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Getting "off the Grid"

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posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 03:30 PM
When you really look at all the possibilities, solar becomes a waste of money. When and if the power goes out, you will not be able to run the oven, A/C unit or fridge for very long and you will have to plan your life around it. If theres a big storm with hail, it might get damaged. The place you bought it from may have every unit they sold in the area needing replacement and may not honor the warranty.

Home built wind generators output alot more energy and can be made for VERY cheap. If you don't live in a windy area, its best to use small units and tape drive motors. You can at least shield them from the weather and if they do breakdown, the motor or the prop is cheap enough. You buy the parts for a 150W wind generator for under $300 and $100 if you look in the right places.

But with either system, the batteries need to be replaced somewhat often.


posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 04:06 PM
Solar is a waste of money if not used properly. That's the lifestyle change, determined by how far off the grid you go. Gas or propane ovens work fine, plus you dont need an oven to cook. A/C is a luxury that can be used conservatively if not at all (I keep my tstat at 80, plus it's on maybe 4hrs in the evening). Most quality panels use tempered glass tested to withstand 1inch hail straight on. They're even self cleaning when mounted at an angle.

Prior to switching to partial solar I averaged 330watts/hour from the grid. Now it's 250. Assuming my grid usage were to remain consistant and the price per kwh does not increase (which it will), I save $9.25/mo. My system will pay for itself in less than 4 years.

Wind is good but not always practical. With solar if you have sun light, you have power.

posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 05:15 PM
We've pretty much decided to get our well and some receptacles in the house done instead of getting the whole enchilada. It will cut down on our elec bill and we'll have water and some elec. in the event of a black or brown out.

Getting the whole house done just didn't seem cost efficient. And with the loss through the batteries, battery life, inverter costs and everything plus the panels... It was too much.

Thanks for the input.

posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 05:29 PM
By buying a new fridge, washer, and dryer, my household has cut it's electricity bill to an all time low of 80 dollars.
Going to be adding in more Fluorecent Bulbs and start replacing the CRT Monitors with LCD(Much less power consumption and heat output), we are also thinking of buying a solar water heater as well to help heat the water tank to a constant temperature so we don't have to use as much gas to heat it up to the prefered temperature(a hybrid system). I'm currently looking into Solar Lighting Panels to direct sunlight into the basement during the day.

All these little things add up.

posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 05:43 PM

Originally posted by apc
Wind is good but not always practical. With solar if you have sun light, you have power.

Wind + Flow Battery = Practical Wind Power

[edit on 9-6-2006 by sardion2000]

posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 06:06 PM
Yes, we're also going to replace our appliances with the low-use variety. Every little bit helps.


posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 06:37 PM

Originally posted by sardion2000
Wind + Flow Battery = Practical Wind Power

I meant not everyone can stick pole in the ground and catch some wind. It's not always practical. When it is, it is extremely desirable.

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 06:32 AM
getting "off the grid"

seems more of a symbolic rally cry than a practical exercise.

for one, you have to at least have un-improved property to make it happen,
prebuilt homes, subdivision cookie-cutter & overly expansive houses are not designed to be severed from the electric grid, water-sewer-cable-& security grids

building codes, certificates of occupancy, tax assessments, are developed around
a standard model of a dwelling being part of 'the grid'. anything 'different' will have a gauntlet of special considerations (which probably means $$$) to be approved.

I kinda, half-way had a property & home that was planned to be able to sever from
the 'grid' was situated in 'unincorporated' area of the county...but unless the acerage is protected from the insiduious vultures (of progress) whether they be developers-capitalists-government, 'They' will gobble up one's nobel experiment.

getting 'off the grid', now can mean just retrofitting conservation technology into your house,
'living Green' is the new buzz-word, which kinda means your environmentally sensitive, ecological stewardship is foremost in your life, and you are projecting an involvement+concern (& affluence) to your work & community networks.

there does need to be a vanguard for changes in the established,
regulated and crowded, conditions of the urban+suburban energy use culture.
"off the grid" and "green"housing/living models work for me.

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 02:41 PM

seems more of a symbolic rally cry than a practical exercise.

Right now it is, but givin the right tools and technology, it could start a whole new trend of buying out at the bottom. (As opposed to the Top)

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 06:44 PM
Addressing the original question, I've long wanted to buy a military surplus 5kW generator, convert it to alcohol, and distill my own fuel for it. An engine running off of pure alcohol, as many people know, creates no pollution, as the only exhaust is water vapor (resulting from the water/alcohol mix, to get the alcohol to the correct potency for the engine) and CO2. Alcohol burns with near 100% efficiency, meaning that there's no leftovers to be ejected into the air (the cause of smoke from gasoline burning is unburnt fuel and chemicals created from combustion). Even making Ethanol (fuel alcohol) is pretty simple. You can build a still that will produce enough alcohol to run a generator constantly with about $200 and a trip to Home Depot.

Here's the catch, though: Due to US Government restrictions on the distillation of alcohol, the related fees and permits are so costly, that only large businesses can afford them.

I did find a website outlining the production process for Ethanol, and apparently, according to the site's author, is is legal (and relatively cheap), if annual production is less than 10,000 gallons (which, theoretically, is enough fuel to power a home generator and two average cars for and entire year, with leftovers). I figured my own car, which has a 14 gallon tank, and gets filled about once a week, only uses an average of a little over 700 gallons of fuel per year. Figure triple (or possibly more) that amount of fuel to run a home based power generator 24/7/365, and fuel usage between the car and generator are still less than 5000 gallons per year.

I have not verified any of the legal statements on this website, so if you choose to try it, do so at your own risk. The construction of the still and the distillation process outlined on the site are both valid.

