Off Grid Solar

  • Off Grid Solar

    Posted by Redeemed on June 3, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    I am still trying to find a good solar designer/engineer/electrician who knows what he is doing, has experience and a proven track record, with verifiable references, to build a whole house solar system for me, to use the grid as long as grid is up and running, and automatically switch to solar when grid is down and with the ability to go completely off grid if grid is down indefinitely or permanently. Roof mounted panels are not an option for me so I need ground pole mounts.

    I got a quote but it’s just under $138,000! It includes:

    • 40x VSUN 545W Solar Panels (21.8kw)
    • 2x Sol-Ark 15k Inverters
    • 6x GSL 14.3kwh Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries (86kw)
    • 2x MT Solar Top15 Solar Pole Mounts (Ground Solar Racking Mounts for 15 modules)
    • 1x MT Solar Top10 Solar Pole Mount (Ground Solar Racking Mounts for 10 modules)
    • Generac 24kw Whole Home Backup Generator (to charge batteries when cloudy for days/weeks at a time)
    • Turnkey Installation

    I asked him to break it down and itemize the costs, and this is what he sent me:

    Solar Panels: $17,544.96

    Inverters: $17,946.74

    PV wire, data wire, electrical wires: $4,170

    Racking and Pole Mounts: $23,769

    Rails and attachments: $2,780

    Engineering. Permitting, Concrete, conduits, clamps, gas, misc parts: $5,373.5

    Labor: $10,286

    Electrician expense: $4,170

    Shipping and handling: $1,390

    Batteries, battery cable and busbar combiners: $38,233.34

    Generac Generator install and setup: $12,376

    This seems like a crazy inflated price to me. Is this what it should cost or is this highway robbery? Does anyone with experience in building and/or purchasing a whole house solar system for off grid living have an opinion about this quote?

    • This discussion was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  Redeemed. Reason: Adding additional info
    • This discussion was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  Redeemed.
    daveandsonya replied 8 months, 2 weeks ago 14 Members · 20 Replies
  • 20 Replies
  • B747

    June 3, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    Hi. Did they do an energy audit for your needs then quoted the system needed?

    I would get a total of 3 quotes as well. Look into Lead Carbon batteries they’re approx half the cost of lithium and have very good cycles for the price.

    You could always upgrade later to lithium if you think you need it. Will you have a propane back up generator ? I saw the generac quote and was wondering if it is for powering your system when there is not enough solar ?

    Kind regards

    • Redeemed

      June 3, 2023 at 9:48 pm

      Hello B747. Yes, he did an energy audit. I average 818 kwh per month with the high being 1354 kwh in January and the low being 928 kwh in May. I moved into this home in October and so far for the past 8 months, my daily kwh usage runs anywhere from 22 kwh to 54 kwh. I live alone but I am preparing for family to move in with me.

      In the last 8 months of looking, I can only find one other solar contractor to quote my job and he seems unqualified because he just keeps trying to sell me a Generac system. Seems like all he understands is Generac.

      IF ANYONE KNOWS OF A GOOD SOLAR DESIGNER/INSTALLER IN Middle to East TN area, please give me their name and contact info. I know a whole house solar system is expensive but it seems like this quote is way overpriced. I am an hour north of Chattanooga, an hour and forty minutes east of Murfreesboro, an hour south of Crossville, 40 minutes east of McMinville. So please let me know if anyone knows of any good solar guys in this general area.

      The quote I posted above includes a Generac generator to charge the batteries when they get low when the sun does not shine for several days or weeks.

      I do not have a propane generator. I currently have a gasoline Honda EM6500 SX generator as backup to keep my fridge, 2 freezers, tankless propane water heater with pilot light, propane stove top with pilot light, propane gas furnace with pilot light, hard wired security system, & a few lights going if electricity goes out temporarily.

      I have wood burning stove insert and wood burning cook stove. I also have propane gas furnace for heat.

      • Carlene

        June 4, 2023 at 12:50 am

        Check out Engineer775 on YouTube. He has contact info on his page.

  • Redcap

    June 3, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    I cannot guarantee that he is still doing it, but Jarret Scott of Durham, NC did all the solar installations for a Buddhist retreat center in the Arizona desert in 2010. They were building cabins for a three year silent retreat and he did all of the 30 or so cabins and houses. He’s a lovely young man and would not overcharge you at least. You could look for him; I don’t have his contact info anymore.

    The easiest way to find him is to find his wife, Mira Shani, who is a yoga instructor.

    • Redeemed

      June 3, 2023 at 10:05 pm

      Thanks. I went to Mira Shani’s yoga website and messaged her asking her to pass my name and contact info on to her husband Jarret Scott concerning giving me an estimate to design and install my solar.

