The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

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JAG's picture
JAG
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The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

Hi Everyone,

I created this thread in an attempt to consolidate information about residential alternative power systems. I assume that there is a lot of information spread across many forum threads and posts about member's personal or professional experiences with this subject. I will attempt to do a search for this content and provide links to the relevant posts here in this thread, so that the forum will have an easy to use and concentrated source of information on this subject.

I would also like to ask those forum members who have previously posted information on their personal experiences with alternative energy systems to provide links to their content here in this thread as well if they don't mind. 

For the sake of efficiency, it might be wise to restrict the posts on this thread to providing "how-to" information, and to try our best to minimize all the other "extraneous" aspects of the ensuing conversation.

Some subtopics on this subject might include:

  • Solar (Photovoltaic) Panels and Arrays
  • Wind Generators
  • 12V and 24V Battery Banks
  • Solar Water Heaters
  • Converters, Battery Chargers, and Monitoring Equipment
  • Solar Water Pumping 
  • Hydro-Power Turbines
  • Rainwater Collection, Treatment, Distribution, & Storage
  • Passive Solar Architecture
  • Wood Stoves and Wood-Fired Furnaces
  • Improving Home Energy Efficiency
  • Solar Ovens
  • Solar Water Distillation Systems 
  • Back-up Generators
  • Grid-Tie Systems and Process
  • Sources for Products, Contractors, and Information

There is a great deal of valuable information in this forum's archive and members of this community. My goal in creating this thread is to try to provide better access to it via better organization.

Thanks and I hope you will join me in this effort.

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

GREAT THREAD!!!!

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

Great thread, now I'm gonna have to make sure I have enough paper to print all this out before the power goes out so I can get power again to be able to read this on my computer.

Damnit now I'm confused. lol

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

I have a place where I can generate hydro power and would like to do so in the best way possible.   Unlike solar, micro-hydro seems to be strictly a DIY activity so I'd appreciate any advice, good sources for information, equipment, etc.   I searched CM but didn't find much about hydro unless I just didn't find the hydro thread.  As I develop this I'll be happy to share my data with the forum.

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

I have a place where I can generate hydro power and would like to do so in the best way possible.   Unlike solar, micro-hydro seems to be strictly a DIY activity so I'd appreciate any advice, good sources for information, equipment, etc.

I just purchased a solar catalog and design guide from solarpanelstore.com.  It has a few pages on micro-hydro design as well as some turbines that they carry.  Dont know anything about the company, but the catalog has been helpful as I design a PV system.

John

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

Bear in mind that the more you choose/embrace activities other than sitting still (in the company of display screens), the more your built spaces can be shelter-quality, as they were during 99+% of the human adventure.  Why not restrict conditioned air and fine points of building science to the space or spaces in which you will sit still for hours?

Short of that extreme, to size systems (and costs) properly, first do and/or calculate potential energy efficiency improvements to your building.  In other words, don't supply to waste.  Also, if you're in position to do some energy productive things in connection with properties near yours, it may be advantageous to do so.

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

Here's a related thread that could have happened here: http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/has-anyone-bought-home-solar-system-recently/33051

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Re: Links to Posts on Solar Power

My Wife and I have been off grid since 1983. We live on top of a mesa in central New Mexico in a passive/active solar adobe home we built ourselves with no mortgage and a by your leave from no one. But you have to be on a secluded site to do that. That's what off grid is all about isn't it?

For us it was not about payback time or economic feasibility, it was about flipping off the status quo and chasing the carrot. We are not as independent as we would like to be. We still buy food, vitamins, herbs, propane, internet service, gasoline. But I have cut my driving to a minimum [ once a week I buy groceries in Alamogordo an hour and fifteen minutes one way ] and my wife only drives to work and back. We do go to Albuquerque about once every six weeks or so for doctor's appts and to stock up from the natural food stores there.

