Getting off the grid

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posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 11:25 AM
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It sure is great to learn how to survive if caught unawares, but we should also be exploring ways to prepare for LONG TERM survival in a post-Starbucks world. One area of interest for me has been getting off the power grid. Not only will I be able read at night after TEOTWAWKI, but I can save some money here and know

What I have discovered is that photovoltaic power is a ways from being perfected, and that I can’t expect my home to function like an on-grid house using solar panels even though I live in the Mojave. Because of this, I have been forced to look into a number of different ways to “energize” my home.

Some of the easy to set up and cost effective ways to make use of alternate energy I have found are:

WATER PROCURMENT: Most of us take for granted the fact that when we push the faucet up, the water comes out. Using a small and cheap ($300) solar panel to run a water pump from a small stream or shallow well (>100 ft deep) we can set up a water delivery system that will be adequate for a large family. For various reasons, this system would not use a battery, so you would need some type of cistern or water tank. It seems to me that the best way to set up this system is a water tank raised to the level of your roof with a gravity pressure system. You can also operate a very small second pump that would provide ample water pressure at your faucet if you want to.

Of course, you can always do it the old fashioned way and haul around 5 gallon buckets if you prefer to not prepare for the worst.


RADIO/COMPUTER/LIGHT POWER: Best way I can see to power these small things is to build a bicycle generator. Best way to stay in shape while hunkered down, too. You can build a 200w bike generator for almost nothing in a matter of a few hours that will allow you to run a computer, radio, or use a fluorescent light all night. In fact, if you learned how to do it and stored a few magnets and a battery you could build a simple bike generator after the SHTF. Not to mention that you can always use the bike for what it was intended.

Obviously there are many other great energy procuring/saving things I could be looking in to, those are just the two that have been my recent projects. I would love to hear what others have thought of, seen, or done.




[edit on 11-3-2007 by cavscout]




posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 03:08 PM
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I have been thinking about this one too as I plan eventually to sink a well on my property. I have generators so power is not the problem per se.

Water filtration and cleaning is also a priority and a reverse osmosis system is what I have in mind.

As for electrical power ..ways must be considered to reduce ones usage to minimums and rotate this usage in and out as tasks need to be done.

I have been looking at solar panels recently and have noticed prices coming down somewhat and also that they are available in portable fold up panels to charge battery banks etc etc.

Curious about something here as to whether any of the readers have any experience in flushing out olde batterys of the scale build up on the plates and then refilling them with battery acid?? I think In the future I might check this out as to practicality and feasability if batterys become difficult to acquire.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 03:21 PM
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Have you looked into solar Stirling?

When we finally get the bucks put back to build Bedlam Manor, we're looking into one of SES or Infinia's Stirling generators when they come out for public sale in 2008-2009.

Enough PV to run a house full bore is more expensive than a single SES rig at $50K. The SES plant puts out about 30kW, enough to run full tilt during the day and either charge a battery bank big enough to run all night, or to run the meter backwards enough to run from commercial at night for free.

It ought to be even more effective in the Mojave.

We get enough offshore wind here to maybe use a Darius as well, just haven't looked at that.



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 04:22 PM
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Originally posted by orangetom1999
Curious about something here as to whether any of the readers have any experience in flushing out olde batterys of the scale build up on the plates and then refilling them with battery acid?? I think In the future I might check this out as to practicality and feasability if batterys become difficult to acquire.

Thanks,
Orangetom


Please, let us know what you find out.


Tom, that sounds interesting, I will do some research when I have a little time.


Here is a good link to a site selling the bike power kits.
www.econvergence.net...

This thing will work great to charge a DVD player or PSP to keep the kids entertained as well! And rechargeable flashlights too. Talk about a great thing to have, at a great price. $300 for the full thing or a little over $100 for all the parts.

PS: just got a picture in my head of all 4 kids on their bikes charging a battery bank once a day for an hour or two, man this thing is neat. You’d think I sell them by the way I’m talking, huh?

[edit on 11-3-2007 by cavscout]



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 04:36 PM
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Infinia plans to sell them 3kW at a time, next year. It looks real, so that might be a good solution for having enough power for a pump, lights and a computer. The one I'm talking about is at the bottom. FWIW, the "time lapse movie" on the Infinia website looks a LOT like the SES home rig for some reason.

www.infiniacorp.com...

The SES solution is bigger and has a LOT more power output, nearly 30kW, but it's pretty cost efficient at their projected $50K installed price.

www.stirlingenergy.com...

Maybe you could power your neighbor's houses too, or the entire collective if you're planning to hightail it, so the $50K isn't so onerous, really. 30kW of solar PV is amazingly expensive by comparison.



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 08:00 PM
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The bike power kits look good ... inexpensive as well. I'd rather rely upon myself and members of our group for the "generator duty" .... but when the power is needed badly and the batteries are depleted, here's an idea:
www.theepicenter.com...

The only drawback is the necessary stockpiling a dedicated amount of gasoline for the lawnmower engine.



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 08:21 PM
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I've been considering long and hard on how to take my already super efficient home to the next level, that being "off the grid" of course.
Here is my current plan that is currently in Stage 2. Stage 1 was planning and I'll copy and paste what I wrote down last year.

Goal: To take every light source and one television in the house Off the Grid by the end of 2007.

