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Karen Crane
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Anyone with good information on a true sustainable, off the grid,  energy system to create electricity for the house ?
No, not solar or wind as they both require BATTERIES ( which are NOT sustaiable).
I looked th the magnetic generators ( they need some energy source) and hydrogen fuel cells ( dont seem available commercially for the home and may require batteries ... not sure on that.)
Would like ideas and opinions please.  thanks
 
Tyler Ludens
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Small-scale hydroelectric may be sustainable, or possibly a combination of PV and hydroelectric in which water is pumped during daylight to a tank which acts as  "battery" storage to run a small turbine during non-sun hours.

 
Kirk Hutchison
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Pumping water uphill will serve as a battery.
 
Tyler Ludens
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"uphill to a tank" is what I meant to say!    Uphill is the key.

 
Philip Freddolino
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What's unsustainable about batteries ? Lead/ acid batteries are easily recycled for the lead content. Pumping water uphill as a battery is not practical because a small (micro)hydro unit can't independently respond to varying loads. Only AC hydro units that are 5KW or larger can justify the complex electro-mechanical controls needed to adjust the output to different loads. These units use cubic feet per second instead of gallons per minute. Modern Inverters do all that for you, but need a battery bank to draw from. If one considers all the copper, aluminum, steel, plastic, etc.. that goes into anything that is going to use the power created, batteries are just part of the package. Taken care of, a set of good quality batteries should last 8-10 years or more. If someone wanted to go way old-school ,they could cast and recycle their own battery plates indefinitely.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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How do micro hydro turbines work at all in that case?     Doesn't a load diverting  controller deal with the varying load?
 
Len Ovens
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LFIRE wrote:
Anyone with good information on a true sustainable, off the grid,  energy system to create electricity for the house ?
No, not solar or wind as they both require BATTERIES ( which are NOT sustaiable).
I looked th the magnetic generators ( they need some energy source) and hydrogen fuel cells ( dont seem available commercially for the home and may require batteries ... not sure on that.)
Would like ideas and opinions please.  thanks

Nix hydrogen... the whole system ends up net loss.

The first question is are you sure you need electricity? If so, what do you need it for? When? Off grid power use cannot be compared to grid powered houses. Off grid power? Lights, water, refrigeration? You have stated that batteries are not sustainable, so I presume you are not using power for unsustainable things... entertainment, communication, cooking, heating....  

The next thing... where are you? Or, what are your resources? Do you have lots of sun? wind? a stream? heat? No matter your wishes, you have to work with what you have. If there is no stream, no hydro. If it always rains... no sun. So what do you have?

Once you have your resources figured out.... you know when you have batteryless power. Time to schedule power chores ... Take a freezer for example... -10 C is safe for food... but cooler will not hurt... so if using solar, for example, when the sun is shining run the freezer as cool as you can so it can be turned off when the sun does not shine. Pump water to a tank above the use while the sun shines so when it does not you still have water pressure. Wash clothes when the freezer is as cold as it gets and the tank is full. Make and use a root cellar... learn other ways to preserve food.

However, Great as daylight is.... there are times when you need lights whenthe sun is not shining the wind is not blowing and the water is not flowing.... you still need some kind of storage. You can minimise how much storage, but probably not eliminate it. The reality is that we (mankind) survived without power just fine for a long time... much longer than with. Just about every electrical device could be termed "unsustainable".

You need to define (as the Amish do) what you will allow and what you won't.
 
Philip Freddolino
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
How do micro hydro turbines work at all in that case?     Doesn't a load diverting  controller deal with the varying load?

A controller controls low voltage DC for battery charging not high voltage AC for your loads.  It would only work if you had a 12/24/48 VDC load that never exceeded the hydro wattage output. A severe limitation for the infrastructure cost of the hydro system.  
 
                              
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Thanks, Len, for this great summary:

Len wrote:
The first question is are you sure you need electricity? If so, what do you need it for? When? Off grid power use cannot be compared to grid powered houses. Off grid power? Lights, water, refrigeration? You have stated that batteries are not sustainable, so I presume you are not using power for unsustainable things... entertainment, communication, cooking, heating....  

The next thing... where are you? Or, what are your resources? Do you have lots of sun? wind? a stream? heat? No matter your wishes, you have to work with what you have. If there is no stream, no hydro. If it always rains... no sun. So what do you have?

