Listening off grid with batteries

Finished the design phase for my new home which will be in a remote off grid location. The design and modeling process has taken over a year. Absolutely amazing what can be done by a talented architect, computer modeling, shading,virtual tour etc. Now it's down to the music room details before we start.

Electric Power will come from solar and micro hydro. Gen set for back up, but only as a last resort.
Does anyone here on Agon have any first hand experience with this kind of set up.
Thinking of a split electrical system where one grid is for the hifi and the other is for the home. Some say it's a waste of time and money but I want to get it right the first time.
Is this necessary when using a solar set up ?
Building homes for 25 years but this will be my first off grid home.
wow...I'm jealous. Are you out in the boonies?
That's very cool. Congrats. And thanks!
I think micro hydro is cool, but it requires a certain setting. I would love to figure out a way to do that for my second system house. I have the water not too far away, but it's theoretically not "mine." If I could wire the electricity a full kilometer, I could definitely make it work - and could probably power the whole hamlet - but that would require a bit more capital, plus a bunch of permissions that I doubt would be easy to get. But it's an idea and you've inspired me so I'll take a look at what is possible.

As to what is possible, no matter what I would go for high-efficiency speakers to get the most bang for your juice buck.
Send an email to Twl, through Audiogon. He might be able to help you with this question.
Thanks for the replies.

Property is located on an Island, 20 minute boat ride from the mainland.
Thirty minutes drive from our home on the mainland to the Marina.
The Island has 200 inhabitants but no ferry access, it's boat or water taxi only.

My creek runs a large volume of water, but only in the rainy season which is from Nov to Apr.
Creek is located 60 feet from the back part of the house so the distance is not to far for the cable runs.
When I purchased the land I also obtained the right of way to the creek.
Solar during the summer and the micro will help during the winter time.

T bone, I agree on the high efficiency speakers. I have to admit over drooling over your Jadis speakers.........many times. How efficient are they ?

Lak , I see that Twl is a solar grid designer, I will contact him.
Thank you for the lead.
Take care,
The Jadis are not quite as efficient as they could be. The isobaric woofers are 96dB. The mid/trebles are padded down (or they would be 100dB+). My 8W amps are sublime in the treble/mids, but can't hack it in the bass. To get the most out of the bass (which I think goes to 4ohms), I need more power - probably 30W at a minimum.

How much vertical drop and/or flow do you have for the stream? And how much power can you get out of it?
"As to what is possible, no matter what I would go for high-efficiency speakers to get the most bang for your juice buck."

I think that is very good advice in your case!

If the speakers must be less efficient for some reason, then lean towards a high efficiency Class D amp to drive them.
I looked into this long ago - started a thread - way back though. Since most gear converts AC to DC internally, I always wished I could just use the DC from the batteries to directly power the gear - get rid of the sine wave altogether. I'm not sure if that is possible, as you'd have to seriously step up the DC to high voltage. Some gear (Redwine, Teres Turntable, Sutherland PhD, etc) is designed to run off DC directly. I would certainly pursue this. I wonder if some manufacturers might be willing to accomodate a "special" version that could be switchable b/t AC and DC input. One manufacturer who might be amenable, as he is interested in the technology, would be Ralph from Atmosphere. Maybe you could get one of his amps and preamps made for DC - and be quite happy with that. I think it's a good idea to have a dedicated set of batteries for your hifi, so "sag" from other parts of the system doesn't effect your sound - but I don't know enough about it. I do know that when I was looking, the choice of inverter seemed to be an important question. The inverter makes the sinusoidal waveform, and you want a pure sine wave form - and you want to know how well the inverter can handle short peaks in power demand.

What region of the world is your island in? I'm in the Pacific NW (USA).
Agree with Lak, Tom Lyon, use name TWL is off the grid and has a very refined audio setup.
Even the MOST efficient speaker is only just over 3% efficient.
Hair Split for the day::
Sensitivity is what you would be after, if you want to go that way.
The older Rowland amps had an option of battery power but they seem to come for sale rarely. Doubt I'd sell if I had one either. There was also N.E.W.

Going from battery through an inverter to AC , which may or may not be a true sine wave, then going through a component's power supply back to DC, seems like throwing a dog at a stick but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Minimum should be a good regulator for your situation, like a Sola (MCR series) or Stabiline, but they should be mounted away from any living space because of noise. Size to at least double the amp draw, which is even more critical for a ferroresonant (regulating) transformer.
Hi T bone
In order to get to my building site I need to cross the creek.
My creek runs trough a 36 steel pipe which we have tried to measure the flow.
Fills a 5 gallon bucket in less than .5 of a second. The water fall projects past the end of the pipe approximately 2' .
If I build a 14 ' penstock the fall would be close to 25 feet. Could install four micro power turbines that would get me 4-5 Kilowatt.

Peter s
Great idea of asking for a special DC version pre amp and amp.
My pre runs on batteries and so can the Verdier.
Will contact the company that is making my new amp to see if a switch foe ac/dc can be incorporated.
We are in the Pac West as well, just a little north from you, in BC, CANADA.
The island that we are on is in the Howe Sound, Gambier Island.

Thanks for your insight.
The inverter and regulator will be located in the mechanical room along with a remote monitoring station. I have heard that they can be noisy and that they will generate some heat as well.
Xantrex is what seems to be popular up here. Will get this info to my sparky and will do as much research on this subject.