I have begun the process of building a 60' tower for a home built wind turbine. See otherpower.com if you are interested in building your own. And we plan on starting a green house this summer. We have been doing organic gardening on a small scale but need to expand that. We have a composting toilet and radiant heating in the floors powered by solar hot water collectors and a pump, and a slightly bigger than modest PV system with battery storage. We are on 20 acres of isolated, juniper and pinon forrested land. At the other end of our mile long, dirt and rock driveway is a town of 20 people. Fourteen miles away there is a town of 1200. It will soon have a grocery store. This area is an economic dead zone which is why we like it and hope it stays that way. 

The only human activity we hear are aircraft and a train nine miles away. 

I'd be happy to answer questions from those seriously considering off grid living. I'm no expert. I've only done this once and did it my way with the help of a few books. It is not some yuppie system to run a yuppie lifestyle. We have a propane fridge and backup generator that uses propane too. We use compact flourescents everywhere, and even tho we make our own power and water we are very careful with both. We have a modest rain water recovery system. Our cars are old and get good gas mileage. We do not watch TV but our one luxury is we buy and watch movies. We came from LA and have friends and acquaintances in that business and are interested in movie making. At    http://www.myspace.com/ron45becker   you can find pictures of our home inside and out and part of our energy system. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ron

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Re: Links to Posts on Solar Power

Ron Becker wrote:
We came from LA and have friends and acquaintances in that business and are interested in movie making. At    http://www.myspace.com/ron45becker   you can find pictures of our home inside and out and part of our energy system.

Great looking house.  How do you like the Zomeworks trackers?  I looked at them and Wattsun trackers but decided just to go with an adjustable angle fixed array.  Do the zomeworks trackers have problems in high wind?  Just curious so that when people ask me I have another data point.

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

ltlredwagon wrote:

I have a place where I can generate hydro power and would like to do so in the best way possible.   Unlike solar, micro-hydro seems to be strictly a DIY activity so I'd appreciate any advice, good sources for information, equipment, etc.   I searched CM but didn't find much about hydro unless I just didn't find the hydro thread.  As I develop this I'll be happy to share my data with the forum.

I have a micro-hydo course from Solar Energy International under my belt.  The students installed one of them in CO at the end of the course.  I have also toured installations in CO and OR.   This knowledge along with an engineering degree in a different field and a lot of construction experience puts me into the "knows-enough- to-be-dangerous" category in this field.  I am in the hoard with wind and solar. 

Basically, you got three types of hydro power generation:

1)  High head (pressure) and low flow:  Head is the distance from the top of your water source ie a spring, lake or stream to the turbine.  I toured a home installation that had 650 ft of head and four gallons per minute.  Four gallons per minute is not much but 2000 ft of 1" PVC for the pentock was a quite a DIY undertaking.  Anyway, the owner ran his entire household off that. 

2) Low head and high flow:  In the type of installation, a pipe, channel or trough floods a turbine about 3 ft below the trough.   If you have say an irrigation ditch running through your property then you might have a good chance of a power source. 

3) Flow:  Instream generators that work like wind turbines- either vertical axis turbines or prop jobs. 

I believe it is the most under-utilized resource out there.  People tend to think of these big hydro dams but you could pack a system which can run your house in the back of a compact pickup!   You dont need big machinery but it takes a lot of infrastructure in channels, troughs, pentocks, plumbing and electrical controls. 

Bare in mind that depending on laws that apply to your situation, The Man can get real nasty about altering a stream channel or water body.   The Army Corp of Engineers has nationwide permits to apply under.  State govts need permits.  Environmental concerns.  Wildlife.  Water quality.    Game and fish.  Irrigation rights.   Many a good intention to utilize this clean and pollution free resource (along with wind and solar) has been shutdown.  The MAN needs to eat!  And "NO" is the easiest, risk free answer.  However, if you have irrigation rights or the spring or the lake is yours, you MAY be free and clear. 

You can go DIY but there is a lot of power there - more than you think - so be careful! 

Shoot me a private message: explain your situation, provide a location and I can probably point you in the right direction.  Same goes for anyone out there.....

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

Oh and a couple more things: 

Becker is right about otherpower.com.  That group has been VERY helpful in wind, hydro and sun.   They are kind of like the open source of alternative energy.  

