Decentralized power.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:52 PM   #1
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Default Decentralized power.

This is a response to a post in the ‘What are going to be the new currencies?’ thread that I thought got away from the topic. So I started this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Durangokid View Post
Yep the last time I was in Dodge City they had hundreds east of town. I hate those Damn ugly load things. I look east from my place across the Butte Country and on a clear day you can see those. Hell the elk migration has been forced along I-80 and the trucks are killing more elk than the hunters. The only good thing is the wind mills kill the hell out of those damn eagles. Maybe our Sage Grouse can make a come back.
(Personally I don’t think the ‘Hippie Mixmasters’ are ugly, not anywhere near as much as a coal fired plant, they’re just not needed.)

I think the problem with wind, and other renewable energy sources, is that power companies want to be able to sell it. So they apply their investment capital and lobbying efforts toward centralized power plants, or wind ‘farms’ etc., I.e. their power plants. The last thing they want is the development of a simple and effective off the shelf energy storage capability available to the ordinary homeowner. Individually, homeowners don’t have the clout to swing the needed development themselves.

A generator is just a motor ‘running backwards’. Homesteads used to have windmills to bring the water up. Is it really so out of the pale to think one could gear a generator off the shaft of such a windmill, instead of the mill pumping water up from the table? A water tank could even be the energy storage. The water could spin a couple of small turbines in series on it's way back into the well.

I bet small weather proof ‘fans’ could be mounted on the peaks of roofs the way small satellite dishes are now. Heck, I bet a turbine vent caps could even be rigged to do it.

Between small wind generators spinning whenever the wind’s up, day or night; small solar panels generating power whenever the sun’s out, a simple and cost effective storage devices available at the hardware store, more energy efficient electrical devices in the home & judicious use of same; I’d bet a homeowner/steader could make a serious dent in their energy usage. What utility company wants that?

You’d think the real estate companies would be all over this pushing the technology. Think of all the land that’s cheap because it’s so far from the grid, that would increase in value if homeowners could easily generate their own.

The reason for the huge windmill farms or any other centralized power plant exists is, of course, that’s the simplest way utility companies can make money off of it.
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:00 PM   #2
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There were folks that were "off grid" before there WAS a grid- look up the history of the Jacobs Company- they were building really high class wind power systems in the 1940s.

http://www.jacobswind.net/history

Then we got addicted to cheap AC power. Why wind up a clock?- you can have an electric clock- cheaper than the wind up kind. And a fan, and a radiotvblendermicrowavecordlessphonevcrdvdPCheater airconditioner and suddenly we had this HUGE mass of STUFF eating watts.

Downside of off-the-grid and grow-your-own watts is 3 fold-
1. Capital outlay cost of equipment to produce
2. Cost of storing power
3. limits on size of systems

and you could really add a 4th- having to be much more involved in planning and operating your own powerpatch- as opposed to flipping the switch.

For folks looking to go off grid- step one is to look at what you have to power- and is there a more power miserly way to do that? Do you want to try to power an electric water heater? Good luck- without a LARGE hydro system, not likely. But a SOLAR water heater could maybe work- and cut down the power demand.

The price of components HAS been dropping a lot- scale of production economy thing- as is cost of storing. Many folks are also looking at being self producing, but selling excess power to the grid, buying extra power when you need it. I DO think the cost will drop more over the next 5 years or so.

We went off grid for a country cabin some time back- small scale photovoltaic and small scale wind. Would have loved to go hydro, but not enough water flow on that property. Our storage was 4 ea 115 amp hr deep cycle batteries. We used 12 v DC where we could, and used an inverter to make AC where we needed that. We found we had enough power for a microwave, energy efficient lights, a 12 v water pump (RV suppliers have all KINDS of 12 v stuff) a micro-fridge and a small TV. Our water heater is the "black tank in a glass box" type. It works- but you will not get more than 2 quick showers AT NIGHT.

We built some from scratch, some from kits, DIY assembly. We spent about $1200. Cost of getting power company to run power to us would have been about $9,000. However, we could also have installed a 5500 watt gasoline generator for half of what we spent, and not had to worry about battery charge levels, etc.

