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Subjective listening impressions of alternate power (solar, generator, battery)


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8 minutes ago, Jud said:

The very best inverters have harmonic distortion and power factor approximately equivalent to what the utility is usually required by law to provide you.  Do not expect an SQ improvement from being off-grid.

 

I will be ecstatic if I experience no degradation. An improvement would be exceeding expectations.

 

8 minutes ago, Jud said:

Also don't forget that generators can be noisy, so I wouldn't go that route

 

If I go the generator route, I would not be looking to run audio on generated power. In this scenario, my main concern would be the audio degradation of the transfer switch.

 

I just saw Paul McGowan has posted a response on the PS Audio forum, where he points the finger at automated transfer switches. See https://www.psaudio.com/askpaul/mikey-fremer-vs-ask-paul/#comment-192266

 

That's a fair point, and I see no issue just using a manual transfer switch as a way to avoid this.

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2 minutes ago, austinpop said:

 

If I go the generator route, I would not be looking to run audio on generated power. In this scenario, my main concern would be the audio degradation of the transfer switch.

 

On the other hand, if you used solar panels and batteries, you could enjoy listening to music when the grid went down.  🙂

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58 minutes ago, austinpop said:

Interesting! I don't think I have the land area and topography on my lot for that, but did not even realize that was an option.

 

They are. I probably won't be able to get my house fully off (yet still connected) grid simply because I live in the city, but the cabin is another story and I have been trying to get permission to put up a small wind generator for a while now. We already have solar panels and a Tesla powerwall up there. If I were able to put up a wind generator, I think we would be set. I have no idea how it will or will not affect audio though, I suppose I could find out easily enough given enough time to transport stuff back and forth.

 

http://www.bergey.com/

 

I saw one of these in use yesterday in West St Paul.

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1 hour ago, Jud said:

 

On the other hand, if you used solar panels and batteries, you could enjoy listening to music when the grid went down.  🙂

 

The irony for me is that my grid cost is quite low. Our utility is still regulated, so does not have time of use rates, and energy costs in TX are low. So going to solar and battery, while environmentally and technologically appealing, is an economic tough sell.

 

It would take me over 20 years to break even on solar + battery, even if I paid cash for the system. Even if I subtracted out the cost of a generator backup, it would still take 13 years to break even.

 

Anyway, let's not digress: I want to keep the focus on SQ benefit or degradation.

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I have a 2000W inverter here, that puts out proper sine wave - haven't tried it yet on my active speakers setup, but have had that thought in the back of my mind a few times. The mains AC isolation is working well now - so, I'll try this as an exercise very soon; to see if I can pick any difference in the quality - the inverter will be fed from a car lead/acid battery; which can be used either as a sole source, or while being topped by a vehicle generator operating - so, a couple of scenarios to compare.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Over and out.

 

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1 hour ago, austinpop said:

Anyway, let's not digress: I want to keep the focus on SQ benefit or degradation.

 

If you don't plan to run audio on generated power, then you are essentially just asking about the audio effect of a transfer switch.  Then perhaps the simplest solution would be to exempt a separate audio circuit from the transfer switch, if things can be wired that way.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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30 minutes ago, Jud said:

 

If you don't plan to run audio on generated power, then you are essentially just asking about the audio effect of a transfer switch.  Then perhaps the simplest solution would be to exempt a separate audio circuit from the transfer switch, if things can be wired that way.


Indeed.

 

But I do want to hear about solar and battery installations. 
 

A couple of friends who have solar PV installs without battery sent me their experiences. Both have Sunpower panels with micro inverters. Two experiments were reported:

 

- friend 1 compared SQ during the day, when the panels were supplying power, to the night, when power was from the grid. They observed no noticeable difference.

 

- friend 2 ran an experiment during the day. First with panels providing power. He then disabled the panels via a switch, and compared SQ to grid power. He felt the grid SQ was a tick better, but not night and day (pun intended)!

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10 minutes ago, acg said:

@austinpop

 

I will be moving soon to off-grid for my office which also includes my playback system.  Different country and different mains issues but it will be solar into LiFePO4 batteries which feed voltage into the system via a 240V Victron inverter (Victron simply because Living Voice use them in their battery power systems, and because they are very good quality).  Following that inverter I have had a very knowledgeable and experienced fellow in this field wind an enormous balanced isolation transformer with an inductive AC filtering system which should improve sound quality above and beyond the already decent mains system I have here.

 

The first bits have been picked up by the courier today and if you like I can update you with what I end up with.


Please do! Keep us posted. 

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It is a huge concern for me too, and only 3 days ago I wanted to ask you guys the same question. And, we know what we have but we don't know what we get. And since the investment is quite high, you can't really go back either (ditch it).

 

My advice comprises of a couple of things:

 

You should be able to draw from the Tesla Powerwall(s, maximum 2) always. However, I'd ask whether the Powerwall's logic allows for that. Probably it won't do that automatically at all (it is too intelligent). *if* you do that, you'd have the most constant energy for pollution etc.

 

The maximum with one Powerwall you can last will be a day or so. And this assumes it is fully recharged each day. Maybe this is possible in Texas. But it won't be at a very clouded day. Of course I assume some "usage", and with my daily 27KW on average it would work for two of them (one does 14KW in a day IIRC).

 

The problem is not the battery, but how you get it charged by the number of solar panels you can install on the property. And then thinking of the winter day and clouded days. This will probably NOT work on the clouded and/or winter days. You'd just need too many panels for that winter day, and in the summer you can't utilize them (your battery will be charged within a day and then what with the remainder).

