The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance





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  1. #1
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    Smile The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    When we decided to build our humble abode...we wanted to be completely off-grid. That entailed in a lot of reading, googling and the the Forum....Fluffy and Eggie comes to mind

    As the Bank Balance is that of everyday people...it is tight. So when I designed my humble abode (60 sq m, 88 sq m with stoeps) I decided that I would go the 12v route to be able to wire all lighting to LED (the strip ones)
    That entailed buying a 12V fridge...and Defy had just recently put a 12V fridge on the market.
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    Yes it small...can't put in 12 beers, only six at a time...so some planning required...that's why we have grey matter somewhere....

    As we moved in during April the sun was still high in the sky, so two 120W panels linked to 30A controller...feeding a 260Ah SonX AGM battery was seriously hunky dory.

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    As winter encroached, found that the sun disappearing on the horizon wasn't enough with the panels I had. What to do, oh what to do. Sun low on the horizon....running the genny and using PAS008 battery charger was just too expensive.....
    But the low sun on the horizon shines from 08h30 directly onto one side of the house...voila...cheapest option was to add another panel to the side of the house.

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    The wisest money I ever spent...120w of pure joy...battery fully charged by 10h30! Who cares about summer...the two panels fully charges the battery by 10h30 anyway in summer. Moves right over the house. (Cloudy days are another matter though...)

    .....I have another 24V 1kW system feeding the plugs only....wired the house with plugs from inverter and some plugs straight from the genny.

    (And I have not had time to finish my solar geyser....some plumbing required.)


    So if you are on a budget you can make it work for you...and I realise that the theory is the optimum way to go, but life doesn't always work that way.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Very interesting.Just shows you.
    Andre Botha
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    I am always amazed at what we can live on very happily when camping.

    zero hardship.

    the house requires a little more powah.... because it's nice, but I have built it along the way to be low on consumption...

    the day will come!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Very interesting !! Also thinking of going this route
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Just 3 x 120W panels - wow !!

    We should all lend you our camping panels (and deep cycle batteries) when we are not out in the bundu somewhere.
    Eggie.

    "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    I'd be able to generate a couple of kW if I could trust PV panels on a thatch roof.............
    Jakes Louw
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Tell us more about the House construction.

    I see Corrugated Iron on the outside, but the Pics of the Fridge shows Canvas.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by Eggie View Post
    Just 3 x 120W panels - wow !!

    We should all lend you our camping panels (and deep cycle batteries) when we are not out in the bundu somewhere.
    I have two systems....all built up over time. The one I showed is a 12V system to run fridge and LED's and only that.
    The other system has same controller, 8x80W panels, 6x150Ah SonX batteries and 1kW inverter. That is on my store's roof and runs the plugs in the house.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andre N View Post
    Tell us more about the House construction.

    I see Corrugated Iron on the outside, but the Pics of the Fridge shows Canvas.
    We bought the fridge before the house was built. We have a 4x3m cottage tent on a deck covered with a roof, where we stayed in whilst building corrugated house. The tent will then double up as a guest bedroom with it's own 'outdoor' bathroom

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Ok, So the Corrugated house, is it insulated ? If so, How ?

    And what's the End-Game ? Homesteaders, living of the land, or . . . .
    What do you have for Water ?

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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by jelo View Post
    I'd be able to generate a couple of kW if I could trust PV panels on a thatch roof.............
    What's the problem with PV panels on thatch. (Lightning and attachment methods perhaps ?)
    Cheers

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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    What's the problem with PV panels on thatch. (Lightning and attachment methods perhaps ?)

    PV panels generate electrickery
    this needs wires
    wires fray, break and get chewed
    broken wires short circuit
    this causes sparks
    grass likes sparks
    my house burns down and I die
    Jakes Louw
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by Andre N View Post
    Ok, So the Corrugated house, is it insulated ? If so, How ?

    And what's the End-Game ? Homesteaders, living of the land, or . . . .
    What do you have for Water ?
    Corrugated house. Built frames which I clad with 12mm OSB (Orientated Strand Board). Then Sisalation (double sided) over the board and finally corrugated sheets.

    Inside I put 50mm Isotherm before closing with 6mm Supawood board which allowed me to have grooves (mock panel look) below the dado rail.

    Roof has Isotherm and Sisalation beneath the roofing sheets.

    Now winter, and heat the house with wood fired stove (Morso). Temp in house in the morning about 12 degrees C.

    Water...I use water from dam to flush toilet and catchment from my house and store roof as household. Three 5000l Jojo tanks, three 1000l framed tanks and a couple of 200l blue drums. All link to a central point and pressure pump into house.

    Living off the land...not really...day job...free range chickens, veggie patch and the olive trees.

    Seems I need to start a build thread. Got plenty pics

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by jelo View Post
    PV panels generate electrickery
    this needs wires
    wires fray, break and get chewed
    broken wires short circuit
    this causes sparks
    grass likes sparks
    my house burns down and I die
    Not with a compliant installation.

    Proper PV cable is ultra strong, double insulated, UV resistant and German TUV certified. It is designed specifically to avoid the kind of problems you cite. I can have a heart attack when I see people using common red and black twin flex for high voltage PV.

