Posts Tagged ‘Off-Grid’
» posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 at 9:12 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 267 times
By Theresa Curry • Contributor • July 25, 2010
Several hours into the second big snowfall in February, Chris Bolgiano went to the basement of her Fulks Run home and saw a digital clock blinking, the way they do when the power goes out.
“That’s the only way we knew that no electricity was coming into our house,” Bolgiano said. The other clocks, the lights, the computers and the kitchen appliances were continuing to provide the Bolgianos with the same level of utility and comfort as they did before the storm piled 18 inches of snow on top of the foot already blanketing their rural community.
It was a landmark of sorts for the couple: Chris, a nature writer and retired JMU librarian, and Ralph, a retired biologist, had installed additional solar panels a few months before. That allowed full power for their daily needs while keeping a system of sealed lead batteries charged. The batteries kicked in as soon as the electricity failed.
“We were without electricity for 36 hours, but we’d only used 25 percent of the battery backup,” Chris said. “And we were living life as usual. If we had been more conservative from the start, I’m sure we could have used much less.”
Meanwhile, Glenn Mingo was keeping an eye on the snow on the solar panels at his home between Spring Hill and Parnassus. Mingo normally fills his power needs from the panels on the roof of his ranch-style home.
“I’m retired, and I think of this as a way of prepaying my energy bills,” he said of his investment. “They’ll go up and my income won’t.”
Mingo and the Bogianos aren’t just in it for the longterm cost savings. They’re committed to lessening the environmental impact of their lives and they like the idea of being independent for security and other reasons.
There are growing numbers of homeowners like them, said Watt Bradshaw, whose 32-year-old Blue Ridge Energy Company specializes in building alternative energy sources such as solar, wood turbine, geothermal and small wind.
“In other countries, (people who install alternate energy sources) get enormous incentives for what they’ve done,” he said. Bradshaw said while total energy independence might not be possible, everyone can take some steps toward reducing energy costs.
If you’re thinking of moving in that direction, some guidelines from Bradshaw, Bolgiano and Mingo
Reduce your consumption
Over the course of about 10 years, Mingo installed compact fluorescent and LED bulbs in his most used lights, increased the insulation in his attic, and made storm windows to reduce heat and cooling loss.
Here’s How To Save Up To 50% Each Month On Your Home Utility Bills Without Installing Solar Panels Or A Wind Generator!:Save on Home Energy
“As I needed to replace appliances, I chose those that were more energy efficient and completely got rid of my garbage disposal,” he said.
To make dishwashing more efficient, he installed a foot-operated turn-on for his sink. He put in a root cellar for winter storage and buys apples and other good keepers in bulk as winter approaches.
The Bolgianos have used similar strategies since the construction of their 1,900-square-foot home 25 years ago. They heat with wood and don’t use a dishwasher or clothes dryer. By paying careful attention to the siting and construction of their basement, greenhouse and decks, they take advantage of natural light and heat in the winter and shade in the summer. Like Mingo, they have appropriate storage that’s naturally cool. The greenhouse allows them to have a salad garden all year, reducing both trips to the grocery and the need for refrigeration.
Contributing to the grid
“Going off the grid” was once a slogan of the energy-independence movement, but most people choose to stay connected, even though the power companies don’t offer much of a reward to their small contributors.
“In some countries, everyone who generates excess electricity and feeds it into the system is well-rewarded,” Bradshaw said. “It’s a tremendous mistake to put it all in the hands of the power companies with their 30 percent administrative markup.”
Mingo said he uses the conventional grid as a kind of storage system. “I contribute my excess power in the spring, fall and summer, and draw it out in the winter, kind of like a bank.” Bolgiano said her power company, Shenandoah Valley Electric Co-op, hasn’t quite figured out the bookkeeping aspects of the transactions.
“I have to really study my bill to see where they’ve credited me and how much over my consumption I’ve given them,” she said. She said the sealed lead batteries that allow her to store energy are expensive and not likely to become widely used for energy storage.
Bolgiano likes the idea of an eventual network of energy-contributing homeowners for security reasons. If the power supply isn’t all centered in one place, she reasons, a natural disaster or hostile attack is less likely to cause widespread devastation.
“I think it’s part of the American character,” she said, “to want to be independent and also to contribute to the common good.”
Start with a solar hot water
The most practical advice anyone can give about producing power is to install a solar hot water heating system, says Bradshaw.
DID YOU KNOW you can build your own Solar Thermal System, saving $10,000′s off retail price. There is a step-by-step guide that will show you exactly how to build your own solar thermal hot water system.
Thermal Solar Hot Water
“People actually use more hot water in the summer because of more laundry and showers, and that’s when you can get 100 percent of it from solar panels,” he said.
In its simplest form, solar panels pre-heat the water in a special tank before it flows into the regular hot water heater, which then adjusts its temperature for laundry and bathing.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 1.5 million homeowners have installed solar hot water heaters, with a nearly 100 percent satisfaction rate. With hot water comprising 13 to 25 percent of household energy use, it’s a step that can be cost-effective, especially with state and federal rebates, and if you’re able to do some of the work yourself, as Mingo did.
