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Solar panels after the storm  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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I should have built a squeegee pole for these 30 years ago...
Normally the snow will knock off …   with the deep freeze it doesn't want to...  good thing I have a hydro.
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When the sun comes back...and your panels are sleeping
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even after tapping the snow won't slip
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ever faithful hydro just spins along
 
gardener
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Dumb question: What's a hydro?
I know a lot of things called that, but that picture doesn't look familiar....
 
thomas rubino
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No such thing as a dumb question!
That is my low flow, high pressure, hydro electric , permanent magnet alternator your looking at.   Commonly called micro hydro.

I have 125 psi of water pressure down here at the house.  The spring is 2200' away with 300' of vertical drop.  Called a high head low flow.  I  only have 3-4  gpm available . I make 6-10 amps @12 vt  24 hours a day all year long.  Really helps make off grid living much easier!


High pressure gravity water enters thru the black pipe on the right.  Squirts thru an 11/64 brass nozzle. Hits my stainless steel pelton wheel, then having lost all pressure it falls to the bottom of the plastic barrel. Leaves thru the steel pipe at the bottom. From there it is plumbed down the hill across the county road into the pig pen so the piggy's get fresh cold artesian water as well. Then from there it just drains off into my fields.
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pelton wheel
 
Pearl Sutton
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Ah, ok! I have heard of them, but the ones I have seen looked very different! Thank you!!
 
pollinator
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Not gonna lie, I'm jealous of your hydro setup! That is a heck of a long run, did you do the piping yourself?

I'm considering mounting a few of my panels on a top hinge, so that I can remove a bottom brace and let them sit vertical... would be helpful for snow days...
 
thomas rubino
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Ready for a good story Dillon.

I did not install the piping. My place is a homestead from 1928, at that time it was 600+acres.  There was a water system in place when I bought the place.  Shorter, maybe only 1800'. Still had the same drop. , smaller pipe , prone to plugging and also prone to bursting.
A few years after I bought. The 400 acre piece next to me was sold. This is where my water originates. There is an old  gravel pit  next to my house. My water line ran down the hill just above that pit.
The new owner of the 400, talked the county into buying 80 acres next to me with the gravel pit... they wanted to use it... That meant THEY had to move/replace my waterline !!!  All AT NO COST to me !!!
What a deal!!!
I did pay $200 towards the deal to increase my pipe size from 1.25" to 1.5", can you imagine my grin! $200 for 2200' of brand new 1.5" heavy wall poly!! Installed by a respected local contactor not by the county road crew !  
It gets even better.  The county found out that the gravel in that pit was not very good ... after a year they quit using it!   How sweet it is...
 
Dillon Nichols
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Ok, now I'm reaaally jealous. What a sweet deal!
 
Pearl Sutton
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I second the envy!!

Weird thought... I am hooking to city water, has around 85 PSI, wonder if I could use a system like that on my intake lines for the house so that every time the toilet is flushed (codes requires I put in "normal" bathrooms) (we'll see what happens when codes is gone!) it adds a bit of power to the battery bank. Function stacking!! If codes makes you flush, how much work can you get out of it? :D "The battery banks look low, think I'll soak in a hot bath!"  
Got a brand name I can look up and price that device? Or a better name for that kind of system?
 
thomas rubino
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Well Pearl that's thinking outside the box!

I don't think the financial logistics would work with this idea or really even the power benefit gained.
Here's my reasoning.
City water is not free, they meter it and charge accordingly.
A micro hydro has minimum requirement to make power. My system is at the bottom of the list. 3-4 gpm at 125 psi is a bare minimum.
At 85 psi I'm guessing you would need to flow at least 5-7 gpm to get the small amount of power I make. To make more power you would have to flow more water, a lot more... this is where the city would notice.

When my panels are not making power to supplement, the hydro does not supply our power needs, I must run our generator for a few hours each day.
My hydro unit is from Harris hydro, now owned by Dennis Ledbetter. Being a perminent magnet alternater cost on it now would be well over $3000 or more...
Batterys absorb power slowly, a hydro system like mine is perfect for this. Short bursts like flushing a toilet are not enough. Running sprinklers ... yeah.... maybe but that dang city meter...

By the By I thought you were off in a no cell zone way way rural ?

I just googled harris hydro. Seems Dennis wants to retire and the whole buisness is up for sale... investment oppertunity anyone?


 
Pearl Sutton
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Thank you, damn. I thought it was clever idea. Got me thinking about what else I can do with that water pressure  :) I have no urge to use any more than needed, but there will water being used for life, and I might as well get all I can out of it.

Bye the bye :) I was looking when I property shopped for 10 acres in the back of beyond, and we realized I was going to get my ass kicked BAD. I'm a 56 year old female with serious health issues, living with my 81 year old mom. I can't clear a lot of  trees etc, just can't physically do it, and my mom doesn't want to go straight off grid, fear of overwhelm and again, getting our asses kicked, and then what would we do? We bought 4 acres on the edge of a little town, I'm the last property in the city limits (thus all the crap with building codes) and it's cleared for pasture (had llamas on it!!) and has been neglected BAD (no chemical use in at least the last 5+ years, I am fairly sure, since there wasn't any way to walk though the years of uncut grass to even get down the slope, couldn't even get a brushcutter through it. Doubtful if ever sprayed for anything, they seem to have been into ignore it.) So I have iffy cell (no towers close, YES!!) and we are the last on the electric line, the last on the water line, the sewer doesn't come out this far (thankfully) and I have a legal lagoon (that will not be used as it has been, bad planning there.) As we build I'm putting in the stuff I will need to take us off grid, but will be hooking to the city stuff for now. Double plumbing everything, double wiring it all, etc etc etc. So taking it slow enough to maybe not get my ass kicked quite so bad :D

:D
 
thomas rubino
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Ha Ha; I should have waited a day!   Last night our 3-5" storm was a 10-12" storm...