Once you have your resources figured out.... you know when you have batteryless power. Time to schedule power chores ... Take a freezer for example... -10 C is safe for food... but cooler will not hurt... so if using solar, for example, when the sun is shining run the freezer as cool as you can so it can be turned off when the sun does not shine. Pump water to a tank above the use while the sun shines so when it does not you still have water pressure. Wash clothes when the freezer is as cold as it gets and the tank is full. Make and use a root cellar... learn other ways to preserve food.

However, Great as daylight is.... there are times when you need lights whenthe sun is not shining the wind is not blowing and the water is not flowing.... you still need some kind of storage. You can minimise how much storage, but probably not eliminate it. The reality is that we (mankind) survived without power just fine for a long time... much longer than with. Just about every electrical device could be termed "unsustainable".

You need to define (as the Amish do) what you will allow and what you won't.


Great! Thanks again.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I was figuring we would be using DC appliances....and we were talking about sustainability, not cost effectiveness....Personally I'm with Len - what do we need electricity for? When do we need it?  When do we not need it? etc. 

 
Irene Kightley
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Everyone contributing to this thread is using electricity - we don't need it but we want it. 

Staying in the dark when the sun goes down is lovely if you've wood for a fire but electric lighting is a good alternative to using petrol lamps and bees wax which are not really sustainable if you sit up all night talking/reading - and are both smelly and dangerous (Especially with cats and kids around ).
 
Jonathan Byron
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Nickel-air batteries are simple and durable. And other battery technologies are being developed.

Solar and wind are variable. But if the solar/wind grid is extended beyond the home or neighborhood, it becomes more stable.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Irene Kightley wrote:
Everyone contributing to this thread is using electricity - we don't need it but we want it. 


Yes, we do want it!    Presently my electricity is coal-powered.  Unfortunately I don't see myself being able to be install sustainable electricity at my house. 

 
Len Ovens
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Irene Kightley wrote:
Everyone contributing to this thread is using electricity - we don't need it but we want it. 


It is interesting to think about how the availability of online power has changed our lives. Lights at night has been listed as something we want by all of us... but if we do everything by hand (washing clothing for example) do we really have the energy to stay awake beyond dusk anyway? It brings to mind something Paul W said about sustainability in growing food. He was looking for something better, He wants to see his garden/farm thrive. To get better and produce more. I think the same principle needs to be  applied here. i'm not sure I know how...

I think it should be possible, even off grid, to put up Christmas lights without breaking the battery bank for example. Maybe they would use less power than some of them do now... maybe they would detect if there was someone around to see them before they turned on.... Thats an over the top example. But I don't need to spend my time washing clothes if a machine can do it, but there is no reason the sun can't heat the water directly either. Maybe in the future we will start having big familys again so there are many hands for all the work that needs doing, but we are not there now and should be able to thrive without.

I would really miss amplified music, though having no radio/tv would give us a far more diverse music scene. The local music would grow in its own direction. Our style of music would change. The whole bass end would be reduced as would much of the spontaneous content. The drums as we know it would pretty much be gone to be replaced by something quieter. when we thing improvisation, mostly we think lead instruments... however, as a bass player, I would find myself stifled if there were 4 of us that had to always play the same note.

So I see two sides to this. There are things we just want and only need from a mental health view. these are still valid uses. There are other things that give us time to get everything done. These are valid uses, but, many of them can be scheduled for when there is surplus power available (the grid is headed this way with appliances set up to run when power is cheap). there are lots of things  that can be more effectively done with other forms of power besides electric.

Have more thoughts for later...
 
Tyler Ludens
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We would probably wash fewer clothes if we had to do it ourselves by hand.    In the past, wealthy people could have a lot of clothes washed by someone else.  Regular folks would tend to wash their underthings fairly frequently, but outer garments might only rarely or never get washed.  Some traditional ways of washing, such as scrubbing on a washboard, prove not to be necessary - one can simply leave the clothes to soak overnight instead of scrubbing.  Just because something was done in the past doesn't mean it was necessarily appropriate in all situations.

We might all be a little stinkier.....
 
Irene Kightley
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Ludi,

I think people wash far too often ! I only wash my very long thick hair about half a dozen times a year and woollen clothes once a year. Th rest of the time it's a lick and a promise. (As we say in the cold north of Scotland.  :lol

About twenty years ago, I took the opportunity that fate offered me, to realise a dream I've always had and live in a hand built cabin in the woods without running water or electricity.  

