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  • Question About the Definition of Off Grid Solar Systems

    This maybe a stupid question. Forgive me if so, I'm a neophyte.

    Here we go. A solar system is installed in an urban house which is as usual tied the grid of electric utility company. It's stand alone; in no way connected to the electric hardware in the house, breaker box or anything else. Moreover, the grid electricity is turned off by the electric company from outside or main breakers are shut off. Would this be defined as an off grid solar system?

    Thank you!
    Last edited by Bozant; 07-07-2019, 06:13 PM.

  • #2
    Well my definition of a solar pv hardware system that is used to power load(s) that are not connected in to my grid supplied house panel or appliances would be Off Grid.

    But I would still need to follow all local electrical codes to make sure my Off Grid system was safe and legal.

    The sad part is that some cities will not allow a home to be off grid if it can be on the grid. It has to do with local codes even if the owner doesn't like it.
    Last edited by SunEagle; 07-07-2019, 06:38 PM. Reason: added last sentence

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    • #3
      Originally posted by SunEagle View Post
      Well my definition of a solar pv hardware system that is used to power load(s) that are not connected in to my grid supplied house panel or appliances would be Off Grid.

      But I would still need to follow all local electrical codes to make sure my Off Grid system was safe and legal.

      The sad part is that some cities will not allow a home to be off grid if it can be on the grid. It has to do with local codes even if the owner doesn't like it.
      I hear you.

      The safety part l can understand and totally agree with. The part that you can not choose how to safely power the house you own is scary. And then you're to believe you live in a free world.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bozant View Post
        I hear you.

        The safety part l can understand and totally agree with. The part that you can not choose how to safely power the house you own is scary. And then you're to believe you live in a free world.
        A free world is not always what we think. There are a lot of people in political power that feel "they know what is best". The tricky part is finding a place to live where there is some sort of balance between what they think and what you think.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bozant View Post
          The part that you can not choose how to safely power the house you own is scary. And then you're to believe you live in a free world.
          Then what you think or have been taught is BS. A Free Country is where a government does not control what people can say about their government for political reasons and where you can say what you want about government without punishment. Well until Political Correctness reared its ugly face.

          Imagine the destruction and loss of life that could have happened in California in the last week without strict building codes. Electrical fires have killed thousands of people in the USA. Very few people have the skills and knowledge to wire their own homes up to code. Your home puts a lot of people at risk like your neighbors and first responders. You do not have the right to put peoples life and property in danger. Go to Central and South America where you do have the freedom to do as you wish.Their homes burn down frequently, hundreds killed, and property values are not worth the dirt they build on.

          Short and Simple. Codes are written in blood.
          Last edited by Sunking; 07-07-2019, 08:37 PM.
          MSEE, PE

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Bozant View Post
            The safety part l can understand and totally agree with. The part that you can not choose how to safely power the house you own is scary. And then you're to believe you live in a free world.
            There is a lot of confusion about the necessity of a grid connection. If a nearby grid connection is available in your jurisdiction I believe you have to connect to the grid.
            However, at least in California, I know of no legislation that says you have to use the grid all the time as long as you follow building codes which would include using UL approved equipment for generation. Following the building code and using UL approved equipment is the important thing to remember. I have posed this question on several forums and no one has yet pointed out the code section in California that prohibits me from generating my own power, storing it and using it as I see fit.

            There may be Air Quality District regulations that govern generators. The closest I have seen is something that says a diesel generator located within a certain distance of a school has to go through a process of notification and approval. . Ten years ago I was involved in the construction of a medical research facility in Southern California and they needed a back up generator to keep the tissue samples frozen in case of a power outage. Fortunately it was less expensive to move the location of the generator a few hundred feet out of the notification radius than jump through hoops to get a variance. .

            That does not mean you might not have to pay a minimum monthly fee. To be clear your inverter would need to be configured for non export and or have an acceptable transfer switch so you can use the grid in case of emergency. That is an important factor that is probably in most building codes. It is there so that one can demonstrate that the home can be powered by the grid in case of equipment failure.

            By way of background I was once banned for a few days on this forum for disagreeing with a moderator about the need to get POCO approval for self generation. In that post I did not make it clear that the generating equipment could not be connected to the grid and that one needed to follow all building codes and use UL approved equipment. That is why I am repeating it again just so people don't go to YouTube and follow someones advice about going off grid.

            I also still believe that there are still some personal freedoms left in this great country. Self generation is one of them. However as noted, freedom comes with costs that can't be ignored.
            Last edited by Ampster; 07-08-2019, 01:07 AM.
            9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

              A free world is not always what we think. There are a lot of people in political power that feel "they know what is best". The tricky part is finding a place to live where there is some sort of balance between what they think and what you think.
              I guess one should be able to find an ideal place like that, but what if things change and you can't move.

              I wonder if one can challenge a regulation like that in court? If one works with a licensed electrician, meets all the safety codes and regulations required and even more, how is not being tied to the grid a problem?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bozant View Post
                I guess one should be able to find an ideal place like that, but what if things change and you can't move.

                I wonder if one can challenge a regulation like that in court? If one works with a licensed electrician, meets all the safety codes and regulations required and even more, how is not being tied to the grid a problem?
                One can always fight in court. The problem is overcoming current restrictions and laws where less than the majority want to see a change. IMO going off grid is not high on most people's agenda.

