Saturday, February 16, 2013

Off Grid Solar

This post is long overdue, but after we moved into our stone cottage on the prairie after 2.5 years of hard work; we sort of took a break. Alas, there are things that need to be shared, some of them major. For starters, we are living completely off the grid with the use of our self installed PV system. Our only outside source of energy is our 1000 gallon propane tank (I use the term ‘only’ loosely). Here is a rundown of our system. It starts outside with 8 REC 235w solar panels. They are wired in 4 series strings of 2 panels each and mounted to our homemade tilt-able solar mount. It is constructed out of what is called telespar (stop sign post) with no welding. It has been strong and sturdy even in our heavy winds, although if I had to do it all over again I might use uni-strut instead of telespar. It is better suited for bolting together and they make all kinds of connectors for it.
From the mount, the panels are wired into an MNPV6 combiner box. The combined output travels underground via #4 copper up to our loft. We bought a pre-wired E-panel from Midnite Solar which I would highly recommend to anyone who is a novice in producing their own energy. Our system includes the 240v E-panel, 4000w Magnum inverter/charger, the Midnite Solar Classic 150 charge controller and all the NEC required breakers and disconnects. It wasn’t cheap, but very very worth it. I don’t know that I would have been able to figure out the hook up without the components pre-wired to each other. Plus, inside the E-panel every bus and breaker is labeled so figuring out where to connect the wires to and from the system is a lot easier.
So, speaking of wires – this is how our system works.
DC power from the panels combined and sent to the E-panel via Classic charge controller
DC power is sent to 24v 500 amp hour battery bank (seen without finished enclosure) and inverter
  • Batteries are Interstate Batteries DCM0100 sealed AGMs
E-panel sends 120/240v AC power to our house breaker panel via inverter
Generac standby generator is plumbed into our propane tank and AC output goes up to the E-panel
  • From there we are either charging the batteries or running the house or both

The system comes with a remote panel that I have wired into my utility room so we can monitor /control the system from the main floor. We are constantly checking the SOC (state of charge). You can also monitor the input of the PV panels via the charger controller. I haven’t set it up yet, but I have an app downloaded to my computer that allows you to check the charge controller using a local area network (LAN). After spending some time with our system, we couldn’t be happier. We appreciate the sunshine even more than we did before.

So, that is the basics. Any questions?

On a side note. We also couldn’t be happier with our masonry heater. The constant radiant heat is awesome. And we are slowly but surely learning how to cook in the bake oven – including pizzas and rustic artisan loaves.


  1. fantastic! referring the hubby over to your solar info as that is something we have been thinking about doing for those times when fire/ice/any dangerous thing decides to pull the electric cord out on us (we do have a 1000 gallon propane tank though :)

    Have you gotten an oven temperature gauge yet? they make "stand alones" ; but it is VERY IMPORTANT to remove it before you fire up the stove LOL I have burned up many LOL...otherwise pizza was the very first thing we made too ;) we also purchased stoneware (lidded casseroles, stonewear sheets etc.) and also a wood paddle to use to slide them in and out. In fact thats where I have actually made roasted chicken and once even a duck using a covered casserole dish :) but another side note - make sure you remember to ALSO REMOVE THE STONEWARE before you fire up the stove LOL

    yes, sometimes it was an expensive meal...LOL

  2. Good cooking tips! I am definitely not a professional PV installer, but I would gladly answer any questions that I can.

  3. Thanks for the update Jared good on you for going off grid (except for the propane). I am really impressed with everything you two and your friends and family have accomplished.

  4. hey. the statistics here are mind boggling. thanks for sharing such informative blogs. they do really motivate on going green .

    Solar PV Mount

  5. well written blog with useful information about Inverter with Charger.
    Inverter with Charger

  6. Nice to see your heater and oven all completed and operational. I'm jealous, but delighted you posted these build blogs.
    How did you end up venting your heater? Through the floor? or building on an additional chimney, or venting out the top of the heater? Could you send or post another picture of that (or send pics privately to me at (substitute letters for numbers)

  7. It's really informative information dear. Thanks for sharing such a useful information... installers

  8. How's everything working out? Any chance of an update post?

  9. You may be qualified for a new solar energy program.
    Click here and find out if you qualify now!

  10. Did you know you can shorten your links with LinkShrink and make money for every click on your shortened urls.

  11. Super blog and very interesting work in your blog thank for sharing this blog.

    solar inverters