Help me design an off-grid system for 10K USD or less

1 Posts
Nov 18, 2005 10:45 am
Help me design an off-grid system for 10K USD or less

Can a reliable system be puchased for this amount?

I would like to install a full off-grid system for a remote home. I would like to keep it to 10K USD or less if at all possible.

Any advice would be appreciated.

This will be for a 1200 sq ft home and two adults.

351 Posts
Nov 19, 2005 01:13 am
Re: off-grid system for 10K USD or less

Yes, you can buy a reliable system for $10,000.  The question will be, will it produce enough electricity for your lifestyle ?

You need to start with your current electrical usage, and figure ways of cutting it down.  What could you eliminate entirely and what changes can you make to use less at the new home ?  (If you do not make changes, your usage at the new home would be the same as your current home)

After you have downsized your electrical needs (even if just on paper), and have a target figure of how many kilowatt hours a day you will want your system to produce, then you can start designing a system to supply that amount.

Nov 25, 2005 04:34 pm
Re: Help me design an off-grid system for 10K USD or less

I agree with Oso. The first thing to do is know the kilowatthours or kWh's that you will need in a 24 hour period.
There are so many other things to take into consideration that are just as important to the overall cost and reliability of the sysytem.
It would be a great plus to your advantage if you have a friend that is a licensed electrical contractor certified in photovoltaic systems or at least an electrician familiar with the National Electrical Code or NEC and how to use the book, in particular Articles 690 and 310.
With all of that aside, lets assume that your kWh's add up to 4. Now you will need to know the equivilent full rated charge hour day that you can expect from a PV array. Go to this web site and just experiment with the different arrangments of PV arrays for your region.
First try; Average, June, flat plate tilted South at latitude - 15 degrees.
Then try; Average, December, flat plate tilted South at latitude + 15 degrees.
This will show you the difference in the number of equivilent full rated charge hours per day from Winter to Summer in you region. You will want to do your PV array sizing using the Winter time hours. I am going to assume 2 hours. Now we can size the array by taking the 4 kWh's or 4,000 watts and divide by 2 and that gives us a 2,000 watt PV array. Now you must choose a nominal vdc. In your case I will assume all 120vac loads via true sinewave inverter from 48vdc. Take the 4,000 watts and divide by 48 and you should get 83 amphours.
Take that 83 amphours and multiply by 5 (which is 20% of a fully charged battery) and that will be a 415 amphour battery at 48 volts at the very least. If you are conservetive this should get you through about 3 maybe 4 - 24 hour periods with little or no sunshine during the Winter months. Consider the cost of a generator.
There is so much more to consider though for a completely autonimous off grid system for $10k.
Know your needs in kWh's then do the math above. Your figures will help you to know what size of a system you will need and if $10k will get that. Dont forget the; charge controller, inverter, electrical; wire, disconects, conduit, fuses, breaker panel, breakers, and so forth (this is where an electrician friends come in handy).
I hope to answer more specific question in your next posting.

Nov 26, 2005 11:43 am
Re: Help me design an off-grid system for 10K USD or less

I re-read your posting and realized that you ask about "a full off-grid system" and that I just assumed a photovoltaic system to provide electricity for your remote home.
Off-grid can be indicative to more than electricity. Off grid is also a state of mind. Could you live without electricity altogether as mankind had for thousands of years? What are humans absolute needs? Shelter, food, water, fire, salt? Are these not provided for us from nature allready? For over 7,000 years mankind had thrived on the planet Earth without the utilization of electricity. Its only been in the last 100 years that mankind has gotten to the point were it cannot live without the utilization of electricity. As well as a lot of other things. There are to many to go into right now.
Think about what you need to have, not want to have, at your remote cabin in order to survive on the planet Earth.
You will need shelter. Is it adequate for the region year round?
Is there a steady supply of fresh healthy water year round? Without electricity,what will it take to retrieve and store this water safely year round?
Is there food year round? Without electricity, what will it take to retrieve and store this food safely year round?
You will need fire and you will need salt, but do you really need electricity or is electricity a conveinence you can or would rather not live without?
If you are willing to consider living on the planet Earth without utilizing electricity you may ready to live off grid.

Jan 24, 2006 12:53 pm
Re: Help me design an off-grid system for 10K USD or less

Under 10k? Hardly.
I'm in a process of designing a similar system for similar type of home, and it's just a bit over 10k for ~1.5 kW system WITH California rebates ($2.8 per watt). But my design is for system tied to the grid, so yours must also have battery backup for the night time and rainy days. 1.5 kW is enough for most appliances (except AC), but you will have to exersise a great care about concurrent usage.
3kW system will give you more flexibility (like running washer and watching tv and having a few lights on at the same time), but expect to spend way more than $10k + the battery bank, plus it wll need (possibly) more space than 1200 sq.ft. home has pointed toward south.  

12 Posts
Mar 5, 2006 10:59 am
Re: Help me design an off-grid system for 10K USD or less

I'm living on 512 watts of panel in Ohio. My system costs less than 6k. My home is 960 sq.ft. I have everything I need. I use propane for my fridges and collect rain water for my everyday uses. (Except drinking/cooking) I use a composting bathroom system to feed my garden..


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