My crazy little idea... (I need your help)

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by seedspreader, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    Ok, so it's not so crazy, but I want to start toward solar without purchasing the solar panels now.

    I have a regular grid tied house with lots of energy wasting appliances like an electric dryer, electric water heater, central air, and about a thousand lights. (Seriously, I am not sure I have ever seen so many light bulbs in a house)

    But I am not necessarily ready to go off grid, but here is my idea.

    I want to hook up a batter bank with an inverter and charger and run ONE plug to each room that I will paint the cover the color green. I want it to be a back up power source for when the electricity goes off.

    Eventually I will hook up solar panels to the system so keep that in mind.

    I need recommendations on equipment I will need. And should I also put in a few 12V outlets? If so, what is the most effective 12V outlet, terminals with studs and caps? The "automotive" cigarette type? Another type?

    It's a long term goal, so I am not planning on buying the stuff tomorrow, so talk me through this. I understand all about efficiency being the most "bang for the buck" but right now emergency back up power is the most important thing with a long range idea of moving toward a solar set up.
     
  2. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    i think i am in the same boat ZYG. i would like to do the same thing, kinda. i want to start small and build it. the problem i see is wasting money working in one direction and then having to back-track as you upgrade and redo things.

    i am trying to think of how i will use the energy i can produce. my first thought was to try to make enough energy to run my computers. i would have had to generate the power, invert it to ac current and supply it to my pc on a circuit dedicated to just my pcs and media stuff. my intention was to get a power cleaner/surge protector to clean the juice for my pc. i have decided to wait until i can afford to install a bigger system that can do more, much like tango has done.

    i guess it depends on what stuff you wish to run from the setup. do you have or will you have any dc appliances, like a fridge or freezer? will you just use it for lighting?

    if you nix the inverter and run dc stuff, you will have less power loss. you could run a laptop from the dc current. you could run lighting from the dc current with no inverter. if you did the lighting, you could go ahead and install lighting circuits just for that and just keep them.

    what else could you run from just the dc current?

    i doubt there is much beyond lighting that you could run from a small setup even with an inverter.
     

  3. PyroDon

    PyroDon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,942
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Location:
    S.E. Ks.
    We started out by switching all the lights to CFs
    We can now have every light in the house on and keep them on with a 300 watt inverter . Its nice if the grid goes down we still have our lights .
    Next will be to have emergancy power for the furnace ,freezer and fridge.
    taking small steps .
    Would love some solar panels but at $5+ a watt cant see them ever breaking even. We have decent winds here and the starting investments not near as high around $1 a watt or less if you go with an ametek set up .
     
  4. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Zyg,
    Im using 8 Trojan L-16 batteries and a Heart 458 modified sine wave inverter/charger,2000 watts.Charge from grid,then extension cords in house when power goes out.

    Except for the wiring,it is a pretty good system.I think I added it up recently and the cost would be about 2000.00 plus cables for batteries and inverter.This setup would be pretty good,works for us.

    See MBB on this thread

    http://homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=126457

    BooBoo
     
  5. MN Mom

    MN Mom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    238
    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Location:
    a state of confusion...ha ha. MN
    My idea was to find an old one cylinder desiel engine and belt it to a generator. Burn cooking oil from local restraunts. Belt it up to a generator. Pipe the coolant from the engine to the house for heating and power for select plugins or as back up on the furnance.

    Thinking behind this is the desiel at idle would burn maybe 1/4 gallon fuel an hour. 6 gallons a day. If I ran it only part of the day lets say 6pm to 6 am to take most of the cold nights away from the propane furnace - 3 gallons.

    Just a thought.
     
  6. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,875
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Hi Zeal,

    i know on the otterpower or is it utterpower page (get the two confused) some people are using the 220 volt plugs for 12 volt systems the one that has a blade verticle and the other horz. no chance of plugging the wrong voltage in the wrong recpt.
     
  7. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,883
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    First step. Replace all the old inefficient appliances.

    Stop to think how difficult it could/would be to run wire to every room.

    Think about a transfer switch at the main breaker.
     
  8. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    The problem with that is that I want to use some things concurrently. The layout of my house won't be so bad to run the wires that I need to. (for example, run my hot water heater and refrigerator/freezer while doing a test run on the batteries (to accustom US (family/kids) to begin rethinking how and what we are doing).

    And no replacing the old inefficient appliances is not where I am going to start.

    I was really hoping (I appreciate your post MBB) that someone could give some suggested items, like

    you will need this

    and this

    and this to do what you want. You know, some names, model numbers, things to get me further thinking on my problem.


    As I said the solar is the LAST item on the list. The batteries, the charger, and the inverter would be first I THINK...

    Because no matter how efficient my appliances are this winter, if I DON'T HAVE batteries, charger and inverter and the power goes out, then it doesn't really matter...
     
  9. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Without getting into wild batteries,the basic battery is from Trojan.

    The ones about car sized,6 volts,are T-105s and its slightly larger cousin,the T-125.
    The next size up is the L-16,about the size of 2 T-105s.It is also a 6 volt.

    Here is a link to chargers and batteries,Ive seen better prices though.
    http://www.backwoodssolar.com/Catalogpages2/battery2.htm#ELECTRONIC BATTERY CHARGERS


    Note on this link what cables cost.Note the cables on my setup to get an idea what you need.Also need a fuse between batts and inverter charger.
    http://www.backwoodssolar.com/Catalogpages2/inverter2.htm

    For charging,a truecharge 20 or 40 is a GREAT,WORLD CLASS stand alone charger,then you would need an inverter.The Freedom 458(I have a freedom 20-12,it has a GREAT charger) or prosine or xantrex inverter/charger makes it an all in proposition from the batteries.Not sure what you need for a refer or freezer output wise,mine is 2000 watts,so its plenty.I use refer,then freezer,and lights and tv at the same time.
    http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-converters-electrical-batteries-1.htm

    So look at the items.I would say 4 L-16s to run a freezer or refer for any amount of time,but figuring power use I defer to the experts here on that.

    So put together a system on paper from these sources,or a couple of systems,and we can offer feedback.Batteries,cables,fuse,charger and inverter,or charger/inverter.

    You wont need more than a 20 amp charger,as your charging can be done over days,even a 10 amp charger would work,but not a good deal performance wise,a true 3 stage or 4 stage better.The 4th stage is equalizing,thats a controlled overcharge that boils the batteries,removing sulfation from the plates and mixing the electrolyte.Thats important for batteries that sit and rarely cycle.

    You can scrimp on the inverter and charger,and it will work,just not as well.Batteries and cables you need what is good and properly sized for performance and most importantly safety(ie proper sized cables) I use oversized cables myself,for safety and future expansion.

    A good tip you will surely forget,LOL,is stainless steel nuts and bolts on battery connections,they really stand up to the acid enviornment,best improvement Ive added to my battery bank.

    That should keep you busy for a while,LOL :)

    BooBoo