To generate or not to generate (and solar)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Dear hubby says:
We already own a small (cheap) generator. If everyone is without power it would probably be dangerous to even run that thing. Kind of like taking out an ad that says: "WE ARE STOCKED - DON'T YOU WANT TO COME AND STEAL SOME OF THIS TO FEED YOUR HUNGRY CHILDREN???". If things are that bad, we'll just heat/cook with wood and wash our clothes in the creek like everyone else.. Yes we can afford the complete solar/generator/battery setup, but it's not a priority. We should plan to just hunker down, save the cash for other stuff...
We can afford a complete solar/ propane generator / battery / inverter set up, *if* we think that should be a high priority. If things get that bad, we won't be able to get the components later. Solar is *quiet*. If things stay normal, its a good thing to do for the earth, and a mighty fun gadget to work with. It would really come in handy if the rest of the country is in good shape, but our rural hamlet is one of the 'local' areas of failure...
You can join our debate:
You should know that we already left the city and are living semi-isolated among pleasant prepping neighbors. We are stocked on food, non-hybrid seeds, cash, gold, weapons and ammo. We have a wood burning stove and plenty of wood. We have the know-how to 'hunker down', grow food, and a reliable source of water..
What do you think we should do next? Berry
-- Berry Picker (BerryPicking@yahoo.com), September 27, 1999
Shouldn't this maybe be in the "prep" forum? What I'd do: go solar. What we did: bought new batteries for our system- big 2 volt cells, should be good for 20 years based on our past experience with similar stuff. Bought new blades and governer for our old wind generator so it should be good for 20+ more years before work is needed on it. Installed a new trace inverter that can run everything we need, and a lot we don't need to use. Got a good generator to use for nothing but charging the batteries. It's a 3 kw 24 volt dc unit with oil and fuel filters, etc., for long life. Reinstaled the PV panels on a tracker to optimize output and to allow us to install them in a place close to the buildings and still not obvious to passersby. Like my wife says, now we are back to where we were 20 years ago when it comes to self-sufficiency. Living with utility electricity can sure screw up your priorities. (we moved a while ago, to an existing house with public electricity, and just used what was there) We first installed a wind generator system (in 1977) because we didn't want to support the nuclear power industry by buying their product, and we have never regretted having the hardware and the knowledge to produce our own electricity.
-- Jim (Jiminwis@yahoo.com), September 27, 1999.
Got my 500W Pannels, 2KW inverter and batts last year, It is a good investment if you live outof the city even if y2k is not too bad, already have used it in a couple of power outages.....
-- Helium (Heliumavid@yahoo.com), September 27, 1999.
I think photoelectric is only useful in third world countries, where you are more than a few MILES outside the grid, or for environmental consciousness. Except for small emergency backup systems. It is extremely costly, and has a payback time longer than you will live.
I'm planning on installing a small solar pumping system, because it's about the least expensive, and most necessary system I can find. Also, there are no costly, messy batteries to deal with.
On the other hand, many aspectgs of solar space heating are practically free (e.g. orientation, and not clearing trees from the east and west sides of your house).
Solar water heating, if you build your own, or buy from a reasonable person, can be EXTREMELY cost effective for those who live in warmish climates, or for use in cold climates during warm seasons.
If anyone's interested, I'll post an email for a company (quicksilver enterprizes) who will sell you plans or parts for some types of them. Mine cost under $100, (but I already had an old "dead" electric hot water heater to use for a tank) They also have plans for a really basic, no tank system which works great if you can time your hot water use for daylight hours.
-- Al K. Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 27, 1999.
I would like that e-mail addy, please. Thank you!
-- marsh (email@example.com), September 28, 1999.
It's a little late in the game to be having such thoughts -- you should have considered the pros and cons of adding solar energy at the beginning of this year, not at the end of September. You might be able to order some panels and inverters and hope that they'll arrive before the end of the year. But getting them installed, set up, and "tuned" for optimal usage is a non-trivial exercise.
Depending on where you live, the solar panels might or might not be just as visible as your generators, in terms of attracting attention from neighbors...
-- Ed Yourdon (HumptyDumptyY2K@yourdon.com), September 28, 1999.
