NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

3 Posts
Apr 23, 2011 10:47 pm
NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

Hi there,

Newbie question (and I suspect many more to come)

Northern Minnesota location.

I have a 1000 sf rural get away property built in 2009.  There is no grid power source to the structure.  I have wired the structure with a panel box which I back feed power using my Honda 2000 generator which serves me well.  There is propane gas serving a direct vented wall mounted furnace, stove and refridgerator. There is no plumbing or water fixtures)

My dilemna.... The refridge makes me nervous and I want to get away from it. (the carbon monoxide detectors go off now and again and I suspect the building is too tight)

I'm thinking I'd like to buy a standard residential refridge and go solar to power it.  And, I'm hoping to tie the soalr to the panel box to use the recepticles and fixtures as an added bonus. The notion of not having to fire up the generator to use a light appeals to me!)

We have no current use and I see no future need for any power beyond 110v.

In advance, I generously thank you for your valued replies.

Please speak simple to me. I new to this and want to say you can't insult my intelligence.
3 Posts
Apr 30, 2011 09:54 am
Re: NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

Ok, so nobody around here knows if one can power using a off grid solar system and generator tied together?Huh?
49 Posts
May 1, 2011 10:55 pm
Re: NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

  I guess the question is not specific enough. I am using a kohler generator with off grid cabin. It turns on when the batteries arent charged enough with the solar. The inverter turns it on and it is 115v.If a solar panel would have to feed a fridge it would have to have constant energy to keep it running and an inverter to keep the power even.The sun isnt
constant enough with clouds and such to stay the same.Im pretty sure you would need battery backups that would then feed the fridge. Does this help, maybe it will start a conversation of replies at least.
3 Posts
May 2, 2011 07:47 am
Re: NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

James, thank you for the reply and yes, after re-reading, perhaps I was not asking my question clearly.

I have a gas generator that I now use to power the building when I am there.

I am looking to solar to replace my gas refridge and go with a conventional refridge.  That will consist of panlel(s), Inverter, Controller, and battery back up.

My questions is... (can I) How do I have both the solar system tied to the buildings fuse box and a gas generator?

I am there on weekends.  So, I'd like to be able to fire up the generator to perhaps "top off" the batteries and also use more power than what a battery back up might offer me. (i.e. power tools, lights, etc etc)


49 Posts
May 2, 2011 07:43 pm
Re: NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

  The panels tie into a combiner box then to a charge controller the controller goes to the batteries.The batteries feed into the inverter the inverter feeds into the power panel or box.The generator also connects to the inverter which
turns it on when needed and that is how it feeds the batteries and cabin.Mine turns the generator on when the batteries are at 45 volts and off at 52 volts.It is more complicated than that but im simple also. It will also turn it on when more power is called for than I have in the batteries.I also feed back an outlet for a battery charger on my generator. You probably could manually turn on your generator when needed, but your batteries may get to low.
220 Posts
May 3, 2011 02:25 pm
Re: NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

Hello Terry,

we have been very hesitant to offer any kind of reply to your query as i have no generator tie in experience to share.

any way at all to look into providing more venting to that fridge? gas is really the way to go if possible.

if we were to size a pv/battery/inverter system for a standard fridge (energy star 22 cu ft) for my location, year round use, with three days backup the cost would be in the range of 8 grand. could probably do a small (8 cu ft) solar powered sundazer fridge for around 1,500.

there are inverter/chargers available that need to tie to specific approved generators to start electronics and all that.

i would never want to connect an inverter and generator to the same panel box at the same time..could do some kind of manual transfer switch or back feed thru a dryer plug with mating ends on both the generator and inverter to manually swap the plugin feed.

like the idea of having some power without the generator running and can always do some charging with a battery charger plugged into the genset while using it for the bigger loads.

hope that is a bit of help..might help to keep the topic going to get other input as well.

cheers, dave
462 Posts
May 4, 2011 10:14 am
Re: NEWBIE: Is a generator compatable with off grid solar

Terry, if this is just a getaway cabin, how big of a fridge do you need? You can purchas a 12 volt thermo electric cooler pretty cheap. Need more room, buy two. You can bring ice with you or you can make ice with solar.
 Also sounds like you need a water barrel......then think solar hot shower....possible DC pump and water tower...composting toilet or flushable toilet with waste catcher....then  methane gas for your gas supply......
« Last Edit: May 4, 2011 10:28 am by Tom Mayrand »

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