Off-Grid Cabin - 120v AC and/or 12v DC buildout?

TItreasure

New Member
Forgive my ignorance here, but with either of the options suggested, what does that do for me? Won’t I still struggle to use them? Or, are there items I can purchase (coffee maker, vacuum, etc) that could use these sockets?
 

Q-Dog

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There are many 12 volt gadgets and small appliances. Shop at places that cater to RVs, boats and truckers. You can also find 12 volt light bulbs that screw into normal edison sockets ... just replace the 120 volt plug on a lamp with a 12 volt.
 

12VoltInstalls

Solar Addict
Those sae sockets are not a struggle. Great option for 12V stuff with cords and the improvement over cig lighter sockets is significant.

I encourage using as much 12V stuff as possible- especially lighting. Then a decent inverter can power a coffeemaker, vac, anything else you want within the power output of the inverter. 12V coffeemakers take decades to make coffee and it’s not fresh-tasting by the time they’re done.
If you don’t have an electric fridge the inverter can be a part-time item turned off when not needed.

fwiw I have an electric fridge, 1200W

inverter, and currently run with 400W of solar at 24V into ~500Ah of lead acid. I have another 300W of solar which I’ll incorporate before “the dark months”

So you can have a decent high-performing dependable 12V lighting and other 12V device system and yet still have stable 120VAC available.

Those sae connectors are nearly as easy to use as a 120V socket, just shaped differently and makes your 12V solar life more pleasant imho
 

chrisski

Photon Sorcerer
I encourage using as much 12V stuff as possible- especially lighting. Then a decent inverter can power a coffeemaker, vac, anything else you want within the power output of the inverter. 12V coffeemakers take decades to make coffee and it’s not fresh-tasting by the time they’re done.
If you don’t have an electric fridge the inverter can be a part-time item turned off when not needed.
I used to think that way, but am starting to get away from that. I've found that there is no practical way for a disconnect for a high wattage 12 volt appliance. Even the lower wattage items that are run with the 16 gauge wire have limits like I can see .5 volts to 1 volt drop off after a 15 to 30 watt item. Also, with my RV, installing new thicker wiring is not practical with having to remove the floor to do that.

Starting from scratch and with a good design to include longer wire runs, this would be good for some lower wattage items, but I don't think anyone will be installing 2/0 or 4/0 to be running a washer and dryer off 12 volt.

I'm saying that a good install 12 volt is capable of powering 100 watts per line, but to me its not worth the work of installing new wiring to make that happen. I'm finding its much easier to make a little bigger battery bank, add some solar panels, and get an inverter to run most items I will be adding to my RV.
 

TItreasure

New Member
Those sae sockets are not a struggle. Great option for 12V stuff with cords and the improvement over cig lighter sockets is significant.

I encourage using as much 12V stuff as possible- especially lighting. Then a decent inverter can power a coffeemaker, vac, anything else you want within the power output of the inverter. 12V coffeemakers take decades to make coffee and it’s not fresh-tasting by the time they’re done.
If you don’t have an electric fridge the inverter can be a part-time item turned off when not needed.

fwiw I have an electric fridge, 1200W

inverter, and currently run with 400W of solar at 24V into ~500Ah of lead acid. I have another 300W of solar which I’ll incorporate before “the dark months”

So you can have a decent high-performing dependable 12V lighting and other 12V device system and yet still have stable 120VAC available.

Those sae connectors are nearly as easy to use as a 120V socket, just shaped differently and makes your 12V solar life more pleasant imho
This is really helpful, thank you. Is there a place you rely on to purchase sae compatible 12v stuff with cords?
All the lighting is 12v and is great. I think my problem is that we only have one inverter that has two sockets. I need to figure out how to get an inverter in other areas of the cabin (like the kitchen) to make a slightly more convenient stay.
 

Wellbuilt

Solar Addict
Really what is the point in using 12 volt stuff ?
It’s really easy to just run a/c wires and outlets every where ?
Then just power every thing from the inverter, people can’t even tell I’m off grid .
My power system uses 40 watts so 1000watt being on , but we are only talking about a 2/3 extra panels for winter time
 

12VoltInstalls

Solar Addict
I used to think that way, but am starting to get away from that. I've found that there is no practical way for a disconnect for a high wattage 12 volt appliance
I think you may have misunderstood me. Not that we can’t use 120V lights, but if not using an electric refrigerator there’s beauty in having lights, usb chargers, etc available with the inverter off.
My coffeemaker fridge and vacuum are 120V but multiple LED milliwatt lights at 12V aren’t even noticeable by the batteries.

Really what is the point in using 12 volt stuff ? It’s really easy to just run a/c wires and outlets every where ?
I like both. Redundancies.
In my mind when I build the house next year, some 12V solar would power basic lighting and usb charging, and another separate system would be primary power 120VAC with grid as backup; plus sell ability- only certain people can handle no grid. (Goal being basically having near nothing electric bill, but with grid-down-no-problem and being able to run welders and table saw without a generator or stupid-expensive batteries and 60 gigawatts of panels.)

