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: (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
  10. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

  11. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Yes. They or very similar are remarkably common, oddly enough, but not in domestic use. Unless you have a serious source of inexpensive high (more or less) pressure water, they don't make a lot of sense in this day and age for home use. To see one for real outside of a museum, next time you go past a building with a sprinkler system, look at the alarm bell above the fire engine connections. That bell is rung by a water motor that actuates when the automatic sprinkler system is triggered. The idea is that you still get the alarm even if power to the building fails.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  12. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    First thing I would do is work on saving as much power as possible.
    Switch over to all natural gas or propane appliances.
    You can forget about running a large conventional central air style heat pump or air conditioner.
    Consider not electric reliant heating, that means something that doesn't need any fans.
  13. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I built my system a little at a time and now it's enough to live on if I have to .
    Don't just talk about it start investing in books and materials .
    Most of what was available to me was in RV supplies and repairs, and invested to the end.
    I'm on a battery system primarily, and use alternative energies to fill the battery system.
    The lights though out my house and shop are 6 and 12 volt DC
    My battery bank is 6 volt deep cycle golf cart type and serve me very well .
    I am still connected to the grid for the high energy needs ; welder and air compressors, and refrigeration.

    While every one around me is paying an average of 100-200 a month for power, I pay an average of 25-45 a month.
    With my system, any panel that puts out more than 12 volts (no load) is a contributor .
    15 watt panels are good to start with and as you learn electronics , you improve the system.
    I have switching on every single component so that the can be tested at random and switched in or out as needed, and as the meter indicates issues need addressed , like cleaning or adding electrolyte .
    With out meters yon know nothing about your system, and every single component is an individual, and some are, though the same part number different .
    Like a battery system , if one cell is weak , it draws off the rest that are connected.
  14. MyPrepperLife

    MyPrepperLife Monkey

    I live full-time in an off-grid house, and I operate an Internet-based business from the house. I have a small solar-electric system that meets all my current needs most of the time. When we have cloudy weather for a few days, I use my Yamaha EF2000iS generator to charge my solar-electric system's battery bank.

    My house was designed from the ground up for off-grid living. As much as possible I have chosen appliances that require no electricity or little electricity.
    oil pan 4 and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  15. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    What kinds of appliances did you go with?
    Current house we are in was made in 1961 when energy was cheap. No insulation aside from the attic, which had a single inch put down in the 1970s and single pane aluminum frame windows. I have since fixed those deficiencies.
  16. MyPrepperLife

    MyPrepperLife Monkey

    The house is a work in progress, so I don't have all the appliances yet. I'll tell you about the ones I have and the ones I plan to buy.

    REFRIGERATION: I have this SunDanzer 5.8 cu. ft. chest-style fridge. This runs on 12-volt DC, and it can be configured as either a fridge or a freezer by swapping out the thermostat. I'm using it as a fridge now, but when I bought it I also bought the thermostat that will enable it to serve as a freezer.

    When the house is finished I will also have a Nova Kool 4500 fridge. Like the Sundanzer, this runs on 12-volt DC. After the Nova Kool fridge is installed, I'll swap out the thermostat in the SunDanzer and start using it as a freezer.

    BTW, the SunDanzer unit is in my basement. I put it there because it's pretty cool down there, which means the SunDanzer doesn't need to work hard to keep cool and so it doesn't use much electricity.

    COOKING: I have an Atwood propane range similar to this one. It doesn't require any electricity.

    HEATING: Currently I'm heating the house with this Williams propane wall furnace. It requires no electricity.

    I'll also have a woodstove. It will be installed within the next few weeks. After the woodstove is installed, it will be the primary heating source for the house, and the propane wall furnace will serve as backup.

    WATER PUMP: Currently I use the Bison manual well pump in my basement to pump water by hand. When I need hot water, I heat it in a stockpot on my propane range.

    This summer I'll put more plumbing in the house, and I'll have pressurized cold and hot water. I'll have an electric well pump, of course. It will be a submersible well pump. I haven't decided upon a particular make and model. It will either run on 12-volt DC or 110-volt AC.

    WATER HEATER: To heat water, I'll have a Bosch tankless water heater. It does require electricity (110-volt AC), but according to the specs, it uses very little electricity.

    LAUNDRY: Currently I'm going to a laundromat to do laundry. After I have more plumbing in place, I'll install a washer and dryer in the house. The washer will probably be a small Haier washer. The dryer will be either a propane dryer from a mainstream manufacturer (Whirlpool, LG, whatever), or it will be a small Haier electric dryer. I'll also have a clothesline; my plan is to use the clothesline to get the clothes mostly dry and then stick them in the dryer to finish the drying process and fluff them up.

    All these appliances are relatively small. They work well for me because I live alone and because my house is small. Larger versions of these appliances are available, and the larger ones would be more appropriate for a family with a bigger house.

    I'll be installing a bigger and better solar-electric system to support the additional appliances I'm going to install.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
    oil pan 4 likes this.
  17. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Looks like you are sticking with mostly 12v stuff then?
  18. MyPrepperLife

    MyPrepperLife Monkey

    I'll have a mix of 12V DC and 110V AC when the house is finished.

    My refrigeration appliances will be 12V DC, and my well pump might be 12V DC.

    All my hard-wired lighting fixtures will be 110V AC. My exterior lighting fixtures will be Mr. Beams battery-operated spotlights. I might want a ceiling fan, and it will be 110V AC.

    My office equipment and tablet are 110V AC, of course. My bathroom fan will probably be 110V AC.

    I don't have and don't want a TV. I use my tablet and cell phone for electronic entertainment (Netflix, Amazon, Audible).

    There is no need for air conditioning as we don't have much hot weather here.

    I don't have and don't want any energy-hogging toys such as a Jacuzzi, swimming pool, whatever.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  19. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Drop the power inverter to 110Vac to the laptops
    "office equipment and tablet are 110V AC, of course."
    And figure buck transformers to go from 12Vdc to the Voltage of the laptops ETC !!!
    OR MOVE UP to a much better system ,and still use the bucks to adjust the Voltage down to whats needed with PWM or Buck !!
    12Vdc is the bottom , Like 6vdc in the cars in 1960 , 12 Volt was Unheard of & "You Cook yourself " lol
    Now were 16-18 Vdc ecm regulated on a pwm on the CAN cars.

    UP your base voltage system to 24 , OR 48 Vdc & use PWM units to take 24/48 down to 12Vdc to run the toys you have now .

    Edit & rethink a 12Vdc water pump , RE think that !!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  20. MyPrepperLife

    MyPrepperLife Monkey

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