I don't use generators anymore, unless I'm breaking concrete, or cutting concrete. I can't think of any task that I do on my property, where I would need one.
Having a generator, would mean having an extension cord. Even when I'm working in the city, where grid power is readily available, all of my saws and drills, my cutting wheel and lights, work off of batteries. This doesn't slow me down in any way. It has made me more efficient at my job.
When I'm not working with power tools, my primary uses for electricity are for communication, entertainment and light. These are all things that can be scaled back hugely, if there is a power shortage. There's been many times, when my only entertainment device, is the cell phone, which uses very little power. Sometimes, I've had the cell phone and my Makita radio. 100 watt hours of electricity, on a day of heavy use. My television uses 40 watts. If I didn't have enough power for that in the home battery, I could still watch a movie, on the small battery-powered unit that is about 12 in across. The type that kids watch while riding in the car.
I think I may have a different standard for convenience, and for what I consider a suitable amount of electricity. If I walk into a storage shed with my Milwaukee light and my cell phone, I figure that I now have electricity in there. It would be nice to have some lights wired in different places around the cabin. But the whole place doesn't need to be lit all the time. I don't need to have plugs outside, because I don't deal with tools that plug in. It would be nice to have a pump that works with the flick of a switch. I never run an air conditioner, and the only time I run a fan, is when I need to move air around job sites.
Using this meager amount of power, I don't think my evenings are that much different than that of other people who spend time at a rural cabin. I can cook, have a shower, listen to the radio, talk on the phone or watch TV, while a light is on.
Here's one that I've been doing for a while. Even in the city, where plenty of power is available, I don't use a vacuum cleaner. I use my cordless blower, to make every space much cleaner than I ever kept it with a vacuum cleaner. I've cleaned many different houses this way, and don't plan to stop.
There are a few other cordless tools that I'd like to get in the future. So, for me, it's very important to have a system that is compatible with my various chargers. When all of my cordless tool batteries are at full charge, I'm packing somewhere around 1.5 kilowatt hours in storage. There's just a few things that these tools don't do well. They don't suck water from the ground, and they don't automatically distribute light around the cabin. Other than that, they do almost everything that I use electricity for.
I do require more power (in both kws and amps) because I have a wife, 4 daughters, and a commercial farm which is drastically different than a person who is single and only has to be concerned about their own well being. What you are describing is really more about a type of lifestyle and not really about needs and wants.
I have a daughter that at age four, is scared of the dark so her night lights consume extra wattage, and the other three like white noise so they operate fans. In a perfect world I would just say "suck it up buttercup", but I have to tell them no to so many other things that are far more important to their growth, what is some watts to me to keep them peacefully sleeping? Did I mention one was four? Trust me, you keep her sleeping at all costs! (LOL)
We conserve electricity here, but I will be honest, we do not get crazy in doing so. Normally we operate at $85 for a month of power usage in the summer, and $250-$350 in the winter. A lot of that was keeping our stock tanks for the sheep ice free. This year we went to a system where we give the sheep just enough water for the day. With the sheep drinking the water completely up, there is no need to operate stock tank deicers and we are at $100 a month instead of $250-350 a month. That one act has cut my winter time electricity consumption by over 200%!
I never had good luck with battery powered tools because I do not use them sporadically, but intently. Can you imagine trying to cut 10 cord of wood in a day with a battery powered chainsaw? It is just not going to happen, but 1/2 gallon of gasoline and oil per day will sure get me the production I need. That same sort of application applies to other tools like a 4-1/2 inch grinder. I could never rely on batteries because when I am cutting off bolts, fabricating parts, and doing repairs, I would go through more batteries then could be recharged. And of course being a retired welder by trade, what I can fabricate myself just by having a welder saves me an enormous amount of money. So for me, my family and my lifestyle; plugged in power works much, much better, BUT I am not located $50,000 worth of poles and wires away from the grid either, I am already tied to it.
But as a full-time farmer, and accidentally getting into the land-clearing business, I have amazing potential sitting right in my yard all the time...bulldozers and tractors. PTO generators are CHEAP since you are only buying the generator part of the unit, and unlike portable generators, they have clean power too boot. With 1500 gallons of diesel fuel on hand at any one time, my lifestyle is not compromised in an off-grid, or power outage situation. I can operate for months with that much fuel. I had the PTO generator given to me in a bartering trade, with the biggest expense being a new pto shaft that cost $186.