We moved in in the summer and it was idyllic. I washed dishes and clothes in the stream but by winter I decided to by a "miracle washer' to wash clothes quicker with less strain on the hands and back. The next 'luxury" was running water in an outside kitchen beside the cabin and to get that we ran a hose about 200 metres from our stream which was fed using gravity and as the hose was black we had hot water in the late afternoons when the sun shone. Washing clothes in hot water next to the cabin without having to carry the washing to the stream was just wonderful !

For heat and clothes drying we fitted a small wood stove which heated the cabin well but after that first winter and two near accidents with cats and candles, we decided to add a small solar system with batteries for two lights - one inside and one over the kitchen sink and also fitted a car radio and CD player.

We lived there for over four years and were very comfortable but we've now built a bigger house off grid and although we've more lights because the house is bigger, all we've added is another 600 watts of panels and two small Rutland windgenerators and we have a telephone, internet access and a small 'fridge which we use only in the summer. As our "family" is increasing, we're planning to add another large windgenerator so that we will finally have a communal washing machine and enough lighting and energy for everyone's basic needs. We use very little wood to heat the whole house and the water, which is also heated by solar panels. In 19 years we've only ever had to replace two batteries.

This level of energy consumption is one that I personally feel comfortable with. I'd be loath to give up any of the elements in that mix although I do appreciate that we're using much more energy that many of the other human (and non human) societies with whom we share the planet.

Perhaps that's being selfish ?

 
Tyler Ludens
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Irene Kightley wrote:
In 19 years we've only ever had to replace two batteries.


That's very encouraging. 

 
Karen Crane
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Philip Freddolino wrote:
A controller controls low voltage DC for battery charging not high voltage AC for your loads.  It would only work if you had a 12/24/48 VDC load that never exceeded the hydro wattage output. A severe limitation for the infrastructure cost of the hydro system.  

I love this reply! Gave me a lot to think about. thanks for posting it.!!
 
Len Ovens
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Just another thought on scheduling... The idea that we use resources when they are being produced... use solar when the sun is shining. There are some obvious things where this breaks down. We don't need lights when the sun is shining.

Another example of how much people are creatures of habit/convenience/tradition.... There have been a number of NGOs that have tried to introduce solar cookers in 3rd world parts of the world where there is lots of sun almost all the time. People are poor and spend a good part of their meagre income/time getting fuel to cook. Solar cookers are cheap and work well and have free fuel... should work great. However, they are often abandoned quite quickly. The reasons are many.

- The foods they are used to can't be cooked on it.
- The sun is up while the people are in the fields... when they come home to cook the sun is gone.
- The cooker has to be outside and the food is stolen by animals/people or knocked down by animals/people/wind.
- The cooker is too low to the ground or too high up.
- it is perceived as a poor man's tool. This made worse by having to use it outside where all can see.
- the sun shines in one's eyes.

The list was longer, but these are the things I can remember. I have added it here to point out that convenience ends up being more important than we think. If the destitute will not use something for these reasons, those of us with more would have these problems more. The one other thing that needs to be added to the list above and influences these choices even more is that the cooks are mostly women who by tradition have no say in what is eaten or when the cooking is done. It is these women who gather the wood if it is needed for cooking. So, for example, the man of the house wants fresh food after sunset, that is when it must be cooked.

The solar cookers that have worked are those that serve a community and feel like a normal stove and can get to normal cooking temperatures. They often have good heat storage so the people can keep cooking after dark or when there is a bit of cloud. Think 8m[sup]2[/sup] dish with an insulated molten tin (50 to 70 lbs of tin which melts at 220C or 428F and stays at that while it freezes) heat storage. The stove top being inside a kitchen so the cook can work in the shade (the stove is already hot enough). The added expense can be born because the whole village can use it. Because it cost more and the whole village was involved in setting it up there is no stigma in using it. Most of these cooks use retained heat cooking too for the parts of their diet where it makes sense. The clockwork that keeps the sun focused where it needs to be is locally made/repairable. It needs to be set only once a day.

All that to say.... we need to think about our life style and time needs to make sure an alternate method of gaining energy will work for us or sit unused. It is sometimes worth making something a little more complex to ensure it gets used.
 
                                          
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Some grid tie invertors do not require batteries.  They take power direct from the P.V. panels and invert it and feed the load and/or grid.  More efficient than battery based systems, largely because the grid is never fully charged up, restricting output from solar.  With a battery based system you could divert power to heat water or make hydrogen to utilize solar when battry is charged.
 
