from presentation by Nick Meissner
Much to most listeners’ surprise, when Nick and Lisa Meissner presented an online lesson last month about off-grid living, they didn’t create an image of oil lamps and fireplace cooking. Instead, they revealed four secrets to off grid living that your can start working on right now.
Secret # 1: Off Grid Efficiency – using electricity more efficiently. What can you do to cut the cost of your power system? The more electricity you use, the larger a solar system will be required. Your budget, i.e., how much can you afford to spend to set one up and maintain it will be the determining factor. To become energy efficient, Nick recommends several things. First, choose more efficient light bulbs like compact florescent or LED bulbs. Next, are you familiar with how much phantom power your home consumes? Many appliances continue to consume power even when they are turned off as long as they are plugged into the wall. Look for those small red, green or blue lights glowing in your rooms after you turn off the lights. To solve this problem, simply electrical power strips with an on/off switch. Do make sure you have had your cell phone plugged in long enough to recharge it. Another thing to consider is having more energy efficient models of key appliances, like refrigerator, freezer, clothes washer, etc. Look for the yellow Energy Guide posted on major appliances. Choose the one that uses less electricity daily. To reduce your electrical footprint, you can also consider installing propane or wood burning appliances, too.
Secret # 2 Step-by-Step Transition – rather than going all the way all at once. You can make a step by step transition by acquiring the parts gradually. First get a back up generator. Then to use it in your home, you will need a qualified electrician to install a transfer switch. Once the switch and an outlet for the generator are installed, you now have back up for short term use during a power outage. You will need to keep a supply of fuel for it and run it monthly to keep the starter battery charged. Second add a battery bank & inverter. This will allow you to store the energy generated and not used immediately. You will install a number of large heavy-duty deep cycle batteries and wire them together to form one large bank of batteries. Once this is installed, you will only need to run the generator long enough to recharge the batteries. The inverter, connected to the generator will convert the energy generated to charge the battery bank as well as changing the DC power of the batteries to regular AC household current to power your home. The third step is to add solar panels and charge controller. Then you will be able to use solar energy to charge your battery bank and eliminate the need to run your generator (except for back up). When you get to this point, you will be able to flip that transfer switch whenever you want to.
Secret # 3 Accurate System Design – where the kilowatt math begins. You must know how much power you will need to generate to run your home. There are a lot of variables involved in the design system. Things like your power usage, your location’s solar climate, your property’s shade situation, positioning the solar array in relation to the power room, and the temperature of your location. You do need to determine an accurate daily power usage first. Get a meter to check these. Nick has created a calculator that takes your raw data, runs the complex calculations and tells you what you will need.
Secret # 4 An Experienced Guide – a teacher to help you along the way. Nick has developed a very thorough course to guide you in your migration toward energy independent off-grid living.
Billie Nicholson, Editor