Also, take a look at http://homepower.com.   They have a great deal on a set of archive DVDs of their articles which are very rich in information.  Mother Earth News used to have some good stuff.  Their old articles are good but newer ones are too yuppified IMHO.

And, a general comment, you can spend A LOT of money on alternative energy or you can spend a modest amount and learn to conserve!   Which means getting rid of electric appliances, reducing the size of your home, turning down the thermostat, caulking and stacking in insulation.  An average home energy consumer can easily drop $80K on a solar system, still need backup power occasionally and not pay it off for 15 years.  Or, can spend $10K on the above home improvements, be more mindful about using energy and cut his total electrical use in half.  It aint as cool as having an array of panels on your roof but sure makes a whole lot more sense.

1st things 1st:  Conservation first; generation second.

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

1st things 1st:  Conservation first; generation second.

I've taken a different appoach, definitely the contraian.   Because of the silly way incentives work (vary by state/country), you can build big (yes - spend alot and get big tax and generation incentives).  Not cut your usage but get the system up before all the incentives go away due to broke governments and utilities.  Then you can work on conservation and will have lots of extra power to sell back when generation becomes expensive after you have figured out how to conserve.

Will this work? Unknown, but if you have the money you can throw at the generation, you can deal with the life style changes over a longer period without having to worry that you might have too little power, and anyway, I figure extra power will become a valuable asset in the future.  Besides do you have something better to do with the dollars other than saving them for toilet paper? Laughing

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Re: PV systems and EMPs

I am cosidering a photovoltaic system for my home. I also have long recognized the possibility, though maybe remote, of an EMP strike such as one that has recently and periodically been discussed here at CM.com and elsewhere. The question for the gang here is what affect such an event would have on a PV system. I would imagine it would not be good. If that's  the case, could a PV system be hardened (Faraday cage) against an EMP?

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Re: The Definitive Alternative Energy and Home Power Thread

rhare:

When incentives are involved, it becomes an economic game.  IMHO every discussion on the economics of alternative energy eventually winds down to one thing: emotion. 

It is no different than buying cars.  Let's say you own a compact car that gets 30 mpg and 70000 miles on it.  It is a great car.  Should last another 130000 miles.  A door handle breaks off.  You take it into the shop to fix a bent tie rod after pothole.  You got a few parking lot dings.  Nutshell: All that newness is worn off. Now, in steps the new wife, she doesnt feel secure in that car.  There was a recall - not the year of this car - but same brand - which is enough for her to worry.  All her friend have hybrids.  They CARE about the environment.  We need to buy a hybrid... DOH there is baby along the way.... we need a reliable car to carry the baby around!... and so goes the decision making process.

Does it make economical sense to replace the car with a hybrid?  Does it make ecological sense to replace the car with a hybrid?  Does it make safety sense (for the baby)?  Is it cooler to drive a hybrid? Does it make a statement?  

If you take into account total waste streams, relative hazards associated with each design and net energy streams, the first three questions are a fairly easy "No".  The remaining questions are an easy "yes".  And, it is the answer to those last questions that a family will shell out more than a year's salary with bank interest for an asset that will depreciate with every mile of use.

Spending $25K on an alternative energy system that pays you back every minute you use it makes a heck of a lot more sense than spending $25K on a car that takes money away from you every time you use it.

But, at today's insanely low energy costs, alternative energy does not pencil out in most every case without either a high cost to bring in a powerline, an high potential natural source or monetary incentives.  So, then, it becomes an emotional decison. 

There is nothing wrong with this.  I like CM's comment that even being a small percentage prepared makes a huge difference in overall quality of life.   Having solar charged lights at night instead of flashlites, candles and gas lanterns is worth every penny in the short and long haul.

So in answer to your question, if you got the incentives, go hog wild.  You are turning your paper money and government money which are both becoming worthless into hard assets.   If you dont have the incentives, it makes economic sense to conserve first and generate second.   In either case, it makes emotional sense to do both at the same time.

Where we need to get to as a nation, heck, as a world is where conservation and alternative energy generation is cooler, safer and makes a statement. 