But I LIKE not listening to a generator. Our upkeep is replacing the batteries about every 5 years. One solar panel quit, and needed replacement. Other than the batteries, system is probably good for 20-25 years.

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Old 07-03-2012, 06:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3shooter
There were folks that were "off grid" before there WAS a grid- look up the history of the Jacobs Company- they were building really high class wind power systems in the 1940s.

http://www.jacobswind.net/history

Then we got addicted to cheap AC power. Why wind up a clock?- you can have an electric clock- cheaper than the wind up kind. And a fan, and a radiotvblendermicrowavecordlessphonevcrdvdPCheater airconditioner and suddenly we had this HUGE mass of STUFF eating watts.

Downside of off-the-grid and grow-your-own watts is 3 fold-
1. Capital outlay cost of equipment to produce
2. Cost of storing power
3. limits on size of systems

and you could really add a 4th- having to be much more involved in planning and operating your own powerpatch- as opposed to flipping the switch.

For folks looking to go off grid- step one is to look at what you have to power- and is there a more power miserly way to do that? Do you want to try to power an electric water heater? Good luck- without a LARGE hydro system, not likely. But a SOLAR water heater could maybe work- and cut down the power demand.

The price of components HAS been dropping a lot- scale of production economy thing- as is cost of storing. Many folks are also looking at being self producing, but selling excess power to the grid, buying extra power when you need it. I DO think the cost will drop more over the next 5 years or so.

We went off grid for a country cabin some time back- small scale photovoltaic and small scale wind. Would have loved to go hydro, but not enough water flow on that property. Our storage was 4 ea 115 amp hr deep cycle batteries. We used 12 v DC where we could, and used an inverter to make AC where we needed that. We found we had enough power for a microwave, energy efficient lights, a 12 v water pump (RV suppliers have all KINDS of 12 v stuff) a micro-fridge and a small TV. Our water heater is the "black tank in a glass box" type. It works- but you will not get more than 2 quick showers AT NIGHT.

We built some from scratch, some from kits, DIY assembly. We spent about $1200. Cost of getting power company to run power to us would have been about $9,000. However, we could also have installed a 5500 watt gasoline generator for half of what we spent, and not had to worry about battery charge levels, etc.

But I LIKE not listening to a generator. Our upkeep is replacing the batteries about every 5 years. One solar panel quit, and needed replacement. Other than the batteries, system is probably good for 20-25 years.
I have heard that most solar panels...due to the inherent nature of their supply source...after about five years begin to lose efficiency almost exponentially. Basically, the sun damages them as it does everything else. Is there any truth to that, that you've seen first hand, anyway? And if so, what does that do to the ROI of such a system? It seems that by the time it was paid for, it would need to be replaced.

What do you think?
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincine View Post
The reason for the huge windmill farms or any other centralized power plant exists is, of course, that’s the simplest way utility companies can make money off of it.
And then there is this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by c3shooter View Post
Then we got addicted to cheap AC power. . . . . . . having to be much more involved in planning and operating your own powerpatch- as opposed to flipping the switch.
They’re fulfilling a ‘need’,that started out as just a want.

I do believe there are solar panels now being made with built in invertors. You could install, add, replace, or subtract them just by plugging them in to each other, or a “power strip”. I’m sure it’s not a standard household plug but the simplicity appeals.

Considering all the new lightweight materials, bearings, magnets, etc. we have available now, I don’t really believe new wind generators have to be as big as the Jacob’s were then, or even are now.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:00 PM   #5
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Yes, output drops as panels age (so does MY output! ) but do not know about expotentialy. At 10 years, would estimate we are getting about 90% of power we WERE getting- BUT- as long as the batteries get fully charged up, it does not really matter. If it takes 8 hours instead of 6.....

And yes, anything built by man will eventually wear out.

And yes, newer materials and manufacturing processes HAVE improved the efficency of wind generators and PV panels- FAR beyond the 1940s tech of Jacobs. But they did a really good job with what they had- many of those units are still running today.

Was looking at some solar PV units the other day- they look like roofing shingles, and clip together rather easily. Couple more years, I may redo our main home. If I do, will send pictures here.

