The Power2BeFree, Offgrid

Freedom = Off-grid Power: A Two Step Dance?

2 step danceThermostat  Starwind5 Giff  CPV ground mount

As an individual, family, community or business, we all think about freedom in different contexts, 24*7, 365 days a year.

But was does real freedom look like in these different contexts?

Certainly Free Speech and Free Choice are  freedom cornerstones on which our lives in these different contexts are built, but where does that really come from? In the end, some form of government regulates how these cornerstones come to be, and then we layer different forms of  perceived “freedom” on top of them.

So in reality, we are not free at all, when the government benevolently dictates, as opposed to foster, our various forms of freedom built on these two cornerstones.

Big Freedom TUG of WAR: Balance of Power (use)

Central Power Generation vs Off-Grid Power Generation and Energy Storage

“Grid attached” or “Behind the fence” ?  One or the other, or Both?

Clearly “Grid Attached” means we are content to take what is given in the form of power from the local power utility.

Behind the Fence”  on the other hand is clear choice to be free of the Grid, (Preppers like Off-grid power on its own) with the option to sell your extra power back to the local public utility at the price they set.

Behind the Fence” in power generation and energy storage lingo really means we will use the Grid as backup  power (when needed or at our option, to recharge batteries for instance when there is no sun or wind) and that we will  contribute  power (sell) back to the Grid when we have extra power stored (in our batteries), usually doing so when the power is needed by the local power utility the  most and the “buy” price is best.

“Behind the Fence” Power Generation and Energy Storage:

A Balanced Approach to Personal Freedom and the “greater good”….

A balanced, reasonable approach  to “Behind the fence” power generation and energy storage keeps us connected to the big picture (the grid and the local community), and is a personal choice to contribute to the greater good (sell back to the grid) to create a win/win scenario.

Balancing  power generation with energy storage, and balancing within  power generation types and energy storage types is  what we at Starwind5 call  balancing the “5 legged stool”, which is the real technical and business challenge  we all face when we make a choice to be free of the Grid, yet also benefit from the Grid to serve the greater whole. Wind/Solar/Engine Generation and Fuel/Battery Storage make up the five legs of the stool. How we program the controller/inverter/converter sub systems is how we invoke these very personal choices.

The Big Balancing Act: Personal Freedom & the Greater Good..

Balanced  Power Generation and  Balanced Energy Storage

“Wind/Solar/Engine Generation Balance and how much Fuel/Battery Storage?”

Its a question Starwind5 and our partner work on every day, guided by the choice our customers make regarding how much personal freedom are they looking for from the Public Power Grid versus how much Power to they want to sell the Grid, where the latter  generates revenue that can contribute to  the former, that is more personal freedom.

Getting the “balance of power” right between the different forms of generation and how much energy storage is built in the form of fuel storage capacity and battery depth is complex, where the site design complexity is made much easier when the customer’s choice is clear now and is clear how that choice will change over time.

So in reality the Power2BeFree of the local power grid is really a planned choice which can be made in 2 Steps:


Like tuning an economy car to be a local “Tuner”, Balancing & Tuning Active Power Use, and incorporating  Passive Energy Savings are the key to getting ready for your Off-Grid power leap, what ever  the form of freedom choice will be, either completely “Off-grid” or “Behind the Fence”.  Let’s look at a few practical steps for each that will get you on your way to “Power Freedom”:

Balancing and Tuning Active Power Use Check list: A 1 year “Power Tuner” plan

  1. Light Conversion: Switch everything to LED, big savings are waiting
  2. Convert to Energy Saving Appliances, Personal Computing, TVs, more savings
  3. In Winter Turn the Thermosat Down -2C/ -5F: even more savings
    1. Change from T-shirts to a  Shirt/Sweater
    2. Wear Sandals or Slippers
    3. Wear a Hat (if your balding)
  4. In Summer: Turn the Thermostat Up +2 C/ +5F : even more savings
    1. Wear Cotton, Bamboo and Hemp: Get rid of Polyester it’s a heat/sweat trap
    2. Do a bit of Grounding in house: Cooler and also Healthier in Bare feet
    3. Drink room Temperature Water: Cold Drinks, Milk, Cheese make you hot!
  5. Change/Secure all window and Door Seals: New weather strip & caulking
  6. Effective Use of Insulated Reflective Window Coverings
    1. Cover up during the evening in Winter,
    2. Cover up through Mid-day in the Summer
  7. 7. RE-insulate your Roof: Big gains here, if you lay in  the insulation yourself
    1. between rafters or
    2. sandwiched between a new sub floor and top.
  8. D0 a Furnace tune-up: Change the Filters, lower the burn temperature -5C for NG
  9. Turn your water heater peak temperature down to 40C, its probably at 50-55 C
  10. Use a Table Top Water Filter: reduce Fluoride,Chloride/Heavy Metal body stress
    1. you get rid of inflammation get healthier  and,
    2. you marginally lower your body heat, and your food intake
    3. you can tolerate the  +2 C higher temperature in summer better
    4. you can tolerate the  -2 C lower temperature in winter better
  11. Optimize the use of your humidifier for these new temperature adjustments seasonally

“If you are already doing the above, then you are already for (this year 2016)”


Designing your Off-Grid/Behind the Fence Power Generation & Storage Facility

  1. Optimize the use of your site for power generation using:
    1. Solar
    2. Wind, and maybe..
    3. Geo-Thermal
  2. Balance the Generation Load based on Site Capabilities:
    1. Solar vs. Wind vs. Geo thermal to hid a 5 Year Break Even
      1. Take advantage of Federal and State subsidies where they exist
      2. Utilize Less Solar with inexpensive tracking in Polar Climates
      3. Utilize Less/More Tower for Starwind5 Low Mount Wind 1-2m above the surrounding building and/or tree canopy
      4. Use Screw piles instead of concreted for your Starwind5 Low Mount Wind Turbines.
  3. Balance Engine Generation as “Mover of Last Resort”:
    1. Less Wind, Solar and Geo-Thermal overall means using a bit more engine generation and more fuel.
  4. Balance Engine Generation Fuel Storage Capacity with Battery Capacity
    1. More Wind, Solar and Geo-Thermal means more Battery Storage in terms of Amp hours versus less Fuel Storage Capacity
  5. Use a Controller/Inverter Solution (a la Schneider/Xantrex via to:
    1. Automatically Balance  Power Generation Types and Energy Storage Types
  6. EMP “Electro Magnetic Pulse”  Proof your Power Generation and Storage Facility
    1. Generator Shielding
    2. Controller Shielding
    3. Inverter/Converter Shielding
    4. Weather Station Instrumentation Shield
    5. Sensor Shielding
    6. Communications Monitoring/Control Device Shielding
    7. PC/Tablet/Mobile Phone Shielding (Dashboard Operation)
  7. Create an Electricity Dump when your batteries are Full and Grid Sale is too low:
    1. Heat your Water for Hot Water Consumption or Water Heating
    2. Store your Heat in Water or  Salt Solutions for later release via Forced Air Heating
    3. Heat your Driveway: Melt that snow, or dry up that water
      1. No shovelling
      2. No water leaking into basements
    4. Filter your Rain Water with a UV/electric Pump solution (more savings)
  8. Ground Heat your Garden boxes outdoors, extend the growing season

In the end “The Power2BeFree Off-grid”  is a choice, so what are you waiting for?