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Alternative energy

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by monkeyman, Aug 8, 2005.

  1. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Dose anyone here use solar power or any other meathods to provide thier own electric? Its something I would love to do as finances allow in order to eleminate the bill and dependence we have for our electric.
  2. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    I was going to put a post on today about this same subject. I have been researching this over the past year and have determined the following:

    1) I would love to do it, especially if I could have the right property for hyrdo power to be part of the mix.

    2) Combing hydro with wind or solar with a diesel back-up would be my perfect set-up.

    3) I don't know if I would go with a grid tied system, even though the power companies will pay you money if you produce more than you take.

    I came across the following site on solar:

    BP Global

    Hydropower: www.canyonhydro.com (for land with real good water sources)

    Wind: Various siites.

    Go here: Portable Solar Power Emergency Backup and look towards the bottom where they show complete systems and general prices.

    It is expensive to do this upfront. I have been trying to figure out how to justify the cost. Assume a complete system for a smaller home costs about 30,000 (not including back up diesel generator). Amortizing this over 30 years at 7% interest would equal a payment of about $200/month. Now I have a too big, inefficient home and that is about equal to my average gas/electric bills each month.

    So, one really needs to look at what they are willing to pay for independence.
    Groovey man! [afro]

  3. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    One thing that is generaly good to look at up front on this kind of idea is what you can cut down on. More efficient lights, A/C, any electric heating elements, all the wasted electric. Once you cut out all of that then you can see about a battery bank and 3 or 4 mid size solar pannels and even a gas generator like you can get for around $500 or so. With just those and being conservative about use you could at least gut WAY back and should be able to at least get by if the lights go out for a while, like keeping the fridge/freezer going and the thermostat and blower to a furnace or whatever. Still not cheap and outrageous if you want to do it for an all electric house.
  4. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I have a good friend who went off grid. He had solar with a wind generator and a small diesel generator.He has lived in this place for several years now and through trial and error has found what works and what doesn't. The solar panels were the big investment($15,000).The rest were bought on the cheap.Deep cell golfcart batteries, 12 volt lights from an RV supply.He told me that for him the wind generator was a waste of money.The output wasn't worth the investment.And we live "Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains".He had worried about times when the sun wasn't out.But he says that there is enough storage in his battery bank to last for a couple of days if conserved and he invested in a small generator as a backup.Plus the wind generator has to be up on a tower and have a flashing red light on it.Not good for trying to be inconspicuous.And the noise it makes.We live about 1 1/2 miles apart and on a windy day I can hear his turbine whirring from my house.
    With the solar and generator back-up he has a multi-system set up.He runs his heating off of wood with propane back up.He has a direct feed hot water tank.From RV or Backwoods type stores.It heats the water as it is being used.Very energy effecient.A solar well pump.The house is small, about 900 sq. ft. but him the wife and two kids are comfortable.When you are inside you wouldn't know he was off grid.They have a big screen T.V.,computer,video game for the kids etc.
    Propane refridgerator.The trick is management.They use thier electricity wisely.There is a monitor in the kitchen that shows the amount of storage in the battery bank, and current consumption.They fire up the generator for a few hours a day and run thier heavy usage at that time, while charging the batteries for the night.And he did all of that with a very median income.I watched the place take shape over the years and am amazed at how effective it is.Being self suffecient doesn't mean doing without.They live as normaly and as comfortably as anyone else I know.
  5. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have a solar powered ridge vent fan, not overly excited about the solar cells as I am on my third one in as many weeks. Go with the high dollar ones or don't go at all.
  6. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah, its not so much doing without as just learning to do differently. Like you mentioned, have a propane fridge which cuts out one big full time thing, efficient lights, monitor useage and dont waste juice with unused lights and such, and get full use of when the generator is being run by doing laundry and heavy useage at those times along with putting the rest into the banks to recharge them for use later.
  7. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    add propane lanterns on each room and pipe it off of the main tank. they make some that look pretty cool and hang on the wall .
  8. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Good idea, but I think you would want to be sure that any enery efficient house (no drafts) has some ventalation since you would get a minimal amount of CO gas from them. As long as you have the normal drafts of any older houses this shouldnt be a problem but if you just had triple pain super sealed windows and super sealing doors put in.... Just something to keep in mind.
  9. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    You know first hand MM that the old cabins were built 'loose' and had window placed for cross ventilation rather than the view.

    Those old Cabins that could breathe never had Mold Issues. WE build out homes too tight these days and the moisture build up is 1 consequence
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