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Aquaculture, Hydro Power, and Permaculture

Sepp Holzer in Austria, has a fantastic set-up using a series of terraced ponds on a mountainside that provides not only power for his farm and home, but food as well. I used to have the video showing his farm, but I seemed to have misplaced it. Here is a clip from that video on YouTube:

His place looks like heaven to me.

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Re: PV systems and EMPs

earthwise wrote:

I am cosidering a photovoltaic system for my home. I also have long recognized the possibility, though maybe remote, of an EMP strike such as one that has recently and periodically been discussed here at CM.com and elsewhere. The question for the gang here is what affect such an event would have on a PV system. I would imagine it would not be good. If that's  the case, could a PV system be hardened (Faraday cage) against an EMP?

Also, are PV systems likewise vulnerable to solar flares with their coronal mass ejections? 

See http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mystery_monday_031027.html 

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Re: PV systems and EMPs

earthwise wrote:

I am cosidering a photovoltaic system for my home. I also have long recognized the possibility, though maybe remote, of an EMP strike such as one that has recently and periodically been discussed here at CM.com and elsewhere. The question for the gang here is what affect such an event would have on a PV system. I would imagine it would not be good. If that's  the case, could a PV system be hardened (Faraday cage) against an EMP?

I honestly don't know if there's such an issue, but assuming anything called a cage would shade the panels, a PV system could be hardened against an EMP only at significant loss of productivity.  Now, if a custom cage could refract light just so.....

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emergency and backup solar power

Hello CM Forum participants;

My name is Chaz Peling, and I am the designer and builder of the SolMan mobile solar generator, and owner/CEO of SolSolutions LLC.

I have recently found the Chris Martensen material and forum, and joined to be more actively involved in this conversation of change and preparations.  I am finding this very interesting and timely, as there is more and more acceleration in understanding the core interrelated issues of energy, economy and environment.      I had posted over in the paid forum section, but found this collective of really great resources and info, and hope to contribute to it.

I have alot of background in homestead, off-grid living, solar electric, efficient energy use, power management, permaculture, and sustainability.    Also am an ongoing student in the struggles and success of self-employment and entrepreneurship, along with community building and effecting social change.    I am a member of the Sebastopol Transition Town group, and the WIllits WELL group, that are both actively working on building education and active action for these issues.

Because of the focus of my company, and our web presence and awareness of key word searches, we are experiencing a big jump in activity relating to emergency back up power.   We are also updating our web presence and social media profile to let folks know about what we do, along with the general helping to raise understanding about energy use and creation, in general.   I have been writing more material that helps to layout some of the key points and details about be prepared for disruptions in the grid, and how to make you, your family, and home more independent and efficient in the energy part of the survival equation.

Here are a few general points I will leave, based on my experiences and learning over time in this business and off-grid home use.

-  In the economic choices between energy efficiency and energy production, ALWAYS look closely,  take action, and spend money first on energy efficiency.  There is a fairly well tested formula in this business that says for every dollar you spend on energy efficiency, that this would  take 3 to 4 dollars to spend on energy creation to match the resulting output or savings.   

That means:   insulate your house, weatherstrip, stop drafts, upgrade all appliances to Energy Star or better, LED light bulbs, super efficient pumps and motors, wise choice of energy for the job, power management and awareness, lifestyle modifications, get a Kill-A-Watt meter and start measuring exactly what each activity uses, and look at your electric bill and calculate what you use on average every day.   

That activity, and the time and dollars you spend to bring that daily use down will ALWAYS will cost less, than spending that money on more oil or coal power plants, big massive solar farms or onsite solar PV systems, wind mills, diesel or gas generators, hydro dams, nuclear plants, etc, etc.  

Now some of that upgrade is costly, granted.  The best energy efficient equipment seems to always cost more, but will generally save you more money, AND last longer, in the bigger picture.  Certainly the LED lighting story is that way, as the bulbs are extremely expensive right now, compared to incandescents or CFLs.  But the energy savings and longevity will more than off-set the upfront cost.  We have ROI charts for a number of situations that will prove this.  Many trends are going in that favor too, including the recurring cost of power.  And most economic charts do not have a $$ slot for what it costs you, if you have no power.........

