My Home Energy System

I have a 48-volt system with inverter that has 8 Trojan gel batteries.  I have 12 x 300-watt Hanwha panels on pole mounts.  I have all circuits in my breaker boxed switched for grid or solar.  I do demand management during the day maximizing my solar gathering.  I do not use the system at night.  I then have maximum battery power available if grid goes down.  I also lower battery cycling for longer life.  I intend to upgrade lead/gel trojans in the future moving these to my barn that is also solar with older watered batteries.  I am looking at lithium iron phosphate batteries that look promising.  I am on the fence because batteries are changing so fast so still watching.  I also have a throw switch at my transformer so I can run hose on a 50amp generator/welder.  This is on wheels so I can move it around the farm as needed. 

Also, part of my system is a Heatmaster wood gasifier.  I also have a Daikin split HVAC unit.  This Daikin heats and cools.  I have several low wattage (500 watts) ceramic heaters in the house.  This allows me to heat and cool with my solar if there is excess power available.  My wood boiler can be run with solar.  In the summer I have my wood boiler tank heated with evacuated solar tubes instead of using wood.  The solar water heating system disassembles and is put away for the winter when I switch to wood.  This wood boiler system has forced air and water to air heat exchangers.  These different sources of heat are all manually switch by simple values.  Potable water is warmed to an electric water heater through a heat exchanger.  The water heater is valved so I can take it out of the loop if grid power goes down.  Most of the time my boiler using wood or solar that preheats the water heater.  My well can be run off the solar system.  It takes lots of power so if I am using the solar to run the well I have all other circuits switched off at transfer switches.  I have an oversized pressure tank that I can then fill and use as needed.  I can switch off the well once pressure tank is full strength then power up my wood boiler to heat water if needed for shower or washing.    I also have a conventional woodstove insert in my fireplace as final backup and which I mostly use on very cold days.

They key to this system is its hybrid nature with multiple energy nodes for flexibility.  The other key is the system is a power collection system with wood biomass and solar but it is also a survival tool with grid down situations.  I use the grid as needed for economic reasons.  Grid power is the cheapest form of power at the moment.  That could change but currently when I consider sunk cost of equipment and labor then just using electric is cheapest.  Electric is also convenient and vital in bad weather when solar is not producing.  It is my hope the grid becomes more renewable based as is happening but slowly.  The real value from my system comes in flexibility and resilience with grid down situations.  I fully use wood and solar to help pay off the initial cost of the system so this is a matter of economics also.  I am a Green who believes renewables and locally sourced biomass is good for lower my planetary footprint.  My house is a split-level brick home with the best insulation I could get.  This was a combination of open cell and closed cell foam.  The windows were the best I could get triple pane Pella’s.  There are lots of windows so if grid goes down in the summer, I have plenty of ventilation. 

This total system is holistic with active demand management.  It is meant for someone who works from home.  In my case I am a permaculture farmer raising cattle and goats on a multispecies management intensive grazing system.  I make my own hay.  I also have a garden, orchard, and grapes.  There are 400 acres dedicated to wildlife that is abundant and would be available in a collapse situation.  I have multiple water sources for water both potable water and irrigating garden and animals.  This system is expensive but less expensive than a system that attempts to go completely off the grid.  Some applications demand off the grid strategies because of cost of getting to the grid.  My thinking is the grid is an asset utilize it as needed.

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