 

Wind is a "must have" addition (also works at night, also - or especially - works on a clouded day, but no small wind generator will do what it promises in the first place. If you get 500KW out of one of them annually, you are lucky. Plus I don't think there's an awful lot of wind in Texas, and the 500KW is from a country like Holland (almost always windy).

 

 

The above tells that it won't work for consistent energy quality (for the worse or for the better) and that it is up to the Gods what will come from it daily and hourly.

The important message, however, would be that there will be no way to last a few days on even two batteries. So if that would be your reason to do it, forget it. Also notice that it is the only selling point for a battery, so you will hear that it is for that (outages). Yeah, small ones. Not those of 2-3 weeks back.

 

If you really have the money, don't look for the Tesla Powerwall. Other brands exist which can cascade as many as you like, but are even more expensive. Think about a USD 1000 per 1KW (Tesla's would be USD 500 or so), and that in my case e.g. 10 days would take 270KW = USD 270,000 to do it. And you'd need to charge them by the grid.

 

Lastly, an important figure is that of the "instant power" possibility. Think inrush current that some home appliances may imply. This is not a figure which is advertised much, but it is crucial. Look for the figure which says something like "5KW for 10 seconds". I now call that inrush current but it is not that of course. Btw same with a Tesla car. You can't accelerate from 0-60 in 3 seconds again and again and again, because everything gets too hot. But a Porsche Cayenne will do that all right.

 

Now I hope for the input from others ...

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Yeah, I would avoid the Powerwall too...they are not really designed for off-grid and here in Aus are one of the more expensive options.  There is a research facility here that for many years has stress tested a number of solar battery systems with interesting published results.

 

 

13 minutes ago, PeterSt said:

The problem is not the battery, but how you get it charged by the number of solar panels you can install on the property. And then thinking of the winter day and clouded days. This will probably NOT work on the clouded and/or winter days. You'd just need too many panels for that winter day, and in the summer you can't utilize them (your battery will be charged within a day and then what with the remainder).

 

Wind is a "must have" addition (also works at night, also - or especially - works on a clouded day, but no small wind generator will do what it promises in the first place. If you get 500KW out of one of them annually, you are lucky. Plus I don't think there's an awful lot of wind in Texas, and the 500KW is from a country like Holland (almost always windy).

 

 

Even cloudy days where I am in Aus will put quite a bit of energy into the batteries, and because our winters are mild we rarely heat the house anyway...maybe start a wood fire in the fireplace on the few coldest nights.

 

 

20 minutes ago, PeterSt said:

Think about a USD 1000 per 1KW (Tesla's would be USD 500 or so), and that in my case e.g. 10 days would take 270KW = USD 270,000 to do it. And you'd need to charge them by the grid.

 

That is a lot of stored power Peter!  Maybe a generator would be a better solution for emergency use.

 

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Your electric car is your backup. 
Solar panels works best during winter, so cold isn’t an issue. 
Forget about wind for home. 
 

Combined panels that also generates hot water for heating and warm water is a good option. Or heat your pool 😀

 

To save energy, you would need class D amps 🤓

 

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3 minutes ago, R1200CL said:

Solar panels works best during winter, so cold isn’t an issue. 

 

Yes, this is something to just "know". Solar panels which get hot (and they logically will) become way less efficient. So they actually should be cooled.

In winter they are the most efficient, but not much sun in winter times ...

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But ...

If 0.3% is per degree Celsius, then a delta of say 40 degrees, means well over 10%. Mind you, the 40 degrees would be from the heat/hotness the panel gets. Not the air temperature. So I'm afraid it can be even quite some more (like 60 or 70).

 

The rating can't be for air temperature (or ambient) because it would exclude the collecting of heat. Step in your car on a hot day and you know what I mean.

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29 minutes ago, PeterSt said:

But ...

If 0.3% is per degree Celsius, then a delta of say 40 degrees, means well over 10%. Mind you, the 40 degrees would be from the heat/hotness the panel gets. Not the air temperature. So I'm afraid it can be even quite some more (like 60 or 70).

 

The rating can't be for air temperature (or ambient) because it would exclude the collecting of heat. Step in your car on a hot day and you know what I mean.

No the rating is for ambient temperature.  Yes, the panel gets quite a bit warmer than that, but in order for consumers to be able to use the rating they need it in the form of ambient temperature so they can compare for the temerature ranges of where they live. 

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We already have solar power and hot water on the house, but it is grid connected.  Peter, I can assure you that the amount of electricity generated on 40 degree C days is plenty even with the panels removed from their optimal temperature conditions.  Those hot days happen when the sun is closest to you i.e. summer which means you are already collecting far more solar radiation than when the sun is farther away and lower to the horizon in winter.  I would not worry about panel efficiency varying with temperature...that is a relatively solved problem.

 

Of more concern is the number of hours in a day that the panels generate viable electricity.  We have added 'extra' panels so that the solar inverter is 'maxed out' earlier in the day and later in the evening...this makes a significant difference in my experience.  

 

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1 hour ago, sdolezalek said:

and decided to go with larger inverters rather than on-panel microinverters

 

I realize your choices are from 10 years ago, but welcome any inverter recommendations that are audio friendly.

 

One upside of micro-inverters, as I understand it, is that it isolates the energy output of each panel. So if one panel is in shade, it does not affect the output of the other panels. Apologies if I have this wrong, I am still in research mode.

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39 minutes ago, austinpop said:

One upside of micro-inverters, as I understand it, is that it isolates the energy output of each panel. So if one panel is in shade, it does not affect the output of the other panels. Apologies if I have this wrong, I am still in research mode.

 

Rajiv, this is correct. it is only that the micro converter works per small group of panels. I suppose you can have one per panel if you want, but more expensive (I would not care about that). Possible the number of microconverters is limited for connecting to the switchboard (main converter).

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