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How many people here have generators or solar in their home?

This is a discussion on How many people here have generators or solar in their home? within the Energy forums, part of the US Discussion category; I am wondering how many out there of the USMB people already have some solar and/or electric generation in their homes? We have outside solar ...


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Old 02-07-2009, 07:01 PM
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How many people here have generators or solar in their home?

I am wondering how many out there of the USMB people already have some solar and/or electric generation in their homes?


We have outside solar lights.

Solar camp lights.

A small solar system that can provide for a few lightbulbs or charge up the laptop, 12 vlot batteries, etc.

We also have a generator.


No wind power yet but we are hoping to get something going in the next year.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:22 PM
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I am wondering how many out there of the USMB people already have some solar and/or electric generation in their homes?

We have outside solar lights.

Solar camp lights.

A small solar system that can provide for a few lightbulbs or charge up the laptop, 12 vlot batteries, etc.

We also have a generator.

No wind power yet but we are hoping to get something going in the next year.
We have solar outside lighting, and a generator, 3800 watts 5300 surge. This is for the purpose of powering our sump pump in case of a power outage during periods of violent storm events when there would also be a threat of groundwater in the basement.

I'm proposing the construction of a passive solar home for the speculative market. The spec home building market is overbuilt, but a home with special features such as a glass roofed sun-porch (Florida Room) facing south acting as a passive heat collector large enough to significantly add to the living space of the home might attract a buyer.

The idea behind this porch is to collect as much heat as possible and use it immediately there and in the interior spaces rather than storing it in some dense material. To store it in a dense material requires that material to be heated from some lower temperature. Overcoming that inertial low temperature wastes the opportunity to use the heat on any given sunny day by simple convection into the interior spaces of the home where it can reduce heating by other means. I have a more complex plan for distributing the heat through the house by injecting it into the far reaches of a basement by convection and simple thermal rising have it heat floors and spaces of upper levels. my proposed home is more a bungalo shaped European architecture very efficient in heat loss factors.

Here's a view of the same porch seen from the inside with snow covering the glass panels. Notice the flowers blooming inside in the middle of an Indiana winter. During extremely cold weather we'd move them closer to the main wall of the house cover and them with light bed sheets. I had installed some grilles from the crawl-spaces which allowed some heated air to filter out under the sheets to prevent frost-bite. During the coldest days the temperature in our Florida Room was quite balmy. It was surprising that even cloudy days produced ambient heat in the porch.

The walls were made entirely of glass panels which were kept open during summer months to cool by open ventilation. I realize there are metal framed structures available but this construction allows me to use the same materials as the main house and do the work myself which reduces cost. The glass roof panels are standard size laminated glass panels one quarter inch thick laid on rafters imbedded in a bead of silicone calking. They were laid as if they were shingles with the regular roofing overlaying them at the top. I've built five or six of these and never had a leakage problem

I learned enough from this experience (built in 1983) to greatly improve on it in my proposed construction. I see this as a way of selling in a difficult market by capitalizing on the interest in energy conservation and at the same time enhancing the quality of home life of the owner.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:51 PM
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Nice. Even passive solar helps. It looks like you butted the side ends of the glass together?
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:58 PM
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Solar lights by the pool, that is about it!
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:23 PM
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Nice. Even passive solar helps. It looks like you butted the side ends of the glass together?
On the side panels I used standard 5/8" patio glass panels set in wood frames. They were opened in the spring, and closed in the fall. They 'winged' out to catch the breezes from the west and when in optimum open position rested on posts set in the ground for support. In my later projects I used sliding glass doors which give at least 50% fenestration, and allowed me to standardize the building process. My winged units gave about an 85% effective opening, and any rain blowing in was allowed to drain through the wood floor onto a membrane suspended below to dispose of the water. and keep any earthy odors from developing. The floor would heat up readily and the air could circulate from the space below the floor into the porch spaces to some benifit I thought.

The room in the photo's was 12 feet by 33 feet. When doing something like that, the bigger the better, IMO. I'll be using some green (green is an effective absorber of solar ratiation) heat collector panels (made of metal?) with a sloped sun facing angled fish scale configuration against an 8 inch thick wall enclosing a 'chamber' to accommodate heat extraction from behind then down into the floor system below, and back into the rest of the house. I hope to do that by convection, but some mechanical force may be needed.

