What I'm Up To

I have been a bit quiet here. Let me explain what I have been doing.

I realized that I tend to be full of ideas (as opposed to what some others think I am full of) but some never reach the light of day. Others get explained in email to an assortment of people. Still others get turned into a completed project but with no available information about it.

Off-Grid: Energy Budgets

When designing an electrical system for your home or business, you need to do a budget. That is, how much energy you will need and when you need it. Don't get scared off—this doesn't need to be any more complicated that doing a grocery budget.

While the focus of this article is for off-grid systems, you really need this even if you are connected to the grid.

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Off-Grid: When Should I Use my Rice Cooker?

That's an example. Feel free to substitute bread machine, coffee maker, hair dryer, crock pot, or a host of other things—given the choice. This is something that all too often is ignored and the result can be either needing more PV panels or running your generator.

The answer, assuming your primary energy source is solar, is "when the sun is out". Easy answer but you need to understand why.

A battery is not 100% efficient. That is, the amount of energy you have to put into a battery to recharge it is more than the amount of energy you took out.

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Legislating Your Way (Out of Anything)

Let's start with a piece from an article at http://www.sovereignman.com/expat/is-this-a-jobs-super-committee/. It says:


Earlier this month, some economic luminaries in the United States Congress introduced a new bill, H.R. 2835. The bill intends to “establish a joint select committee of Congress to report findings and propose legislation to restore the Nation’s workforce to full employment…”

Great idea, fellas.

Off-Grid: What Else?

I have been writing a lot of off-grid articles, partly inspired by questions on http://www.NicaLiving.com, partly by having a book half-done on the subject. I will continue to write them but if there is something specific you would like to see covered, let me know. That will help me prioritize what I will be covering.
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Off-Grid: Solar Hot Water

While most of my off-grid articles have been about producing electricity, an area where you can make big energy savings on the cheap is using solar energy to heat water. It's not new, it doesn't have to be high tech and it works.
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Off-Grid: Making the Decision

There are lots of reasons why being off-grid makes sense. Here are some thoughts to help you make that decision.

What if there is no choice?

The first and most obvious is that you may not have a choice or even if you do have a choice, the initial investment for a grid connection may be more than for a system to allow you to be off-grid. Where I currently live extending the grid would have cost about $17,000. My PV solar system cost $12,000.
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Off-Grid: Batteries

For most off-grid options, you are going to end up with batteries for energy storage. I say most because, for example, a hydro system sometimes just produces the power you need. Batteries are, of course, most obvious for a solar-based system as there is no sun during half of each day.

When selecting batteries the two big considerations are:

  1. Type
  2. Capacity
The two are inter-related. For example, if you are using lead-acid batteries, you want to design your system such that you almost never discharge the batteries more than 50%.

The 9/11 Coverup

Ten years ago some airplanes crashed onto some buildings. The events paved the way for usanos to give up a lot of their civil liberties and the US to wage a few wars. Unfortunately, over those 10 years we never really found out what happened on September 11, 2001.

Yes, there was an official investigation of sorts. It was funded with less money than the one to determine if Bill Clinton had sex with that woman but, more important, it just didn't seem to want to find the truth.

Off-Grid: 12VDC or 120VAC

A common question is whether to focus on 12 volt (or other low DC voltages) for running things or just invert to 120 volts AC and run everything off AC. There is no right answer but there are some considerations.

The first is where you are starting and where you see the future of your system. If, for example, you have an existing 120VAC system (either grid connected or just things you run off a generator), 120VAC is more likely the right answer. On the other hand, if you are just starting, 12VDC is probably the best choice.

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