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Why is using gas not looked at as a grid usage?

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,079
322
auburn, ca
As I read posts about folks who say they are "off" grid, how their few number of PW's allow them to be "off" grid, I am just wondering how these statements can be made. This is an energy group, and I assume we are talking about reducing our "grid" usage, which IMO, means both electricity and gas.

How does electricity get produced? A lot of it is from natural gas converted into electricity. So IMO, by default, whether one uses electricity from the "grid", or gas from a different "grid', both are grid uses.

So, for folks who really push they are being green by having solar, PV cars, etc, but still have gas heating, I offer they are not that green or even close to being off the grid. So why are these folks not changing to heat pumps if being "off" grid is so important?

When I converted my house from gas heating to heat pumps, and to an electric dryer, my energy needs changed. I probably use in the winter now at least 25Kwh per day just to heat my house, with a setting of 64 degrees. The amount of electricity I use for the rest of my house needs is trivial compared to gas. Just like for all of us in the summer, running AC has to be on electricity and it is a lot.

So the engineer in my just wonders why so many seem to say they are off grid when they are using gas to warm their homes, or even gas dryers.
 
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Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,749
467
Sonoma, California
So the engineer in my just wonders why so many seem to say they are off grid when they are using gas to warm their homes, or even gas dryers.
I suspect there are not that many true "off gridders" on this forum. Powerwalls do not adapt well to off grid because they sometimes need a reboot from the grid. There are forums that are populated by off gridders and many consume far fewer kWhrs than you. They use generators. They use wood or other fuel for heat. I know a couple in Minnesota who live off grid because the house they own is not served by utilities.
 
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getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,115
359
95762
I looked at 3 properties in No. Cal that were all Off Grid because they are not served by any utility. None of them used heat pumps as that would require too much electricity to generate in the winter.

Just because you have a zero true up does not mean you are that "green". You will be using electricity from the grid during non renewable generation times. Plus, if you don't have an EV, you are not even close to being "green"
 
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Momvivant

Member
Aug 6, 2017
46
16
So Cal
Because some of us cannot yet afford to go the whole way. I find it a bit purist....perhaps, just be glad that people are doing what they can to lessen their reliance.

Maybe, I’m misunderstanding your intent.
 
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getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,115
359
95762
Because some of us cannot yet afford to go the whole way. I find it a bit purist....perhaps, just be glad that people are doing what they can to lessen their reliance.

Maybe, I’m misunderstanding your intent.

My intent or the OPs? I agree that any movement in that direction is good
 

Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,749
467
Sonoma, California
We are in a transition. Natural gas was a popular form of illumination in cities before Edison invented the light bulb. It is still an efficient form of heat. It has become more efficient with combined cycle power plants and it is cleaner than coal. It may be cleaner than burning gasoline in vehicles. In California the new building codes favor the use of electricity in the form of heat pumps to heat water and heat the home. Heat pump clothes dryers are becoming available which can be ventless.
I drive EVs and embrace these technologies because they are more economical than the alternatives. A secondary benefit is that it allows me to support this transition. I have been called an Environmental Jihadhist by some in my community who resist this change.
I am also fortunate that I am in a CCA that allows me to specify that what power I do use comes from renewable sources.
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,162
900
Silver Spring, MD
I think there are a few answers to this question.... Certainly, for those who report to be truly self-sufficient, I would agree that it is cheating to claim that if you rely on gas lines to do so. However, I don't think most people claim that.

As far as "off-grid", that does typically refer to the electric grid. While there is absolutely a risk in certain disasters of losing gas supply, for many people, the gas is significantly less likely to fail than electric (largely due to it being underground, versus electricity, which is often above ground and more vulnerable during weather events,) so the typical risk people focus on when talking about being able to operate - if necessary - off-grid is what they need to meet their electric needs. I think this is a reasonable thing to do, and while I try to note where applicable that I am assuming I have access to gas, it is not something that is necessary to bring up every time.

And, as far as being green, I agree with @Momvivant that it is at least a step in the right direction. Sure, it would be great to have entirely green power, but that is not always practical (at least in terms of local generation) and solar is still a step in the right direction.
 
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Dave EV

Active Member
Jun 23, 2009
1,694
1,131
San Diego
Heating homes in the winter is a challenge when running off solar where it's cool. To maximize solar production you really need south facing solar panels with higher tilt angles than typical.

