OffGridInTheCity Build

Announcement - Help us fight the BOTS! Please report all spam including stuff in your inbox!

ajw22

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
641
Not sure if you have one, but a PHEV would be a good way to utilize excess electricity. I have a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, charging at home on a slow (on purpose) 200V/6A charger that can be controlled with a Wifi SmartSocket - switches on whenever I have surplus PV energy. Now I go refuel only once every couple of months, or when I go on a road trip. Of course a full on EV might be better, except during those winter months you mentioned.
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
ajw22 said:
Not sure if you have one, but a PHEV would be a good way to utilize excess electricity. I have a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, charging at home on a slow (on purpose) 200V/6A charger that can be controlled with a Wifi SmartSocket - switches on whenever I have surplus PV energy. Now I go refuel only once every couple of months, or when I go on a road trip. Of course a full on EV might be better, except during those winter months you mentioned.
Yes sir - a great suggestion.

Would love an electric truck to pull the cargo trailer - but that's a ways in the future. And I don't care what people say - Tesla truck is way to ugly for me :)

An off-road golf-cart or ATV is interesting but you can't drive them on the road where I live.

A cheaper entry might be aChevy Spark EVfor around town... but these only go 80miles and the closest one I see on Google is several hundred miles away...

Its on the list but not today :(
 

ajw22

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
641
Have a look at used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs (I bought a 5yrs old model). The battery will have degraded somewhat, but we know cells last a lot longer than most people think. Besides, even with a shitty battery, you still have the gasoline hybrid as a fairly efficient backup. It may not be the best car for towing, but it'll get the job done.
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
ajw22 said:
Have a look at used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs (I bought a 5yrs old model). The battery will have degraded somewhat, but we know cells last a lot longer than most people think. Besides, even with a shitty battery, you still have the gasoline hybrid as a fairly efficient backup. It may not be the best car for towing, but it'll get the job done.
Interesting - I see it has 1,500lbs towing capacity. Do you know of anythingPHEVthat can tow 5000lb?
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
cowpen said:
Wow! Great work. Congrats!
Thanks for the project update. Very interesting.
Couple of questions:
What's a RING pack?
Do you have any issues with different charge / discharge characteristics of the 6 batteries you've built over time? Do they all pretty well stay in sync for SOC?
Kind of you to give alike.

>What's a RING pack?
The RING packs have 2 x 18650 cells in them - they are for the Ring doorbell/camera system that has taken US by storm.
I found them for 0.50c/cell here at Battery Clearing House and promptly ordered a bunch. They contain (aprox55/45) INR18650D2 (3000mah) / NCR18650A (3000mah) testing at 100% with date codes around 2018 - basically brand new :). I bought ~1,000 packs here -https://www.batteryclearinghouse.com/products/lot-of-300-panasonic-ncr18650a-cells-in-ring-packs and out of the 1st 500 cells only 2 were 'bad' (0v for some reason). - rest all 3.0v -> 4.1v and mostly at 3.5v'ish.

>Do you have any issues with different charge / discharge characteristics
Here's a recent thread talking about them / how to crack open-https://secondlifestorage.com/showthread.php?tid=9350&highlight=made+a+dent
See section 1 and 2 forcomments on mix/match.

>Do they all pretty well stay in sync for SOC?
Yes they do -There are 84 packs (6 batteries of 14s88-120p - e.g. 260ah@48v)in sync with minimal balance for many months at a time.
Batteries 1 &2 are a random mix of 2 different ebike cells - LG-MF1-18650 and ICR18650-22P. **I got lucky here - didn't know any better.
Battery 3 is 50% NCR18650A and 50% LGABB41865
Battery 4 is 100% LGDAS31865
Battery 5 & 6 are 100% LGABB41865

image_ywwemw.jpg


*Note: As part of this journey, I had to discard 500 x Green Sony G5/G7(s) and replace them because theywould not balance with the rest of the packs- it was before I knew that IR should be at least in normal ranges of 50-100 .. and these had 200-250 IR. These packswould go 0.5v higher and lower than the other packs and I had no idea why because they tested (ah) just fine - so IR must have been the problem.
 

zerberfert

Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2020
Messages
58
You can mine Bitcoin with your excess power and make money at the same time. Depending on what machine you use (and if you want to mine alt coins) they can use between 500-3000 watts.