So really, how many watts and amps a person needs depends on lifestyle and what they already have for resources. The more people a household has, the less the collective electrical compromises will occur. In other words a husband has stuff he just cannot live without, just as a wife will, and each individual child. It collectively adds up. But depending on what a person has for resources, it can be mitigated. Not a lot of people have bulldozers on here, but a ton of people have tractors; they can power pto generators just as well as my bulldozer can.
I commend you for being resourceful, but it is no more resourceful than what I am doing, or how resourceful other people on here can be, or how resourceful they are already. All it is is using what you got to live the way you wish.
My array has been in the shade for a month or more. Our house runs 2kw max. Impossible to do it without a genny in the winter. Like i said, unless you want to do it in the dark. we consume very little compared to 30kw + in a normal house.
We seem to have different views on what alternative energy means. I consider wires run from the utility company and generators connected to the oil company, to be conventional power.
Electricity produced by ones own solar array, micro hydro, windmill, biogas or wood gas plant, I consider alternative.
It often involves alternative views on how much is enough. For me, that means adjusting my lifestyle, so that I consume power, based on the finite quantity available, at any given time. For me, that has never meant a complete loss of all electronics or light. But, it could mean going very easy on other uses of power, until the system catches up.
Do we have other members, who get by comfortably on 10 cents worth of power per day? Not necessarily every day, but can you do this in a pinch, without seriously screwing up your plans for the evening?
A complete power outage, sucks big time. I remember these, when I was a kid, living in a rural area where the power failed regularly. When BC Hydro cuts off the power, in the middle of my work day, I usually walk out to the car and grab the appropriate tools, that allow me to continue, as though nothing has happened.
I spent quite a bit of time, working in buildings that don't have any electricity. There's quite a bit of cutting involved and lots of 3 inch screws to be driven. Sometimes, there's lots of screws to be withdrawn. I cut mostly wood, but also some metal. When the tools aren't making a racket, the radio is in use. There's always light.
I sometimes sleep at these job sites. When I do, my domestic usage, that is the power I use when not chopping the building up, usually amounts to a few hours of light combined with radio and telephone time. Seldom more than 400 watt hours in an evening. Sometimes, as little as 50 watt hours, depending on how tired I am. Not opulent living, but not freezing in the dark.
That same tool kit, goes with me almost everywhere I go. It's currently my only source of electricity , at the farm. I'm happy with how it all works, so for me, any alternative power system, would be adequate, if it could keep all of this stuff running.
Same view or understanding, different needs. I dont have wind or water, just sun. If its gone I use a battery, that needs charged so I use a generator. Thats my technique. If your over a K a day you'll need to supplement or sacrifice at some point. All sorts of little things to worry about. In your original post you didn't include charging of your various electronics, this is a possible oversight as these things add up. Routers, cell phones, laptops etc. all = amps and if you plan on refrigeration even a freezer conversion runs .5 a day.
Just my two cents. Also when I am watching tv with a light on its about 13 amps. thats two to three days worth before my batteries get weak enough to freeze. I also make coffee in the morning, sooo thats 90 amps for 10 minutes, little pleasures. We are switching back to the press, but even thats propane usage. Long story short, I'm willing to live with a small fuel dependency to suit my comfort level.
10 cents a day? I would like to know what this figure represents. In the summer I reckon I use no money from my pocket per day, but my system still costs money. I am always a little suspect when people say things like "I didnt spend any money last night". How did you stay warm or make food etc.
Not surprised you are not considering windpower as far to many fast moving bits to wear out from what I have seen at too great a cost . Although one of those water pumps might be a thing with out using electrics at all :-) http://www.thegoodsurvivalist.com/3-homemade-cheap-and-practical-wind-powered-water-pumps/ However have you considered micro hydro . You are a handy chap Dale and I am sure you could work something out should your site be suitable . Maybe something that could power the water pump or some other constant but low voltage demand .
