Over this past summer, Sustainable Technology Institute was approached by a fellow Richmonder who wanted an off-grid tiny house. We had the opportunity to work on this very unique project and by project’s end- the idea of a hybrid energy generation approach had been accepted, but there was much work to do. We designed this wind/solar energy generation system to fulfill the needs of the large AGM Battery (weighed close to 200lb), which in turn- had the capability of providing a couple days autonomy to the owner. We chose the magnum inverter that could accommodate the necessary surge loads of all devices to be used in the tiny house. The solar system was comprised of 6 flexible, mono-crystalline, 100-watt modules.
It was the idea of the client to have the solar array portable so that he could set up the array in the best direct to maximize irradiance, but in different parking scenarios as he traveled. So the modules were linked up accordion style, so they could be taken down and put up quickly. Initially, the wind turbine was just an idea. But within a day or two, we noticed the tiny house builder was picking one out. So STI helped him out with selection of components that would allow the turbine to communicate with the charger for the solar array. And the dump load? What about the dump load? Solar is easy, when you can’t take anymore energy and your batteries are topped off, the charge controller just shuts them down. But with wind energy, that is a whole different matter. During the process of energy extraction through the spinning of those copper coils over the magnets in the wind turbine- much heat can develop. If electricity being generated has no path to travel ie.- the path of least resistance. Then the whole contraption melts and falls down. No fun right? So you need a dump load and a relay controller. When the battery is topped off and the wind is still spinning the turbine- the relay will then send this excess energy to a dump load, which is a small space heater. Water heating elements can also serve as good efficient dump loads.
So yes, we really enjoyed working with Seth and Thom. Seth Numrich was the builder of the tiny home and had hired Thom Stantin, a local expert tiny house consultant. And as you all may know, Seth plays a large role in AMC’s “Turn”, which has been filmed in Richmond over the past couple of years. And Thom operates Timber Ridge, as a local tiny house consultant and do-it-all kind of guy. Thom is also president of the VA’s Tiny House Chapter. Upon completion of the project, the crew flew in to get coverage for an episode in the TV show “Tiny House, Big Living”.