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Home Forums General Discussion Can I stay off grid and break even -with purchased systems?

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    I have a 35 acre lot in WY. It is planned to be my retirement home so I can get away from the crowds as soon as I don’t have to be near work. In the meantime I’d like to put in a travel trailer –easy to remove when I’m ready to build, septic, well, power, fence some pasture so I could bring some of my 4 horses and camp there.

    Well I had the power company out and was dismayed by the estimate. $3300 to start, 5 year contract, $26 monthly fee + however much electricity I would use. It seems quite a lot just to spend a several days a year there; plus politically I’d just as soon stay off the grid if I can. I am reasonably capable to set things up; but I cannot build any kind of system from scratch.

    So I have a ridge near where I would site my living quarters with great wind. Hmm maybe I can just buy a small-scale wind generator? There are 600 watt systems are quite reasonable in price. I need to be able to power a well and the depth is likely to be 300-350 foot. I’m not sure how much head draw that will be. I was thinking it would be most of the well depth which is putting me into $$$ DC pumps; and now I am reading that car batteries will not hold up for much usage and one needs higher end deep cycle batteries, its not clear to me if I can set up a wind turbine and just leave it run while I am 200 miles away working, but I think I would want to power the well at least minimally to keep the pump components from freezing when it gets to -20C in the winter and so on.

    So what is the reality? Is a wind turbine robust enough to be left spinning while I am 200 miles away for weeks at a time –possibly with every other day checking from the neighbor? Am I going to have battery life issues if they are charged most of the time and excess power being dumped and then under draw for 3-4 days when I’m there?

    Thanks for all advise,



    You can definitely do what you are proposing to do. Batteries are actually happiest when they are fully charged. You will need a good charge controller to ensure proper battery charging, and management of your dump load. You wil also need to check your batteries on a regular basis (say once every 30 – 60 days). You may want to consider purchasing a generator as well. I would suggest you do not cheap out on a generator, especially since you are likely to be there for a long time. Get a diesel generator that has an automatic transfer switch so that when the batteries get to low when there is no wind, the system will automatically start itself, even when you aren’t around. The dump load can be your water heater for winter time.

    As for type of battery – you are also correct that you cannot use car batteries. You will need to purchase probably four or more deep cycle lead acid batteries. When you see them, compare them next to a car battery and it will quickly become obvious why the car battery just doesn’t cut in off grid scenarios!

    The pump I use at my house is an AC powered Grundfos SQFlex. It is designed for remote pumping solar and wind operations, and can draw up to 250 ft of head at about 7 amps – which is quite amazing. The trick is to purchase a large enough expansion tank, which provides the needed water pressure for your piping system.

    Hope this helps!


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