Living Energy Lights is based out of Living Energy Farm (LEF), a community and environmental education center in Louisa, Virginia. At LEF we have been using a direct drive DC Microgrid for all our domestic energy needs since 2011. Our system supports an 8 unit residence, community kitchen, metal working shop, and farm equipment. Most of our heavy appliances are powered by a 180V, 1400W direct drive system, which supports over 15 different motors and cookers. (We don’t run them all at the same time.) A circuit diagram for this system can be seen here.
In addition to our direct drive system, LEF’s DC Microgrid includes two 100 AH Iron Sun kits (one for lights and one for electronics); active solar thermal systems for space and water heating; and a biogas digester for backup cooking fuel. Visit LEF’s website to learn more about the various systems that we use to live comfortably off the grid.
For any given household, a DC Microgrid might look very different than it does at LEF. A 90V daylight drive system might supply power for a Roxy cooker, pump, power tools and a few kitchen appliances. One 55AH Iron Sun kit might be sufficient for the electronics and lighting needs of the household, or they might want two separate kits, one for lights and one for electronics. In a warm climate, all the solar thermal features we have at LEF may not be necessary. An inexpensive homemade batch collector might be sufficient for hot water, instead of the complex active solar heating system we need in our cold climate.
Building a DC Microgrid begins with a design process tailored to the particular family or community that it supports. Want to learn if it’s right for you? Explore the links below, and feel free to reach out to us by email with any questions you have.
Wondering who else is using DC Microgrid technologies? Click here to read about how we installed Iron Sun kits for 50 families in the Navajo and Hopi reservations.