Karen Crane
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I would like to know more about the system that does not require batteries. Could you give some links to sources and/or information? thanks.
 
Fred Winsol
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Some of these discussions are good.  it's all about your own personal choices and life style... i don't care to live like Amish++.  And I am a lazy energy engineer... don't care to maintain things, so I design them with that in mind.  If one did an LCA and embodied energy analyses of grid power vs. on-site lead-acid battery storage, it's not even close.  the only time I can support PV grid tie-in is when one directly displaced dirty coal BTUs. 

On solar PV - everyone is smokin' the utility + gov solar dope.  Net metering and 30% one time rebate is a joke.  Look at FIT process in europe to compare. 

You can do ur own PV solar system (stand-alone) easily for under $5k and you're good for 30+ years if you take care of your batteries. Be careful of controller set-points. I've currently got my PV panels feeding in directly to my L16's and I'm amazed.  won't work full-time - but great for equalizing them.

I've been off-grid since the 70's and enjoy all the luxuries of modern society and then some.  I currently have 180w PV panels (www.winsol33.wordpress.com) with led lights, smart meter feedback (I consider that to be the key - AWARENESS - of how much power is available and how much each applicance uses.

I tried putting a new thread asking people what was appropriate - got '0' replies... so guess people don't think about those things.  We don't use energy we use the services that energy provides... so as many of these threads suggested - it depends on what services you'd rather have 'energy' provide for you.  You can do all of it with other methods ... except super-cold refrigeration.  i like my lights on long winter nights, and I like my wifi and movies along with lotsa music.  I don't care to use electricity for cooling, heating, food cooking, etc.  because it's just not an effective and efficient use of a BTU.  I love rocket stoves...

On pumped storage... small scale doesn't really work.  you need about about six acre feet of water for each KW produced - crazy... the pump and generator/wheels are the least of the costs involved.  Works on a medium-large scale very well tho.  Compressed air might be a better storage solution for small scale.  Also biomass gasification (small scale) is finally getting some coverage here in the USA... it's been used in europe for a long time.

 
Len Ovens
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LFIRE wrote:
I would like to know more about the system that does not require batteries. Could you give some links to sources and/or information? thanks.

Just about any large inverter manufacturer has grid tie stuff... it actually costs more to add batteries to the mix. Enphase (not sure of spelling) has a grid tie inverter per PV pannel, so up sizing is easy. But, considering the cost outlay, I wouldn't want to even think about substituting my research for what someone who is spending the money should be doing. I come with my own preconceptions as to what is the best way to go based on what I feel is needed in my situation. My grid comes from hydro made less than 3 miles away so it is hard to justify the cost of solar (and embedded eco-yuckiness) just to feed back the grid. I would not consider a no battery system because my purpose where I live, is backup. Just enough to keep the freezer going and maybe a few lights.

If my grid came from coal and was a long way off and I was wealthy I might look at supplying my needs and the grid with green power.
 
Fred Winsol
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My hierachy of appropriate technologies in generating power in small-medium sized:

  1. Biomass gasification
  2. Geothermal
  3. Solar thermal (lo-temp)
  4. Solar PV
  5. Wind
  6. Small Hydro
  7. Tidal + wave  power
  8. Pumped storage
  9. BioFuel
  10. Other

For a residential application, solar hot water is the place to start.  A drainback system is easy and cheap.
 
Len Ovens
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winsol3 wrote:
My hierachy of appropriate technologies in generating power in small-medium sized:

   1. Biomass gasification
   2. Geothermal
   3. Solar thermal (lo-temp)
   4. Solar PV
   5. Wind
   6. Small Hydro
   7. Tidal + wave  power
   8. Pumped storage
   9. BioFuel
  10. Other

For a residential application, solar hot water is the place to start.  A drainback system is easy and cheap.


I think it should be numbered by what is available at the site. No.1 in my mind includes all wood burning devices... but a supply of fuel comes first.... making me wonder why No. 3 is not 1? I am not sure what you mean by "Geothermal". To me it means using volcanic heat... If I was living on top of that... it would be no.1. Other people might mean PAHS housing, but in my mind, Any new housing should include as much PAHS ideas as possible... heat pumps (Sometimes called Geothermal)  in my mind are way down the list... maybe before natural gas and electric heat... 4 to 9 Depend on what is available on site.