What going extremely energy efficient does, is open a whole window of feasibility to you, after you do that work, for reformatting your average daily power needs, and finding that an independent or localized power source is now more feasible AND affordable. This is especially the case with solar.

- Any solar sales person, consultant, or company that is really doing you a service, needs to start with energy efficiency first, to get your average daily power needs down, BEFORE, they even start calculating how much solar you need.

- I would advise, in these times, to ALWAYS, get a battery backup component, to a home solar system if you are considering getting one, or adding that in if you already have a grid-tie system.   While the grid-tie systems are great, if the grid goes down, for any length of time, you will be without power, even with a roof full of solar panels.   ( we are seeing more and more consistent longer times to power restorations after storms )

- There are alot of real cheap plastic so-called solar battery or device chargers or my solar backup, etc, etc. being sold and pushed thru TV, catalogs and on the web.                           Buyer Beware!  Many of these are a joke, and will not really work in real life situations to actually and consistently charge your device, or back up your critical needs at home, nor will they last more than a year, before they break or stop working altogether, and then you will throw them away.    We have looked and tested alot of them, and talked to alot of other folks using various brands, and the old saying, "you get what you pay for", is never truer.    If  the solar surface is under 3 square inches, they will just not put out enough electric to really charge you device in a timely fashion.    Sure, if you leave your device plugged into them, in the sun, for 10 hours or more, maybe they will start to get close to full charge.  How real is that?     If the battery is 50 amp/hrs or under for a home backup system, you will not get more than an hour or two of critical function electric, before the battery is drained, and will be ruined.   When you really need it, will it fail?

- The same goes for the "solar LED flashlights".   Some real junk out there.  Don't depend on them. Sift carefully,  find the quality and "actual value", which is a tool or product, that will really work and last, time in and time out.    

-  There are some good Nmh battery chargers, for your AA, C, D etc, cells, that are showing up, that will charge off AC AND a 12 volt DC cigarette lighter plug, which makes them very versatile for having in your car, for all your flashlights, radios, cameras, etc, etc.  If you get the 8 or 12 bay models, and fill them up with the main type NmH batteries you use, you will always have fresh batteries, that can be cycled in for use and charge. These can also be made to charge off a small solar panel, and so make them even more versatile and power outage proof.

I have a series of tips and resources I have been collecting over time, that covers alot of these concepts of onsite personal power use and creation, and given the times we are in, I would like to get a dialog and response going with folks along this topic.

Towards our personal AND collective empowerment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Thanks for your consideration,

Chaz Peling

SolSolutions LLC

www.sol-solutions.com      (  major website revision coming over next 30 days, with much resources and links for personal power awareness. )

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 I think it would be

I think it would be interesting if individual homes could somehow have a pendulum  swinging in perpetual motion to generate energy ...no wind , no sun ,no water  .   I  know there has to be a reason that it would not work and being a   non mechanical  Gal   could never figure it out  but  what if the answer was something as simple as setting the swinging motion .

FM

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Costco now has solar panels

I found this recently.  Costco now sells DIY grid-tied kits by grape solar.  I was wondering if anyone knows anything about these.  Are they a good deal?

http://www.costco.com/Common/Search.aspx?whse=BC&topnav=&search=grape%20...

5060 Watt system for $18K seems kind of reasonable with the current solar tax credits.  I wonder how much a professional installation would cost?

Is there a formula for how much power will be lost by not facing due south?

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pathfinder

goes211 wrote:

I found this recently.  Costco now sells DIY grid-tied kits by grape solar.  I was wondering if anyone knows anything about these.  Are they a good deal?

http://www.costco.com/Common/Search.aspx?whse=BC&topnav=&search=grape%20...

5060 Watt system for $18K seems kind of reasonable with the current solar tax credits.  I wonder how much a professional installation would cost?

Is there a formula for how much power will be lost by not facing due south?