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
This looks good for a first step. The nice part about solar is that there are very few parts that can't be upgraded and the old parts sold for a decent portion of their purchase price.
The biggest flaw I see in your plan is that you are planning on storing a day's worth of energy generation at maximum efficiency. Batteries are a bummer in that they almost always want to be fully charged to live a long life. Weather is a bummer in that clouds happen. The earth is a bummer in that the intensity of light changes throughout the year. In order for a 1KW battery bank to be regularly re-charged in a given day (and you do want this to maintain reasonable battery life), you want at least 2KW of energy generation.
I think you should also look into breaking apart your electricity needs into daytime tasks (when the panels are running) and evening/nighttime tasks (when you'll be drawing down the battery bank). It's a good idea to try and only draw down your bank by 20% in any given night. Again, the lifetime of batteries thing. From your description though, it seems like you'll be fine until you choose to get a refrigerator.
$0.10 Canadian is the after-tax cost of one kilowatt from the grid. It's not the cost that I would really expect to achieve, with a very small system. I don't have the same economy of scale as BC Hydro. The actual cost to me, for my electricity, right now, is zero. I charge my batteries at job sites, which belong to my customers. I don't have a hydro bill anywhere, but I use electricity every day. So, suppose I get a system that cost me a dollar a day, when maintenance is considered. That's still less than the basic hook up charge, if I were to choose a monthly bill.
Micro Hydro is a very real possibility for me, but only for 5 or 6 months of the year. It ranges from a trickle, to 50 acre-feet per day, during maximum flow. Over 100 feet of head . Obviously, I would need to come up with a use for this power, to warrant the expense of a large system. But, I certainly plan to put in a small system, to make up for any lack of power from solar, during the winter. I've been thinking about starting a greenhouse operation, based on this power. The hydro is available during the months of least sunshine and when it is cold outside. I'm going to let available resources dictate this one. If I take on a job that gives me lots of commercial glass in the right size range, then it makes sense for me. The most likely crop would be flowers for Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. After Mother's Day, the flow is very little, and then it dries up. Most of my really lucrative Demolition and house moving projects, happen during the time when water isn't flowing. So, I wouldn't have to be tied to the greenhouse 12 months of the year. Flowers flown in from Holland, have a huge environmental footprint. I'd like to take a bite out of that.
Since I'm gone quite often, I think it makes sense to have a fairly small solar array, but several batteries. This would give the power somewhere to go, if I'm not there for a while. I'm mostly just looking for greater convenience, when it comes to lighting and water pumping. Having a good size battery bank, would allow me to draw quite a bit of power, during short visits, without going below the safe threshold for the batteries. Battery suppliers talk about not taking the battery below 50%. Kyle has a threshold of 20% for his.
There's some chance that I may be getting a very large battery bank, in the form of an electric car. When an inverter is added, this provides mobile power, wherever you go. They aren't cheap, but there are government subsidies. Time will tell on that one. The Greater Victoria area has 85 free charging stations. I'm 15 km from charge stations in Nanaimo. Most cars available, are good for about 250 kilometers on a charge. But, this is off topic from my calculations for minimal electrical use at the property.
Since I'm gone quite often, I think it makes sense to have a fairly small solar array, but several batteries. This would give the power somewhere to go, if I'm not there for a while.
This was initially my thought for my setup as well. I'm usually gone for a week or two at a time, then there for a couple days at a time. I initially thought a huge battery bank would be a good idea, but after talking to several retailers and professionals they told me if I can't charge the bank in 48 hours from the panels, I might as well consider the batteries dead on arrival. This is a combination of the raw storage (how many kilowatt hours), and the amps per battery available to satisfy an optimal charging profile for your specific battery type. The struggle with these banks is that they take all the batteries down together. In other words, you usually don't lose one battery. You lose the whole bank. And since batteries are almost always the driving cost for a system, you want to optimize your setup to keep them healthy & happy. Also, panels are cheap. Super cheap.
Kyle makes a good point there. Panel prices have plummeted, while batteries have not become cheap at all. Perhaps I should put a few more panels on the roof, and just go with a single deep cycle battery.
