Living Off the Grid in Northern California

by Carleigh Graves

Redwood Gate Ranch is a unique and beautiful mountain residence that overlooks the forests of Jenner, California. The property’s stunning views and remote peacefulness came at the price of being outside the power utility’s service area. Living off the grid meant that access to reliable electricity posed a real challenge to the property owners.

living off the grid
Redwood Gate Ranch

They had just a few options: pay $250,000 to extend the grid to their home, run dirty diesel generators, or install a renewable energy solution. The grid extension was prohibitively expensive. And because the property owners care deeply for the environment, the idea of burning diesel fuel to power their home wasn’t an option. Instead, the family opted to go 100% renewable and install a solar + storage solution.

Sizing Up Storage

The home’s energy demand is not much higher than that of a typical residence. But Redwood Gate Ranch is completely off the grid, so the storage component needed to allow several days of autonomy in the event of poor sunlight. The right storage for this application needed to be sized to handle 3-4 times the average daily use.

The property owners wanted to avoid lead acid batteries, which are common in solar installations. The idea of putting something in their home that contained lead and acid went against their environmental sensibilities. It felt counterintuitive to install a toxic battery in a system that was meant to generate green energy. As we often say at Aquion, clean energy systems need clean batteries.

A New Solution 

The family turned to Aquion Energy. Our Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) batteries offered the right combination of sustainability, reliability, and longevity that the owners were looking for. Due to the required days of autonomy, the final system comprised four M100 battery modules connected to a single SMA Sunny Island battery inverter, which was tied to the 14kW solar array through an SMA Sunny Boy solar inverter.

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Redwood Gate became one of Aquion’s first fielded systems, using some of the original M100 modules that rolled off the line. The installation not only provided the family with clean, renewable, state-of-the art energy storage, but over time it also supplied us with a tremendous amount of valuable field data.

Instead of a dirty and unreliable lead acid system, Redwood Gate Ranch relies on an environmentally friendly and long-lasting AHI battery system. Built from essentially dirt and salt water, our batteries are clean, simple, and deliver the right combination of benefits to customers like the Redwood Gate Ranch property owners. Though the batteries were a relatively new technology when they were installed, they’ve now been installed in 200+ locations around the world, totaling more than 15 MWh.

Coming Back for More 

The Redwood Gate system is now Aquion’s oldest operational system in the field. It hasn’t encountered any major issues and has reliably provided power for nearly three years. In fact, the property owners were so happy with their system that they decided to install a separate solar + storage system to support their guest cabin.

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Redwood Gate Ranch's Guest Cabin

This system was also designed for several days of autonomy, but at a much smaller scale. The 10-stack system guarantees reliable electricity whenever guests come to visit.

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The Guest Cabin's Energy Storage System

 For more on this installation, check out our Project Spotlight:

off-grid home california

Topics: Energy Storage, Solar, Off Grid, Residential, Deployments

Author
Written by
Carleigh Graves
Carleigh Graves was a former Senior Marketing Manager at Aquion.
 

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