Happy mining
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
Smoke is killing Solar PV production - down to 20kwh from 70kwh per day. I'm in southern Oregon USA and we've beencovered with thick smoke for several days now. The smoke is not just surface - but goes up to 20K, 30K feet? - high. This blocks sun big-time.

image_kdoryy.jpg


I have a ground mount for 1/2 my panels so I can see the affect of dust / smoke. Look at this... after just 4 days of smoke. Ismeared a larger area and wiped a small area clean with my finger to help illustrate:

image_teffsz.jpg


It highlights that in this modern age - the winter plan (when power is lowest) may need to be applied to summer as well. The smoke can last weeks at a time! Cannot 'battery myself' past this kind of sun blockage.

*My long term plan is to stockpile 45 panels to double my capabilities... and have things on hand todeploy them rapidly (maybe 1 day) to the back yard in an emergency or thru the 3 bad winter months.
 

Solardad

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2018
Messages
76
Look at this... after just 4 days of smoke.

Wild.... I'd hate to think what this is doing to the local'slungs..

Good luck!
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
@Broot - you sent a private message but it won't let me respond... it says
"Broot has private messaging disabled. You cannot send private messages to this user."
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
A couple of misc updates.... (I'm offgrid and have twice daily ATS switchovers - over 2.000 so far...)

1) Our 11yr oldKenmore Refrigerator failed - it was the control board / fans (not the compressor).
The repair guy suggested that the electronics in these 'newer' refrigs may be susceptible to surge due to ATS'ing. The compressor is fine - but its the electronics "in his opinion". On the other hand, the unit is 11yrs old... but wanted to share this for what it's worth.
* Will run a socket for it fromthe house UPS system.

2) The new 4tonwhole house (2600sq ft)heat pump struggles below 30F/-1C. We've had over 10 days 26F to 30Fand its barely heats the house to full temp. I've found that by running an auxiliary portable heat-pump (12,000BTU)in house blowing toward the main intake it really perks up and does OK... but this brings the overall power requirement up to 4500-5000w/hour. With only 15-23kwh/day due to clouds (12.8kw PV array)... in offgrid conditions it would only take a few hrs to use up daily power. Maybe at 50F something could be managed to keep the house semi-warm?
*Disappointed as I was hoping it would work down to 20F/-7C... at 3500w power level...which is the lowest we ever get..but I'm given to understand that that's my lack of education rather than a fault with the equipment.

3) 7 x 14 Cargo Trailer (fully insulated - top, sides, floor)with Senville 9000BTU heat pump is working great at the same 26F to 30F conditions. Using 12-15kwh/24hrs at 70F/21C setting. Supposedly its rated down to 5F/-15C but.... We'll see if we get a string of 20F nights :)
*Planning to unfold up to 12x300w panels on the roof of this trailer for3600w- but still, in winter time / cloudy, that's at best only going to get me 5?kwh/day. Not enough for 12-15kwh/day. Still experimenting...

image_ysutxh.jpg


4) Will post yearly power production soon. Itwill by close to 15,000kwh but that's only85% of PVWatts projections with appropriate settings.
* Partly a lot of rainy days(clouds) but it highlights avoiding rose colored glasses when eying Solar systems...

5) We fired up the rainharvest system a couple of weeks ago. We got 5000gal in just 3 days so rainy season has started. WARNING.... we turned it on and putrid smell came out of faucet and traced it to the filters!!! These are Big Blue 20" filters - andhad been sitting for 4 months with no water flow (system turned off). The filter/container was just chock full of algea? or something really bad that grew!!
* I've learned that you cannot leave filters sitting for several months. Will take them out next spring when we shut it off for the summer.


Wouldn't it be so cool ifsolar was 3 x more power per panel!!:)
 

floydR

Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
1,279
Been my experience that when water stagnates in the pipes= stinky water. Iron pipes are worse than plastic. It doesn't take long for the water to go bad. sulfur bacteria form the hydrogen sulfide that is responsible for the odor. Sounds like you have it figured out. Just remember to drain the water collection system when you turn it off. Just removing the filters might not be enough.
later floyd
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
floydR said:
Been my experience that when water stagnates in the pipes= stinky water. Iron pipes are worse than plastic. It doesn't take long for the water to go bad. sulfur bacteria form the hydrogen sulfide that is responsible for the odor. Sounds like you have it figured out. Just remember to drain the water collection system when you turn it off. Just removing the filters might not be enough.
later floyd
>sulfur bacteria
Thanks you for the info. Interesting.... it did smell like sulfur... and caused the UV to go bonkers as well. Handfulls of 'gunk' in the filter - very gross!

image_nfnkjq.jpg


We chlorine'dthe reserve water in the collection tanksthru the summer but never gave a thought to water 'in the pipes/filters'. Its one of those things not mentioned on DIY RainHarvest or the official Oregon govt handbook - live and learn.
 