      • Redcap

        June 4, 2023 at 1:00 am

        I’ve known them for years but haven’t seen them in some time. It would be a shame if he wasn’t doing solar installs. He was very good.

  • PaulAtreides

    June 3, 2023 at 6:57 pm

    Great research!! Validates my research too. Here in S Texas I received a 6 figure quote as well and decided I’m going to start small, build my own prototype that does’t need a permit to power my detached shed. After that I’ll work with an electrician to navigate the permitting.

    • Redeemed

      June 3, 2023 at 10:03 pm

      It is so frustrating! I spoke with a guy who has lived off grid for 12 years and he said my system should cost me about $75,000 at most including all materials and labor. He said these solar guys try to make it all seem more difficult and complex than it really is so they can charge outrageous prices. He said if I get a good electrician, the solar part is pretty much plug and play. Nothing to it. Ha! Easy for him to say. But I do agree with his perception.

  • Vickies-Country-Home

    June 3, 2023 at 7:10 pm

    We live off-grid. We don’t design or do work for others, but I have some videos on YouTube showing what we have, and how it is put together if you want ideas. We have been off-grid since starting to build our house in 2005/2006.

    If you want to see the videos, go to Vickie’s Country Home on YouTube.

    • PackersRboss

      June 3, 2023 at 8:52 pm

      I went to your YT page & spent 5-10 mins looking for solar. Is there a date that would help me?

    • Redeemed

      June 3, 2023 at 9:57 pm

      Could you post links to your youtube videos showing your solar setup? I am not finding any.

  • Vickies-Country-Home

    June 3, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    Is it ok to post links here?

    • Rubys-Roost

      June 4, 2023 at 12:40 pm

      I couldn’t swear to it, but I see a lot of YouTube links posted here.

  • NorthernHomesteader

    June 4, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    Hello Redeemed,

    It seems that as a single person you are consuming allot of power.

    You could contact a company like Battleborn ( we have no affiliation with them, just a good company ) just to learn as much as you can about the system you need. Maybe take a look at your usage to see if there is anywhere you can reduce your consumption without sacrificing creature comforts. Everyone is different and has different needs but unless you have a need for all that power that system you were quoted will be generating, it seems a bit much. You might gain allot of knowledge with a couple phone calls to different companies that sell solar equipment.

    My husband and I live in Northern MN and have installed a solar system to power our entire home and garage. We use less than 300kwh a month, we have 12 – 370W panels, 4 – 270amp hour 12 volt Battleborn Lithium batteries and an 8kw SolArk inverter. Our current system cost just over 12k and we purchased it all in the last 12 months. We shopped around and purchased the items we needed from several places to save money.

    We have a propane stove/oven, propane on demand boiler/water heater, wood cookstove, washer/dryer (propane dryer), well pump and two computers which are on only when needed. No A/C unit, we have ceiling fans to keep the air moving. Frig is electric but we purchased a very efficient one without all the bells and whistles. 2 chest freezers, all lights are LED, stove top coffee maker and stove top toaster. The tv is only turned on in the evenings. We have a few electric appliances but those are not used as often. Misc electric tools in the garage as well. We have a 3000W Honda generator for backup to charge the batteries if needed.

    You could order your own components and have everything on site for an electrician to install. Good luck!

  • Gizmo

    June 4, 2023 at 5:47 pm


    I’m no expert but this maybe a system that would work for you. Here is a video with the information on a portable system and its built in Newport TN. Best wishes in your journey!

    <iframe title=”Portable Power, for Tiny Homes and More, When You Need It! 🏡🇺🇸🤩😉🔋🔌” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen=””></iframe>

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  Gizmo.

  • daveandsonya

    September 1, 2023 at 12:02 am

    Hello Redeemed,

    Start out small, learn the components to a solar setup. Then upsize later. I just created a 20 minute video call “Buy or Build a Battery Bank” I couldn’t paste the link for the video for some reason so I put the link to my page below. In this video I show my smaller truck setup and my large trailer setup.

    The cool part is you can build the entire yourself or you can buy a solar generator that is an all in one (sollar panels are separate).

    Most people going solar will need to learn how to do with less. Because a system big enough to use the same power you currently use will be too costly.

    I have several videos using the smallest Bluetti solar generator you can buy (less than $300). I show many appliances you can use. I have links in the descriptions of all my videos, to the items I used in the videos

    You need to start small, learn how to scimp on power usage and grow from there.

  • MartHale7

    June 3, 2023 at 7:38 pm

    I could see it if you could trust the utility, and the government…. California has proven they are not to be trusted to keep their word, especially with what looks to be coming with war with China.

  • VicMic

    June 21, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    You and I definitely neighbors.

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