Thursday, September 23, 2010

Skinner's Fractured Off-Grid Tales

Be careful what you ask for!  I told my sweet hubby I wanted to write a post about our off-grid solar system so would like some not-too-technical info to share with my readers.  Well, he gave the info I needed but also had some titles to share as well--the title I used is one of his and comes from his love of Bullwinkle.  His alternate titles were just as interesting--you vote for your favorite...
  1. Skinner's Solar Soliloquy
  2. Skinner's 3 Blades to the Wind
  3. Are Skinner's Holding Back Their Wind?
See what I mean?  I'm anxious to hear which one is your favorite!!!

About 17 years ago we purchased a piece of property in the middle of nowhere!  It had nothing on it so we were literally starting from scratch.  My darling husband wanted to have an off-grid electrical system--his new hobby.  I said it was fine with me as long as I could use my hair dryer and curling iron every morning:)  We started by building a small brick building and purchasing a 12 kW diesel generator.  Then he began to build the system from there.  Since it has been so many years, I don't remember the exact order of things but now our electrical system consists of:
  1. 2220 watts solar on two pole mounted arrays, one is a WattSun Tracker
  2. Two Trace SW4048 inverters
  3. Skystream 3.7 Wind Power Appliance (our windmill or wind generator)
  4. 48 Volt battery storage with 1,200 Ah capacity 
  5. 12 kW Diesel Generator
  6. High Efficiency Grundfos SQFlex submersible water pump
It has been an interesting journey learning to use lots of power when we have a lot available, working our way through several test windmills, finding the best electrical appliances to work with our system, etc.  I have a regular refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine.  We use propane for the kitchen range, hot water and dryer.  We use the florescent "twirly" bulbs in all of our lights. Our house is well insulated and heated with a wood stove.  Most people who visit are not even aware we are using off-grid electricity because everything works together so well. We may add some more solar panels in the future to run an air conditioner but only really need one for about two weeks a year.  One of our best investments was the Grundfos submersible water pump which pumps off power received from the solar panels and the windmill--seldom have to use the diesel generator.  

About three years ago my husband started designing and selling alternative energy systems for Seraphim Electric which was purchased about a year ago by Hire Electric in The Dalles.  Bob and Jonathan are Hire's solar division and do residential and commercial projects from Portland to Yakima to Tri-Cities and Walla Walla.  

If you have any questions, let me know.  Kat

1 comment:

  1. Option #3 for sure LOL It's so Bob !!

    Of course, we all know they are off-grid but like Kat said, everything works so seamlessly that visitors don't give it a second thought.