Not familiar with Grape Solar, but I can answer the power question.

If you are serious about installing pv, you will need one of these:

http://www.solarpathfinder.com/

Or a company that has one come and do a site survey. Basically, it is a mirrored globe with a printed set of lines that goes under it based on your lattitude. You set it up at your install site, take a digital photo of it straight down, and it will give you your obstructions at what time of the day in each month, allowing you to predict your best case scenario for solar hours by month. Then put the photo into the software, and get a complete site report. Very detailed. It uses a localized number based on the average amount of sun per day in your region, and you get the expected solar energy you will capture at your specific install site.

It is the best way to know if you have a viable install site or need to consider alternatives.

If you want to buy just the globe and send me the photo, I'll run it thru my software and generate the report for you.

R

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PV Watts is a great tool

goes211 wrote:

Is there a formula for how much power will be lost by not facing due south?

You can use the PV watts at NREL to get a good estimate of the impact easily and quickly.  Just put in your location, array tilt and use the default south value, record the readings, then compare it when you put in a different Azimuth (direction your array will be pointing).

As Ready pointed out, the biggest impact will be if you have shading unless you are talking very large deviations from south.  I find the PV watts site great when you just want to get a quick estimates on solar stuff.  Note, the defaults have proven to run about 10% low from what we have actually produced.  Of course they are only estimates based on past weather patterns and you have to put in the proper derate factor (actual performance estimates for you equipment), but if you go by the numbers you probably won't be disappointed.

For us a solar pathfinder wasn't particularly helpful since we have very little shading potential so just using PV watts was close enough. 

Another great site is AAA solar, their "my solar estimator" found on the left side of the main page seemed to give pretty good estimates (cost and size needed).

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Great info.

Ready and rhare,

Thanks for the info.  My roof is pretty much clear of obstructions but about 25 degrees off due south.  I am very surprised that the PV Watts calculator claims that this will still yield 97% of the due south energy.  Even more surprising to me was if I tried using 90 degrees off due south, it still yielded nearly 80%.   Can this really be the case?

Even with these good results I probably can't do a system at this time due to a recent tightening of home finances and my regional power company's current rate is only $0.08 / kWH.  It is really a shame because I don't know how much longer the current government incentives can last.  In North Carolina there is a 35% state incentive to go along with the 30% federal credit.

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Solar power storage and water heat (+greenhouse)...wind turbine?

Don't know protocol.  Joined today after speaking with Chris.   I have a 50KW Cummins/Onan genset w/2000 gallons of propane.  So what, right?  I want to procure solar power and possibly wind power (northcentral US, the wind never, I mean, never(!) stops blowing.  I want to use solar to store power in a bank of batteries to heat water, energize a large freezer full of protein, and....wait for it.....maybe heat/power an attached green house?!  (to be built -thoughts?) 

What firm does this/offers this/recommends them?  Lost, but now I am found.  Hoping to tap into (and maybe later offer) some  knowledge.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  Also interested in wind power. 

Hello from a fellow zerohedger!   

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Hot Water

treemagnet wrote:

Don't know protocol.  Joined today after speaking with Chris.   I have a 50KW Cummins/Onan genset w/2000 gallons of propane.  So what, right?  I want to procure solar power and possibly wind power (northcentral US, the wind never, I mean, never(!) stops blowing.  I want to use solar to store power in a bank of batteries to heat water, energize a large freezer full of protein, and....wait for it.....maybe heat/power an attached green house?!  (to be built -thoughts?) 

What firm does this/offers this/recommends them?  Lost, but now I am found.  Hoping to tap into (and maybe later offer) some  knowledge.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  Also interested in wind power. 

Hello from a fellow zerohedger!   

You will find that Solar Hot water (SHW systems) are way more efficient at heating water that Solar PhotoVoltaic and batteries.

I would look towards Wind/Batteries to generate electricity for lights/refrigeration and Solar Hot water collectors to generate hot water.

John

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rhare
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goes211 wrote: In North

goes211 wrote:

In North Carolina there is a 35% state incentive to go along with the 30% federal credit.