Cheap 4-life

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
372
Instead of running 2 heat pumps for the house you could install a small heating element (under 5kw) in the 4ton heat pump. When its cold and heat pumps not keeping the house warm use the thermostat to run only the emergency heat which would be the heat strip-element. might save you some power.

Clouds are rough. On cloudy days I used to get roughly 5kwh as you mentioned from a 3660w array. (Its now a 5640w array).
Going completely offgrid takes a lot of panels, batteries, time and money. More so when a person is trying to be offgrid with all the on grid amenities like central heat and air.
The above reasons is why I stayed ongrid using grid tie inverters that keep running on batteries when sun goes down. Amount of batteries and solar can be increased till all loads are covered by solar year round if thats what a person wanted. Atm I keep the grid tie inverters covering all of my loads 24/7 all year except the summer when the aircon is needed during the night. In the rare event of a power outage I have all the necessities (lights fridge freezer wood boiler) powered by a small (4kw) offgrid inverter. These things take roughly 6-7kwh a day to keep running and now with a 5640w array I get atleast that much even if its cloudy. This means that necessities stay running forever if theres an apocalypse or whatever.
If I wanted to be completely offgrid then imo Id have to live somewhere where aircon isnt needed and heat can come from a wood boiler. This would drastically reduces the panels, batteries, time and money needed.
Love your setup, and thanks for the update
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
2020 Recap - Just updated the 1st post on this thread and this recap:
1610986673448.png


Oldest battery is approaching 900 cycles and no degradation (balancing just fine with the other 70 packs) that I can see.

Just finished converting a Honda EU3000is to propane for the cargo trailer -> camper conversion and it works. So it now runs on either gasoline or propane.

Winter months - especially Jan at 413kwh is DISMAL. Nov, Dec, and Jan is just not enough power to 'live reasonably' in the house. Will mull things over... The cargo trailer conversion is the key project right now. Could be warm in it @ 413kwh :) But eventually I'd like to find some way to increase winter power.

Really enjoyed reading everyone's posts, questions. Thank to all of you that share - its really really help me for sure and I still find it a great deal of fun!
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
Instead of running 2 heat pumps for the house you could install a small heating element (under 5kw) in the 4ton heat pump. When its cold and heat pumps not keeping the house warm use the thermostat to run only the emergency heat which would be the heat strip-element. might save you some power.
Seemed like electric heating element as 2nd heat source in whole house heat pump was 50,000w?!? when I did research. Too large for my current 24,000w level of inverter power. My portable 12,000BTU heat pump uses 1000w and can keep a large room warm / assist in the whole house AND I could install some mini-splits for specific rooms. Which leads me to.....

OK, so I can't heat the house to 70F/21C only 17kwh/day in winter - but can it keep it above freezing? at 50F/10C. Seems like the power to raise outdoor->indoor by 20deg would be a lot less than 40deg?

If I wanted to be completely offgrid then imo Id have to live somewhere where aircon isnt needed and heat can come from a wood boiler. This would drastically reduces the panels, batteries, time and money needed.
Yes sir, agree 100% I have the operation of the house covered I think. For example, could turn on the hot water tank once a week (on sunny day) for showers / laundry etc in low solar months. I do have an average of 16kwh/day even in the worst winter month - which is 'something' to work with. But as you say - HEAT is the problem. We live in Southern Oregon - the home of firewood! but we had 2 different wood stove folks out and they both said NO WAY for hour house - it would take major work as in 20K or more. They just shook their heads and didn't even want to sell us anything - Sigh. But I haven't given up... not sure which direction to go but....

Maybe build a wood fire 'something' in the yard (like a fire pit with pipes) and transfer the heat thru hot water pipes to a blower into the house? We'll see.
 
