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Q1: Off Grid Ni-Fe Solar Panel technology
In the beginning, my wife and I went partially off grid, using 24 volt lights, 24 volt water pump and 24 volt fridge,no 240 V Inverter outlets, all 24 volt appliances. The whole set up cost only around $7,000:-
Annual maintainence costs of the big items (pumps last 2 yrs, batteries last 3 yrs)for a life time of 18 years is : $460 per year.
The house had two 220Amp AGM lead acid batteries as a system with 20 Amp PMW solar charger, using 800 watt solar panels .This system ran water pump and lights.
220 AGM batteries.
Another system had two 220Amp AGM lead acid batteries, with 20 Amp PMW solar charger, using 800 watt solar panels (4 panels of 200w each).This system was used to just run the 24Volt fridge.
Because of the lead acid technology, I never ran the system below 85% fully charged.
Only once, on a 3 day overcast period, did the fridge ran to 65% fully charged, and I feel this spoiled that battery bank.
So despite the gentle looking after, I got only 3 years of use from both banks, so looking after lead acid is a waste of time. Batteries only lasted past the warranty date.
Having said that, the WC toilet is compost system with a computer fan to remove H2S gas, and it's own solar panel and a single 12 volt deep cycle 220Amp battery.
That toilet battery has never ran lower than 95% fully charged, and to this day, runs 24/7 for over five years.
So maybe if you design cheap AGM batteries to run no less than 95% fully charged, you might get many years of use from them.
The only things we missed or could not run, was the washing machine and the water pump for the garden.
Otherwise the 240Volt toaster and hair drier, etc, was never missed. If you are planning to go off grid, there is some life style changes one must get used to, such as learning to baby your power consumption, and to live with less.
Overall maintaining 24 volt stuff is expensive. Nowadays with near 95% efficient Inverters, it's cheaper to use 240Volt appliances and less maintainence. This means it is cheaper to purchase a LG magnet washing machine for 240V than try getting a 24V volt.
So having not ever used Inverters before, one has decided to build a 240Volt system.
Nickel Iron batteries
So let's discover, step by step images showing Off Grid Nickel-Iron battery technology.
These webpages show beginners how to build a power house and install Nickel Iron Batteries using Solar Panels.
Why use Ni-Fe batteries?
This Off Grid system cost : $26,000.
Or : $18,000, just for electrical.
Annual maintainence costs of the big items (pumps last 3yrs, inverters last 6 yrs, white goods last 9 yrs)for a life time of 18 years is : about $1,000 per year.
Compared to other off-grid living, this is more expensive, but includes bigger water pumps and white good maintainence, which the other off grid living did not include.
Let's get creating:-
Step 1 Plan the power house building site.
Close to house. (7 metres)
Near pumps (over water bore).
In open (away from trees).
Level (easy to build).
Central (near everything).
Design the layout of the building, to fit budget constraints as well as size limitations.
This building ends up 4.2m by 2.8m, with a solar array of 12 panels over the roof, on frames 5m by 4m.
Level the ground using tampering the dirt hard, and rake level, make the preparation within 10mm of level plumb.Notice the steel beams and spirit level helps work the site.
The choice of building is besser block or concrete block, for strength, and coolness.
Add formwork boards, I use one 25by35 cheap timber which is expensive ($40), to cut costs, laid on one side, to bring the level to within 5mm.Use bricks to hold in place, and pour concrete mix to fill the space, aiming at 25mm deep and 250mm wide.
Like so, the inner boards can be moved around as the concrete goes off.
The inner board (red arrow) is moved to each corner, to make neat appearance inside the building.
Next, lay the bond beams for the first part of the wall. Such a beam serves as a strip footing and a height for the wall, and adds to the overall cheap design of the power house.
The red arrow shows the blocks are laid to a steel straight edge, for the whole length of the building.
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