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cs
06-25-2008, 10:07 AM
but I was thinking the other day of things that could be done to make a house more self sufficiant. Maybe not all of the way off the grid, but just some ways to harnass the energy around us.

Some of the things would be fairly standard. Stuff like energy star appliances and CFL bulbs, etc to help reduce use.

Multiple skylights to enhance natural lighting to reduce the use of electric lights.

Solar panels to heat water and to generate electricity.

That stuff is pretty standard, but what about some non standard stuff?

What about all the heat that builds up in the attic? Can a turbine be made that would spin as the heat escapes the attic and thus generate power?

And while we are talking about turbines why not use the wind with several small roof mounted tourbines? In fact these could be the same ones that are used to vent your attic. If you combine the rising hot air and the wind outside would you be able to generate some power?

Another thought is rain. What about harnessing the power of the water in your rain gutters? How hard would it be to put a turbine at each downspout?

If you think about it there may be several way to generate power at a house to reduce its dependency on the "grid".

Chad

jack grebe
06-25-2008, 10:09 AM
Naaa, your not crazy Chad, I would like to go
completely off grid when I build my cabin down in TX:cool:

Tylerdurden
06-25-2008, 10:15 AM
I don't know you property but I would assume a combo of wind and solar would be more practical. Some of the things you mention are far to weak to have any practical use. Your rainfall idea may work with an elevated catch pond with enough head for a micro turbine. With some level sensors and a simple PLC you could have it power up during peak periods or when the level gets to a certain point. To be effective you need over 12 feet and that is a very low limit almost nonsensical.

Paul Pless
06-25-2008, 10:16 AM
Chad, you? crazy?? What's your email address again?:D:p

Seriously, its been said here and elsewhere before, the number one energy conservation thing you can do in your home is to go small. Do that first and everything else as far as conserving and/or producing enough energy to be self sufficient becomes closer to a possibility.

Milo Christensen
06-25-2008, 10:27 AM
I'd think the expense of multiple very low return-on-investment gadgets would be much better spent on one really good sustainable system. I vote for a good solar collector. Just think about running the pool water through it and boiling it - you'd save a fortune on pool chemicals.

Tylerdurden
06-25-2008, 10:29 AM
What windplant is he using Norman? I am running the Marine X on mine and I will report on how its going. The blades go on tomorrow.
I am only running two 6 volt batteries right now with provisions to go from 2 to 4 to six. Most of my lighting is led and I have a Peltier Junction cooler and a 3000 watt inverter for power tool use. For small needs I have a 400 watt to cover electronics. The biggest demand item for general use is the 100 watt SSB.

cs
06-25-2008, 10:30 AM
Good point, and if you notice at first I talk about doing the standard stuff to reduce. It is pretty much understood that before you can talk about green you need to reduce.

I'm just trying to thing outside the box (to steal an overused phrase). I read that article that Joe had posted about energy from bouncing breast and I thought if that little bit of motion has the potential, what is to say some of these other things don't have some potential.

Rain gutters can produce quite a bit of head pressure, so why can't this be harnessed? I don't understand the need for collection ponds for this.

Paul do you realize that you are among the few that even understand what my address means?

Chad

SchoonerRat
06-25-2008, 10:35 AM
You're crazy!

You did ask me to do that in your thread title.

In actuality that is one of the sanest posts I've seen in the bilge. Please keep us abreast of your progress.

switters
06-25-2008, 10:41 AM
your rain gutters have enough head for a micro hydro system, but you dont have enough flow except for a few times a year, to make micro hydro practical in your downspouts. What makes micro hydro attractive is the constant flow of electricity in small amounts. Wind power is more effective if it is higher off the ground, but a wind turbine can take you off of the grid if you have the battery bank and live in the right place. Solar is actually getting cheaper if you shop solar as watts per dollar of investment because the panels are getting more efficient.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
06-25-2008, 10:44 AM
Rain gutters can produce quite a bit of head pressure, so why can't this be harnessed

We get 96" of rain per annum 1500 square feet of roof thats
(8*1500) 120,000 cubic feet of water = 765,000 pounds.

350,000 Kilos at 2.5 meters = 8,750,000 joules

or 2.4 Kilowatt Hours total per annum.

cs
06-25-2008, 10:45 AM
So if you had a small stream running through your backyard would a micro hydro work there?

As an expirment I wonder if maybe a car alternator could be rigged up to a small windmill and to keep a battery charged? I have a small invertor that could be used to convert to AC. Something like this could be fun to play with and learn more.

Chad

Tylerdurden
06-25-2008, 10:54 AM
'

I forget the name of the brand... but whatever it is, it's truly silent. He's got it mounted on a mast attached to a stainless arch over the cockpit, and in a 15 knot breeze, it can't be heard at all, even sitting beneath it... unlike many other wind generators I've seen. He says it will start generating useful output in a 5 knot breeze, and tops out at 20 amps, I think....

