Wake up and smell that coffee!
I’ve lost count of all the articles an opinions I’ve read about what’s best for off grid use, there are still some that insist that 12 volts is the answer! They have an investment in 12 volt appliances, less than ideal batteries in parallel, excessive distribution losses, expensive or poorly made appliances, and more.
Of course I am goring someone’s Ox when I share any opinion, but many of us, ‘if not most’ will agree that embracing well defined standards can bring us many benefits. Whatever local commercial power delivers, that’s my first choice. Thanks to the advances in Inverters over the years, the efficiency is quite amazing, and the idle current draw of a typical modern inverter is quite low.
In the 1970s, I bought a small inverter that was little more than a toy, the commercial rigs of the day were expensive and the ones I studied used quite a bit of energy to ‘idle’. We can thank the engineers in my home town of Kent, Washington for starting it all, one of the first really good Inverters was produced here, and the Engineers who worked for Heart spawned the other well known companies that produce Inverters today. Hats off to these engineers and the competition they created to build world class products and the convenience off gridders now enjoy.
But… when does an electric coffee pot make sense? I’ll give you our Easton off grid location for example. I have a modest 520 watts of panels, and a 24 volt string of S530 rolls batteries. The FX2000 watt Outback inverter is also modest by some standards, but my chop saw, table saw, and small air compressor to name just a few run just like they’re plugged in on a short cord back home nearest the breaker box here at Easton.
We watch TV on the dish for a few hours most evenings, sometimes we might just use the TV for background noise, but it’s on, so is the porch light, we use the microwave quite a bit, the small Dorm room sized fridge is always on, we use lights in the out buildings as much as we like.
Most summer mornings, I get up about 6:00 AM, I watch the sun creep towards the fixed mounted panels, it takes little time for the sun to make up the debt from the night before, and sometimes, it’s just minutes before the green light is on. When you have energy production you can’t store, why not divert it to a dump load? Or.. one better, this amazing little Coffee pot. What we like is it’s the right size for two people, the coffee pot doubles as a thermos, and there’s no energy used to keep it warm. I’ve come into the cabin at noon and found the coffee still hot. Pouring a cup, and sitting on the porch and inhaling the country side along with a sip of coffee is a favorite thing to do. Hats off to the people who designed this coffee pot, it’s five star and two thumbs up… Just the opposite of the night mare coffee pot I wrote about on a recent post.
9/23/2010 AM… I decided to tag on this email snippet ‘conversation’ below, this may be helful for younger men, and slower learners. If you are gay, there’s less reason to keep reading, as you’ll have a natural tendency to understand what the average man overlooks.
“My thoughts on the DC charging is this, if your inverter did quit and your standby battery charger quit, you would still have capability to charge your batteries to run lights, DC refrigeration as well as a DC water pump for water!”
We get into opinions here, read the latest article up at utterpower.com ‘new site’ regarding the coffee pot dump load.
You receive rather significant dividends WHEN you embrace standards. As you study off grid power, as your personal experience grows, you learn how profoundly wise KISS principles are; and part of KISS is to adopt local standards or use the most available products as they always prove to offer the best return on investment over time.
We know there are several Websites dedicated to 12 volts DC and the appliances they ‘SELL’. We expect them to disagree, and of course they might accuse me of “goring their ox”. We expect people to be critical of our opinions WHEN ours are contray to their right?
With the current crop of really good and dependable inverters with high efficiency and priced from near ‘give away’ to fairly significant investments for the larger and more capable units, most of us are covered.
WHEN you consider all the inexpensive appliances you can run directly off the inverter OR the PMG generator WHEN you embrace the commercial power standard. I’d hate to show up at a debate and try and defend the use of low voltage DC, it gets into a lot of things… lower the voltage in the distribution system by half, and double your losses, but that’s only the beginning of the discussion.
In one off grid site we experiment at, we feed power to buildings several hundred feet apart, easy to do when the voltages are higher. Yes there are people who start out small and know they’ll never need or want more than a Wall Mart economy deep cycle battery and a few auto tail light bulbs to light the way to the outhouse and maybe one over the cooler so they can find a cold beverage after dark, BUT the typical off girder desires more convenience and comfort as he grows older or wiser.
Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you are a hunter or camper, and you are building a camp…. your buddies will suffer along with you no matter how sparse the amenities you offer. There is generally whiskey for entertainment, and you can sit around a Smokey fire and tell lies for entertainment. No matter how uncomfortable your camp, if you drank enough whiskey before bed, you might ignore the snoring, the fact that you bed is a foot too short, and other short comings of your man built camp.
Now, I share the golden rule of engineering design, IF you are going to invite a woman into your camp, especially a wife, then you best rethink your entire plan! Yes, there are young men who think they are the master of the house, the dumbest of them will attempt to design the kitchen for their wives without her input. Fact is, 99% of Off Gridders who share space with a female companion know how important standards are, and they expect to add amenities along the way.
My wife has taught me a good deal over the years, she has followed me up mountainsides so steep that we cross paths with other men headed down saying the climb was too long or too hard. She will break ice to bath in cold water. Washing her hair near daily is a ritual hard to deny her. Her hair dryer followers her everywhere, and being able to plug it in generally means my breakfast is more to my liking. I might get my favorite sausage, eggs, and toast when the lights are the correct color and the hair dryer works, or I might find a pot of boiling water, and instant oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, you can be the boss, but there are so many ways a wife can make her appreciation of your effort known 🙂 Only young men and dumb men ignore a woman’s input and comfort.
More mature men take inventory of a woman’s appliances, hair dryer, electric lip balm applicator? Whatever it is, plan for it or you will pay in ways you never anticipated.
Now as far as space planning, only foolish men will build a living space without the advice of a woman. Few men will think to place the kitchen window giving the best view, or the view of the drive way so she can see who is coming to the door. Few men will know the size of standard furniture and what will fit in a room. They are often clueless where the lights need to be located, and the better place to put wall plugs. If you have an ounce of sense, you will consult a women BEFORE you build…….”unless you’re Gay.”
“Please let me know what you think!”
Now Daniel, don’t you regret this invitation?
Thank you again!
You are welcome Daniel….