Wind can often be a better resource than solar in the winter, but wind does not scale down well to the house level.

For solar PV, if I wanted to build a PV system so that I had enough production to balance out our energy usage on a monthly uses (all-electric house, heat pump heating, heat pump water heater, electric cars), I'd need about a 8-9 kW system tilted south at 40-50*. Or if mounted flat to my roof, I'd need a 14 kW system (I don't have a south facing roof). This would come with a large amount of overproduction in the summer.

Long term, solar will be cheap enough that we can afford to "throw away" energy when we have over production to maximize production when conditions aren't ideal. But it's also clear that having some form of low cost, long-term storage, even if not that efficient, will be useful in many areas.
 

getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,115
359
95762
I am also fortunate that I am in a CCA that allows me to specify that what power I do use comes from renewable sources.

That is not really true. What power you use comes from the grid. There's no electron traffic cop only letting renewable electrons go to your house. What electrons you use from the grid could come from virtually any power source, but most likely the closest
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
8,126
8,986
Riverside Co. CA
As I read posts about folks who say they are "off" grid, how their few number of PW's allow them to be "off" grid, I am just wondering how these statements can be made. This is an energy group, and I assume we are talking about reducing our "grid" usage, which IMO, means both electricity and gas.

How does electricity get produced? A lot of it is from natural gas converted into electricity. So IMO, by default, whether one uses electricity from the "grid", or gas from a different "grid', both are grid uses.

So, for folks who really push they are being green by having solar, PV cars, etc, but still have gas heating, I offer they are not that green or even close to being off the grid. So why are these folks not changing to heat pumps if being "off" grid is so important?

When I converted my house from gas heating to heat pumps, and to an electric dryer, my energy needs changed. I probably use in the winter now at least 25Kwh per day just to heat my house, with a setting of 64 degrees. The amount of electricity I use for the rest of my house needs is trivial compared to gas. Just like for all of us in the summer, running AC has to be on electricity and it is a lot.

So the engineer in my just wonders why so many seem to say they are off grid when they are using gas to warm their homes, or even gas dryers.

To explain my "funny" mark, I deal with a lot of engineers at work (I am not one myself however) so I understand the mindset of the typical engineer. With that being said, from your posts here, you are definitely the most "engineer mindset" person I have ever encountered in any realm.
 

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,079
322
auburn, ca
Heating homes in the winter is a challenge when running off solar where it's cool. To maximize solar production you really need south facing solar panels with higher tilt angles than typical.

Wind can often be a better resource than solar in the winter, but wind does not scale down well to the house level.

For solar PV, if I wanted to build a PV system so that I had enough production to balance out our energy usage on a monthly uses (all-electric house, heat pump heating, heat pump water heater, electric cars), I'd need about a 8-9 kW system tilted south at 40-50*. Or if mounted flat to my roof, I'd need a 14 kW system (I don't have a south facing roof). This would come with a large amount of overproduction in the summer.

Long term, solar will be cheap enough that we can afford to "throw away" energy when we have over production to maximize production when conditions aren't ideal. But it's also clear that having some form of low cost, long-term storage, even if not that efficient, will be useful in many areas.
That is what any of use have to do, which is over produce in the summer, since we underproduce in the winter. Since PGE is currently my battery, this is the only real cost effective way to attempt to do a real "green" house. Guess this is why I have a 14K solar system, but since I am not a year into this yet, I still am hoping I can produce tons in the summer to offset my need in the winter. Would love to set my heaters to 66 next year. :)
 
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h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,079
322
auburn, ca
To explain my "funny" mark, I deal with a lot of engineers at work (I am not one myself however) so I understand the mindset of the typical engineer. With that being said, from your posts here, you are definitely the most "engineer mindset" person I have ever encountered in any realm.
I will take that as a compliment. Guess this is why I did well at work. :) I love to ask the what if, and why questions.. Drives non engineers nuts since most seem to take it personal, rather than I really am curious to understand the data and thinking.

Just feel sorry for my poor wife of 38 years, let alone my kids. :)
 

wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
821
1,034
Berkeley, CA
What electrons you use from the grid could come from virtually any power source, but most likely the closest
I don't even think you can say which generator the electron potential came from. You just have an instantaneous balance of production and consumption across the grid and all the appropriate subgroups.

