HELP! first actual thread ever seeking solutions..

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by offgridbeginner, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. hey everyone , thank you for reading and taking time to answer my question... i have a situation...
    i am currently stuck thinking and researching but cant find answers on how i can connect or hook up a solar panel to an electrical motor of some sort... to then hook that up to an alternator (after removing diodes) to power my home.. im sure i will need 2 or 3 alternator for this but it will be very much worth it.. so my final question is

    can anyone provide a link on how to remove the diodes to keep the alternator from producing DC and instead produce AC towards my home?

    and.. how would you guys recommend doing this if i should do it at all.

    if alternator needs approx 14v DC to work... adding an electical engine (swapping pulley to make sure ratio will equal RPM required for full power) ... and wiring the inside coil to ground, positive and negative should be ok? and of course a battery bank to keep this going correct.?
    UncleMorgan and Seepalaces like this.
  2. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Sorry YOU ARE SO FAR OFF .
    Nothing you posted will work EVER
    Learn to read Solar here & many links . & solar web sites.
    Solar is 10-20 Cents a kw (more expensive the further North Or South (american , I mean Auzi )
    Grid is 5-8 cents / kw .
    A fridge & freezer in winter @49* parr needs 5 grand of "stuff"

    Tevin, Seepalaces and sec_monkey like this.
  3. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    You are stuck looking at the tree (diodes in an alternator) and failing to see the entire forest. You are failing to appreciate the true amount of power and work it takes to electrify the typical home. It's an easy thing not 'get', given a couple of fairly small grid wires come down from a power pole into a panel box and things work. I am not an electrical or mechanical engineer, but I'll attempt to show you a bit of the forest.

    You are proposing to connect "a" solar panel "to an electrical motor of some sort" to run some alternators "to power my home". Ok...let's work it backwards, looking at the forest, and forgetting that diode 'tree' for now.

    How much power does your home use ? (grab a few electric bills). The typical US home (your mileage may clearly vary) uses about 900 kilowatt hours per month....say 30/day. A kilowatt hour is 1,000 watt in any given day, you'd need 30,000 watt hours. But shoot...just for fun, let's assume you heat/cool, cook, heat water, dry clothes,with something other than electric, have a real efficient fridge, and changed every light bulb to LED, and got your use down to 10kwhrs/day....1/3 the national average. So you need 10,000 watt hrs per day.

    So grab a typical off the shelf 60amp alternator. 60amp x 12v = 720watts. Run that 24hrs/day and you'd produce a bit over 17,000 watt hours. Problems: 1) This is at 12v, and you need 120v to 'run your house' now you have to invert that 12v into 120v (or maybe 240v) 2) You are only producing 720 watts at any one time.....what happens if your lighting is using all of that, and suddenly the fridge clicks on ? You have to run enough alternators to meet 'peak demand'.....

    Ok...the typical alternator is about 55% efficient...meaning it takes almost twice the amount of watts IN as you get out (not allowing for mechanical connection losses) takes about a 2hp motor to run one, and really close to 3hp with mechanical say 2,000 watts IN to get 720w OUT. See a problem there ? You'll need 48,000 watt hours of power (24hrs x 2000w IN) to run ONE alternator.

    So now that 'solar panel' setup needs to generate 2400watts (add 400 because the typical electric motor is only 80 efficient) every single second of 24hrs to run this deal. That is 58,000 watts hrs per 24hrs.

    Lets take a 250w solar panel, that's a fairly large one (40"x65"..18sqft).....peak real world conditions, it will put out about 220w for a couple hours right around noon on a bright clear day, with varying degrees of output from first sun on it in the morning (nearly zero output) to last sun on it in the evening (again, nearly zero output)....say it puts out an average of 1,000 watt hours over the course of A GOOD, SUNNY, 6 HOUR DAY. You'll need 58--250w panels just to handle the need of one alternator DURING A 6 HOUR SUNNY DAY. Now obviously, there are 18 other hours a day, so you'll need a GI-NORMUS battery bank (this has already gotten so silly I'm not gonna get into the size or cost of such a bank, other than to say you'd make Telsa very happy with your order) AND a minimum of 3x 58 more panels (actually quite a few more with conversion losses) to run during your sun window to store power for that other 18 hours, plus a heck of a lot more to allow for generation to make up for cloudy rainy weather......say around 300-400 panels to get 720w out of that lousy alternator. A 75-100kw solar power set up.

    See how ridiculous this is when you work it backwards from need to generation ? That was a simple walk thru the doubt I've left out many problems/losses/costs you'd have trying to set up something like this.