Up here near Minneapolis, you do NOT want to be without power in the winter. Temps in January of 20 deg BELOW ZERO are COMMON. Solar is not really an option here. It is evident that you are in a "warm" area that gets lots of sun, or you wouldn't be talking about solar.
Those of us in life-threatening climates can't be quite so choosy. My generator will be running, and I have the weaponry (and ability/desire) to defend our home.
-- Dennis (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 28, 1999.
I don't think that living in the north is a reason not to use some solar electric generating capacity. I'm located a bit east of Minneapolis and find that it is sunny enough for me to justify the $$$ that I've spent over the years on my PVs and related equipment. Of course, it's not like in Arizona where it ought to be illegal
not to actively use solar energy, but the sun shines enough to make it practical as a back up source of energy even if you are on the utility grid like we are at the present time. As an example of what can be done around here, look at what the folks at Countryside magazine have done- solar, wind, and steam.
-- Jim (email@example.com), September 28, 1999.
"It's a little late in the game to be having such thoughts -- you should have considered the pros and cons of adding solar energy at the beginning of this year, not at the end of September. You might be able to order some panels and inverters and hope that they'll arrive before the end of the year. But getting them installed, set up, and "tuned" for optimal usage is a non-trivial exercise."
Currently there's no problem getting any solar type equipment I know of except for windplants (and at the Flagstaff solar fair there were many to be had....so I bought one). The market is flooded with PV (solar) panels at the best prices I've ever seen (at Flag BP 75w panels were $325, 80w Kyoceras were $350). Ordered a 2500w Trace sinewave for a friend two weeks ago and it arrived 3 days later. The set-up isn't all that difficult (dead easy if you have/pay the dealer do it). Ed is right that you are a bit late in doing this but completing a system by years end shouldn't be too difficult.
Actually if you are set-up to get by sans solar just add enough to run a few lights/radio and call it good. It will really make your life much more pleasant....it's not fun listening to the genny.
DCK Home Power Magazine http://www.homepower.com
-- Don Kulha (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 28, 1999.
Berry, In normal times, I would think that solar would be a great idea depending on your location. But a this late date, anything installed now outside would only attract attention from your neighbors. Like your husband, I too worry about the noise produced from my generator giving out an invitation to unprepared people. In my case, I am only going to run the generator about 20 minutes a day only to run the well to fill the water containers and run the septic pump. I am doing everything I can to muffle the sound. There is a link somewhere on this forum on ways to do this. I also have a very loud Cummins Diesel in my pickup truck that will be running while the generator is running. That should mask the sound a little. My neighbors are use to me warming my truck outside for 30 minutes as I also live in Minnesota. It really gets cold here.
-- Bill (email@example.com), September 28, 1999.
If I can somehow spring the $ to do it I plan to build about twenty of my 36-LED arrays and drivers and light my house up with them. At 1.2 watts per unit at full brightness, I figure I can do the job with a single 75-watt PV panel, 10 Ah 12-volt gel cell, and a decent charge controller. And I'd have PLENTY of surplus power if I'm only using 25 watts continuously for lighting with a 75-watt panel to recharge with.
My cooking was recently swapped from electric to gas (I can run the stove's digital controls off an inverter tied to the PV/batt system as it only pulls about 100 watts to run when it's not igniting the gas) and my heater has been gas for the longest time (same deal with its blower motor) so if I can pull it off I'll set up a PV/batt system capable of handling the heat and cooking as well as the lights.
Solar's great if you can afford it...
-- OddOne (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 29, 1999.
Marsh, that address is:
Quicksilver Enterprizes, email@example.com
Let me know which system you get!
-- Al K. Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 29, 1999.
I have been installing solar for almost 9 months now, and I'm still not done. Yeah, it took awhile to get delivery, and getting the solar powered well drilled and equipped was the first priority. Finding and getting the batteries took some legwork (and they are heavy!). I finally determined that I didn't have the expertise to install the house system (other than building and wiring the array), and I tried to find an electrician to help.
Well, guess what? Nobody in the area had ever installed one or knew how they worked. So after many calls to the dealer and going through the various instruction manuals that came with each component, I finally got it installed. But the inverter is defective and I'm waiting on a replacement to arrive.
All I'm saying is that it is a bigger job than you realize and unless you're very good or very lucky, you are cutting it pretty close if you're thinking about going solar now.
-- Dog Gone (email@example.com), September 29, 1999.