Oh... by power you probably mean electric, I was thinking any and all energy uses... after all, electric is always converted to something else in use. Any time I can use energy directly or with fewer conversions without electrifying it... that is better. It may be better to use a wind power water pump than putting it through electric to pump first.
 
Fred Winsol
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of course, Len.  what's available locally always rules... that's just my general list which works in most places i've been around... USA west coast+Rockies, Europe, etc...  I probably wouldn't use the same list in the Sahara desert.
Biomass is really WOOD plus compressed lo-moisture ag slash++  ... gasification is more along the lines of rocket stove and other exhaust recircs... Can get some really HI power from that.  Geothermal includes anything underground. The reason SHW is #3 is that it's a no-brainer and too easy to do... maybe I should put it into #2. 
the list has political and economic ramifications also...  I should really push Solar PV down further... but it's too easy to power LED lights. with very small battery.  But that's my list and i'm stickin' with it

On your other comment about coal and local hydro power... we're all connected via the regional grid... so the NW exports unused hydro to offset others' coal use... so for every KWH you don't use you're displacing a KWH of coal    somewhere else. 
 
Len Ovens
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winsol3 wrote:
On your other comment about coal and local hydro power... we're all connected via the regional grid... so the NW exports unused hydro to offset others' coal use... so for every KWH you don't use you're displacing a KWH of coal     somewhere else. 


Don't know if I am. Could be though, and in general you are correct. I'm on an Island... not sure where the connection to the mainland would be... but it might be there... Yup... across Texada Island to the mainland. BC has two lines to the US but only one to Alberta. I do wonder though, what percentage of any power we might send to the mainland and onwards, actually gets to where it is used.
 
Fred Winsol
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...never seizes to amaze me that when one looks deeper into the utility/gov stuff what pops up. Here in California it's illegal to use coal, yet the southern regional grid tie gets a feed directly from 4corners by Price, Utah... and results in California getting about 7% of it's electricity through coal.  very few people (even the experts!) know about it.... shhhhhhhh

For years i used to agree that if everyone had batteries it'd be bad for the environment.  I've changed my mind when I see the environmental damage done by transmission, distribution and all the overhead wires close to residences... much less all the EMFs, safety issues, storms, and other stuff. 

i think the best solution is to appoint one building (on a city block or IC) to have a battery storage unit that distributes locally generated renewable power to all the other houses via underground cables.  I wonder if it should be DC or AC?  probably AC with less line losses.
 
Tyler Ludens
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winsol3 wrote:

   3. Solar thermal (lo-temp)


Can you link to some references on how to set up a small solar thermal power system?

Thanks! 
 
                                            
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I read a list of articles a while ago that demonstrated a bedini motor to restore batteries [note: some people claim the system to be over unity, I think its a crock, but the battery restoration makes sense] this could make your battery bank last several times longer than it could conventionally.
 
Fred Winsol
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Can you link to some references on how to set up a small solar thermal power system?


Are you referring to a solar thermal 'electric' power system?  I am referring to a solar hot water system.  The stirling engine type the big boys use, and adsorption cooling using solar thermal... are really not small, or cheap.

A small solar thermal HW system ... the simplest is a breadbox, or a drainback system (careful on pipe angles and collector tilt)

best short overview  http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=12850
                                  http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WaterHeating/water_heating.htm
drainback systems:  http://solarhowto.us/SimpleElegantSolarHotWaterDrainBackSystem.html

 
Tyler Ludens
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winsol3 wrote:
I am referring to a solar hot water system. 


Ok, thanks for clarifying.  Your list said "My hierachy of appropriate technologies in generating power in small-medium sized"  so I thought you meant it was for generating power.

 
Fred Winsol
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Ok... so I need to use the word energy.  I guess most people equate power to electricity

Ii believe anything that changes the state of something (cosmic to flowers to lights +++) is a form of power.  We seem to be evolving into having anything but ourselves make this power for us...    Biomass gasification I think will be a very large future industry... it can be done with no smoke, CO2 emissions only and can generate a LOT of power (electricity + heat) and we have plenty of it and if we treat it right it's extremely sustainable.  Austria uses ~30% of their annual forest growth sustainably... they have a 250 year forestry plan with biomass as one of their top power producers.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks for clarifying.  This thread is about electricity, hence my confusion.

 
Len Ovens
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Thanks for clarifying.  This thread is about electricity, hence my confusion.

