how to generate enough electricity

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by crwilson, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. crwilson

    crwilson Well-Known Member

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    Hey folks im planning on building a log type home completely off the grid, and i want to be able to provide myself with mostly emmisions free electricity without paying a bundle... I dont need alot really just enough for some basic lights a laptop, a freezer and waterpump and maybee a fridge as well. Wind power isnt really viable, but i do have a good brook less than 100 feet away.. Its about 1.5 feet deep and flows pretty steady, but dosent have much "head" I can damn it up probably to 4 feet without any concerns... how much power can i generate from this?


    Any links would be beneficail or anyone with experience.
    How much would a typical homsteads power use be with above appliances?

    Thanks Rick
     
  2. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    With a large battery bank and planning ahead the stream Could take care of you. Thats if you can use it . Where are you located??

    mikell
     

  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Well-Known Member

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    In most states it is against the law to consrtuct a dam that stops flowing water.
     
  4. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    There is good and pleantyful info in the archives about this subject, just go to the archives forum, chase in there until you see 'countryside', click there and scroll down to 'alternative energy'. There are formulas for figureing out how much water flow you have, how much wattage if available with it, different methods of captureing the energy, ect. 240 articles covering the big approach, at least 10 of them pertain to your question.
     
  5. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    From your description probably want to consider an undershot waterwheel or if you can get a bit more head something like a breast waterwheel.

    http://www.osv.org/education/WaterPower/Undershot.html

    http://www.waterwheelfactory.com/breast.htm

    In both cases that means you are trying to shape your site to increase water velocity more than build up a lot of head. The best and cheapest way to do this is build a flume that squeezes in the sides of the channel. Water has to flow faster to get thru, will get a small increase in head but if is really fast flowing water that is the desired product.

    You do have to know the rules and regs for your particular little patch of stream, trying to build a dam can be very tricky in most regulated environments. Might need a zillion permits.
     
  6. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    most of the time it's easier, and a whole lot cheaper, to learn to live without the electricity, or at least cut way back, than to set up a system to met your current needs. this forum is full of ways to do that. up until a 100 years ago, or so, everyone lived without electricity for millenia. it's just that our culture has forgotten how.
     
  7. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    I only clicked on this thread wondering why you would pose your question, how to make enough power, only to find that Marvella has already answered your dilemma.

    If you truly want to generate enough electricity for your needs, you should start by reducing your load or your needs.

    That's truly the place to start before you start calculating your "needs".

    Unless you have tons of money, you are not likely to be able to maintain your current lifestyle by going off grid.
     
  8. crwilson

    crwilson Well-Known Member

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    Hey people thanks for the information, however i do plan on reducing my needs, i just want lights and a freezer, possibly a fridge, no tv no radios, no extra lights, no water pump if i can dig a hand well, no hot water heater for sure. no shower no indoor toilet... just basically i dont think with my plans i can get by without a freezer i want to raise alot of chikens and a few cows and pigs... obviosuly i will need a place to keep this frozen. So if anyone can help tell me if i can generate enough electricity to run a freezer and a few lights from my brook that would be greatly appreciated.. I currently live wiht my parents and dont have my own appliances so i will buy as effiecient as i can afford..

    So if you can help my stream is about 1.5 -2 feet deep and has a pretty steady flow of water.. The brook is about 8 feet wide and i can probably get 7 or 8 feet of head over 150 area if i plan well and build a small damn.. i think a reaction type micro hydro is what i will need.

    hopefully i can generate around 400 watts.. is that enough to run a freezer and say 4 efficient lights occasionaly.

    Thanks everyone
     
  9. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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  10. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I would consider propane for the refridgerator and freezer.
     
  11. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    i'd also consider practicing doing without electricty for at least 6 months before making the plunge and the investment. i ran a freeezer, a refrigerator, washer and enough juice to charge the battery on my laptop, and still the bill was less than the minimum each month.
     
  12. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    Remember that most modern appliances have what is called phantom power loss.
    These are things you normally dont notice and the power drain for on-grid is never realized.

    These are things like clocks in ovens or microwaves, vcr, etc.. Some appliances have phantom loads that you can not visually see, monitor circuits and such.

    I know you said you were not going to have many conviences but check out any phantom power losses before you add any appliance.
     
  13. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    There are refers and freezers that run on just a couple solar panels,I saw one in a shop,a refer,i think it was running on just a 150 watt solar panel.Thats super efficiency!

    BooBoo
     
  14. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "I DONT NEED MUCH POWER" The most common words for people trying to go off the grid, but MOST PEOPLE DO use a lot of power. Before you start any offgrid power project you need to know how much power you need otherwise your wasting your time and money.

    Add up all the loads you have, how often you will use them. This gives your power requirements.

    How much water your stream will generate is going to be a factor of the water wheel head. What model, at what flow. If you truly have a constant 24x7 flow then you might be able to make it work, but what about seasional changes. Does the flow change?

    With your load and your flow rate you should be able to deterine if your steam will generate enough power. as a couple of people noted, in most states you dont own your stream, they are public or government property and you have no rights to damm them.
     
  15. Mastiff

    Mastiff Well-Known Member

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    Fro sure... That is what I have done when living off the grid in the past. Besides they are so quiet. After living off the grid with a porpane fridge for years I moved back to the city for a while. I used to wake up everytime that darned electric fridge turned on... amazing how much noise they make when you are used to real quiet.
     
  16. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Refrigerators and freezers are the biggest power users in the modern home.

    If you are wanting to go with alternate energy, you need to learn to think outside the 'box'. I think it is great that you are considering doing this. I have lived off the grid for a number of years. Presently in town and on the grid, but planning on going back to the country shortly, and off grid is a distinct possibility again.

    We as a society are accustomed to flipping a switch and having power at our fingertips. Making your own is a whole other game. Look long and hard at each use of power in your life. Ask yourself 'if I did not have power to do this task, how would I go about doing it?" For instance; I would like to preserve the deer I just shot. I obviously can't eat the whole thing at one sitting. How do I preserve it? Well, the native peoples used to dry the meat. So maybe I could do that. Or maybe I could salt it down and keep it. Or, I could put it in sealed jars and pressure cook it and preserve it that way. None of these methods really absolutely require electricity or a freezer. They do, however, require the learning of certain skills.

    Personally, I feel that the best uses of homemade power are, lights, electronic communication (radio, lap top with internet etc), running a fan to move air (makes a big difference in comfort levels) and pumping water.

    Propane fridges are a bit pricey new, BUT, many times you can get a used one in an older camper for little or nothing.
     
  17. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Go here if you really want the premier off the grid source.

    http://www.homepower.com/

    I still say for this particular application, the quick cheap fix is probably undershot waterwheel, not difficult to build one out of recycled junk. In many of those applications must think about how to get the generator in a much higher elevation above any potential flood levels.

    Usually best to use a long mechanical drive / right angle or pulley system to get the generator connected to the wheel and well out of any danger. I saw some neat undershot systems in Italy that had flumes routed into workshops for direct drive of various machines. Real simple systems.
     
  18. dakani

    dakani Well-Known Member

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    How about photovoltaic cells? Expensive to set up, sure, but then it's free electricity. And if you also get a battery with them, better yet. Of course, it does depend on how much sunshine you get.
     
  19. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man Member

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    Go to HOMEPOWER.com You can learn everything you need to know from installation to manufacturers of energy efficient equipment.