Everything Solar Forum

communities_1.jpg

 View Only
Expand all | Collapse all

PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

  • 1.  PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 01-24-2022 04:26 PM
    Does anyone have experience with off-grid solar powered residences in a mountainous cold climate setting that do not use any fossils fuels for providing heat and power?


  • 2.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 01-25-2022 10:12 AM
    Just check out the folk on Solar Pioneers. There are a whole host of them that cut their teeth on off-grid.
    Solar Pioneers
    Facebook remove preview
    Solar Pioneers
    The "Solar Pioneers" Facebook group is helping to preserve the rich history and culture of the PV industry. We invite group members to post photos and stories of the early days of PV, or anything...
    View this on Facebook >


    ------------------------------
    Donald Osborn
    President
    Spectrum Energy Development Inc
    Wilton CA
    deosborn.solar@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-25-2022 11:29 AM
    If you are high up in the mountains, you might have wind opportunities as well. There is no need to limit yourself to only one form of RE. You will often find depending on location, that when one is down the other is up. This is especially true on cold nights when solar is never present. IMHO, if one is to go off grid or be off grid if they have to, in climates where Winter is present, you had better have a VERY well insulated house. I personally don't like off grid for a whole host of reasons, at this point in time, but be careful because there is allot of press out there that makes it sound like a easy panacea. It is not. You are your own power company, 24/7/365, no matter what the weather, conditions, or equipment failures.. To be clear, I AM NOT saying it can't be done and or even done well, just approach it with very open and clear eyes... Diversify You RE production if you can.

    ------------------------------
    william fitch
    Owner
    www.WeAreSolar.com
    fcfcfc@ptd.net
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-28-2022 10:45 AM
    I agree with Mr. Fitch. I live off grid, and have done so now for a little over 2 years. Doing this is a SERIOUS comittment in terms of time, money and effort. Despite what you may read, it is an ONGOING experience and it doesn't matter whose equipment you use. YOUR installation will be UNIQUE and have it's own quirks and issues, and it seems things NEVER stop popping up. You MUST understand every single piece of equipment that you own, and effectively memorize the operating and troubleshooting manuals. The last thing you want to do is start reading the manual when your system is shut down or in an "alarm" state!! This is not to say that there are no rewarding moments, but it's the "panic state" that exists from time to time that will remain etched in your mind forever!!  Educate yourself. Know your system and it's components. OVERDESIGN your STORAGE and if possible combine some WIND with your SOLAR, and despite all that, include a backup generator because you WILL run out of battery when there is NO WIND, and NO SUN. If you plan your system properly, educate yourself on how to operate it, and do whatever periodic maintenance is required, you will no doubt end up a successful off-grid enthusiast!!  If you're just getting into it, look into ATLAS solar. They have what I think is a reverse engineered version of the SOL-ARK, which I think is the best system ever designed for off gridding. And it's half the price of Sol-Ark, including LiFePo4 batteries. And NO, I have no connection to this company at all. It's just my opinion and the result of quite a bit of shopping and analysis....  GOOD LUCK!!

    ------------------------------
    Joe Utasi
    PV Solar Consultant
    Cinci Home Solar, Keowee Home Solar, DIY Solar Helper
    joe@cincihomesolar.com
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-31-2022 10:28 AM
    Edited by william fitch 02-01-2022 08:38 AM
    Yes, there is nothing like wallowing in the mud to fully appreciate all its characteristics. Readers sometimes interpret my remarks as anti-off-grid solar or even anti solar. My views could not be further from the truth. I do not think off-grid anything is the best way as a whole, for RE generation, because it does not maximize the maximum potential of the generation. In short, you cannot gen more that you use, including storage. But EVERYTHING fails in time. Everything. Even our SUN (Though not to worry just yet). The best case for living off grid is that there is no grid where you want to live, and the cost for running a line could only be afforded by a 1%'er. But yes, if you are a DIY'er or have a personality that can handle such randomly timed "events" effecting your energy supply and its interested you, go for it....
    But don't think it is some Utopian scheme as a way to stick it to the power companies. Maybe someday, but not yet.

    ------------------------------
    william fitch
    Owner
    www.WeAreSolar.com
    fcfcfc@ptd.net
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 02-01-2022 10:30 AM
    I'd like to chime in on the "Off grid is great, but it's not going to take us all green" theme that William Fitch brings up.

    When my grid-connected PV/battery system is full, I begin producing power for my neighbors, reducing transmission and distribution costs for everyone during peak times.

    There is an equivalent to "everyone off grid" model and we can look at that for all the inefficiencies caused: the fact that every family has to have emergency financial resources (or else face eviction and starvation). Adding up all of these emergency resources and applying them in a collective way to the energy transition would be transformative. This would be an extension of what we are doing by individually investing in grid-connected distributed resources like PVs and ESS. IMAGINE!

