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Electrical System - things to think about

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    Electrical System - things to think about

    There are a number of things to think about when considering how to provide electricity in your tiny house. Some of the things to think about that come to mind are the following:

    1.) Where or how are you going to get your electricity? Will you be able to hook up to a standard electrical utility company or do you need a system that is entirely off grid and completely independent on any utility company? If you can connect to electricity supplied by a utility company will you be able to connect to it all of the time? A typical RV, for example, has a system that can both connect to electricity when it is available and can run many of its systems from electricity stored in one or more batteries when a connection is not available. A system designed to never connect to an outside source of electricity needs both a way to generate electricity and typically a way to store it when not actually generating. Most of the ways of generating electricity that I can think of that can be local to your tiny house do not run all the time. Solar panels obviously only collect electricity during daylight hours. A generator powered by some form of fuel such as gasoline or propane does not typically run all of the time either. While a wind generator is not limited to daytime hours it still requires wind to run.

    2.) What kind of electricity do you need? Will you need to run standard house hold appliances or equipment that run on 110 volt AC power? Can you limit your electrical needs to use only 12 volt DC power? Typical systems that have one or more batteries usually provide 12 volt DC power directly from the batteries. 110 volt AC power is supplied either by a direct connection to the utility company or by a device called an "inverter" whose job is to convert 12 volt DC into 110 volt AC power. A typical RV electrical system will have a power cord that can connect to a source of AC electricity. It will also have a built in charger that takes some of that electricity and charges up the 12 volt battery(s). There is usually also an inverter on board that can generate 110 volt AC power when the RV is not plugged into so called "shore" power. I think the least expensive electrical system can be achieved if your tiny house will always be connected to a source of electricity and you do not have any need for 12 volt DC power. You would not need a battery, charger or an inverter. Limiting your self to only 12 volt DC would have some cost savings too in that you would not need an inverter. Also 12 volt electrical wiring is likely to be smaller size wires that for a 110 volt AC system which might result in some cost savings.

    3.) How much electricity do you need? Electrical devices that must have 110 volt AC typically include heat producing things like electric stoves, water heaters, heaters, toasters, and hair dryers. Air conditioners typically need AC power. Each of these type of devices are typically rather power hungry compared to things like LED lighting and laptop computers. What things you chose to power up in your tiny house will directly influence the type of electrical system that you need. Conversely the type of source for your electricity might very well dictate what things you can power with electricity in you tiny house. Electrical usage can be reduced by the use of alternative energy types of devices. For example an RV refrigerator can typically run on propane and optionally on 110 volt AC when it is available. The refrigerator that I have in our remodeled 1973 Airstream trailer runs on both and can be set to automatically switch between propane and electricity. You can cook, heat water and heat your tiny house with propane or even diesel fuel. You could have a wood or pellet stove for heat.

    I would be happy to discuss these things in more detail if anyone in the forum wants more information. Lets talk...
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    #2
    I have a 16x20 cabin in the woods. I have researched solar on the internet, and have purchased 4 x 100 watt solar panels, 6 used batteries (hoping at least 4 are good). I only need for lights which can be DC, a ceiling fan (for cooling) which can be DC, a TV, which can also be DC, and an electric fireplace, which is AC (Using this for heat, as I am afraid of propane, but could go to propane if necessary. The BIG problem is that my cabin is in the woods. The closest open patch of sunshine is 60 feet away. I can’t find 60’ cables to run from the panels to the battery bank, and have learned that I will probably loose a lot of energy doing this. I am willing to build a battery shed out by the panels, but the inverters that I have seen have plugs in them, so I am not sure how to get the power to my she shed except through an extension cord, but then how do you hook up hard wired Any help, suggestions, would be greatly appreciated

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      #3
      malconium But lest people forget, pellet stoves are generally 110 volt devices. If the auger isn't running, the stove isn't heating. In a house I formerly lived in, I sold my pellet stove and replaced it with a wood stove. The problem was that on really cold (subzero) snowy days, the power would got out for hours, and on a few occasions, days, at a stretch. No heat!

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        #4
        Justjeanne1 Try https://solarpanelsvenue.com/calcula...calculator.htm

        You can certainly run copper wire 60-80 feet. 2 AWG, at $1.29/ft, would more than do what you need.

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          #5
          Doug, run it from what? This is what I am trying to find out. The inverters have 110 plugs, where do I start the copper wire? And with what?

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            #6
            Justjeanne1 Can you run cables from the solar panels to your cabin and put the batteries and inverter at the cabin?

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              #7
              Doug Yes I can, I just don't know what to plug the solar panel wires into to run that far. Or do they make the solar panel connector extensions that long?

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                #8
                @ Doug, That is the question, how do I connect the solar panel wires to copper wires to run to the cabin, then invert there?

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                  #9
                  Justjeanne1 Try this: https://www.windynation.com/Solar-Ca...369?p=YzE9Mjc=

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                    #10
                    Doug Perfect, just what I needed. Thank you

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                      #11
                      Doug Now that we have solved that problem, what is the best inverter that I can run actual hard wires to the fireplace, if I choose to do this?

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                        #12
                        Justjeanne1 That is a question to which I have no answer. My current residence, a teardrop camper, is all 12 v, and my tiny house (currently under construction) will be all 12 v. Not even a suggestion of 110 v, so I have never looked into inverters. Best of luck with that though.

                        Doug

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                          #13
                          Doug. Thank you for your help. I think I found an inverter that also had hardwire capabilities at Renogy. You gave me what I really needed. MUCH appreciated

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                            #14
                            Justjeanne1 You are entirely welcome!

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