Yes, I can see that. i think though that power would be a better term. Anytime we can use "power" in the form we collect it, that would be the first priority. So it is more sustainable (or less wasteful?... terms or words really are a killer) to use power collected as heat to heat things and light as light. Anytime we can store power in the form we get it, That is even better.

Efficiency is not always the best way to measure things either.... and so with all the wood trimmings that can be burned for light or heat or even electric... for direct use is still good even though the efficiency of turning solar power to whatever is really not very good... trimmings might be something we have lots of.

The problem is, that sometimes we want light when the sun is not shining and there are some things that only work with electric power... like this computer I am using. I think the point of this thread is to explore when it is appropriate to use electric power to do a job.... and when it must be stored. Another thing that has been pointed out, though perhaps not directly, is transmission loss within our own homestead. When is it better to have a second set of panels/batteries because a use is too far away from the main array? This would be a distance/wiresize/frequency of use for a cost. The use of an electric vehicle with it's own solar panels and an inverter might help with some of the less frequent uses, but just panels and no batteries might pump water just fine.
 
Fred Winsol
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Len wrote:I think the point of this thread is to explore when it is appropriate to use electric power to do a job.... and when it must be stored.
Another thing that has been pointed out, though perhaps not directly, is transmission loss within our own homestead. When is it better to have a second set of panels/batteries because a use is too far away from the main array?


I agree. I constantly struggle with 'should I run big DC wires directly (power always on) or use thin AC wire and turn on the inverter if I need to use that.  The end result is usually about usage factor and convenience. If I use only occassionally - like outside lights - I'll run AC wires; if I use only that one item (like music)  I'll do 12VDC.

On storage: I once got roped into an argument about the grid having a lower footprint than each home having storage batteries.  I'm inclined that the grid has more embodied energy than a community storage system (ie. one house has the storage batteries for all the neighbors).  The 1000's of miles of T+D lines, xformers, etc have HUGE footprints.  And batteries, when properly used and repurposed have a lesser footprint.
 
                                
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winsol3 wrote:

On storage: I once got roped into an argument about the grid having a lower footprint than each home having storage batteries. 


I wonder if they count the embodied solar energy in the coal, natural gas, petrol?

Given that batteries are almost infinitely recyclable, and if the sun burns out we're all screwed anyway... I can't see how anyone could reasonably argue that there is LESS footprint in using non-renewables to generate grid power!  Sounds like your adversary wasn't a real deep thinker.
 
Len Ovens
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TheDirtSurgeon wrote:
I wonder if they count the embodied solar energy in the coal, natural gas, petrol?

Given that batteries are almost infinitely recyclable, and if the sun burns out we're all screwed anyway... I can't see how anyone could reasonably argue that there is LESS footprint in using non-renewables to generate grid power!  Sounds like your adversary wasn't a real deep thinker.


Most people are not aware that transmission loses are about the biggest loss in the system. AC power is what makes it possible... 240v to every house, just choose the tap on the transformer.... so long as they can charge you for it, who cares if almost all the power is lost on the way there. Batteries win out just on transmission losses.... solar using the grid as a battery? Seems to be the most "cost effective" but that just tells you where the subsidies are going. I often think no taxes at all would work best. I guess that would mean less government.... Need enough for a strong enough stay at home military to keep someone else from forcing their idea of government on us though.... Hard to know what is "just enough". maybe when the oil is all gone our counties can shrink and government will have less reach. Anyway, self power has got to be the best plan. Fewest losses (batteries included) and most incentive to conserve.... The incentive to conserve is probably the biggest win in my opinion.
 
Fred Winsol
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I agree Len, and would take it one step further... instead of each house doinga standalone, connect up a community microgrid. 

There are several benefits in that:  Local jobs, interconnection, local control, higher reliability, more diversity, etc.

When one home needs a bit more juice for a special event or something, the local microgrid can provide that easily.  The community can also have interconnected underground piping for community heating/cooling water.  Each area of the community could contribute its own renewable energy form.. biomass, geothermal cooled/heated water, solar HW, etc.  to share with everyone.

if the homes are located miles apart tho, this wouldn't be all that feasible.
 
Peter Mckinlay
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Hello Lfire.
Recent post "Alternate means of energy conversion" may be of assistance.  For continuos operation 24/7 a constant heat temperature source is needed, so long that it be above minus 40* Celsius when using CO2 as the drive gas such shall be acheived.  However if that heat source flucuates so will the wattage output.  Peter
 
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