Here's the website:

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 06:48 PM
What is the cropland footprint for each home? At some point that has to become an issue if too many people go this rout.

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 07:00 PM
Here was a huge file of relevant links... but somehow most are messed up.

I'll repost after I figure out what I did wrong and replace this cluster of link mutilations...


[edit on 10-6-2006 by masqua]

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 07:20 PM

Originally posted by sardion2000
What is the cropland footprint for each home? At some point that has to become an issue if too many people go this rout.

The US produces enough extra food each year that just goes to waste (even after domestic sales, and shipping food to starving nations) to pretty much take us about 80% out of the world oil market. If we used all of that excess waste food, and turned it into ethanol, bio-diesel, or other biofuel, it would greatly reduce the US dependency on foreign oil, drop pump costs back down to the $1.50/gallon range, reduce electricity costs (fuel cells can run roughly 20% more efficiently on ethanol, because there is significantly less contamination of the core), not to mention the wonderful effect it would have on the enviornment by reducing fossil fuel pollution by 50-80%. The only reason that I can tell as to why the US hasn't already done this is simple: Oil Companies. Instead of hitting Exxon on your way to work to fill up, you'd be stopping at the corner Captain Morgan or Jack Daniels station, and fill up on ethanol made by beverage companies.

Additionally, the best raw material for making ethanol is molasses (the same thing that rum is made from), because of the high sugar content and easy mixability. Molasses production is how Brazil managed to stop relying on foreign oil. It wasn't selling well on the world market, so they changed it usage to fuel production, and now they're only paying about $2.40/gallon on average.

There is plenty of raw materials in this world to make ethanol from. We just need to step up and do it.

Also, as an interesting side note, ethanol has been used in auto racing for over 80 years, and it was also part of what helped the nation recover from the oil shortage in the 1970s (in the form of gasahol - a mixture of ethanol and gasoline). This is not a new technology in any way, though we have developed new means of getting acceptable distillation from organic matter with lower sugar content (such as hay and other grasses).

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 07:32 PM
I'd love to get 'off-grid' as much as possible. Me and my wife are already trying out growing a few of our own veggies this year. Also have plans on taking one room at a time off-grid. Probably start with my bedroom, then the kids room's. We've already cut down how much electricity we use. Used to pay almost 200 a month, now we're down to 70 something. Sick of paying such high prices, these people get more and more customers/consumers a year and yet they continue hiking up the prices. It's pure BS.

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 07:35 PM
Geez...what a mess...but here's the links again. Hopefully they'll all work now.

*fingers crossed*

(1) Conserve Energy and Save Money
Green Communities Association (residential energy efficiency services across Canada; including EnerGuide for Houses)
Greensaver Toronto (home energy efficiency assessments & services- save money & the environment)

Sustainable Architecture:

Efficiency vs. Extraction, article by David Suzuki

(see also "Who cares about conservation?" and "Sustainable and Simple Living", below)

(2) Buy Green Electricity
Electricity Choices
Green Power in Toronto & Ontario (Toronto Environmental Alliance)
Consumers Guide to Choosing Cleaner Electricity
Green Tags Ontario
Green Power Trade Show (Annual, November):
(3) Start A Community Green Energy Project
Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (or )
(4) Solar Power
Solar Energy Society of Canada
Citizens For Renewable Energy
(5) Wind Power
Cdn. Wind Energy Assoc.
Toronto Windshare Co-op:
Citizens For Renewable Energy
(6) Other Forms of Renewable Energy
Biomass, biofuels, geothermal, hydro & micro-hyrdro, more.
Carbohydrate Economy – biochemicals instead of petrochemicals
(7) Home-Made Power
Home-made Power
Home Power Magazine
(see also "Solar Power" and "Wind Power", above)

Canadian Green Energy Organizations & Campaigns
(in alphabetical order)
About Biodiesel
BC Sustainable Energy Association
Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout
Canadian Associaton for Renewable Energies
Canadian District Energy Association
Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
Canadian Solar Industries Association
Canadian Wind Energy Association
Citizens for Renewable Energy
Clean Air Alliance
Clean Air Partnership
Climate Action Network
Earth Energy Society
Electricity Choices
Energy Action (US & Canada)
Energy Efficiency Alliance
Energy Probe
Green Communities Association
Green Ontario
Independent Power Producers' Society of Ontario
MicroPower Connect
Ontario Environment Network - Energy Caucus
Ontario Sustainable Energy Association
Pembina Institute
Pollution Probe
Post Carbon Institute (USA & Canada)
Sierra Club of Canada
Solar Energy Society of Canada
Talk Energy
Toronto Environmental Alliance
Windshare Co-op. (Toronto)

[edit on 10-6-2006 by masqua]

[edit on 10-6-2006 by masqua]

posted on Jun, 10 2006 @ 07:39 PM
You're sidestepping the question. All I asked was, "What is the per-house footprint." All I said was it would become an issue and failed to mention what that issue was. Let me elaborate.

1. Unpredictability of supply. Droughts happen as do hurricanes and other crop damaging weather events. In an economy 80% dependant on their own means, it could have vast reprecussions economically speaking.

2. Amount of cropland used, this is an issue for me right now and I think it's high time that industry move forward into the 20th century.
A potential solution is detailed in the link below.

3. Topsoil Erosion. No getting around it with conventional farming methods...

and these are just at the top of my head.

posted on Jul, 4 2006 @ 03:54 PM
there is a book entitled Sunshine to Dollars that tells the non electrcian how to easily make cheap (even free) solar panels, how to hook it up to run everything in your house. would need at least a small yard-probably couldn't do it in an apartment.

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