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The April Energy Update Expand / Collapse
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Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 8:24 AM
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Robert -



Excellent question. What I would do is to use the battery that has stored the e- from the light hours. Or go out to the beach with an open fire, grill a little dinner, invite a friend or two, and sleep in the open air.

We can not think that life ends if there is not a lot of e-.

Have a great day.


Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
Post #489313
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 8:39 AM
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The unfinished area of our basement is very dark, so I've tried numerous things to provide walk lighting (so you can find the switch for the overhead lights) without burning a lot of electricity. The best thing so far is a 0.6 watt LED bulb that provides far more light than the 7 watt incandescent that it replaced.

The garage end of the house is also a dark area, so I've installed a 1.8 watt LED bulb there for outside security lighting (primarily for my wife's peace of mind, as we live in a very safe area). The LED bulb is functionally equivalent to the 40 watt incandescent it replaced (no dark corners for someone to hide in). And even with this low power, there's a dusk/dawn sensor on the light.

There are a lot of opportunities for low power solar use. Even the 1.5 watt solar panel that Harbor Freight frequently puts on sale for $10 could keep a 12 volt SLA battery charged to handle LED nightlights and some outside lighting.

We use captured rainwater for garden irrigation and I'm currently designing a small solar powered pump system to get the water to the uphill sections of the yard. A pump that draws 1.8 amps for 2 hours a week (3.6AH), combined with a 12AH battery and a solar panel that produces 120 milliamps for 6 to 8 hours a day. 120ma * 6 hours * 6 days = 4.3AH, which will fully recharge the battery - this allows for 1 day each week with zero sun (we don't usually have more than this during the growing season). The additional battery capacity (12AH) allows for more cloudy days and extends the battery's life (lower percentage discharge in normal use). In addition, the solar panel provides some charge during the non-peak hours. The total cost for the solar panel, battery, and pump is about $100US.

None of these things has a major impact on the use of resources, but lots of little things add up.

If you want specifics on the parts mentioned, send email to rain at wizardanswers dot com.

John





Post #489333
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:07 AM


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John,

Those sound like very interesting projects. Are they written up anywhere? You want to write an update for me sometime ;)?

The greenness of technologies is always an issue. I've heard that despite the power savings we'll get with CF bulbs, the waste problem is large and with incandescents disappearing in the US soon, that's something to think about. I like LEDs, but the cost has to come down. And I need to see how well they work compared to other technologies.

Renting solar is a good idea. I wish I had more choices there, or even some rebates here to help things along. Alas my co-op is not very interested as of yet in trying to make things work better.

Most tidal power doesn't depend on wind. However I'm still concerned about the durability of the devices.

What do you do when there's no wind (or solar, etc)? That's a good question. If you have everyone in an area using wind and it dies, then the grid takes a hit. However if we still have a national grid, then hopefully some other area has less of a demand because they have wind or solar or geo or something. I still think that if we can reduce our dependence on big power plants, especially fossil fuels, then we're better off. Maybe we have more, smaller generators that kick on to handle the lack of wind. Maybe we use flywheels or compressed air to "store" energy.

Lots of choices, we just need these industries to grow with demand and bring costs down. And probably most importantly to me, we need builders to start building everything with lower energy requirements, more efficiency, or alternative technologies integrated.

Hey, no one likes my "build in fridge" idea?







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Post #489365
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:40 AM


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Steve Jones - Editor (4/23/2008)
John,

Those sound like very interesting projects. Are they written up anywhere? You want to write an update for me sometime ;)?

The greenness of technologies is always an issue. I've heard that despite the power savings we'll get with CF bulbs, the waste problem is large and with incandescents disappearing in the US soon, that's something to think about. I like LEDs, but the cost has to come down. And I need to see how well they work compared to other technologies.

Renting solar is a good idea. I wish I had more choices there, or even some rebates here to help things along. Alas my co-op is not very interested as of yet in trying to make things work better.

Most tidal power doesn't depend on wind. However I'm still concerned about the durability of the devices.

What do you do when there's no wind (or solar, etc)? That's a good question. If you have everyone in an area using wind and it dies, then the grid takes a hit. However if we still have a national grid, then hopefully some other area has less of a demand because they have wind or solar or geo or something. I still think that if we can reduce our dependence on big power plants, especially fossil fuels, then we're better off. Maybe we have more, smaller generators that kick on to handle the lack of wind. Maybe we use flywheels or compressed air to "store" energy.

Lots of choices, we just need these industries to grow with demand and bring costs down. And probably most importantly to me, we need builders to start building everything with lower energy requirements, more efficiency, or alternative technologies integrated.