But too many folks are still looking for the Free Lunch counter- "I'll put a paddle wheel in the creek, hook it to a generator, and run the whole house for free!" Yeah- but the flow and head of that creek with give you 1/64th of a horsepower under ideal circumstances. That's about 11 watts. Then pull out losses from friction, generator windings, electrical resistance, battery inefficency, losses from inverter or transformer- and you have about 1 watt. That is not enough for a night light.

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Old 07-03-2012, 07:12 PM   #6
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For most people green energy is is not even close to being feasible. It requires too big of a change of lifestyle for those people. Solar power is not feasible for electric companies either to high cost and only works about 1/3 of the time. Look at the facts- for a average home to go solar costs about $40,000 or more. You can get the gov to pay 1/3 and your electric company to pay 1/3. Leaving you a cost of about $14,000+. Plus you are still using regular electric power about 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Plus the maintenance on the system. Solar is great for a situation like c3 stated. Wind and solar only produce about roughly 1/3 of the time. Right now natural gas power plants are the best of everything(my opinion).

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Old 07-03-2012, 07:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3shooter
Yes, output drops as panels age (so does MY output! ) but do not know about expotentialy. At 10 years, would estimate we are getting about 90% of power we WERE getting- BUT- as long as the batteries get fully charged up, it does not really matter. If it takes 8 hours instead of 6.....

And yes, anything built by man will eventually wear out.

And yes, newer materials and manufacturing processes HAVE improved the efficency of wind generators and PV panels- FAR beyond the 1940s tech of Jacobs. But they did a really good job with what they had- many of those units are still running today.

Was looking at some solar PV units the other day- they look like roofing shingles, and clip together rather easily. Couple more years, I may redo our main home. If I do, will send pictures here.

But too many folks are still looking for the Free Lunch counter- "I'll put a paddle wheel in the creek, hook it to a generator, and run the whole house for free!" Yeah- but the flow and head of that creek with give you 1/64th of a horsepower under ideal circumstances. That's about 11 watts. Then pull out losses from friction, generator windings, electrical resistance, battery inefficency, losses from inverter or transformer- and you have about 1 watt. That is not enough for a night light.
That makes sense...the quote I had heard, and it's been awhile so I don't remember exactly from where, stated that modern solar panels were "kaput" by 15-20 years old. Which would require a whole new capital expenditure to keep using solar power.

Thanks for the first hand input, C3.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:34 PM   #8
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That makes sense...the quote I had heard, and it's been awhile so I don't remember exactly from where, stated that modern solar panels were "kaput" by 15-20 years old. Which would require a whole new capital expenditure to keep using solar power.

Thanks for the first hand input, C3.
How would they know? I'm gonna guess that it's some of the solar panels that were made 15 years ago that are 'kaput' now.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:53 PM   #9
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How would they know? I'm gonna guess that it's some of the solar panels that were made 15 years ago that are 'kaput' now.
That's why I asked the question. Of the person I felt had a first hand answer.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:50 PM   #10
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Vincine Thx for using my post regards. I think if you lived in a pristine area that is being covered with these monsters you would change your mind. Coal fired power plants are not that bad in todays world and they do not impact any where near the surface miles of these Mixmasters. It is coal powered energy that kept or economy strong. Coal power is being shut down in favor of Green Power. Coal Power is down 30% and dropping. There have been 2 million jobs lost. New plants are being located in countries where power in years to come will be affordable. The Coal Powered electrial power that made the U.S. a world power is gone. The shut down of U.S. oil production has caused gas prices to rocket. [Closing of "Stipper" wells] If you like that then you will embrace the 40% jump in your home electric bills. The loss of cheap electrical power and taxes to keep the Green Power movement alive is keeping our econmy below other nations such as China. The American tax payer in tax cost for one Kilowatt of coal power is .64 cents. The American Tax payers tax cost for one Kilowatt of wind power is 70 dollars. Not a good exchange but a standard for government run power projects. This does not take into account the loss of high paying American jobs. Wind mill workers are a small group on Mim. wages. The Power Companies don't profit? Who do you think owns the profit from this tax supported swindle. In my area it is Florida Power and Light. The Wind Mills are imported from Japan. Supporters of Obama are making a fortune.

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