If I was going to use any kind of solar collector I'd want to use some kind of a "blanket" to turn the solar radiation directly into electricity, but I'm trying to be as "passive" as possible so that maintenance is nil.
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:11 PM
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My parents' Temecula ranch was entirely solar. Of course, I almost never went up there went I lived with them, and haven't been there in about two years, so...
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:36 PM
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:41 PM
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RodISHI,

How expensive is the solar lights and enought to power a computer and such like you speak of? Any links on where to buy and all that is needed? I have a large gas powered Generator, wood burning stove, and plenty of large Vehicles with full tanks to cyphon gas from, but the solar sounds interesting. It use to be too expensive to even think of. Is it still this way?
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:45 PM
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I bought a generator after the 05 hurricane seasona nd being out of power for 17 days...I won't be making that mistake again.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:01 PM
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We have a generator

i am working on some solar hot air generators to put on my south and south west facing roofs on the house and barn for next winter.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:26 PM
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RodISHI,

How expensive is the solar lights and enought to power a computer and such like you speak of? Any links on where to buy and all that is needed? I have a large gas powered Generator, wood burning stove, and plenty of large Vehicles with full tanks to cyphon gas from, but the solar sounds interesting. It use to be too expensive to even think of. Is it still this way?
I did not pay much for ours that we have thus far. My aunt ran an outlet store so I bought an inverter and a little 45 watt set that had the several regular type lights, etc...

Harbor frieght has the little 45 watt solar sets. I do not know of any American company offering American made sets (if you find any let me know). They also have the inverters one needs to convert battery power to household electric. The little 45 watt is not much but it will at least provide a light bulb or two. You can charge 12 volt power packs with it.

Rod worked at Sears for a winter season. He picked up battery packs so we can charge those and run either 12 volt or a 115 plug in socket. Charge the packs run the laptop for about an hour, plus it fully charges the laptop battery. If you get one of these make sure you fully charge it before you try to used it.

Last Spring when the electric was out for three days I used the battery packs to run the small deep freeze we have. It ran long enough to at least kept the stuff frozen for another day of no electric.

I had my son's large salt water fish tank so I used the small generator to run it every couple hours so all the critters would not die. That was a bit pricey on gas though. The battery packs ran the lights and the pumps for about fifteen minutes before getting to low to keep the battery pack from tripping the internal breaker from pulling so much juice.

The light sets I have picked up over the years. We bought a few more of those at Harbor frieght in Des Moines. They had shed lights with a pull switch that actually last for a few hours without dimming after a full day charge. We also got some of the motion sensor lights, they are really bright considering they are made for a couple of AA batteries to run from.

I am hoping to pick up some more panels and batteries in the future. We have a large enough inverter to run the bare basics just ned the extra panels.

Link: Harbor freight

Last edited by RodISHI; 02-09-2009 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:07 AM
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I got a small generator,but it's very short -term. not a long term solution.
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:13 AM
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:32 PM
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hansom is an unknown quantity at this point
Manu,

care to share what keeps you going, off the grid? Bicycle-power? Steam? Geothermal?
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Old 02-27-2009, 04:10 PM
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I have custom built a few self contained campers. Built one for myself and then a couple people wanted one like it so I built a couple others. No expensive batteries, just regular deep cycle marine, lead / acid. 12 volt lighting and inverter to power house current devices. The batteries are trickle charged from the tow vehicle while driving, energy that is otherwise lost to heat. When stationary, a 45 watt solar panel keeps the batteries up. The heat and on demand hot water is LP gas.

The biggest lessons learned were actually about consumption and conservation. When you concentrate on what is wasted you find large chunks of energy that we use and don't need. For example, I put a switch on the water heater here at home. It's a pretty simple and inexpensive way to cut consumption. My water heater is rated to consume $46 a month worth of electricity. Most of that is watsed, sitting in the tank disipating heat. Now I switch the heater on once a day before I shower and switch it off before I enter the shower. It takes about 20 minutes to heat the water and there is enough for the rest of the day.

The next thing was getting rid of the full sized fridge. I figured out by looking at folks fridges that most of them are nothing more than temporary repositories of eventual refuse. I down sized to a cube fridge. There are a lot of people who could go to their fridge right now and toss anything that was green, out of date, or otherwise just taking up space and what they would have left would fit into a cube unit.

The next thing is one of the oldest solar tricks in the book: a clothes line. I haven't owned a clothes dryer in years and the idea now seems completely absurd. I noticed once, years ago at my grandmothers house, that the AC was running as hard as it would go, cooling the house, and the clothes dryer was running as hard as it could go, heating it back up. Stupid.

By doing these three simple things, my electric consumption fell in a major way. Average bill is $22. I'm pretty sure I can generate $22 worth of electricity myself. Hopefully I'll be able to afford to invest in solar soon enough to do that.
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