[LMB] rural power/phone/cable lines

anmar Caver anmar.mirza at gmail.com
Fri Sep 23 04:00:58 BST 2011

On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 10:27 PM, <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 07:10:34PM -0400, anmar Caver wrote:
> > electric bill was just not my cup of tea.  I have less than $16k in my
> > entire alternative energy system and it provides enough power that most
> > visitors would never know we are off-grid.
> Cool.  What is your system?
> Actually we have several.  I used to subscribe to the "big system to power
everything" philosophy.  In the house that burned before we had a 1.2 kW
solar array, 8kW battery bank, 2.5 kW inverter-charger, and charge

In the new house I have a 300 watt sine wave inverter dedicated to the
fridge, along with 400 watts of solar and 2kW battery.  The rest of the
house has a 4kW battery bank, 800 watts of solar, and a 1.5kW
inverter-charger.  We have a Honda EU2000i inverter-generator for make-up
power and an EU1000i to run a small window a/c unit for nasty humid weather
for sleeping at night and to knock the humidity out of the house.

The shop also has a double redundant system similar to the house without the
solar panels.  I run the generator for a couple hours in the morning and
evening when I am working in the shop and during the middle of the day I
pipe excess solar power from the house to the shop.

I burn about a gallon of gasoline a day, which is WAY down from the 3-4 per
day I was burning before I added more solar and got a more efficient
generator.  As I can afford more solar my generator usage will go down.  If
it weren't for the shop I would only be burning a gallon or two a week.

The primary advantage of going with multiple smaller systems like this is
reducing the effects of catastrophic failure, I can switch batteries and
circuits around if something fails so we always have power.  It also means
that I can stagger the age of the smaller battery banks so I don't have a
huge expense replacing batteries every few years, instead I have a smaller
expense every couple of years and I can cycle battery banks through so the
newest bank goes to the most critical circuits and older banks get moved to
less critical uses so they all last longer.

The cabin was built from the ground up to be energy efficient and between
heating and electrical, we use roughly one tenth of what the average
household with a similar number of people.  If I had to replace both the
house and shop system tomorrow it'd run around $10k, but the nice thing
about the way I have it set up, I built it a bit at a time as I could afford
it as I was recovering from the fire.

And I have an 11cu ft fridge, as much lights as would make anyone happy, and
all the modern conveniences.  Water is off the roof into a holding tank and
pumped with a low voltage, low volume high pressure pump into pressure
tanks.  Putting in a washer and dryer sometime here (I have them sitting in
the basement, just haven't had time to hook them up).  TV/dvd/vcr (no
television, the tv is just for movies and the like), stereo, battery
operated device chargers, etc etc.

Heating is mostly wood with propane backup.  And to answer Ed's question,
this year we went from dialup to DSL when the rural telephone coop built a
new switch close enough to allow that.

Anmar Mirza EMT, N9ISY, NCRC National Coordinator,
 Owner Lost Creek Packs, blog.myspace.com/anmarmirza

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