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I'm not phicks, but a friend of mine is totaly solar. He has a large solar cell, about 4' by 5'. It charges six deep cycle marine batteries. He can run one 40 watt light bulb, his laptop, and cell phone for about three days without more charging. I should also mention that he lives in a 12"dia. dome tent, heats with wood, and doesn't have running water. He has lived this way for two winters, rivaling Throreau's time at Walden. He seems content.
I run everything on solar, and have done for over twenty years- there are certain things you have to adjust too- no microwaves or blenders, or vac cleaners, unless you put in a huge and very expensive system..but it works for us OK.
Casey, I guess you'd best not come to visit me! My house is always a nasty mess, even the kitchen except when I'm canning, baking or cooking. I'm like my mother... I can use every pot/pan and utensil for a simple meal!
I hope I will be able to clear out around the spillway where my spring overflows into the creek within the next month so I can measure flow. I'm thinking there might be enough flow/pressure to install a water turbine to generate electricity for the house... or at least SOME of the electricity. Then of course, I'll have to learn how to install all the hardware... converters, inverters, storage batteries and all the other bells and whistles of generating and using electricity.
Darius this might help i bult one it supplies enough power to light my out side bldging and runs 3 fish tanks pumps lights and heaters on one deep cycle 12 volt battery am geting another battrey this week to paul http://www.rain.org/~philfear/how2solar.html
Back to methane gas from pig manure! Heifer International is a non-profit org that works on giving animals to poor people throughout the world. They have drawings of two 5-gallon drums welded together with a pipe that comes out the bottom. Add manure to the drums, get methane out the pipe! A little more involved than that, but not by much. http://www.heifer.org
Good news about solar. The price has finally dropped below $2.00 a watt. The average price was about $5.00 a watt three years ago. With the 30% government rebate, you can buy for $1.39 per watt. This is thanks to the new CIGS technology. The down side is that they take up more space to produce the same amount of electricity. This isnt a big deal if you have lots of room and can wire panels together yourself. By the way, it is really easy to wire panels together. Just have an electrician wire them to the inverter. Here is a website that shows the best prices available right now.
Stand alone systems with batteries are extremely inefficient but much cheaper than getting electric run to your property if you are in the middle of nowhere. The best way is a grid-tie system where it spins your electric meter backwards. You never waste an ounce of electricity and by federal law, your local provider has to let you do it as long as you notify them. It is important that they know you are feeding electricity back into them in case they have to work on the lines. They also have to pay you if you have a surplus but they wont pay you nearly what it is worth. It is a great time for solar as they said the magic number was $2 per watt for it to be cost effective but it could never get that cheap. Now you can get it for less than $2. I am sure they will come up with some other reason why we shouldnt do it now. Let me know if you have any questions as I have panels and have been looking into this stuff for the last few years. GO TEAM!!!!
Love the link, Paul (haven't checked juju's) One thing that has been getting in my way was how to put the component parts into a usable system. I can wire a house. But the converters and inverters were baffling. think I might just be getting a handle on this.
No, it is pretty small. It produces about 4-5 kilowatts a day. I can run an entire office all day and night plus an aquarium extras. I am a bit of a hog in there. I could definitely run a cabin. It was about 4000 but I could buy the same system now for 2000. Prices have definitely dropped. If you knew how much electricity you would use per month, in kilowatts, I could give you a rough estimate of the cost.
I might come back and take you up on that. Feeling frazzled now, but definitely interested. Our biggest wasters are the water heater and heat pump. The house is all electric which I hate, but ---one step at a time...
I've been thinking of doing a seasonal solar water heater like we had as a kid when I was growing up. (Seasonal here, year-round in Miami.) It's an easy convective loop, and cheap since you don't use any medium to exchange heat. I think I'd put the drain valve/hose bibb just above the storage tank (water heater) so I can attach a long garden hose to drain it down for winter.
My only problem is getting someone to help. I'm pushing 70 and not as strong as I was, nor as sure-footed on the roof!