    Andrew Stone
    Commercial Solar Lending











  • 7.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-25-2022 11:51 AM

    Hey Paulette,

    Good question and one I've been pondering as of late due to a job we are doing some design for right now. The house does use gas for water heating and cooking and their dryer. They only have a woodstove for heat, but the new owners of the property really want to add AC and another form of heat, so we are looking at powering the heating/AC with heat pumps/mini splits. I haven't figured it all out yet, that's for sure, but working with an electrician and another PV installer friend on it. I can let you know more once we are further along if you'd like. I'm thinking about Sol-Ark inverters, possibly two of them stacked, with lithium batteries to cover their various loads. You can send me a direct note if you are interested to hear more about this as it develops. Are you designing something for your own home, or for someone else? And where are you? I'm in SW Colorado at 6000-7000 feet for most of the installs we do. 

    Riley



    ------------------------------
    Riley Neugebauer
    Project Manager & Installer
    SoCo Solar
    Bayfield CO
    rileyneugebauer@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-25-2022 01:53 PM
    Hi Paulette,
    Having been designing and building high performing solar homes in Southwest Colorado for decades I would suggest you start with a super insulated passive solar design.
    This will greatly reduce your heating and cooling loads.
    A good passive solar design will also sycrinize your livingspace to the seasonal changes of nature.
    Listen to the earth,
    Steve


    Steve Kawell 
    Keller Williams Realty Southwest Associates, LLC
    700 Main Avenue, Durango, CO. 81301
    970-769-3904
     





  • 9.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-25-2022 06:53 PM
    While my current zero net energy home is grid tied, I am planning to build a zero net off grid home.  The design will use experience gained from this home, which is heated primarily with solar hot water, and from working on other off grid homes.  It will be necessary to have many solar hot water collectors, and a large array of photovoltaic modules.

    ------------------------------
    Stu Besnoff
    owner
    Alpine Solar Heat and Hot Water, LLC
    stu@alpineSolarheat.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-25-2022 07:55 PM
    Yes but it is expensive.   A customer of ours built a very tight well insulated home of about 1750 sqft in the mountains of SW VA.  If they had net metering I would have likely installed a 9kW system, but being off grid we installed 13 kW, as we needed to make sure we covered during the winter, and we added a very healthy 55 kWh of storage.  Now that said it is an ALL electric home with no real back up except the solar system, not even a wood stove.

    ------------------------------
    David Hrivnak
    Sales/Engineering
    EcoLogical (part time)
    dhrivnak@chartertn.net
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 01-26-2022 06:10 AM
    Thanks so much to everyone who has provided insights and suggestions!!
    Our biggest follow up questions are how do we keep snow off the panels and how do we keep the storage working at low temperatures when we are not in the cabin for days at a time?

    Thanks again for the great discussion
    Paulette

    ------------------------------
    Paulette Middleton
    President
    Panorama Pathways
    Boulder CO
    paulette@panoramapathways.net
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-26-2022 08:35 AM
    CABIN!!?? Seriously... and not full time occupancy!. I am sorry, that was not my initial impression as to the dwelling type you were asking about. Secondary lodgings and seasonal partial occupancy carries a whole set of different design parameters, as well as EROI and ROI calcs... let alone insurance...

    ------------------------------
    william fitch
    Owner
    www.WeAreSolar.com
    fcfcfc@ptd.net
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-26-2022 09:23 AM
    If PV modules are mounted for seasonal tilt, the best performance will be obtained with a vertical array when there is snow on the ground.  Snow that hits vertical PV modules falls off quickly.
    Batteries usually don't freeze when they are being charged.

    ------------------------------
    Stu Besnoff
    owner
    Alpine Solar Heat and Hot Water, LLC
    stu@alpineSolarheat.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 01-31-2022 02:05 PM
      |   view attached
    If you're not home for days at a time, then another's suggestion to set the tilt angle at 90 degrees in winter is the best solution.  Otherwise, even with panels set at 60 degrees (as in the photo) snow will stick until you get a sunny day when eventually the sun will take care of it.

    ------------------------------
    Mike Curran
    Retired from (dare I say it?) Fossil Plant Mgt.
    joacchim57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 02-01-2022 11:09 AM
    I believe that positioning the ARRAY at 90 degrees is a bit excessive.  Here in Maine at the Winter solstice an angle of about 78 might be ideal, and snow will slide of that exceptionally well.  An angle of 60 degrees is pretty fine too, which is what my attached greenhouse panels  are mounted at to maximize the solar gain during the heating season. The snow slides off a PV pretty easy when the sun comes out.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Mayhew
    President, Sr. Energy Engineer
    Heliotropic Technologies
    coolsolarguy@yahoo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: PV Fossil Free Residential Systems for Cold Mountain Climates

    Posted 01-27-2022 06:28 AM
      |   view attached
    We have used Fortress Power (LiFePO4) 48v batteries with success.

    ------------------------------
    David Hrivnak
    Sales/Engineering
    EcoLogical (part time)
    dhrivnak@chartertn.net
    ------------------------------