Hey, no one likes my "build in fridge" idea?


The "no access" argument might work for Wind power, but not solar. Short of being above the arctic circle - there really shouldn't be a whole lot of concern about being in an area with insufficient solar supply. Most everywhere has enough solar irradiance to make a substantial dent.

Take a look at this - this is the NREL solar radiance for North America (I'm using this as an example, since it's stuff I've researched for myself; I'm sure we could find the same for other regions - just wouldn't know where to go seeking this stuff right now).

http://www.findsolar.com/solar_radiance.pdf

Given the average consumption in a typical house is somewhere just shy of 900kWh/month, and the typical irradiation is somewhere around 5, you're talking about somewhere in the ball park of 60-75 square yards of solar panels to handle 100% of the household usage, which would be mean you'd have ample coverage with the area covered by the roof.

The concern is the cost in that case....(the manufacturing process have been greatly improving, so the "this is not green" argument is starting to lose its punch; photovoltaic material manufacturing still seems to have a 90% decrease in airborne pathogens and greenhouse gases over traditional energy generation techniques in the US).


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Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part...unless you're my manager...or a director and above...or a really loud-spoken end-user..All right - what was my emergency again?
Post #489420
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:09 PM


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Don't forget that while you might have the panels to power your house, the power is only there part of the day. You need a storage system of some sorts, usually batteries now, that is fairly expensive.






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Post #489659
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:16 PM
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A very good topic steve. We may found new source of energy day to day but how many of us are thinking of saving energy. We keep our monitor on while we go to cafe, we forget to put our water tap off, we forget to switch off the unnecessary lights.

Guys give a thought on this........

Save energy to stay happily in the world.



Post #489663
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 5:10 AM
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A very interesting topic you have today. Us staying in South Africa are learning firsthand how important it is to prepare for Electricity Blackout. Our country power stations has not been maintained for the past 14 years and now we have blackouts without warning on a daily basis which lasts no less than 4 hours at a time. Our trips to work in the morning now takes us 2 hours to travel 12miles(20km) with traffic lights not working. Arriving at our office with no power to drive our call centres pc`s or switchboards has put another perspective on our daily support function. Our clients now find themselfs with corrupted databases.(I rebuild approc 20 daily). This has been happening the past 2 months and generators are unobtainable to purchase. We were and still are totally unprepared. Talk of "DARKEST AFRICA" is now the reallity. One of our previous prime minister preached of "The black danger". We thought he was talking about the black majority about to take over our country. Now we know he was refering to ESCOM our local power supplier.
Post #489801
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:32 AM
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The US Powergrids are substantial. I am completely opposed to use of storage devices for collecting solar as then you are dealing with hazardous lead acid or other batteries. Then what do you do with the waste. That is a solution for hermits who just want off grid. I prefer the method of put on enough solar\wind\geothermal resources to equal or exceed your annual average usage and feed back to the grid. Then you are helping others as well as pushing to the grid when you are gone for the day which is also when there is a very high electricity demand for commercial. Why not get others using 'green' power with or without their knowledge. In the US power companies MUST let you back feed to the grid. If they don't a fairly simple legal action will allow you to. There is just something about watching your power meter spin backwards. This also helps to wash your utility bill.
Post #489854
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 7:37 AM


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Storage is important to protect yourself. California had rolling brownouts and blackouts a couple years ago because of power issues.

I do think you should feed back the grid when you can and most systems do this. However if the grid goes down, your solar/wind/etc. system shuts down. The reason is that it can't "energize" the grid as that's a danger to a lineman looking to repair something. So you need some sort of of short term storage.

Out here we have a generator, so now the grid-connected systems start to make sense. Most people might not need a generator and would go with $2-3k in batteries instead of $5-10k for a generator.








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Post #489923
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 8:14 AM
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The other HUGE issue is that we as humans and especially americans have lost a very important ability. Survival.

So the power is out. Who cares. You can't use your microwave. Your refrigerator and freezer are now just coolers.

This is not an issue for short periods of time. A small generator (<$1000) can sustain life for a darn long time (given that it is not heating season.) Yes we will have to change our lifestyles but it is all in what you are willing to do. People should be looking to decrease energy needs\consumption then they will be greener as well as not feel the hurt so much when a rolling blackout hits.

A gas stove, gas water heater, gass furnace (*need elec. for the fan) eliminates your inability to cook, stay warm. The furnace fan and fridge would be the key items that need a generator. During a blackout you just can't watch evening tv. Find a book and candle.

Long story short... slow down life. We have a hard time removing ourselves from the fast lane but if we embrace the slow lane i think we will be much more pleasing people to deal with.
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