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Off The Grid

I'm going to live off-grid. Read my blog and learn how to do it yourself!

My two new solar panels

Two weeks ago I go a delivery from a shop modernHome.pl, that contained two new 30 W solar panels. This weekend I finally had some free time to make some tests and prepare some photos to show here.

At this moment my solar system has 150 Wp and consists of 5 solar panels. I have one 10 Wp flexible solar panel, two 40 Wp laminated glass panels and those two Wp monocrystal panels.

DSCF1726

Me and one of my two new solar panels.

The solar panels are made of 36 monocrystal solar cells connected in series. In standard conditions (1,000 W/m², AM 1.5, 25°C) they give 30 W output each. Since I don’t have a wattmeter that would be able to measure the power of such device (I own a wattmeter that’s plugged into wall socket and measures the amount of energy used by household devices, but that won’t work here), so the only thing I could measure is the open circuit voltage (Voc). (more…)

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  • PV systems energy profitability

    Those of you who know me better, know also, that I am a moderate fan of photovoltaic energy systems (solar panels). The first solar panel I bought (flexible 10 W) 5 years ago, and since that time, my PV system has grown to 150 Wp. Lately I aquired two 30 Wp panels, which I want to review here as soon as possible.

    I calculated some time ago that photovoltaics is not a viable solution from the economic point of view. But is it worth to spend energy od manufacturing PV panels and use them somewhere else to produce solar power? Isn’t it just a way to store electrical energy? What is the EROEI of such an investment?

    I wouldn’t worry about that if I didn’t hear an interview with Steve Harris of USH2.com, who is an expert in the energy field. He said that PV systems are one of the worst investments you can make, because you simply transfer energy in the form of silicon crystals from Japan to USA or Europe.

    (more…)

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  • A week off the grid on a campsite

    Last week I returned home from a short summer holiday which I spent in my Vanagon Camper (RV) in Łeba, a town on the Baltic Sea coast. As I own two solar panels (40 Wp each) and two gel batteries, I decided not to pay for the electrical connection and use my own power.

    The prices for using the grid on the campsites in Poland are extreme. From your point of view probably it’s as cheap as everything here (10-15 PLN per day = $3-5 / day = 2.5-3.7€/day), but if you compare that price to the price of energy (0.5 PLN/kWh) it’s not worth it.

    On the other hand, since I paid for the solar panels only about 900 PLN, this investment pays for itself after 60-90 days on the campsite, which is in my case equivalent to roughly 4-6 years of camping holidays. Of course that doesn’t take into account the batteries, charge controller and wiring that is not free either. (more…)

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  • Living off the grid is a challenging effort, but the success of the lifestyle is worth the effort. Living off the grid essentially means using nothing more but renewable energy sources, like wind or sun for power supply. Maybe to have the entire home power supplied with a renewable energy might be a little difficult at the beginning. To gain some experience, you can easily start living off-grid with the renewable energy household items.

    Solar energy is the most common type of off-grid energy source currently in use, and solar energy driven household items are fast gaining grounds for those who want to break the mould and take control of the home electric supply. We all probably have or had in our lifes some solar-powered calculators, one of the most popular devices that use solar power to work (though we didn’t use them in the daylight, but rather under a desk lamp). (more…)

    My story about renewable energy sources begins in 2006 when I bought my Volkswagen RV/camper. At the end of summer that year I bought my first renewable energy source — the first solar panel. I wanted it to be a off-grid energy source for my first camping holidays, but only found out that such panels have many disadvantages.

    The panel I bought was rated at 10 W and 12 V. I connected it to an unused old car battery to store the solar energy, using a charge controller. While we were driving, the battery was charged from a lighter socket, and on the campsites I used the lighter plug to connect the controller to the solar panel. That’s right — the panel has a lighter socket that allows it to be used directly, without any battery.

    Here’s a photo I took when working on my first photovoltaic system. (more…)

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