And the panels looked like this today...

Of course tonight another 5-7" is coming...


Ahh Winter        You love it or move south !
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The next day after a new 12" of snow
 
Pearl Sutton
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So your panels normally avalanche off the snow on their own?
 
thomas rubino
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Just depends.  Sometimes they do.  If there is any black showing and the sun pops out they thaw quickly.
Normally I use a long stick and tap the outer frame past the panel. That shakes off enough for the sun to heat them up.
With this being an inland rain forest (we get .2 of an inch less than Seattle) we have lots of snow.  Sometimes its weeks before there is any solar power avalable.
 
pollinator
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thomas rubino wrote:

I don't think the financial logistics would work with this idea or really even the power benefit gained.



Yet another 'spin' (pun fully intended) on this idea that might provide some usable power.  What would stop the owner of an apartment complex from rigging all of the waste water lines through a micro-hydro set-up, especially if the complex is a high-rise type with a lot of drop from the upper apartments?  You, as the owner, are already collecting rent.....why not collect power in the "form of the flush"?  ;-)   If the dwellings did not begin until, say, one level above street level and the turbine were located in the parking garage underneath, would that be sufficient pressure with all of the showering, flushing, and sink use to generate power?  (With a bit of ingenuity you could possible get some bio-gas as 'collateral waste fuel' as well.)  I've always assumed the hydro-turbines need to run continuously, but if they are like wind-turbines, I guess that would not need to be so, correct?....so it would generate peak power during peak waste-water flow?
 
Pearl Sutton
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John: Having had rentals, I can tell you why to not use the waste water,you wouldn't BELIEVE what gets flushed. Cleaning the turbine blades would be an evil job. Putting it on the intake lines would be much less gross, and much less likely to back up on a regular basis.  Trust me on that one. One quick visual for you: A Barbie doll, jammed sideways in a sewer line, is a nasty solids trap... Not good in a turbine.
 
thomas rubino
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Ha John;  There's a turbine I would not want to work on !

No, hydro turbines do not need to spin continuously, they are the same as a wind turbine. However they must always stay connected to a battery system if spinning. That requires a constant diversion voltage regulator.  
 
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Hello All,

As jealous as I am of Thomas and his setup, when I put on my electrical engineer hat and do the economics by itself it does not make sense.  THomas basically got his for free so of course it makes sense.  Lets look at the math.  6-10A at 12V is lets say 100W every hour 24 hours per day.  This works out to 2.4 kWHr/day.  I pay only .08/KWHr so that is basically $0.20 per day.  Now most folks would be paying about twice that so lets say $0.40 per day.  If the pipe is in place and all you have to buy is the generator at $3000, your $3000 investment will net you $146 worth of power per year ($0.40/day*365 days/yr = $146/yr).  Again I have to repeat I would love to have that extra free power, but most of us do not have a spring located well above our home with a pipe running to our home with a house that came with said generator.  You may want to look into wind power as a backup to solar.  Just a thought.

 
Ralph Kettell
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thomas rubino wrote:Ha John;  There's a turbine I would not want to work on !
 



Amen Thomas, Amen.  That would require serious hazard duty pay.  I think a feel a cough and runny nose coming on.  LOL
 
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thomas rubino wrote:Ha Ha; I should have waited a day!   Last night our 3-5" storm was a 10-12" storm...

And the panels looked like this today...

Of course tonight another 5-7" is coming...


Ahh Winter        You love it or move south !


We normally suggest a roof rake. Once you have 2 or 3 rows of panels they dont avalanche as well. Canadian link...
https://www.amazon.ca/Garant-LPRR24-Lynx-24-Inch-Non-Assembled/dp/B00EZ1G9GO/ref=asc_df_B00EZ1G9GO/?tag=googlemobshop-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=293002247721&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14130478748129117363&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9000656&hvtargid=pla-450132922250&psc=1
 
Dillon Nichols
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The economics of all off grid options are marginal if you have grid power in your house already.

There are a lot of other benefits, but in strict dollar terms it's hard to come out ahead, especially with realistic consideration for the opportunity cost of the upfront investment.

Over time they've improved. But still no slam dunk.


Buuut if there is a cost to bringing in grid power... for me, it would have been several tens of thousands. And my installation is not that long a distance or that challenging, it's just that wire is bloody expensive, and monopoly prices are even more expensive.

I think when the dust settles I will have invested about half as much in a solar setup as grid-tie would have cost. I will have limits to live with, for sure, but I also will have no electrical bill, and no dependence on that particular set of assholes in offices. I expect the money not spent on electrical bills will balance out repairs and replacements to the system indefinitely, leaving the other half of the initial grid tie cost as 'profit'.
 
Ralph Kettell
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Dillon Nichols wrote:The economics of all off grid options are marginal if you have grid power in your house already.

There are a lot of other benefits, but in strict dollar terms it's hard to come out ahead, especially with realistic consideration for the opportunity cost of the upfront investment.

Over time they've improved. But still no slam dunk.



Hi Dillon,

You are absolutely right and while we all know the reason that people want to be off grid, there is no guarantee of power from any of these sources short or long term.  Of course there is definitely no guarantee from the local utility with all the bureaucracy and corruption.  You need backup systems with backup systems and repair parts and a good heap of chewing gum wrappers, baling wire and duct tape as well as old episodes of MacGyver as a reference manual for keeping them running.
 
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Ralph Kettell,
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