Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

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wangapeka
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Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

Hello Everyone,

I'm trying to find out if there are people in the area interested in Alternative Power Systems and/or willing to share ideas infos,opinions,experiences etc. - basically everything to do with alternative power! As "grid" power becomes more and more expensive and at the same time Solar panels dropping in prices it becomes more viable to invest in solar power for example.

Do you already run an AP-System? Would you like to share your experiences with it? I would love to hear from you!

Kind regards,

Mike

wangapeka
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)
I'm researching EV (Electric Vehicle) Conversions at the moment und find it really interesting.
If anyone else is interested too, here are some links to start.
This is a link to a EV Conversion, there are many more on YouTube.
Gasifier:
Video from Victory Gasworks
Victory Gasworks - U.S. Company producing gasifiers
This one hasn't to do with alternative power - newertheless it's very, very important!!!
The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See
wangapeka
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

Hi Brendan,

yes, you're right - using the sun's energy to heat water is probably the most effective way. When I did a payback calculation some time ago I figured (in our case) I could't justify spending $5-6000 for a HW-System because we're not using that much hot water between the two of us. But a DIY System would be much more cost effective of cause.

I've also found the "instructables" website quite helpful and this one is a good one too:

www.homepower.com

I'll post some more helpful links here in the future and if you do the same all the better.

 

Another note on the PV (PhotoVoltaic) Systems:

Also they are rather expensive  - they are cost effective and economical in the long run. As electricity becomes more and more expensive (it has doubled in the last 8 yrs or so) and solar panels become cheaper (they have dropped in price from $10 per Watt to around $5 per Watt) they are in fact a viable option.

An Example: I've heard most people in Karamea pay about $250 on average per month for electricity. In 10 years they have paid $30,000 to the power company with nothing to show for it. The same amount would buy a decent sized solar system, independance from the main power grid and black outs etc.

Of cause this "switch" would require a different mind set and a change in habbits but it wouldn't be as rudimentary as most people think!

Anyway, have to go now, more later.

Mike 

Brendan
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

Hey Mike.

A most relevant discussion indeed! I don't have much 'know-how' about alternative power but I do have the 'can-do.' I've seen some really effective solar water heaters that dont use panels but coils of black pipe within a reflective box. It's a design I'm very keen to test here in sunny Karamea and will post about it when (if?) it comes together.

In the mean-time, there's a great website, www.instructables.com, that has a trove of off-grid, DIY, survival style tips that will give you plenty of material for your own AP experiments.

 

Brendan

Rhyso
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

Hi,

Resurecting this thread as we will be using alternitive power.

We did intend on connecting to the grid, but since the power companies have become scared/greedy and removed net metering. The $15k+ it will cost to connect our property to the grid will be better spent on batteries/charge controller, especially in a couple of years.

I would have prefered to connect to the grid and use net metering. I still have a glimmer of hope that net metering might become law to protect infrastructure in the long term to reduce the desire to defect or simply not connect at all like we look like we will be doing, but not holding my breath.

Either way we will be making use of alternative energy in several ways.

We are fortunate enough to have a waterfall and creek running through the property so will use microhydro but we all know that water is not as reliable as we would like even on the west coast so we will have to also have Solar panels and a generator (hopefully biogas but not entirely sure about that yet).

We are still a way off building due to tax implications involved and our current situation (living overseas). I was studying the best solar and inverter systems but have gathered it is a waste of time as the industry and technoloy around this is moving so fast that in 2 years time everything will have changed again as it has (significantly) since anybody last posted in this thread.

For microhydro we will use powerspout as they are kiwi made and have terrific service and info.

It is a very interesting and dynamic subject though. 

I also plan to make a BioGas generator for cooking with and possibly for back up power. These are cheap and simple and can be supplemented with LPG if there is a problem with the system, I am still studying these at present.