    A typical solar setup with battery backup to generate 300kwhrs/month of 120/240v power would be in the 5kw range, and cost a tiny fraction of what you're thinking (still not near as cheap as grid power, but down in the 'doable' range)

    Please DO keep exploring and understanding alternative power, and don't take the above too harshly. Manny that read your post don't understand power generation either, or do, and wouldn't waste the time to go thru trying to explain it to you. Heck, I wouldn't have either, except you caught me at 5am when I wasn't doing much anyway...ahahaaaa

    When you finally get a grip on the enormity of power need and generation (and trust me, 99% of people out there don't have a clue), you come to understand what works and is practical versus non-reality based dreams....and you'll be way ahead of the game.
    GOG, Gator 45/70, Seepalaces and 7 others like this.
  4. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I do something a little like this with my engine driven alternator welder.
    There are 3 problems with this.
    One, the alternator produces 3 phase power. Your house is single phase.
    Two, the alternator can only build up a maximum of about 60 to 80 volts at no load.
    Three, the alternator produces very high frequency alternating current like 800 to 1,000Hz, not 60hz.

    The reason you can't find any information on this is because it won't work.

    My budget to go off grid would have to be some where around $15,000.
    That's me doing all the install, I already have backup generators and 24v battery chargers and hundreds of pounds of 18ga through 000ga wire I bought at the scrap yard.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  5. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    I was intending to do enough solar just to run my refrigerator and discovered that at my current cost of electricity the install would pay for itself in 30 years. So I decided to invest in other projects instead, but while doing research I ran across this site and joined the Monkeys, which proves there is a silver lining to every cloud.
    GOG, Sgt Nambu, Seepalaces and 5 others like this.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Aside Andy's example, there's something peculiar about driving a generator with a motor that smacks of inefficiency as well as a possible violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics if pursued.

    Why bother with the mechanical conversion step, and simply go for a properly sized inverter panel? Using an alternator to produce 60hz power is (aside diode removal) going to need a very serious means of controlling speed.

    OGB, I think you have a real non-starter for going off grid. Don't let it stop you from formulating and working toward energy independence. There are some good ideas and experiences on this tree for you to look at.
  7. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    In any proposed home power setup, simplicity is important. The more steps in the processing of your power, and the more bits of moving machinery involved, the more expensive and unreliable the system becomes. Maintenance demands increase, eating into the available time and money. Complexity is also Murphy's way of making sure that something will always fail at the worst possible moment.

    Take lighting, for example.

    Ideally, power from solar panels goes to a battery bank, and then to LED lights. That's simple and efficient. The usual problem is initial cost, plus battery replacement over time.

    You can cut the cost of lighting by eliminating most daytime power usage. Just install lightpipes for daytime illumination. That can be a simple as a bottle of water plus a hole in the roof, or as complex and pricey as you like. Old-time sailing ships had glass prisms set flush in the deck that provided light below.

    That can cut the size of the battery bank allocated to lighting in half, and the cost as well.

    Refrigeration is usually another large power drain. Minimize it by setting up a three mini-fridges instead of one huge one. That way, each time you open a door, only a small amount of electric power falls out on the floor.

    For water heating, minimize the battery bank by using passive solar preheating for the water that goes into the water heater. (I'm saving about $150 a month that way. Have been for years. You don't have to be off the grid to make use of a little "free energy".)

    In all that alternate energy stuff, Dr. Google can be your very best friend. Study up on the subject before you commit.
  8. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Morgan has a handle on it .
    Think of solar as a trickle effect.
    a panel by it's self can do very little, even several panels only pout out so much but the problem with many motors is tha amperage it takes to start and then the amperage at it's full load capacity .
    With out a battery bank you won't go very far.
    I built my own system through years of investment and experimentation ,It cost something to learn something.
    You don't need a degree from MIT to build a system, but you do need to be willing to invest your self into it.
    GOG, Seepalaces, Sgt Nambu and 4 others like this.
  9. THANK YOU, i was up pretty late brainstorming as well and while i was waking up i thought about it and it would be a very complicated/noisy thing.. i do only pay very little in light but i do want to pay almost nothing.. i have thought another idea through and it seems a bit more reliable... thank you for your explanation and time sir!
  10. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Welcome to the monkey @offgridbeginner. I see the solar guru's of the monkey have weighed in on your solar dilemma. These guys know their stuff re: solar, they will steer you in the correct direction.
  11. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    TN Andy spent A huge amount of type time @05:00 !
    I have measured with a kill-a-watt each freezer & fridge & have a made a label on each unit , I have two deep freezers that can also have a separate thermostat system to make a freezer into a fridge that has two labels on it in fridge it uses .42KW/day 24hrs and in freezer winter time it's .59/kw/24hr or in summer 1.10kw /24hr (summer is when I have lots of power ) .
    I have 5 solar setups in PV & in Solar collection .
    Each is built for how much power is required plus 40% over factor of cloud with 3 days storage .OR when the heat collection is to be used.
    The Barn / Equipment Shed /Green house/front gate system is one 24Vdc PV system & it is used the heaviest for the incubators & brooders in spring , other than that , it in float most of the summer when the pool is in use after the hatch out.

