Alaska Off-Grid Resident Harnesses Energy from the Sun
Living off grid presents several challenges even for those that make pre-calculations for every possible need when you’re in a remote area. Whether it’s determining a water source, developing emergency plans or deciding on a power source - most come with their own unique problem to solve and everyone’s situation is different.
Doug, 74 – is a retired dentist living off the grid in Alaska. He currently fundraises for National Parks as a retirement hobby by reproducing National Park posters from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration. America’s National Park system is something that is near and dear to his heart. His work has received several accolades for his dedication to preserving our national parks. Doug spends his time enjoying his work in an area located primarily in a rain forest. His approach for power was the front and center challenge for his Alaska off-grid residence. Many off-gridders choose solar as the primary source for power but given the abundance of rainy weather and lack of sunlight that far north, it needed to be supplemented with other forms of energy.
Solar power is contributing the least amount of energy for Doug’s off-grid system. Hydroelectric power is the main source of his energy sources along with a generator. His goal was to minimize diesel fuel use as much as possible. After wasting lots of money on inferior solar products, he decided to rework the way his solar power system functioned and rebuild it from the ground up.
Doug contacted Northern Arizona Wind & Sun for guidance into how this should be done. After our solar engineers listened to Doug's idea for his system, they recommended going with a Sol-Ark Inverter because of its ability to handle higher voltage arrays (he has 12, 135-watt solar panels in series). Another feature of the Sol-Ark Inverter is that it allows the Smart Load to handle the hydroelectric dump energy which heats a Tulikivi masonry heater in Doug’s house. For energy storage the team designed his system using two Discover AES 7.4kWh Lithium-Ion Batteries in a closed loop configuration. Together they decided to utilize Midnite Charge Controller and a Midnite Clipper to control the hydroelectric aspect of the power system.
His project is a unique one for sure, but in areas with limited sunlight, it’s critical to be creative on how to produce power. He reported that during clear winter weather windows, the solar system will harvest up to 10kWh of energy per day and the hydroelectric system can produce about 24kWh per day. For Doug’s application it’s not practical to use a solar-only approach due to a rainy environment and significant northern latitude, but it is a critical and essential part of a three faceted approach with hydroelectric power and lessening his dependence on the diesel generator.
Sol-Ark Inverter and Discover Lithium Batteries
Energy Dump from the Sol-Ark helps heat the Tulikivi Masonry Heater
It's always great to hear directly from the customer about their experience with our company. Feedback is highly valued, which allows us to deliver an even better product to the next customer.
How was the response time when you submitted an inquiry for a consultation?
Working with Northern Arizona Wind & Sun has been good. Luis has sold me most of my equipment (along with Discover batteries) and James has provided me with much of the programming, etc.
Were our prices competitive compared to other competitors?
When you live off grid, price is not the guiding principle; it’s reliability. I just cashiered 40 NiFe (Chinese Hong Chang) batteries at a loss of $17,000 after many failures, lack of warranty and high maintenance. I was spending all my time rebuilding this house of cards and finally decided (along with my hydro) to rebuild my energy system from the bottom up with low maintenance, automation, and reliability.
Do you think the free consultation provided value to you?
Absolutely. Northern Arizona Wind & Sun have been right by the phone.
Solar Power System Components
Below is a list of components that were purchased for this system.
- Sol-Ark SA-12K Pre-wired Hybrid Inverter System
- Discover AES 7.4kWh / 48VDC Lithium-Ion Battery (X2)