Thursday, December 11, 2014

Parts of the power system - Solar panels and batteries

I've been learning all kind of things about power systems, electricity, and living off grid. Here's the batteries that are the heart of my electrical power. They are responsible for all the power storage so I have electricity even if the sun is not shining at the moment and the generator is not running. Right now I have two of these and they are 155 amp hours each. In a few days, two more will be added so I will have a bank of 4 for a total of 620 amp hours of storage.

 Below is my little generator. It really has been a champion so far. Starting in cold weather, using a tiny amount of gas, and running the house or charging the batteries.

This is the weather proof cables with #10 wire that run about 50 feet from the little clearing where my solar panels sit and into my house. There seems to be very little line drop in the power produced. I did not want to put the panels on my roof for two reasons. My house is almost one hundred percent shaded in the winter. And I want to easily be able to clean snow off of them which would be difficult on a roof.

I just realized it's pitch dark outside and I didn't actually get a shot of the panels where they are sitting outside. But here you can see the frame a very kind friend built for me in his shop. There are two of these so they can more easily be moved. Each frame has two 100 watt panels for a total of 400 watts.

Here are the two current batteries plugged into the charger and generator on one end and the inverter on the other end. Below you can see the addition of the controller for the solar panels. This set up allows me to run the house directly off the generator or the batteries by switching the plug from the generator to the inverter. And the batteries can be charged by the generator and/or the solar panels. 


  1. Okay, I may have missed the info, but where do you get your water from?

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  2. You didn't miss it. I didn't write about it yet. It's pretty simple though. There is a 26 gallon tank inside my house which can be filled either through attaching a regular garden hose and just letting it run, or dumping water into the tank from any other container. The hose is not really an option with my location and the cold weather here. I use my two 7 gallon jugs that I take camping, fill them up from my friends house (the one who's property I'm parked on) and just pour them in. It seems I only have to fill my tank less than once a week so it's certainly more work than just being hooked up to public water, but not too bad.

  3. Love all your posts-keep them coming! So wish I could do this :)

  4. Great article!! These Solar panels and batteries are really powerful dear!! You know I am planning to buy a generator and looking for the price list of Honda eu2000i inverter generator Atlanta. Could anyone of you provide these details?

  5. I have used the eu2000 and like it a lot. It is a simple to use and efficient model. It seems to have an issue with the oil safety switch when the temps drop below freezing and shuts it's self off because it thinks the oil is low. Bringing it in the house and warming it up a little solves this problem but it is inconvenient if you live in a cold climate. Honda is working on this issue. Everything else about the generator is great though more expensive than the Champion that I have which does not seem to have to oil switch issue.

  6. Hi Ariel!
    Can you provide more info about your solar panels? I'm in the process of building my tiny house right now and have been doing research on how to make it totally off grid. It would be great to hear a bit more from someone who has been using them through the winter. I live in AK and we don't get a whole lot of sun in the winter and it tends to be pretty dang cold... worried that the solar panels won't be enough! Thoughts?
    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    1. Sure. Here's a post I wrote on what I use exactly.

      I would say you are correct. Any time you live somewhere with as much snow as I have or as you would in AK, you are going to need a winter time backup for days with are cloudy, snowy, short, etc. I have a generator that I describe here that I am very happy with and has been a great backup. I use it a ton in the winter, not much at all in the summer, but you are going to need something like that as well I would guess.

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