I did a test a few years ago with a very heavy deep cycle battery, that I carried into the cabin. I used it for all of my lighting needs, and to charge my little movie player, for 5 days. It was still working, when I returned it to my tenant. Not sure how much it was drained, but evidently less than 20% per day. If I had a surplus coming off the roof during the day, this would allow me to recharge my cordless electric equipment, according to available supply. I suppose it could be set up to bring the battery to near maximum, before running power for anything else. I'm not sure how something like this would be programmed into some sort of controller. It would be nice to be able to have a single charger kick on, once a certain threshold is reached, and then have it start up another one, when more is being produced. Rather than have the charge controller burn off excess, in the form of heat, I wouldn't mind running a pond pump and aerator as a power dump, while I'm away. There could be a little stream and waterfall, between the upper and lower pond. They aren't far apart, and there's only about 10 ft difference in elevation. This would wear out the pump and aerator but that's a price I'm willing to pay, to have flowing water.
Pumping water to a higher elevation is a time honored use of "excess" energy.
It sounds like you are not talking about filling a "header" tank, but just enjoying a water feature.
Im on grid, but ive been playing with supplemental solar.
My kids are uninterested in conservering energy.
Fixing that is part of a bigger issue.
Meanwhile I seek solutions that dont require their cooperation.
An occupancy sensor costs about 20 bucks.
A solar powered motion sensing spotlight costs about the same,a little less actually:
I wonder if the kids could be educated through rolling blackouts. Put a lock on the breaker panel, and occasionally turn off the one that leads to their electronics. You may find them more compliant in the future. I did this with an oil furnace. Somebody had been turning it up, without authorization.
Dale, love the thread topics. Bite the bullet and get a couple solar panels, a battery and a small pure sine wave inverter that will be nice to your electronics and efficient to boot. (Modified square wave inverter has not ruined any of my chargers, anybody elses chargers that used ours, nor have any other electronics done more than complain a little, led light buzz and rfi, low efficiency powering motors, rfi, did i mention rfi?, sorry we are into radio and this is the worst of our off grid experience... charge controls and inverters emit rfi.)
At the end of the day you are carrying grid power to your home or using gasoline power from your car battery. An alternative method, for sure.
I nudge, because of the long succession of maybe this and maybe not threads!
Otherwise known as "hem hawing" or "beating around the bush"
I am the worst.... i install solar thermal, wind and pv for a living and we had more or less a complete off grid residential pv system in the garage for years, like 4 years, actually. This aside from my "toys" and shop power systems and we always ran pv for comms boiler circulation and backup lights during power outages, common to our area.
Best thing we ever did, for our lifestyle, environmental commitments, and small business.
I bought panels at $550 apiece for dinky 185w mono modules! Ouch! Do not regret having secured them though.
A 340 watt import runs $280.... for now. The price has gone up in the last 4 months from $ .55/watt back to $.70/watt plus. Wi will wager on $1 dollar a watt and higher in a year or two, then higher from there, and adjust even higher for inflation if you are american.... something about 24 trillion dollars missing.
I agree, with your low level of consumption only need a small battery if you are planning to divert max power to portable tool batteries, they are part of your storage system... 1kwh/day consumption still requires a bit of equipment though, a suprising amount, actually.
With the low cost of panels, I think I might be better off setting up enough panels for 2 or 3 kilowatts. That would more than suit my needs, even when I'm cutting firewood or doing other things that require lots of cordless tool battery charging. It would also allow me to have a washing machine, microwave and other things that would only be used, when the panels are producing well. I don't mind saving my laundry for 3 weeks.
I generally like to keep refrigerators just a couple degrees above freezing. It would also be nice to have a deep freezer. These could be put on a timer so that they kick in every day at a certain hour, or when the batteries reach a certain voltage. A good freezer that is kept several degrees below freezing can be good for a week, without running, if it's in a cool room. Since I'm looking at requiring a power dump, those appliances might as well be set at low temperatures. A string of cloudy days in a row is very rare, during the summer. Unused space in the fridge, could be filled with jugs of water. This would help the fridge carry through for quite a while, in the event of power loss.
I wonder if there's a way for me to check the temperature remotely. I'd like my fridge to call me every afternoon, and say all is well.
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