Have emailed Twl.

Thanks to all for the help,

Check out Red Wine Audio
Thanks for the details. I wouldn't figured that much usable power was available from that little flow but I need to learn more. If you can get that much, it certainly makes life easier. One of my interests is learning more about energy storage - i.e. energy transformation to the most efficient and flexible "battery" possible, whether physical or not (with hydro, usually the physical battery is a dam), and how to do so with the lowest monetary and energy cost to create the battery (it makes little sense to build a "green system" if building the green system costs so much excess energy beyond existing usage that it is difficult to "break even" on an energy basis. But that's me doing some philosophical navel-gazing...

There is an interesting site called and it has a bunch of interesting tools which can help people learn about their own electricity consumption and energy consumption, and an especially interesting introductory article called the devil is in the details.

Best of luck in a successful implementation. Please share your results when you are done!
Rugyboogie - I'll have to keep my ears open next time I get up that way kayaking! Maybe I'll be able to hear your system from the water! I've not been up in your parts exactly, but nearby off of Vancouver Island. Looks beautiful up there.
What are the spec's of your inverter and do you have any battery backup? Having two "grids" makes no sense. The inverter makes two grids one.
T bone
Interesting reading. Thank you.
All new single family homes Vancouver BC , must have an electrical monitoring system/display on the main floor.
This is in order for the occupant to monitor their usage. In theory they will see a direct readout and should learn to become more frugal with their usage.

Have three kajak waiting for you.......... should you come up.
Anytime you should get up here your welcome to stop by.

House plans are completed, next phase is structural, heatloss calculation,
then comes the electrical. Based on the heat loss, this will determine the amount of power that I will require for the geothermal. This is what will draw the most amount of electrical energy in the home.

The plan is to have have photovoltaic panels on the roof structure and to have some micro hydro from the creek.
A generator is presently being used for the construction of the house.
Once the home is completed it will be then used for topping up the batteries.
Not sure on the size of the battery bank that I will need at this time.
Have allowed for a space that is L 14'x W 6'x H 10' for the batteries.

The inverter makes two grids one.
Sorry, but I do not understand. Could you please explain to me what you mean.
What I was thinking of is have two completely different electrical systems set up.
One for the domestic use, and one for my room.

Thanks for the help,
Don't current solar panels each come with a small inverter? Isn't it easier to move the AC around as opposed to DC? Won't there be less loss this way? You can re-rectifiy it at point of use....for battery charging.
All the listening room needs is a sub panel, right?

How are you handling lightning / surges?;posts

link to microinvertor article
You might also consider setting up a wind turbine to supplement the solar. Most of the people I know that run solar though have come to rely on the panels alone though, as there are no moving parts.

As to the system, Getting the most efficient speakers you can will make a huge difference in what you can get away with in the electronics. IMO tubes sound better but they consume more energy too. Its the constant loads that will be drawing the batteries down. But you might be able to do a smaller amplifier.

I have built several small amps recently that might have some possibility. One is a small OTL that needs a fairly high impedance speaker (32 ohms or more) but you can get a fair amount of power out of it if you can provide the the speaker.

The second is a push-pull amplifier that uses a pair of type 45 power tubes. You could also use 2A3s but the idea is a low power amp. This one I made makes about 5 watts but due to the low power has very good bandwidth, far more than you would get from an SET that size, but due to the 45s and no need for feedback, has much of the musicality of SETs combined with greater bandwidth and transparency.

Running such an amplifier directly off your batteries is not practical, due to the B+ voltages involved. You still have to make voltage conversion, so you will need an inverter somewhere. Its to your advantage to run the inverter elsewhere (as in your main power system), as AC power transmission is a lot easier than DC.

Sounds like a really cool setup!!
See my post above. Inverters are now being 'distributed' and are at each panel.
In bright sun, you get about 100 watts per square meter (yard?) of area.
The 'where do you put the inverter?' argument harkens back to the early wars between Edison and Tesla/Westinghouse over AC / DC power systems. The advantages of early inversion to AC are huge.
Trouble is, you change BACK to DC to charge batteries, than again BACK to AC this time to distribute to what / where it is needed.
Boats over a certain size tend to have double electrical systems. The DC system of the boat...starting, running lights, communications / navigation and some utilities VS a 2nd 'shore power' system of a regular breaker box and 110 distribution. Boats, especially larger ones, will have a 'genset' which will provide AC and DC for battery charging and 'boat stuff'. The boat people are adamant in opposition to physics in that they measure everything in amps, not watts.

As for off-grid equipment which is more efficient....I would suggest fairly sensitive speakers and a lower power 'd' amp. 'd' amps are most efficient at higher powers, being not much better than a reasonable A/B amp at less than half power. If you are off-grid in a cool or cold climate, some of the inefficiency of tube gear can be recovered as heat for the house and 'defer' those energy costs. A trivial example is my Sony SXRD TV with a 180 watt lamp. This guy kicks out enough heat near enough to my thermostat to make the rest of the house colder....since the darn thermostat thinks it's warm enough.
In the summer, the extra heat causes the A/C to run more........

As for inverters for electronics, make sure they are True Sine Wave. I'd guess all of the low power units used in cigarette lighter plugs are some kind of modified square or triangle wave. I have one in the car for my laptop and to charge my cell phone, being too cheap to buy a car charger, since I already HAD the inverter. I wouldn't trust the sound of a boombox running off that thing.