Budget: 1500 - 2500 CND Dollars

Action Plan:
Step One: Replace all Incandescents with Instant-On Dimmable Full Spectrum Compact Fluorescents.

Step Two: Start to purchase Batteries and build ventilated housing in attic.

Step Three: Start to re-wire rooms to get their power the batteries. We're still working on a way to make it so we can switch back and forth between grid power and battery power in case of any problems.

Step Four: Buy all necessary but expensive misc. equipment needed for a grid-tied/OTG hybrid system. It won't be a true grid-tied as we will not be feeding any electricity to the grid from the renewables.

Step Five: Start to invest in Solar Panels, buying only enough to take One Television and every light in the house off the grid.

This plan is gonna be messy and in constant flux, but I figure that if I do it this way, I'll be able to take advantage of new technology as it comes out, especially Solar Panels and Batteries. I may actually go with a Capacitor bank, if it can hold enough charge to at least last the night. The reason being as Capacitors last much longer than batteries but don't hold nearly enough to make them useful. I'm thinking that along with this I'll also start to upgrade all the televisions to LCD due to their low power consumption, and I"ll be looking to trade up even further once E-Ink displays come out. Same goes for Fluorescent Bulbs. As soon as Full Spectrum LED light sources come down in price then I'm all for it.



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 08:27 PM
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As for getting your computer off the grid, thats a tough one. Apple plans on releasing an All-Flash-based laptop in the near future, you might check that out as it will have a much lower power consumption. If it has an E-Ink display, then that would be great as well, because of a number of reasons.

1. When displaying a static image, it draws no power.

2. It's display works through reflection rather than emission making it more like Ink on Paper(thus the name EInk).

3. Even when displaying moving images, it's power consumption is comparable to a LCD IIRC.



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 11:33 PM
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This is a great thread. I too have been researching alternative energy for my future home. I really love the sterling generators, this is the first time I have seen that concept thanks for posting those links. It seems to me that the backbones of any off grid system is really the battery bank to store your electricity for night time use etc. I consulted a solar company about converting our existing house and the cost benefits don't make sense since we want to relocate anyways and besides I have very poor southern exposure. What I am going to do though in the meantime is start building a small battery bank that I can use for our well pump and outdoor workshop/shed. Once the battery bank is in place I can play around with some of the differant generation methods to provide power to the batteries. This will at least start to give me some hands on experiance for my future and bigger projects. For a battery bank I believe all you need are some batteries a charge regulator and an inverter all which are fairly inexpensive and you can always add batteries to your bank to increase the amount of available power.



posted on Mar, 12 2007 @ 12:17 AM
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Depending on the type of battery used, you will want to have a well ventilated area seperated from your houses ventilation system as they emit highly flamable hydrogen gas(At least some of them do, check before you buy!)



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 06:54 PM
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If it all possible, the best way to move water is through a gravity system, followed closely by wind driven systems. Use solar electric power to provide water pressure within your house from your cistern which should ideally be at least a foot higher than the highest outlet in your house. Water is extremely heavy and takes a lot of energy to move uphill.

I'm planning on getting off grid as soon as possible. I've been doing research for about 10 years now. The best source for info on off grid living that I've found is Homepower.com . The founder of the magazine has been living off grid for over 30 years and doesn't seem to suffer in the least. Most of the real off grid systems are triple redundant. They use solar photovoltaic cells, wind powered generators as primary charging devices and a mechanically driven generator for back up. Almost all use them to charge batteries. Some of these home based power generating systems actually sell excess power to the grid and get a check from the electric company! Isn't that nice for a change.



posted on Apr, 8 2007 @ 07:48 AM
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Off the Grid is 90 minute documentary about Canadian survival enthusiast Les Stroud and his family purchasing a 120 acre plot of land in the Ontario Muskokas, and he is making it completely off the grid.



posted on Apr, 8 2007 @ 06:36 PM
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I was looking at wind power because of this thread. Can anyone give me pro/con arguments (aside from cost) for say, a 2500 sq foot house with barn and 25 acres? Assume that there is ample area for wind towers, and building is fine (rural area, no real prohibition on this sort of thing).

Regards-
Aimless



posted on Apr, 8 2007 @ 09:50 PM
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What is the general geographical location? You gotta know the wind patterns as well as average output. If you are in the right location, it would be more than worth it.



posted on Apr, 8 2007 @ 10:25 PM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
What is the general geographical location? You gotta know the wind patterns as well as average output. If you are in the right location, it would be more than worth it.


While I don't yet know the prevailing wind pattern, the general geographical location would be the Northwest of the US...probably WA or OR. Which is why I'm looking at wind power - there's not much "solar" power available there most of the year.

The wind maps I've looked at show that there is "moderate" wind, which, while probably not good enough for a windfarm, might allow for a homestead wind tower (or two).

I am looking at going completely off grid, using wind or solar for water pumping, electricity, heating (along with fireplace/wood) for the home as well as a 4 stall barn. I will be farming (light farming, mostly livestock feed and a large veggie garden), and hope to have the entire complex self contained including an electric tractor that can be powered from the wind/solar set up, as well.

This is not imminently occurring - it will be some time before I'm ready to do this, but I've already designed the house, barn, and outbuildings...so I might as well add in the energy parts too, know what I mean?

Thanks in advance.

Regards-
Aimless





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