So throughout this tour of my tiny house I have described how we live “off the grid” but I haven’t really described exactly how we do that. So, for the penultimate installment of the series, I present to you what it really means for us to live off the grid.
There are two main “systems” that run our tiny house. One is far more technical than the other.
The first, and more technical, is our solar power system. We have two 245 watt panels and a 45 amp Tristar MPPT charge controller. The whole system feeds three 110 amp hour AGM batteries. We have an 1800 watt inverter that converts the energy from DC to AC going into the house. (Some people advocate the use of DC within the house to be more efficient which is true and would be a better solution in many cases.)
Please click or scroll below to read more about our solar system and how it works.
In order to create this system we first determined how much power we would need. We chose to lean toward the side of conservancy. We looked at the very minimum of what we would use electricity for in the house and we designed the system around that. Many people are looking for a solar power system that will run all of the major appliances we are used to in conventional homes but this is what drives the cost up. Anything that converts energy to heat or cold uses a lot of power and will drain the batteries very quickly so a much larger system would be necessary.
Our system runs our laptops for working, Matt’s huge gaming laptop, all of our lights, all of our chargers for devices and batteries, and a Stirling Engine cooler to keep our beer cold; and we usually have power to spare. For situations where it may be raining for days on end we do have a small and efficient Honda generation that we can hook the house, and the batteries, up to.
We worked with an online retailer, the AltE store, to help us put together a system. We knew what we wanted the end result to be but we needed a little guidance from professionals to ensure we had everything to make it happen. All total our solar power system cost us $2000.
You may notice that we built our own mount for the solar panels. We had purchased a “top-of-pole” mount but to be honest, the idea of dragging more concrete up to our mountain had us thinking of alternatives early on. This wooden frame is perfect because we can adjust the angle and even the position of the panels depending on the sun. We really only have to move it twice a year to maximize the sun exposure in the clearing.
Stay tuned later this week for information on our second household system – water.
What kind of solar power system would you design?
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