                I believe generating your own electricity is not the reason for current "connection" laws. I feel that where you get your water and where you discharge your waste is more important to a healthy life style. I think the electrical grid connection is just lumped in with all other city utilities that are required if you live within a specific town or county. At least that is what is happening in a few Florida cities. "Grid tied" requirements covers all utilities.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                  Then what you think or have been taught is BS. A Free Country is where a government does not control what people can say about their government for political reasons and where you can say what you want about government without punishment. Well until Political Correctness reared its ugly face.
                  LOL... you must be kidding me. You're quoting Cambridge Dictionary definition for a free country, rather simplistic and narrow one and I purposely used the term "free world" to avoid nationalistic crap.

                  And you think "political incorrectness" doesn't hurt some people. Do you think you have the right to hurt others?

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                  • #10
                    ignoring the discussion on IF you have to connect to local grid....

                    Originally posted by Bozant View Post
                    This maybe a stupid question. Forgive me if so, I'm a neophyte.

                    Here we go. A solar system is installed in an urban house which is as usual tied the grid of electric utility company. It's stand alone; in no way connected to the electric hardware in the house, breaker box or anything else. Moreover, the grid electricity is turned off by the electric company from outside or main breakers are shut off. Would this be defined as an off grid solar system?

                    Thank you!
                    Since you state that the PV system is
                    In no way connected to the electric hardware in the house
                    Then would seem to be a portable PV system

                    Portable systems are by nature off grid but not wired into or connected to a structure like the home.

                    Off grid systems are standalone but wired in to a structure but connect connected in ANY way to the grid

                    An Off grid system (wired into a residence) would still need a permit, inspections, and have to meet all safety and code requirements for a residential system.

                    A bimodal system would be connected to the grid and be interactive with the grid in some way (even if zero feed in to the grid).
                    OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bozant View Post
                      I guess one should be able to find an ideal place like that, but what if things change and you can't move.

                      I wonder if one can challenge a regulation like that in court? If one works with a licensed electrician, meets all the safety codes and regulations required and even more, how is not being tied to the grid a problem?
                      You would NOT need to use a licensed electrician but
                      you would need a permit and inspections, and the equipment would have to meet all standard safety requirements including rapid shutdown, setbacks etc.
                      connecting to the electric grid is only required in a few jurisdictions, not everywhere.
                      OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                        Imagine the destruction and loss of life that could have happened in California in the last week without strict building codes. Electrical fires have killed thousands of people in the USA. Very few people have the skills and knowledge to wire their own homes up to code. Your home puts a lot of people at risk like your neighbors and first responders. You do not have the right to put peoples life and property in danger. Go to Central and South America where you do have the freedom to do as you wish.Their homes burn down frequently, hundreds killed, and property values are not worth the dirt they build on.

                        Short and Simple. Codes are written in blood.
                        And this is quite a blatant straw man argument.

                        BTW, just in case you don't know what a logical fallacy straw man is, here ya go, first definition I run across: "Substituting a person's actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument." https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/...rawman-Fallacy

                        You know what I *think* happened here. You zeroed on "free world" part of my comment and the nationalistic blinds you seem to be wearing, prevented you to clearly see the rest of it. Or even worse. You didn't like my "free world" part of the comment so you conveniently quoted me partially and selectively to make it easy for yourself to attack me. You showed your true colors and you successfully killed my appetite for this place.

                        That's shame because it seems there are some knowledgeable grown ups on this forum and I was hopping to learn few things.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bozant View Post

                          I wonder if one can challenge a regulation like that in court? If one works with a licensed electrician, meets all the safety codes and regulations required and even more, how is not being tied to the grid a problem?
                          It's called Grid Abandonment. years ago, the utility paid off the city for an exclusive license to sell electricity to a captive market. And it everybody goes independent, it ruins the business model for the elected officials. So it's illegal. Simple. Your house gets red tagged till you comply.

                          Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                          || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post

                            It's called Grid Abandonment. years ago, the utility paid off the city for an exclusive license to sell electricity to a captive market. And it everybody goes independent, it ruins the business model for the elected officials. So it's illegal. Simple. Your house gets red tagged till you comply.
                            Yes that is the concept that is regulated. It is important to note it only gives them the right to sell power. It is probably in the building code and it probably says you have to have a main service panel and may even go so far as saying you have to have a meter. The agreement between the Cities and Counties is often called a Franchise Agreement and the POCOs annually pay a fee for that privileged.
                            As far as I know in California, the authority of the POCO extends only to the meter. Anything you do behind the meter is between you and the Authority Having Jurisdiction. If you have equipment behind the meter that feeds the grid you must inform the POCO and it must have the safety features describes by the UL. If you want to get paid for that generation you must apply for a NEM arrangement. I have looked and still not found any code section that says I have to use the power provided by the POCO. As I said earlier, I am sure I would have to pay some minimum and if my actual grid useage were close to zero I am sure the POCO would send someone out to make sure their meter was working correctly.

                            The concept that I was talking about earlier in this thread is often called load departure. It actually started happening in Hawaii when HECO was dragging their feet on approving NEM agreements for solar. People began installing off grid systems and only used the grid occasionally when their batteries ran low on cloudy days. That became a significant threat to HECO and they got smart and they started approving NEM agreements faster. There are still frequent power outages and Tesla and other battery suppliers are still selling equipment that lets people significantly reduce power usage from the grid and have a backup. My brother just installed solar and a Powerwall in a house in Lahaina, Maui. Power rates in Hawaii are very high and battery hybrid systems like these actually have a better rate of return than in other parts of the country where rates are lower.
                            Last edited by Ampster; 07-08-2019, 06:48 PM.
                            9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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