Alex Shorts

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since Nov 09, 2014
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Recent posts by Alex Shorts

Gerard, thank you for your sage response. I believe you gave me a great starting point in terms of what type of system to design and all the considerations that follow. A system to run food storage/water supply to protect oneself in case of a power outage. I would imagine that DIYers would want to start small to gain an in-depth understanding before tackling a very pricey system that would offset their entire energy usage.

Gerard Foret wrote:That's exactly how my project started. I wanted backup for my fridge and freezer in case of a power outage. After designing to the capacity I needed, I realized that I could use it all the time, not just when power was out.

Depending on the size and power requirements of the well pump you may be able to make it work. The system I'm putting in to run my fridge (which is the real power pig) and freezer is costing me right at $3,000 and I'm doing the install myself.

Karen Crane wrote:
Is there a way to have both?
When there is no power, I would want the well pump to still work along with the fridge.

5 years ago
Thanks for the insight everyone. Lots of really good pointers and questions already. I'm going to get a design for a website up in the next couple of weeks and will post it here.

I'll address some questions very briefly.

1. The future is solar. We are already seeing costs of solar farms rival that of traditional means. In 5-10 years we are going to see the beginning of a massive change in how we view energy. One of the reasons I wanted to put a site like the one I'm proposing together is that costs and availability will go down just as significantly as they have in the past few years. New innovations will be seen with energy storage. With this there will be a surge in demand for off grid solar (my prediction) as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible.

2. Lots to talk about in the lease vs purchase options. I'll have to address this in detail some other time. Don't be turned off by leasing, they can actually be a pretty good deal.

3. When solar first came around there was a law in which utilities were required to pay for extra power. Lots of utilities have been able to get around this in one way or another. While this is a feasible option for some utilities the return on your investment will take a really long time. I would not explore this option as it really will not be very cost effective. What is readily available and will be for quite awhile are energy credits. You can create excess power in the summer that you don't use and it will be credited to your bill through the winter.

4. Community solar is possible but right now it is not economical. If you want to do some research look up microgrids. This will happen but don't expect it for another 5-10 years as the cost of energy storage comes down. This is a pretty exciting offshoot of solar that I'll be following closely as it progresses.

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Anything I do put up I'll make sure its quality and easy to understand.
5 years ago
I'm a pretty experienced PV designer (over 500 designs ranging from 2KW to 2MW) and have been diving into permaculture with a passion in the past few months. I've tried to see if there were any good resources to teach oneself how to design an off grid or grid connected PV system and have not found many of quality. As most permies tend to be the research oriented DIY type I thought that there may be a demand for it.

I've been thinking of putting together a detailed website with an educational bent that would teach someone the basics of solar and good design principles if one wanted to design their own system. This would be completely free with the idea of putting it into an ebook or something of the sort in a year or so.

Is there interest in this sort of thing or has this need been met somewhere else that I'm not aware of?

Thanks, and if this is something you'd be interested in what are some of questions that you'd like answered?
5 years ago
Maybe this info will help with the design and keeping costs down. I'm a designer for a huge solar company and have done designs for both residential projects (2kw+) and commercial projects (2MW).

Here are some guidelines that we follow:
Voltage drop
-up to 5% DC, 2% AC
-higher the voltage the less the voltage drop. As stated before maximize voltage by utilizing as large as strings as the inverter will allow.
-the loss in power at drops in voltage is not significant. A secondary reason that we utilize these guidelines is to make sure we never drop out of the voltage windows of the electrical equipment.

Conductors
-upsize as needed to address voltage drop
-compare costs with Aluminum conductors. Copper conductors can be very costly in comparison. Just keep in mind that your equipment may not always be rated to allow for Al connections. If this is the case a transition to a Cu conductor can happen right before the connection.
5 years ago