But if you as a consumer arrange for "green" producers to inject energy into the grid in the same amount (accounting for losses) as you consume, I think you can reasonably claim to be offsetting your usage with green sources. Of course, if those producers aren't injecting the energy in a temporal pattern matching your usage (along with sufficient transmission capacity between the producer and your location), you are still relying on the dispatching/time shifting from all the grid producers as a whole, which still includes non-"green" producers.

Cheers, Wayne
 
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h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,079
322
auburn, ca
Because some of us cannot yet afford to go the whole way. I find it a bit purist....perhaps, just be glad that people are doing what they can to lessen their reliance.

Maybe, I’m misunderstanding your intent.
I have no intent, was just thinking. I just see so many who think they can use batteries and be green. Just what is green. Still seems to me that if one has money to spend, get has much solar as possible! Then if you really want to go towards green, get rid of as much gas as possible. For most of use, a 500 dollar generator works great for the must power shut down needs.
 

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,079
322
auburn, ca
I looked at 3 properties in No. Cal that were all Off Grid because they are not served by any utility. None of them used heat pumps as that would require too much electricity to generate in the winter.

Just because you have a zero true up does not mean you are that "green". You will be using electricity from the grid during non renewable generation times. Plus, if you don't have an EV, you are not even close to being "green"
IMO, an electric car, if you look at the entire supply chain from the start to the end, is far far from being "green". But no way would I try to convince a person who has an EV of that!!! For many, having a EV car is like religion. Another topic I do not get into discussions on. :)

I would have zero desire to own a property "off grid".. I like my creative comforts, and willing to pay to get them easily.

Not try to say I am green, or anyone is not, etc. Just was wondering when some folks say or imply they are off grid with batteries, but they use lots of gas, what is their definition of off grid. Just an interesting question with no intent to get emotional. Just curious.
 

wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
821
1,034
Berkeley, CA
Agreed that if the goal is to reduce CO2 footprint, then on an effectiveness per $ basis, Powerwall installation likely falls below EV use, solar panel installation, and elimination of on-site natural gas usage. And disconnection from the electrical grid is of no particular value.

On the other hand, if one has a mid-life span fossil fuel using car, water heater, or central heat (or stove or dryer), it may make more sense to do solar and Powerwalls now, and just plan to replace those other facilities at their end of life.

Cheers, Wayne
 
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Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,749
467
Sonoma, California
That is not really true. What power you use comes from the grid. There's no electron traffic cop only letting renewable electrons go to your house. What electrons you use from the grid could come from virtually any power source, but most likely the closest
I understand. If we really want to be technical, the electrons actually don't even move that far, but the energy they produce does get used by me but it doesnt have my name on it. Economically I am paying more to support that kind of generation. I do know that in the big picture it does get reconciled in the marketplace. For those that don't know, CCA stands for Community Choice Aggeegation. The important concept, in terms of the market impact, is "aggregation".
Tesla is doing a similar thing on the generation side in Vermont and Australia with PowerWalls. With software they can control PowerWalls and cause them to sell to the grid to support the grid when it is being stressed.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
8,973
9,644
SF Bay Area
During our first PSPS in October 2019 our next door neighbor pulled out his generator and ran it all night to keep his refrig and computer equipment powered. The noise was such I couldn’t fall asleep until I guess I got so exhausted I did. However the fumes from his generator came into our bedroom from the roof vents (I’m guessing here). So in addition to being tired I felt nauseous. Thankfully power came back on later the next day otherwise I was debating how I was going to approach him and his generator usage. They subsequently moved. I’d much rather see people use battery back up systems needless to say.

To the original question posed, I posted a reply to a similar question you asked in the thread about PG&E and SVCE so won’t go into that here but to point out this is the “Tesla Energy” thread and TE only does products related to electricity.
 
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Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,749
467
Sonoma, California
Just was wondering when some folks say or imply they are off grid with batteries, but they use lots of gas, what is their definition of off grid.
Clearly their definition is different. Life is full of ambiguities. Ever wonder why Baskin Robins has 31 flavors? Well the truth is that they actually have more, but the answer is really simple. Not everyone wants plain Vanilla. Life goes on.
 

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