Category Archives: Backup

PG&E Forces 800,000 Customers to Begin Living Off Grid in California

Off Grid Living - Installing Solar Power to Produce Off Grid Electricity

Off Grid Living – Installing Solar Power to Produce Off Grid Electricity

PG&E confirms power will shut off to 800,000 customers statewide

Sacramento, California (October 8, 2019) – PG&E announced that many of the northern counties of California will see a power shutoff beginning at midnight Tuesday; a second round of outages is expected to impact the Bay Area starting at noon Wednesday.

“The power will be turned off to communities in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions, beginning with counties in the northern part of the state,” PG&E said in a statement.

After days of warning, Pacific Gas & Electric confirmed Tuesday afternoon that 800,000 customers across 34 California counties would be left in the dark starting at midnight.

To help homeowners without power, PG&E offers customer both solar incentives for installing solar power and well as rebates for adding solar battery backup banks for their solar power arrays so that they will be able to generate their own electricity, even when the power grid has been turned off.

Guide to Off Grid Living - How to Select between Mono-Crystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Guide to Off Grid Living – How to Select between Mono-Crystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

The utility planned the shutoff as a precaution due to “unprecedented wildfire risk,” the company said in a Tuesday night press conference.

“The power will be turned off to communities in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions, beginning with counties in the northern part of the state,” PG&E said in a statement.

Off Grid Living - How to Size a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

Off Grid Living – How to Size a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

PG&E said it would communicate with affected customers directly via automated calls, texts and emails. It also created a map of affected areas, which you can check for your neighborhood. PG&E’s site was intermittently down Tuesday, so we’ve put some of the maps in the gallery at the top of this story.

PG&E said the shutoffs would begin just after midnight early Wednesday morning. PG&E meteorologists forecast high winds to last until midday Thursday, but power could be out for several days longer.

“Before restoring power, PG&E must inspect its equipment for damage and make any necessary repairs. That process cannot begin until the severe weather event has subsided,” the company said.

The outages could last “five days or longer” in some areas.

“It’s also important to remember that some of our customers may experience a power shutoff even though the weather conditions in their specific location are not extreme,” said Sumeet Singh, PG&E vice president of the Community Wildfire Safety Program in a Tuesday night press conference.

“The reason why this happens is because of the inter-connected nature of our electrical grid and the power lines working together to provide electricity through cities, counties and regions. We’re working directly with state and local agencies to help prepare our customers and the public for this safety event,” he added.

ALSO: Map shows neighborhoods impacted by PG&E power shutoffs

The weather this week is expected to be dry and windy, which makes the risk of a catastrophic wildfire high, PG&E officials said. The utility company wants to shut off power so its electric equipment doesn’t start a wildfire as has happened in recent years. Singh stressed that the shutoff is only implemented as a “last resort.”

The number of potential customers affected in each Bay Area county, according to PG&E, is:

  • 32,613 customers in Alameda County
  • 40,219 customers in Contra Costa County
  • 66,289 customers in Sonoma County
  • 32,124 customers in Napa County
  • 14,766 customers in San Mateo County
  • 38,123 customers in Santa Clara County
  • 32,862 customers in Solano County
  • 9,855 customers in Marin County

Read more:
https://www.sfgate.com/california-wildfires/article/PG-E-power-outage-800-000-customers-length-number-14501984.php#item-85307-tbla-10

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How to Size a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

Off Grid Living – How to Size a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

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Off Grid Living - How to Size a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

Off Grid Living – How to Size a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

Sizing a Generator to Back Up an Off Grid Solar System

California – When searching for a generator to support your off-grid solar system, keep a few things in mind:

  • Generator output should be 2x your inverter’s output
  • Match generator voltage to inverter voltage
  • Generator must be warrantied for off-grid use
  • 2-wire start is mandatory to work automatically with solar system
  • 3600 RPM generators are more cost-effective, while 1800 RPM generators cost more up front but last longer and are more efficient

Generator Sizing

As a general rule, the generator should be around 2 times the size of the inverter’s continuous output. For example, a 4,000-watt inverter should be paired with an 8,000-watt generator.