“Plan to save the initial cost in three to five years,”
post a comment | filed under Free Energy · Grid System · Home Improvement · Home Power Management · Off-Grid · Solar Hot Water · Solar PV Panel | tags: battery backup, home energy efficiency, Off-Grid
» posted on Monday, July 5th, 2010 at 3:03 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 253 times
It’s not necessary to be a nerd to understand how wind power works
Wind is caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun and the fact that temperatures are invariably attempting to reach an equilibrium (heat is obviously moving to a cooler area). With the rising expense of energy and the destruction of the environment from non-renewable fuels, it is more and more equitable to harvest this renewable resource.
The benefits of wind energy are that it is virtually free (after you buy the equipment) and there’s no pollution. The disadvantages include the fact it’s not a continuing source (the velocity varies and many times it is insufficient to make electricity) and it typically requires about one acre of land.
How Wind Energy Works
The volume of power that’s available varies by wind speed. The amount available is called it’s power density and it is measured in watts per square meter. Due to this, the U.S. Department of Energy has separated wind energy into classes from 1 to 7. The common wind speed for class 1 is 9.8 mph or less while the average for a class 7 is 21.1 or more. For effective power production, class 2 winds (11.5 mph average speed) are often required.
Normally, wind speeds increase as you get higher above the Earth. This is why, the typical wind mill is installed on a tower at least 30 feet above obstructions. There are 2 basic kinds of towers useful for residential wind power systems (free standing and guyed). Free standing towers are self supporting and are usually heavier which means they take special equipment (cranes) to set them up. Guyed towers are supported on a concrete base and anchored by wires for support. They typically are not as heavy and most manufacturer’s produce tilt down models which may be easily raised and lowered for maintenance.
The kinetic (moving energy) from the winds is harnessed by a device known as the turbine. This turbine consists of airfoils (blades) that capture the energy of the wind and use it to turn the shaft of an alternator (like you have on a car only bigger).
That there are two basic types of blades (drag style and lifting style). We all have seen pictures of old-fashioned windmills with the large flat blades which are an example of the drag style of airfoil. Lifting style blades are twisted rather than flat and resemble the propellor of a small airplane.
A turbine is classified as to whether it is made to be installed with the rotor in a vertical or horizontal position and whether the wind strikes the blades or the tower first. A vertical turbine typically requires less land for it’s installation and is an improved option for the more urban areas around the globe. An upwind turbine is designed for the wind to impact the airfoils before it does the tower.
These units normally have a tail on the turbine which is required to maintain the unit pointed into the wind. A downwind turbine doesn’t need a tail as the wind acting on the blades tends to maintain it oriented properly.
These turbine systems would be damaged if they were to be allowed to turn at excessive speeds. Therefore, units should have automatic over-speed governing systems. Some systems use electrical braking systems although some use mechanical type brakes.
The output electricity from the alternator is sent to a controller which conditions it for use in the home. The usage of residential wind power systems requires the home to either remain tied to the utility grid or store electricity in a battery for use when the wind doesn’t blow sufficiently.
When the home is tied to the grid, the excess electricity that is created by the residential wind power system can be sold to the utility company to reduce or even eliminate your utility bill. During periods with not enough wind, the home is supplied power from the utility company.
The price of Wind Energy
Small residential wind power turbines can be an attractive alternative, or addition, to those people needing more than 100-200 watts of power for their home, business, or remote facility. Unlike PV’s, which remain at basically a similar cost per watt independent of array size, wind generators get less expensive with increasing system size. At the 50 watt size level, for instance, a small residential power windmill would cost about $8.00/watt compared to approximately $6.00/watt for a PV module.
That’s why, all things being equal, Photovoltaic is cheaper for very small loads. As the system size gets larger, however, this “rule-of-thumb” reverses itself.
At 300 watts the wind mill costs are down to $2.50/watt, while the PV costs are still at $6.00/watt. For a 1,500 watt wind system the cost is down to $2.00/watt and at 10,000 watts the price of a wind generator (excluding electronics) is down to $1.50/watt.
» posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 12:05 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 4,232 times
Review this very strong video on solar energy from Earth4Energy: Solar Video
Free Power From Magnet Generator
We bought it and here is what we found out. This magnet generator is a great free electricity from a mini electric magnet generator project. You will gain so much confidence after your first generator you will want to built a bigger one right a way. Residential Energy Kit regards Magnets 4 Energy a safe buy.
Magnets 4 Energy project is based on the Perendev and Bedini (the wheel) magnetic motor principles; but, repackaged for easy home construction to make free electricity from a mini electric magnet generator. Magnets 4 Energy is very easy to build and modify for smaller or larger scale.
» posted on Monday, April 26th, 2010 at 4:06 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 158 times