    Did I mention uber expensive ?

    The feeds are also fused and surge protected.

    However, I wonder what the insurance companies standpoint is.

    EDIT - In fact, proper PV cable is so tough, that you cant even use normal electricians tools, you need special tools, and some regulations require that the cables exposed on the roof be housed in an earthed metal conduit/pipe.
    Last edited by Fluffy; 2016/07/08 at 09:04 AM.
    Cheers

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    The frogs are starting to notice that the water is getting warm but it is already too hot to do anything about it.....

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  15. #14
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Hi Prof,

    Looks really good.

    However, I might suggest you rethink your solar geyser set-up.
    The time when you really need it to work would be in the winter and you need to follow the sun.
    Now you just moved the solar panels to the side of the house, which tells me this might be a more ideal location than ontop of the roof.
    As you also using a pressure pump, does the solar really need to be on the roof?

    Some years back all my solar water heating stuff was also on the roof, but I have now moved it to the side of the house.
    It makes servicing and cleaning the stuff a breeze and if anything goes wrong, the house does not get flooded.

    P.S. It also made it very easy to work out the frame angles, as I did not have to deal with the roof angle as well


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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    @Wetkit, I did consider putting the solar geyser next to the house, so I would be able to have a more optimum angle to winter sun.

    But that raised the question about protecting the glass tubes. I use a slasher to keep grass and shrubs manageable, but I would take precautions. Same cannot be said about worker using brush cutter.
    So I would rather loose some effiency for the sake of saving on replacing glass tubes.

    Alternative would be a pole structure...but I already have height with my roof...bank balance speaking loud and clear
    Robert van den Berg

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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by Prof View Post
    Seems I need to start a build thread. Got plenty pics
    Now that's a swell idea!!
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    [quote name=&quot;jelo&quot; post=3277386]I'd be able to generate a couple of kW if I could trust PV panels on a thatch roof.............[/QUOTE]<br />
    <br />
    What's the problem with PV panels on thatch. (Lightning and attachment methods perhaps

    The main reason is probably that thatch requires periodic maintenance and the panels must then be removed. I believe that mounting may also be quite instrusive requiring the thatcher's involvement to ensure a waterproof job.
    Our sea cottage has a thatched roof and I have given it a lot of thought.

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  20. #18
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    To revive my old thread, yikes 2.5 yrs ago.

    Quite a few things has changed.

    On the house 12V system I got a used 102Ah AGM battery. (there I am only using a 260Ah AGM) Joined them in parallel and what a difference in the morning. Previously battery was at 12.3 - 12.4V in the morning, now they are at 12.6 - 12.7V in the morning.

    House system only for 12V fridge and LED lighting thru whole house.

    My main system was a 24V system, 1kW inverter, 30A PWM, eight 80W panels & eight 150Ah AGM batteries (totally off grid)
    This system supplies the 230V in the house for various small items.

    As work was good to me last year decided to upgrade the main sysytem. Bought a Victron MPPT 150V/35A Blue Solar during Oct 2018. Now I had Bluetooth capability and could log my system.

    Chart of the output of that system.
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    I had enough money to buy a 3kW Victron Multiplas and two more 80W panels. Now what a difference that makes. Now I had ten 80W panels.

    Chart of the output the upgraded system.
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    Then early Jan 2019 I got five 80W panels off a house that got upgraded. What a joy. Promptly added two panels to my array. Now twelve (six in series and then parallel) panels with total of 960W. Incidently I am now at the limit of my MPPT controller. So future upgrade will entail replacing MPPT & panels.

    Chart...
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    System thus: 12 80W panels, MPPT controller, 3kW inverter, eight 150Ah AGM batteries.

    This has opened up another can of worms, wife can use so much more....first was a small 1000W vacuum cleaner......

    I used to run my genny for larger machines, system now runs my small 24l compressor, Radial Arm saw and table saw for short periods....that one cut every now and then. (for longer periods run genny).

    Sanding with the large belt sander is still genny driven as that is for prolonged periods of time.

    I attach pdf with the raw data. Have a look at minimum battery voltage in the morning. We have become conditioned not to waste when we were reliant on 1kW inverter

    Lastly a point on irradiation....look at Max P(W) column, at times exceeds the max of my fitted array.
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    Robert van den Berg

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    'The danger comes from hankering for normalcy again, rather than getting on with working out how to deal with whatever is ahead.' - CNN article

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  22. #19
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    Thanks a lot for all the stats. From that one can work out how to size ones own system. Good to see how you added over time.

  23. #20
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    Default Re: The Theory, The Practise & the Bank Balance

    To revisit my old thread...

    Pulled the 260aH from it's space, some cleaning required of the dust mites, and saw the date of purchase was July 2014.

    Wow, six years old and still gives me approx 12.5V on a winter's morning and 12.6V on a summer's morning before charging. (That is on a no load situation)

    Sure many more years to go....
    Robert van den Berg

    1998 Daihatsu Rocky 'The Kitty'
    2002 Daihatsu Rocky 'The Bully'

    'The danger comes from hankering for normalcy again, rather than getting on with working out how to deal with whatever is ahead.' - CNN article

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