I’m running a useable system now; plumbing that into the house would be simple and nothing to purchase.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
If I put my Inverter into "Power save mode" and dial it down to 8W to wake up, I have to turn on 4 LED's (120V models) to wake it up. Now with wall sockets that take 12V and have USB2 & USB 3 plugs (and replaces a conventional a Wall Plug entirely) it's kind of ridiculous to maintain Cig Plugs and 1/2 based bodged stuff. 12V extra as a side is just ... dubious pretty much now.

If you are really hung up on 12V check this out and find whatever you want but be prepared for it.
 

Wellbuilt

Solar Addict
12 volt is good for a trailer that is running off 12 volt , I my electrical inspector would freak out with 12v run thru the cabin .
My cabin is 2800 feet I was thinking of running a 48v to 12 converter for lights in the utility room .
Search mode works good and will kick on the frig but I just leave the system running over night
I sleep with a c-pac .
If my inverter go’s down for some reason I can just power up on inverter by pass and run the house .
I would need some thick wire for 12v
I was thinking about running a small inverter over night but I don’t really need to
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
LOL, a 2800sq foot cabin... that ain't no cabin dude.
Trailers & RV / Boats use 12V and that's to be expected, obviously, have to deal with what's there.

As for inverter consumption that varies a lot by the quality/tier of the product, My Samlex-EVO uses 25W No Load Power Consumption in Normal
Mode (120 VAC Output, Typical), if that was a problem for an FT Offgrid place the system is poorly setup. MPP-Solar does not even tell you what their consumption is, imagine that.
 

Wellbuilt

Solar Addict
How do you like the samlex evo inverter , they looked really good a few years ago
And I was going to use there 48volt unit but my out back really wasn’t much more money
I like being able to have every thing work together and it can be grid tied if I want .
I’m thinking the out back with every thing running uses 40 /50 watts
I can run loads all night and my usage only go’s up 2%from 9% to 11/12 % using 2 ceiling fans out door light, frig and freezer and a bunch of other stuff , so I’m thinking the inverter uses some power .
All the cheep all in one systems seam scary to me , it’s a big investment in time to learn a system I figured
I only want to do it once .
I have to put one of the samles evo inverters in my buddys travel trailer where he gets all the parts .
 

12VoltInstalls

Solar Addict
it's kind of ridiculous to maintain Cig Plugs and 1/2 based bodged stuff. 12V extra as a side is just ... dubious pretty much now.
I agree. I don’t have any cig plugs or bodged stuff. I disagree on the dubious part; if my inverter fails I will still have lights until a new one goes in.

if you don’t prefer that that’s fine. I’m just not a flashlight and candle fan.
 

TItreasure

New Member
Really what is the point in using 12 volt stuff ?
It’s really easy to just run a/c wires and outlets every where ?
Then just power every thing from the inverter, people can’t even tell I’m off grid .
My power system uses 40 watts so 1000watt being on , but we are only talking about a 2/3 extra panels for winter time
 

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TItreasure

New Member
Here are two photos I took at the camp this past weekend. Perhaps the original owners plan was to run ac outlets and then install an inverter at some point? I have these homemade ac plugs to cig lighter cords - are they safe?
 

Wellbuilt

Solar Addict
Hmmmmmm looks like a fire hazard to me , no inspector is going to approve any thing like that ☹️
If there was a fire you would have no coverage 🙀
 

TItreasure

New Member
There are 12 volt outlets with cover plates that fit a standard single wall box. You would still end up with a 12 volt socket, but there would be no way to plug a standard 120 plug into it.

There is zero reason to do what you have there. A 5 second internet seach for "12 volt wall socket" found this:

Thanks. Yes, the choices made by the previous owner are a mystery. I think we’ll just put all new wall sockets in that offer the cig lighter/usb combo. Appreciate the link.
 

falgsc-al

Solar Enthusiast
Greetings, sorry to be a late comer here.

living in exactly 400sq feet in NE Alabama, and I use a hybrid system of 120v, 24v, and 12v. My packs are 8s LiFePO4 and feed a fuse box directly which powers usb chargers and cig lighter adapter outlets. Just be careful some cig lighter plugs aren't 24v tolerant but 80% of things are. RV light fixtures can often be found up to 30v tolerant which I'm using throughout.
I have a 24v to 12v converter, 40a, I bought so I could have 12v in a few spots. Namely the marine toilet which was out of stock on 24v so I ordered 12v and a converter. The converter cost was minimal so I figured why not.
Then I have my 120v inverter system which goes outside to a breaker panel where I've tied both phase legs together. I feed outlets which mostly is for air conditioning and conveniences like my water boiling pitcher and banging hifi. I've had so much abundant solar that I've been heating a 40 gallon water heater running it at 1/4 power on the inverter (which happens when you hook a 220 water heater to 110).

happy to take any questions you have
 
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