Thanks Norman, If its painted white chances are its what I have.
Sounds like he has the 36 volt version. I am running straight 12 volts and run 33 amps at normal full load but it can peak just below 50.
I wanted to keep it simple and able to break down for different configurations.

Tylerdurden
06-25-2008, 11:00 AM
So if you had a small stream running through your backyard would a micro hydro work there?

As an expirment I wonder if maybe a car alternator could be rigged up to a small windmill and to keep a battery charged? I have a small invertor that could be used to convert to AC. Something like this could be fun to play with and learn more.

Chad

With micro hydro you can use a small stream. With a trash rack and pvc irrigation pipe you can run it out upstream to increase head.
The number and size of the nozzles would be able to be varied to meet what conditions you have. In upstate NY I helped install one with 270' of head. Thing had for nozzles and was a screamer putting out serious power into and induction motor for grid intertie.
He had a sister plant that was self excited for when the grid went down Just a disconnect control and a 3 way ball valve and he was good to go. One had to be careful to slowly close the valve as the first time he did it he blew 40' of 6". He piped it in galvy to replace the blown sections.

switters
06-25-2008, 11:00 AM
So if you had a small stream running through your backyard would a micro hydro work there?

As an expirment I wonder if maybe a car alternator could be rigged up to a small windmill and to keep a battery charged? I have a small invertor that could be used to convert to AC. Something like this could be fun to play with and learn more.

Chad

The quick answer is yes, if you have about 5-feet of drop. There are a lot of questions to answer, and I am learning myself. A micro hydro search on the web produces some good information. I also like a publication called home power which is in the web and a good place to get started when you want to save energy or get off the grid.

never mind, just read TDs reply, I'm really just learning about AE myself.

willmarsh3
06-25-2008, 11:04 AM
TVA has a "catchment pond" of sorts - actually a pumped storage - known as Raccoon Mountain Reservoir for energy storage but it's huge.

As for moving off grid I'd try an incremental approach - shift lights to 12 V LED, use a small energy efficient refrigerator. Insulate the house really well. Then gradually shift to energy efficient appliances such as a front loading washer. Many you can even get by without. Wash dishes by hand instead of a dish washer. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer. Even wash clothes in a tub outside. Sounds crazy and unconventional but it would work.
Each year in September there is a National Solar Day held in each state

http://www.ases.org/

which showcases homes where various off grid technologies are used.

Paul Pless
06-25-2008, 11:08 AM
In upstate NY I helped install one with 270' of head.
270 Feet! that's a dream scenario for home power production.

cs
06-25-2008, 11:10 AM
I'm also learning about alternate energies and trying to be part of the solution rather than the problem. I did a quick search on "home power" and found this link.

Home Power (http://www.homepower.com/home/)

Is that the one? I will read it later after I get ready for this meeting at three.

BTW I know about Racoon Mountain, it is about 5 minutes from where I sit typing. They pump the water up from the river and store it on top of the mountain that they cut the top off of and created a big lake. During peak periods they drain the water down thus creating hydro power. I always have wondered if the cost of pumping the water up is offset by the power generated? And yes they do pump the water up from the river for storage rather than "collecting".

Chad

switters
06-25-2008, 11:20 AM
That's the one, the microhydro I was referring to earlier that utilizes a short drop or head is a vane system as opposed to a nozzle system. That should shorten your search a bit.

hokiefan
06-25-2008, 11:27 AM
I'm also learning about alternate energies and trying to be part of the solution rather than the problem. I did a quick search on "home power" and found this link.

Home Power (http://www.homepower.com/home/)

Is that the one? I will read it later after I get ready for this meeting at three.

BTW I know about Racoon Mountain, it is about 5 minutes from where I sit typing. They pump the water up from the river and store it on top of the mountain that they cut the top off of and created a big lake. During peak periods they drain the water down thus creating hydro power. I always have wondered if the cost of pumping the water up is offset by the power generated? And yes they do pump the water up from the river for storage rather than "collecting".

Chad

The power generated will be slightly less than the power used to pump the water up the mountain, due to efficiency factors of the pumps and generators and the friction loss in the piping. So they lose energy doing that. What they gain is the ability to store the energy (in the form of potential energy) in the water up high, and turn it into to electricity when they want too, during peak hours. So they store energy generated in the middle of the night when usage is down, and release it when demand is high. A big battery of sorts.

Cheers,

Bobby

Joe Dupere
06-25-2008, 12:48 PM
My wife and I will be building a new house starting in August. We're downsizing from our current house to about 880 sq ft interior space. We're going to take advantage of passive solar for some of our winter heat. The home will be cordwood masonry with 18" walls. Due to some property restrictions (no overhead power) when we bought the land, we're going to go solar electric. So now in the planning process we're doing hard thinking about our current lifestyle and how we can simplify energy needs, in order to reduce our energy inputs.

Joe, FPoP

Henning 4148
06-25-2008, 01:40 PM
no, I won't call you crazy. I'm looking into ways to the reduction of energy dependence as well. The two biggest energy hogs for us are heating (approx. 2.000 litres / year plus some wood) and the car (roughly 1.100 litres / year). Downside of most alternative energy is, that it is low density, so, you need to cover significant areas to catch it, meaning quite big structures, be it sun or wind.

