TIP; How long each day does a refrigerator run? 120VAC Refrigerators can be a large load for off-grid systems or they can be no draw. How often a refrigerator will run during a 24 hour day depends on many factors and will vary from home to home for the same refrigerator. Some of the variables include; the room temperature throughout the day, how full your refrigerator is (Full refrigerators run less often once the contents are cooled), and how often you open the door throughout the day. You can lower the run time of your refrigerator by turning off the automatic defrost function and keeping your refrigerator full. One off the grid living tricks is to keep full jugs of water in a 1/2 full refrigerator. Once the contents of the refrigerator are cooled, an energy efficient model in your home that is full might be expected to run 24% - 35% of the time with a room temperature of 70 degrees or about 6 hours out of 24.
Working with all my formulae and variables for wind turbines’ kW, I inadvertently, fortunately, have begun to sort my “need-to-know” list from my “wish-I-knew” list.  For example, I understand that “kilowatt” is the standard unit of measure for generating and consuming electricity; I do not really need to understand the relationship between watts and volts—at least, not yet anyway.  I must remember, though, that most of my appliances run on twelve-volt alternating current, and I cannot connect my (still imaginary) wind turbine directly to my household power without running it, first, through an inverter or transformer, converting it from direct current to alternating current.  Working-out my (still in the catalogue) wind turbine’s “kW,” I have mastered the difference between “power” and “energy”:  Oh sure, you think the two words represent the same atomic stuff surging through the wires, but “power” tells me what my (I should buy it) wind turbine can crank out in any old split-second.  “Energy,” on the other hand, tells me what my (durable, reliable, but still imaginary) wind turbine will produce over time—that kilowatt-hour deal that means so much.  Yes, I should know my wind turbine’s kW power, but I absolutely must know my wind turbine’s kW energy…first in kilowatt hours, for the sake of comparison, and then in kilowatts per month for the sake of calculating supply and demand.
Solar panels are no longer just for hippies. If you’re just as interested in saving money as you are in saving the planet, solar panels can help you do that. Their price has come down, their effectiveness has gone up, and Congress extended a 30 percent federal tax credit for installing them until the end of 2019. All of this means solar panels can now pay for themselves in as little as five years, depending where you live. But are they right for your particular home? That’s a question that raises more questions. Ask yourself these things before making a decision.
Your diy solar panels need a container to hold the cells. You can build a box to hold the cells out of many different kinds of material like wood or aluminum.  The easiest for most people to work with is wood.  Use your substrate as a guide for how big you need the container to be.  Plywood works fine for the back and ¾” square wood for the sides, but you can use whatever you happen to have.
Combiner / circuit breaker box is a key piece of equipment that begins to bring the pieces of equipment together that allows you to generate electricity. We use almost exclusively Midnite Solar and OutBack combiners and breakers because they are safe, durable and easy to wire. NEC (National Electrical Code) says that each series of strings of panels are to be wired to it's own circuit breaker. Midnite Solar and OutBack combiner boxes make this task easy providing a breaker to turn off and on each string for any purpose. The combiner box is usually located directly under a ground mount array.
The reliability of small wind turbines is (still) problematic. Even the good ones break much more frequently than we would like, and none will run for 20 years without the need to replace at least some part(s). Despite their apparent simplicity, a small wind turbine is nowhere near as reliable as the average car (and even cars will not run for 20 years without stuff breaking). If you are going to install a small wind turbine you should expect that it will break. The only questions are when and how often.

Generally speaking, they work well in combination with solar panels, but can make sense on their own if your electricity rate is currently very high. Hot, sunny days don’t tend to be very windy, while those cloudy, sunless days are often much more windy. Wind turbines produce most of their energy in the winter, while solar panels do most of their work in the summer. A combination of the two is a great energy providing relationship for the environmentally conscious, or someone seeking to go “off the grid”.


When it is sunny, regardless of outdoor temperature, pop cans (painted black) heat up very quickly. The fan drives cold air from inside of the home, through heated pop-cans and then back into the room. During this journey air collects the heat from can wall and brings it into the room. Read the following post if you are looking for more details about how solar thermal system actually works.
In 1839, the ability of some materials to create an electrical charge from light exposure was first observed by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel.[6] This observation was not replicated again until 1873, when Willoughey Smith discovered that the charge could be caused by light hitting selenium. After this discovery, William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day published "The action of light on selenium" in 1876, describing the experiment they used to replicate Smith's results.[6][7] In 1881, Charles Fritts created the first commercial solar panel, which was reported by Fritts as "continuous, constant and of considerable force not only by exposure to sunlight but also to dim, diffused daylight."[8] However, these solar panels were very inefficient, especially compared to coal-fired power plants. In 1939, Russell Ohl created the solar cell design that is used in many modern solar panels. He patented his design in 1941.[9] In 1954, this design was first used by Bell Labs to create the first commercially viable silicon solar cell.[6]

The soldering is super easy and will go fast once you get the hang of it.  This is a great first soldering project because it is so easy.  Put the cells face down on the table and bring the tab from the front of one cell to the back of the next one.  There will be metal squares or pads on the back of the cell.  Press the tab down on the metal pad with the soldering iron to heat them and then press the solder on the tab.  The solder will melt and attach the tab to the pad.  If you aren’t experienced at soldering, make sure you heat the metal and apply solder to the metal.  Do not heat the solder.  If you end up with the tab connected to the pad and nice shiny solder, you’re doing it right.  Keep going until you have 9 cells in line like this.


We currently have16 solar panels and 12 batteries with a 28kW system. We have a backup generator for cloudy or snowy days. I would like to see us get a wind turbine for nighttime power production. However, I do not want a 100 ft tower in my yard. Oh yeah, we are 14 acres at the top of Elk Wallow Mountain at 4,000 ft in North Carolina and can have winds up to 50mph. We are very remote and have been off the grid for 19 years. Isn;t there a smaller wind turbine available?
Most homeowners are going to need to hire licensed solar installers to install even DIY kits. Not only are they the professionals, they know the ins and outs of these systems, and are specifically trained in their installation. Let’s face it, how comfortable are you with playing around with your home’s electricity? What’s the drawback of this? Most of cost you’re going to pay an installer is going to significantly decrease the actual amount of savings you will accrue from going the DIY route. Most licensed electricians will charge you $3,000 to $5,000 on average to install your home solar panels. But, wait – there’s more. Let’s assume after installation, you’re saving about $5,000 from buying a DIY kit. But, this is before applying the 30% federal tax credit, reducing your savings to about 10% overall (you’re going to save about $2100, on average, to purchase a DIY kit. Doesn’t seem like much considering all the steps involved in DIY systems.
Each module is rated by its DC output power under standard test conditions (STC), and typically ranges from 100 to 365 Watts (W). The efficiency of a module determines the area of a module given the same rated output – an 8% efficient 230 W module will have twice the area of a 16% efficient 230 W module. There are a few commercially available solar modules that exceed efficiency of 24%[1] [2]
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