Wow! That is huge.  It was only 10% here in NM.  I would be really inclined to figure out how to make that work, even for a smallish system.  You can always get a larger inverter (4-5kW), install 1 string and then have the ability to add a second string later.  That would save you some money.  The PV folks will tell you that it wont be as efficient, but the efficiency difference is only a couple of percent, and the cost difference from a 3 kW to a 5kW inverter is only about $1,000.  Putting in a grid tied system won't get you any resiliency against a failure, but it will get you resiliency against rising electrical costs and you can always add a AC coupled battery back up at a later date.  If it's only a short time financing issue you might consider some of the 1 year same as cash offerings I have seen from some of the solar companies.

At that rate a 2.5kW or so system after incentives would be about $5K and you could double it for only the cost of panels and racking later.

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rhare
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Solar Article

Welcome treemagnet,

treemagnet wrote:

I want to procure solar power and possibly wind power (northcentral US, the wind never, I mean, never(!) stops blowing.  I want to use solar to store power in a bank of batteries to heat water, energize a large freezer full of protein, and....wait for it.....maybe heat/power an attached green house?!  (to be built -thoughts?)

You really don't want to use PV solar to heat water or space.  PV is only about 15-20% efficient while solar collectors are cheaper and about 50% efficient.   I don't know much about wind, other than you need fairly high (12+mph) sustained winds from most things I read.  But solar, you might want to check out an article I wrote under the "What should I do series".  We put in a system that may be similar to what you are looking for, you can check it out here.   I encourage you to take some time to read all the articles in the series as their is a lot of great info.

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EndGamePlayer
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Treemagnet - batteries

Hi TreeMagnet-

This guy uses PV to power his house and turns the excess into H which he uses in a fuel cell for both his house or car.  Same can be done with wind and the problems of batteries is solved. . . . which has been our biggest issue with our small wind.

We live in the center of 3 wind farms - we have them east, west and south of us so wind is our second choice. We plan on using PVs to suck the hot summer air out of the attic summers into a massive insulated pile of sand and then use that heat over winter (along with wood) the project pictures will be up on our website this fall). That's the only way I know of to use PV to heat anything. You might want to do it with coils in your attic to heat water but there are big problems when it freezes.

EGP

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rhare
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Cool but very expensive system.....

EndGamePlayer wrote:

This guy uses PV to power his house and turns the excess into H which he uses in a fuel cell for both his house or car.  Same can be done with wind and the problems of batteries is solved. . . . which has been our biggest issue with our small wind.

The solar PV part is very very similar to our sysem right down to the 4 sunny boy inverters (orange inverters on the wall) and the two sunny island inverters.  It does appear that he has a huge battery bank, looked to be about 4x the size we have. :-)

I like the quote that the sytem was quite expensive and supported by grants and manufacturers.  I'm guessing the systems shown in the video would run in the $500K-1M to actually build.  Fuel cells, storage tanks, hyrolizers, geothermal, lots of plumbing, etc.  I also noticed outside the garage was a bank of what look to be solar collectors - could have been PV but hard to tell with the video quality.

While I think systems like that are cool to build, with the curernt state of commercially available stuff, I think it would be vey very hard to cost justify the hydrogen portion of it.  I also suspect it requires constant tinkering to keep it running.    Building the PV/battery portion is doable and will provide a reliable solution for probably 10-20 years (life of batteries and inverters), and the geothermal is also a well developed technology.

EndGamePlayer wrote:

We plan on using PVs to suck the hot summer air out of the attic summers into a massive insulated pile of sand and then use that heat over winter

I look forward to hearing how your seasonal thermal storage solution works. 

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earthwise
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Real deal or rip-off gadget?

I came across this device at http://www.getpowermax.com/.  Essentially, it's described as a capacitor that supposedly stores the energy in the power spikes that are inherent in electricity from the grid and then releases it back into your wiring at a usable rate, which improves efficiency and thus lowering your bill.  My PV system contractor suggested a similar device but I passed on it. Any knowledgeable electrical-minded folks have an opinion?

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