Whereas our car is pretty much still state of the art in terms of consumption (ok, the latest "blue motion" model of the Golf would take approx. 10 % less and the Polo blue motion less again, but the Polo is a bit small and we have bicycles as well), we can and will work on the heating - by better insulation of the house and installing some thermal solar to provide water and significant heating support. My guess is, that with the two above points, we will reduce heating from currently 2.000 litres / year to just below 1.000 and increase heated space at the same time (basically, the attic space, which at the moment is well ventilated in summer and winter ...).

To become self sufficient on heating would be possible - but not easy. First point would be to improve insulation even beyond what we are planning. But - this would still not be enough. So, to close the gap, there are a number of solutions:
First: Wood heating. You could say, that it is stored green energy and it is feasible, although we are too late to buy a small forest now, as others in Germany have had the same thoughts.
Second: Increase the solar thermal area even further - we are currently planing 30 sqm and there is not much more space on the roof. Also, for us, beyond 30 sqm, the gain is reducing significantly, as the dark days in November, December and January simply do not provide enough sun to provide solar heat. So, to become heating sufficient on thermal solar alone, we would have to increase the area by more than is feasible (very rough estimation: To cover even December, we would need something like 150 sqm after the insulation currently planned, with additional further insulation, new windows etc, this might go down further, but it gets really expensive there).
Third: Store excess solar heat in the summer. Possible, but too expensive for us. We would need a water tank of something like 300 cubemetres plus insulation, resulting in say 10 metres diameter and 8 metres high. It is possible, the first are built in Germany, but normally not for free standing houses. On a new development of linked houses, it might make sense some day, on a block of flats, it will probably soon make sense. On new, very well insulated houses, you can incorporate (smaller) tanks in the house, it has been done. With the excess heat the 30 sqm produce in summer, it could be charged. But it is a damn big water tank. Phase change material might reduce the size a bit but won't come cheap either. Very rough estimation is, that for us the tank including insulation would cost approx. 10 times as much as the 30 sqm thermal solar equipment used to heat it up in summer, resulting in a break even after say 120 years ...
Fourth: A windmill. Something like 20 kw peak load (very rough estimation) should be sufficient to close the gap in most winters and in summer we could sell the excessive electricity. Probably won't be possible as we live in an residential area ...
Fith: Don't know yet. Heat pumps running on well water are becoming fashionable in our are. But you still need energy to drive the heat pump. We will see.

Basically, we will live with the gap at least until our oil furnace becomes old and then have a look at what is available then. As we have a tank that stores 2 - 3 years demand, regarding availability of oil, we currently can wait and see what happens on the markets. An oil driven well water heat pump might save something like 30 % of the remaining heating oil consumption ...

Captain Blight
06-25-2008, 02:30 PM
What about all the heat that builds up in the attic? Can a turbine be made that would spin as the heat escapes the attic and thus generate power? Probably not enough velocity to do any real useful work; but what about putting a couple of aluminum holding tanks up there in the attic to pre-heat your water to attic ambient? Lot easier to bring water from 105 to 140 than from 40 to 140.



If you think about it there may be several way to generate power at a house to reduce its dependency on the "grid".

ChadTry this: Pick one room--your bedroom will probably be easiest--and take it off the grid. Get a couple hurricane lanterns for reading by, and a wind-up alarm clock, and you're most of the way there. As you get more comfortable with the concept, add another room. Think outside the box. Think 1908. Do you *really* need to run the dishwasher every night? Could you dry your clothes on a line outside? Could you sweep the rug instead of vacuuming, or take it outside to beat on it a while (awesome stress reliever, by the way)?

Many older homes in the Upper Midwest were originally wired for a 40-amp service. Now it's like 200. How much labor do you really need to save?

garland reese
06-25-2008, 07:36 PM
You can do alot with a small wind powered generator. I have a casual friend who owns a company that mfrs small wind driven generators. Around here, the breeze blows pretty consistently. If you're still on the grid, you'll have power all the time. It is my understanding that whatever excess you make would credit your power usage. I think.

http://www.bergey.com/

cs
06-25-2008, 09:13 PM
Those look pretty cool, but for me they are a little pricey.

I wonder what could be done expensivly as a test? Something small like a way to power the lights in the gazebo or the pump on the pool.

Chad

brad9798
06-25-2008, 09:46 PM
Cut off your downspouts ... and route them into to 55-gallons drums ... this will conserve a ton of water.

Henning 4148
06-28-2008, 04:04 AM
Latest trend with regards to energy storage is a "relatively" small tank (instead of the 300m3 only something like 60m3) and going down to zero Celsius in winter (making ice and taking crystallization energy out with a heat pump). It only makes sense if temperatures outside are below zero degrees though, if they are above, you can use the air with a heatpump.

Now, your swimming pool starts to make sense (if it is let into the ground and the sides and the top can be insulated well).