Alternative Energy?

theotherwaldo

Well-known member
Is anyone else going the alternative energy route?
I've been messing around with it since the 1970s... well, actually, the 1960s.
My Grandpa whittled up a little water wheel for me when I was four, back around 1961. I built my first Pelton power wheel four years later to charge car batteries so that Dad could listen to the Dodger baseball games. We lived five miles past the end of the power lines in Northern California at the time.

Since then I've been involved in alternative fuels development - alcohol, gasohol, methane, wood gasification, wood waste, biodiesel and some others, electric and hybrid vehicles, waste-based industrial fuels and nuclear power.

Oddly, I'd rarely applied these technologies to my own lifestyle until recently.

Now, I'm adding more and more stand-alone solar power devices to my property as well as some solar power back-up installations - which came in very handy during the recent blackout.

This month I'm using my tax return money to expand my installations as well as adding some other non-grid power back-up systems.

Anyone else jumping on the non-grid power band wagon?
 
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wiscoaster

Well-known member
I'm really interested in whole-home battery-powered backup. My goal isn't to be entirely off-grid, it's to be able to maintain normal life during short-term grid interruptions. I don't want to fool around with a gas-powered generator, although I have a small generator now that can power one or two items at a time for a short while in an extreme emergency. And my computer and sump pump of course have battery backup. My ideal whole-home battery system would primarily be trickle-charged off the grid, with supplemental solar when enough sunshine is available, and would provide enough backup capacity to power everything in my home except perhaps the A/C and dryer for up to 48 hours without additional charge.
 

roscoe

Well-known member
Gulp - $35K+ ... is that AUD or USD?

Aussie dollars. Still, at ~$25K USD, much more than a Tesla wall. But it might last a long long time, with no degradation other than mechanical parts that can be replaced. I worry about the longevity of batteries, having had many lithium cells go expensively bad. Plus, if hydrogen storage can be expanded cheaply, it might be able to produce more than several days worth of hydrogen, in sunny places.
 
I drive a solar powered car. It's a 1994 GMC Jimmy, just turned over 100,000 miles.

I use ancient 100% organic wetlands to store solar energy by fixing atmospheric carbon into cellulose, then I use geological upheaval to naturally transform that cellulose into a much denser form. After extraction from Mother Gaia, another all-organic process refines nature's gift into a substance with the most magical combination of energy density, ease of storage, and ease of conversion into mechanical energy.

The coolest part is, the entire process is CARBON NEUTRAL across the lifecycle, returning that carbon right back to where it came from when I'm done with it.

But, your electric car is cool too. . . call me when the coal fired steam generator is IN THE CAR instead of in the next county.

Edit to add: there is a place for specific, technical, complex nomenclature. On the other hand, it's far more common that the "terms of art" and "new terminology" is nothing but a smiling liar trying to baffle you with bullshit.
 
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WrongHanded

Well-known member
I have no plans for any off-grid power solutions at my current home, aside from an emergency gas powered generator which I've been considering for a few years. But when I eventually move to a more rural setting I'm hoping for solar with (probably) a propane generator backup. With or without grid access. I've lived with such an off-grid system before, and it was pretty hassle free.
 

theotherwaldo

Well-known member
Part of what set me off is that the local power company slammed me again.
I caught them this time.
Usually, some local, usually an illegal, will get with a friend that works the phones at a power company and helps them to steal and transfer an account into their name and then transfer that account to a different address.
A month or so later I find that my power has been turned off and can't be turned back on until I sign up with a new provider.
This has happened seven times in sixteen years.
I've decided that I need to rely on the grid as little as possible.
 

Magyars

New member
Is anyone else going the alternative energy route?
I've been messing around with it since the 1970s... well, actually, the 1960s.
My Grandpa whittled up a little water wheel for me when I was four, back around 1961. I built my first Pelton power wheel four years later to charge car batteries so that Dad could listen to the Dodger baseball games. We lived five miles past the end of the power lines in Northern California at the time.

Since then I've been involved in alternative fuels development - alcohol, gasohol, methane, wood gasification, wood waste, biodiesel and some others), electric and hybrid vehicles, waste-based industrial fuels and nuclear power.

Oddly, I'd rarely applied these technologies to my own lifestyle until recently.

Now, I'm adding more and more stand-alone solar power devices to my property as well as some solar power back-up installations - which came in very handy during the recent blackout.

This month I'm using my tax return money to expand my installations as well as adding some other non-grid power back-up systems.

Anyone else jumping on the non-grid power band wagon?
Here, back of beyond, I have two small solar set up, a wood stove for heat and a couple generators...one runs on propane....
 

wiscoaster

Well-known member
When discussing going off-grid I think that options for urban and suburban dwellers need to be considered as well. Options that require rural land, space and resources aren't going to work for them.
 

roscoe

Well-known member
If you lived in a hilly area you could use solar to pump water up into a cistern high above you, then reclaim that energy with a Pelton-style waterwheel generator. That is probably the cleanest and simplest way to store energy. Not sure about the efficiency, though.
 

WrongHanded

Well-known member
If you lived in a hilly area you could use solar to pump water up into a cistern high above you, then reclaim that energy with a Pelton-style waterwheel generator. That is probably the cleanest and simplest way to store energy. Not sure about the efficiency, though.
That's a good idea. I lived at a place that had a solar powered well pump. Once the tank was full, the overflow went into small pond and then streamed down gulch from there. Capturing that power would have been a much better use of that water, even if only to charge batteries in real time. But a reservoir for generation hydro electric power is an even better idea.
 

theotherwaldo

Well-known member
My little pelton wheel was powered by the overflow from our domestic water supply.
Our water came from springs in caves in the bluffs that we piped into a big redwood fire-fighter's storage tank. then piped down to the house.
The overflow had been allowed to just run down and turn the adjacent fields into a bog.
I figured that we might as well put that water to work... .
 

roscoe

Well-known member
I am sure someone has calculated the optimal efficiency for energy stored in a water storage tank. If you were in a sunny area, the solar-powered pump could crank away all day and you could reclaim the energy at night. Bigger solar cells obviously means more water pumped (or higher).
 

theotherwaldo

Well-known member
Unless you have a large basin on a high hill or can park several tanker trucks on a bluff, having a place to store your water is a bit of a problem. Also, finding a pump that will raise a worthwhile amount of water high enough in the time allotted is both difficult and expensive.
Some years ago I had some friends of my mother that had purchased a fairly tall hill in Southern Oregon that was crested by a large concrete municipal water tank. They had the idea using it as a power source, much as Roscoe suggested. After a bit of study they dropped that idea and converted it into a very dramatic and luxurious home that was conventionally powered, although with an amazing view... .
 
This will give you an idea of how large a water tank you would need to store any significant amount of energy.
Also in the winter you will get zero energy storage from a block of ice.
1614447823693.jpeg
 
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