Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Off the Grid

Posted by: Rick

There is no public utility providing electricity to Sand Creek Park. And, according to the local rural electric utility, there never will be. So, we are truly "off the grid" and must produce our own power.

We won't live without the modern conveniences of running water, electric lights, Internet access, radio and occasional TV. So, it is necessary to rely on alternate and more renewable forms of energy. We can generate electricity three different ways:

1. Run a gasoline (or propane) powered generator. This is fine for emergencies or when supplemental power is needed beyond what we can provide otherwise. But, impractical and expensive for everyday use.

2. Use PV panels. "PV" stands for photovoltaic, and these panels turn sunlight into electrical power. A PV system provides DC or direct current power at lower voltages and must be turned into AC (alternating current) at 120 volts to conform to standard power for the above list of electrically powered items. This is done with something called an "inverter". (The word "converter" is used for the opposite--it turns AC power into DC power.) Our inverter is capable of delivering 2000 watts of power continuously, so we can never use more than that at any given time.

3. Wind. Wind can be used to power a generator which also creates DC electricity. This can also be converted to AC through the inverter and used to power the cabin.

Of course, we need electricity even when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, so we have a bank of batteries to store extra power generated by the PV panels or wind turbine for later use.

So, our system and any typical off the grid electric system works something like this:

(Click More... for the rest of the article.)

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