I wonder if there are any Boigas Generators in ation around Karamea?


dguppy
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

key thing is to wean of electricity. To run a computer/ stereo/ small energy efficient fridge/freezer, washing machine (f and p smart drives I believe are most efficient for alternative power) and some lights only requires a small system. For cooking, hot water, heating  there are many alternatives, wood being the most abundant. LPG very convenient and still relatively cheap. A generator is essential for power tools unless you invest in a bigger system.  A 2kva honda inverter generator can run all the basics and being an inverter generator, it is a great back up and can safely run all sensitive equipment and at the same time, with a good battery charger, it can charge a small system back fo full capacity in no time on a small amount of petrol. Very useful in winter when sunlight low. ( hydro can do this too.) Can switch fridge of in winter (when sunlight low and desire for ice cold beer is lessened) and use a meatsafe type arrangement, cool secure cupboard on cold shady side of building or in your fridge still if it is in a cool place.

Only one way of looking at it and yes it is changing fast. If you can predict your needs then you can make best choice on system.

Set up for living as above can come in at under $10000 including generator. Can pay upwards of $2000 for energy efficient fridge/freezer. LPG for cookin and hot water can be as low as $10 a week or less.

Plenty of knowledge in Karamea on topic, great diversity of systems.

dguppy
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

ps havnt heard of any biogas Generators but would be great to see one in action!!

Rhyso
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

We will be installing a relatively large system if we do in fact go off grid to service a family home. 

chest freezer is mandatory. I have lived on the coast before in Franz. 

Bio gas is something I will definitely be experimenting with if not installing a system off the bat. 

I am quite impressed with some if the results I am seeing from a 700-1000 litre system.

Rhyso
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

I have been researching quite a bit and it seems a biogas digester needs some thermal assistance in Karamea.

Will definately be a fun projet to play with but not sure it will be of practical use on a scale large enough to cook with full time...






Elaine Mander
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

I am a novice to all this "off the grid" stuff. I am looking however to reduce all possible costs. I am not a particularly a DIY person so it would need to simple. Where would I look to understand all the issues or to get a grip on the possibilities?

Thanks

Elaine

dguppy
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

So much info on the internet, just need to search and look for sites that explain it in a way you understand. I did a lot of research in the early days but the real learning came from running a system. A lot of mistakes and losses of expensive gear ( through lightning!) taught me even more. Have a nice small system running well at the moment that is working well, supplemented with battery charging in the winter. I would say that when it comes time to build the next system, I should have it pretty well refined.

Once you get your head around the basics of batteries, panels/turbines/hydro generators and the controllers then you can move on to inverters if you want to convert the power to 240v, chargers if you need to top up batteries when there is not sufficient sun/wind/water. There are a myriad of other gizmos that make systems safer and more efficient such as fuses and battery monitors, all worth knowing about.

I have been dealing with AA solar who have some very knowledgable employees and their website has a very good list of products with photos and prices to get an idea of costings and what the components look like.

Hope this helps

Rhyso
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

Hi dguppy,

Can you elaborate on what happened with the lightning, and what you would do to avoid that in the future?

I would hate to have a nice new system in place only to have it destroyed by lightning shortly after...

Sounds like a horror story.

Cheers,

Rhys

dguppy
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

lightning strikes here occur a few times annually and can cause havoc if an earthing occurs close by your home. The terraces and plains with their iron pans, ( layer of fused iron rich earth just under the surface) are strong attractors of lightning. Once earthed. any phoneline (and possibly power line?) within the strike zone can liven and carry huge voltages down the line, into your phone - modem -modem power source - power line - inverter - computer/electrial appliances and blow the lot......after a hard lesson, any time lightning flashes on the horizon, we ( along with many other concerned electrical goods owners) pull the phone jack out of the wall to isolate the line from all our precious equipment. We now have some grunty fuses, plan to ram a long piece of steel in the ground and earth everything to that and plug the fragile electronic components into a multi plug box made by Belkin that has a lightning surge protector. In the States apparently there are lightning isoltors at the junction where phone lines enter the house. We could do with those here.........

Rhyso
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Re: Alternative Power Systems: (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.)

eeek,

so if one is going to go off the grid and decides to drop 20k on a system... what can one do to protect the inverters from such?

I guess this is a question for the installers/electrician...

I thought earth rods were all about dispersing static electricity (lightning)...

Now I need to do some more research..

cheers for the heads up.

When I was living in Franz whenever there was a lightning storm the internet would stop working and the phone would die... another filter and we were away again.


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