My place is totally off the grid. We didn't design the house to be solar, but it is (accidentally) very much like the cliff dwellers had in terms of sun usage, big windows on the south & west. I have a solar system which looks pretty dogpatchy because I assembled it piece by piece as bigger and bigger solar panels became available. I moved up here full time almost 7 years ago and bought a new inverter & controller then. I think I have about 550 W in panels, times 10 or so hours on a sunny day. I have 10 6-volt golf cart batteries, hooked up for a 12V system. Last year I was running out of power in the winter, but my son helped me tilt the panels for winter use, and it made an enormous difference, the batteries are getting completely full by mid-afternoon. I do have a microwave, blender, coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, satellite TV & internet, Staber clothes washing machine, and dry the laundry outdoors by preference, although I do have a propane dryer for emergency use. I don't use anything electric for very long, for instance I just use the microwave for a minute or 2 at a time. I use propane for cooking, water heating, and have a propane refrigerator and a smaller electric one. When the system was smaller, I hooked up everything myself but my son helped me with the new inverter & controller -- he is a lot sharper! I also have a wind generator but it only works when the batteries are low AND we have a lot of wind. Well, we have a lot of wind most of the time, but the batteries only accept input from the wind generator if they happen to be low, e.g. during the night. I have a separate solar system for the pumphouse -- the water level is at 600 feet so it only pumps 1.5 gallons per minute but that's plenty since I pipe the water to a 1500 gallon holding tank, and the house water comes from that. There's a separate faucet up by the horse stable, where I have put in a new garden & will be converting the stable to a large greenhouse for next winter. The only thing I don't have is a solar water heater -- that would really help with the propane bill -- I hope to make one this summer.
Speak of the devil. Our gas water heater died on us so I am going to start checking out the salvage yards for a 30 gallon water heater. I am going to cut the shell off and get the tank out and put it on the roof or on the ground in the backyard. I am not sure if I am going to build the insulated box to put it in yet since those tanks will get up to 120+ degrees anyway during the summer here. I will definitely need a box to put it in during the winter so it stays warmer. Total investment should be 50 buck for the pipes and 30 for the junked water heater. I should make back my investment in a few months. Building the box for the winter should be the biggest investment. Probably 100 dollars.
Good luck with the water heater, Jujube. My propane bill is much larger than it needs to be, a solar water heater would really knock it down.
I am just finishing setting up a combination filter/aerator system for my 300-gallon horse water tank -- sold the horses, but this week expect to take delivery on the 100 catfish fingerlings, which will live there. The filtration system stars a 12-volt bilge pump, and will be powered by 2 old solar panels (small) and a 12-volt battery. Hope it all works! All I have left to do is some minor soldering on one of the panels, and I am the world's worst solderer. This system won't have a controller or inverter or anything complicated. Made the filter out of a coffee can, and the return water will spray into the tank from above, adding oxygen. If it isn't enough, I will occasionally drain some water out of the tank into the veg garden and add fresh.
I have a 300 gallon raised goldfish pond and I do the same thing. When I want to spot water some of by fruits or veggies I take the "fertilized" water out of the pond and give it to the plants. That way I am doing water changes more frequently but not in a wasteful way.
San Marcos is just now started to escape from the worst drought in history for the town. My farm had only received 3 inches of rain this year up until this weekend. We received 2 inches over the holiday. Last year we only received about 45 percent of normal rainfall and cattle were dying because there was nothing to eat. However, on a normal year we should get 32 inches of rain. We havent had a normal year in quite a while. I will be happy with 24 inches. I left you some hints on your other post as well.
32 inches of rain sounds like heaven but your drought sounds terrible. We didn't get much snow & rain during the winter so things were bad here, too, except that the last 3 or 4 days we have had about 3 inches, I think. I haven't seen puddles across the roads this big for several years.
Note about the tax benefits of buying solar equipment: My accountant says you can only take the deduction, one time, and my solar supplier says the tax rebate only applies if you hire somebody (like them) to install it for you. So when I buy new panels or whatever, I don't get any tax deductions at all. YMMV. Don't know yet whether the president's new plans will affect this.
I claimed and received the rebate for solar panels that I bought and installed myself. I would look it up on the internet. I dont recall ever hearing about someone having to install it for you. I have not heard of the one time shot either.