This is because the generator needs to charge batteries while still powering the loads (appliances using energy). If the loads total 4,000 watts, and the charger is 60 amps at 48 volts, that totals around 7kW of continuous power:

60a x 48v = 2,880 watts + 4,000 watts = 6,880 watts

8kW would make sense as a minimum generator size to power the loads and have enough power to charge the battery bank as well.

It’s a good idea to round up slightly to give some headroom for the generator, especially at higher elevations where your generator is going to lose some of its power. Engines can lose around 3% of their power for every 1,000’ increase in altitude. Make sure you account for this if your system will be installed at a high elevation.

Can I Use a Larger Generator?

A larger generator can be beneficial if you have large loads like an air conditioner or a welder that will only be used when the generator is running.

We frequently sell 12kW and 14kW Kohler generators with our off-grid systems using a 4000w inverter. A larger generator is going to burn more fuel, but otherwise will work fine.

Can I Use a Smaller Generator?

Smaller generators will still work, but it typically requires adjusting the settings to limit the battery charger’s output. Most battery chargers allow you to adjust the AC input amperage and charge rate.

You will need to match the generator’s voltage with the inverter. For example, 120Vac generators should be paired with 120Vac inverter/chargers, while 120/240Vac generators need an inverter that outputs 120/240Vac.

In the rare case that you are using a three-phase generator or inverter, the same rules apply: the generator’s voltage would need to match the inverter.

There is one exception we are aware of. Magnum PAE inverters are 120/240Vac but can handle a 120Vac input, provided you turn down the charge rate to 50% or lower, and adjust the AC input amps to match the size of the generator. This is useful if you need an inverter that can output 120/240Vac but are working with a smaller generator.

Generator Fuel Type (Natural Gas, Propane, Diesel)

Most standby home generators work on natural gas, propane or diesel. Diesel generators tend to be much more fuel efficient and longer lasting, but the initial cost can be 2-3 times more than a natural gas or propane alternative.

The Kohler 12kW & 14kW generators we sell can work with either natural gas or propane. Off-grid customers typically use propane instead of natural gas, but these models can be configured to work with either fuel type.

Warranty

Most generators don’t have a warranty that covers off-grid or prime power applications. Check the generator warranty closely to be sure it can be used off the grid.

Kohler’s 12RES and 14RESA generators are both warrantied for 18 months / 1000 hours of off-grid use (whichever comes first).

If you need more power, dual 14RESA generators can be combined in parallel with the Kohler Powersync module for 28 kW of output.

2-Wire Start

Off-grid generators paired with solar power systems need 2-wire start capability to allow the automatic generator start (AGS) function to work. When your batteries drop below a certain voltage, the AGS kicks in to turn on the generator and recharge your battery bank.

Note that 2-wire start is different than electric start. Some generators will have a button for electric start/stop, but they can’t be controlled by a 2-wire signal, which means the inverter can’t communicate with the generator to trigger the AGS mechanism.

The Kohler 12RES and 14RESA are both capable of two-wire start.

1800 RPM vs. 3600 RPM

Most generators operate at one of two engine speeds: 1800 or 3600 RPM.

The difference is based on engine design and the alternator being used. 1800 RPM generators are generally considered superior because they are more fuel-efficient, but they cost quite a bit more up front. 3600 RPM generators tend to be cheaper but less efficient.

The Kohler 12kW and 14kW generators we sell are 3600 RPM. They are very durable, reliable and more cost-effective for typical off-grid applications. Kohler doesn’t make any 1800 RPM generators smaller than 24kW, although there may be options from other manufacturers. Be sure to do your research and read reviews to learn about the company and make sure you are getting a quality product.

Source: https://apelectric.com/general-faq/

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