Last edited:

Cheap 4-life

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
372
My whole house central heat and air unit has a 5000w heating strip-element. When it got cold here (below roughly 32f) it would come on (back when I still used the central unit) and do a really good job heating the 1700 sq ft house.
For colder climates you might need a 10000w or maybe 15000w, but definitely not 50000w.

Yes heating or cooling a house only 20f above or below the outside temp is easy (doesn’t use a lot of power) to accomplish.
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
My whole house central heat and air unit has a 5000w heating strip-element. When it got cold here (below roughly 32f) it would come on (back when I still used the central unit) and do a really good job heating the 1700 sq ft house.
For colder climates you might need a 10000w or maybe 15000w, but definitely not 50000w.

Yes heating or cooling a house only 20f above or below the outside temp is easy (doesn’t use a lot of power) to accomplish.
I live in a moderate climate and the lowest ever is 20F/-6.7C This winter we had about 15days of 25F / -3.9C and 30days 30F/-1C and rest 35F/1.7C and higher... and it has been a very cold winter.

Just got the whole house heat pump installed last March and so this winter I was able to do good testing. Its 4ton heat pump on 2600sq ft house raising the heat from overnight low of 68F/20C to daytime 73F/22.8C
1) >40F/4.4C - raised temp in 1hour or less... **Good efficiency (4kwh)
2) 35F/1.7C - 40F/4.4C - raised temp in 2hrs (10kwh)
3) 30F/-1.1 - 35F/1.7C - raised temp in 3-4hrs (20kwh)
4) 25F/-3.9C -30F/-1.1C - maintained at 68F/20C but could not raise it.

In #4, I used a 12,000BTU portable unit as an assist (blow hot air down the hall to the main intake) and it was able to raise the temp to 73F/22.8C after 5-6hrs. (30-35kwh)

When you say heating strip, are you talking about something like this? https://www.amazon.com/superbobi-Electric-Heater-Heating-Element/dp/B078KD7YZ1 **I could see putting this on the main air flow intake or something like that.

This kind of thing is 240v@90a... is what I ment above when I said 50,000w - https://www.alpinehomeair.com/viewproduct.cfm?productID=453066036&linkfrom=froogle&campaign=53167777&content=&keyword=&msclkid=a171168f788f183a16ab76897caec9c7&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=GOODMAN PLA&utm_term=4576992030711892&utm_content=Goodman
 
Last edited:

Cheap 4-life

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
372
Like these
At 25f outside temp a heatpump has a hard time keeping up. That’s why these electric heat coils-strips or whatever they are called are installed. They only come on when it’s to cold for the heat pump. In moderate climates they are not always installed. But where it’s cold they are an absolute must. It doesn’t often get below 20f here in Tennessee. I would turn on emergency heat which is only heat strip and fan and turn off heat pump because it’s just blowing in cold air. So for me the heat strip used 5000w and the fan less than 1000w. Your size house you would need a 10000w or 15000w heat strip. Maybe it would save you power. I know it would keep you warm and you wouldn’t have to use the heater in the hallway
 

Attachments

  • C5BBB480-7681-49A8-838D-7089767D56B0.png
    C5BBB480-7681-49A8-838D-7089767D56B0.png
    913.6 KB · Views: 67
Last edited:

Cheap 4-life

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
372
They are easy to install. I did mine in 10 min.
 

OffGridInTheCity

Active member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
1,712
Medford OR USA (Southern OR)
12.85kw PV array ->AIMS inverters.
50gal Rheims Hybrid (heat pump) water heater.
4 ton Lennox Heat Pump - 2600sq ft

1611852117471.png


I was really happy in the goal of 'powering my house' until Nov/Dec when clouds/reality set in. Dec was also a sustained 'colder' leaning climate experience for our area. Only 508kwh coming out of the inverter against 1,214kwh consumed by the house heat pump!

The reality of Dec/Jan/Feb in my area is a tuff nut to crack but on the 'glass half full' side - 508kwh in Dec is at least something to work with :)

Side Note: The Rheims Hot Water heat pump is under the house with ambient ranging from 58F/13C in winter and 75F/24C in summer. Also, the water can reach 90F/32C in the rain-harvest tanks in in summer - less work for the hot water heater than cooler city water. Also, we have 150ft of water re-circulation going on for 'instant hot water' at the tap which induces 20%? loss of efficiency.
 
Last edited:
Top