    REDUCTION is the key first!
    Electric door bells ,built in Vacuums , instant on TV's flat panel monitors etc. eat power !
    I bought my LED tv with my Kill-a-watt unit . Off it uses 1.5W ,on its 45watt @125Vac for a 50" unit .

    Im all LED lighting in the shops as well also 4' led tube use 22 watt / tube , that replaced twin 96W florescent and a ballast that JUST made huge heat (needed leather welding gloves to hold as I removed them ). Dropped 3KW/day just new LED lamp tubes (You must remove the ballast , if not you will use more power on an upgraded lamp) I know I measured 4 different type . 140 LED lamps , you need to know power / lumans .

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
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  12. Seepalaces

    Seepalaces Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Soooo....wish I could explain this half as elegantly. When I first began this journey, I asked my husband if we could create our own electric, he said, with no hesitation, "No." When I asked why, he said, "Math." Because he's the brains, I started researching it.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  13. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Ms See , @Seepalaces You have the Grid ?
    Your bills are ? for power ? Like 597Kw.h @.83 = $50.00 for two months or 25.00/month useage is the norm around here.
    Yup math is the deciding factor ..
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
    Seepalaces likes this.
  14. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    What the OP proposes is so far off the map, I'm at a loss as to where to even start. I have no idea why someone would want to do this or what the possible benefit could be.

    But anyway, to add something that has not already been offered...

    Don't make this ten times harder than it has to be. The easiest solution is to connect the solar to a charge controller, let the charge controller charge the batteries, and tap your power there.

    If you want to run conventional AC appliances, then add an inverter.

    The suggestion to wire LEDs around the house and run them directly off the battery will work, but it's a bit awkward. You would need a totally separate set of wires. If the wire run is long, then a lot of the energy will be lost because DC is inherently inefficient the longer the wire is. This can be mitigated by using a larger gauge wire. That can get expensive, and again, awkward.

    I run my home partially from off grid solar and use an inverter fed by a battery bank. The only stuff that is powered directly from DC is my ham radio station and a refrigerator specifically designed for solar.

    Even with my large setup, I am limited to a few hundred watts continuous. I cannot run the central air, microwave, etc. If the grid went down long term, I could power my radios, keep the food cold, have some lights at night, and use small power tools. I could not live like I usually do.

    I never calculated the cost savings because I'm not doing it for the money. It is very hard for home solar to make money, and off grid solar even less so. Most of the stories you hear about homeowners producing all this energy and selling it back to the power company leave out that most of the savings is contrived from tax breaks, clever financing, and various laws that force the power company to buy energy they may not even need. Home systems almost never turn a profit on their own merits.
    ghrit, Cruisin Sloth and Seepalaces like this.
  15. Seepalaces

    Seepalaces Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    $25 per month is dream territory for me. We pay closer to $90/month from Sept to May, and close to $8/month in the summer. Our electric is cheap, but all four of us are electric tinkerers of some kind. I have Tevin's off grid set up for my radios, but I have yet to put it together. Life is just too crazy right now. Speaking of which, if I don't run right now, I won't get dinner on the table in time. Gah.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  16. chimo

    chimo the few, the proud, the jarhead monkey crowd

    Ya should learn to walk before trying to run a triple marathon. Instead of looking to power your entire home via solar all at once, start out by designing a small back-up power system to run one or two key things in the case of a power outage. For example, you could put together the required panels, controller, inverter and battery bank to provide enough to power a freezer and some lighting. Start small, learn the basic building blocks, then you will be able to see the true scope and feasibility of larger scale projects.
  17. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    See, the 25.00 is usage only , no taxes etc & all the other stuff they load .. Im talking just seeing what the power bill is not the extras they add , Whats for supper ?
    Seepalaces likes this.
  18. Seepalaces

    Seepalaces Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Leeks in the garden: leek soup and grilled cheeses. Boys must have ham on their sandwiches.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  19. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    In stead of being nay sayers do it.
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