Y2k is dead (?), so let's talk about alternative energy.

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've brought this up before, in regards to prep, but now that we are done prepping (most of us, anyway), how about we share ideas and experience with alternative energy?

In my opinion, there are a lot of different forms of alternative energy that bear examination. Solar heating. Solar water heating. Solar electric. Alcohol for fuel for cars. Bicycles and bike trails. Inovative building techniques (earth sheltered, straw bale, adobe and both passive and active solar come to mind). Wind power. Hydroelectric. Solar pumping systems. Other pumping systems (like hydraulic rams, compressed air, hydraulic "lift" pumps, piggy back centrifugal pumps powered by water). Horizantal wells. Spring development. Gravity powered water supplies. Solar cars. Electric cars.Gas/electric hybrid cars. Fuel cells. Ground source heat pumps. Buried pipes for cooling. Solar greenhouses. Building orientation for solar heating and summer cooling.

How about trombes? Anyone have any useful data about trombe? Anybody ever HEARD of a trombe?

Whew! This is about all I can think of while typing at full (30 wpm) speed!

Obviously, I have my opinions and experience with some but not all of these systems. (Actually, I've been accussed of having an opinion about EVERYTHING, regardless of experience) But lots of you folks responded to a query I made almost a year ago titled something like "How many of us are actually USING alternative energy? So I know you're out there, and I know some of you are interested in this. (Not to mention the posts in the Alternative Energy section of "Older Messages".

Who wants to talk about this subject?

I have a suggestion, for starters. What are the most COST EFFECTIVE forms of alternative energy you know of? What are the MOST IMPORTANT forms, in your opinion?

Personally, I'm getting pretty bored with all the "this is OBVIOUSLY y2k connected" messages, and there doesn't seem to be too much else happening around here, at least not much that I find earth shaking. So let's talk ALTERNATIVE ENERGY!!!!


-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (jumpoff@ekoweb.net), January 08, 2000


I like this not only because it's a damn good topic in general (if not the prevailing one for the board) but because that no matter how else anyone feels in particular about Ed Y., he was damn sharp not simply to prep but to prep with long-term/renewable resources -- ie, his mentions that his house uses solar and wind power, v. practical in New Mexico I'd imagine, and that rather than stored water he sunk a well. As he's said, even if everything muddles through the year, then hey, that's a nice chunk of monthly bills knocked out. With further refinement of alternative energy processes, wider acceptance and understanding of them may yet result.

-- Ned Raggett (ned@kuci.org), January 08, 2000.

See the preps forum for more discussion on this topic. Hotlink under "About" on the New Questions page.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), January 08, 2000.

--the absolute #1 most cost effective form of alternate energy expenditure for most people is more insulation in their homes. By more insulation I not only mean more in the attic and walls, but upgrading windows, plugging holes where pipes and wires and cables go in and out of the home, etc. I was in the biz for awhile, and we always upgraded those items for people before doing any active or more costly solutions or rennovations. Much quicker payback, and an immediate upping of "quality of living" in the home. Less wear and tear on furnaces and airconditioning, much less dust and dirt inside, and a much quieter home.

Next best is dual-use passive systems, the attached greenhouse being really good for most folks. And by only adding thermal mass inside the greenhouse, a decrease of heating requirements in the winter is achievied, plus fresh good food year round, plus a morale booster by just having a really pleasant room to go sit and putter around in.

Next would come active hot water heaters, most places a rooftop solar collector of some form.

Next would come lessening electrical usage by using more efficient appliances as they need to be replaced, and starting on whichever combination of remewable energy sources work good for your location-that's a big variable, solar, wind, small scale hydro, maybe a woodfired boiler--whatever.

last is a conventional generating unit, diesel or propane or gasoline fired generator. Although these are expensive to run, they are VERY immediate, come in all sizes and for all budgets, and are a sure method of having immediate temporary power or even full time power.

In the long run, and if you have a sympathetic mortgage lender, starting from scratch and designing a home that "fits" is cheaper than modifying a conventional home. Then you can incorporate earth sheltering, etc in the over all plans. That is the best way to go, my opinion. Just get decent land with good water and go for it, even as a second "home".

there's some for ya


-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), January 08, 2000.

I am setting my house up with 1500 watts of panels, batteries and inverters. At our current electric consumption rate it will pay for itself in about 3 years. SOlar is becoming cheap enough to be a practical investment.

-- Forrest Covington (theforrest@mindspring.com), January 08, 2000.

Think I'm gonna go with a residential fuel cell, if I can get one of those no-interest 10-year city loans/rebates for it.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), January 08, 2000.


Could you lend us a hand in the following thread? Question has been posed for you by squirrel@hunter.com.


FWIW -- Extreme Fluctuations in River Level at Columbia River Hydro Stations

-- Interested Spectator (is@the_ring.side), January 08, 2000.


Well, we didn't see eye to eye about the chemtrail issue, but I'm willing to file that under the "What was That?" category, and forget for the time being.

I'm considering methanol and ethanol production...lots of cheap corn around here all year. Also have investigated other alternative fuels use in combustion engines Hydrogen Gas, Brown's Gas, Veggie Diesel etc. Considered setting up a solar trough for steam creation...heating, cooling, steam engine electrical generation are all possible with that technology.

Lisa...what's a residential fuel cell?

-- TM (mercier7@pdnt.com), January 08, 2000.

TM: here...

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), January 08, 2000.

Being "Tech Support" for a well known Canadian solar panel manufacturer, I think its a great idea to help educate people about energy choices they don't even know they have.

I think all forms of clean energy should be considered keeping in mind the most important first step is REDUCING our energy consumption to start with.

So by all means, lets keep the "pro-active" forces of this forum going, or any new forum,to help keep this little planet habitable until we find our way to the stars (Before the sun gets too hot for us to stick around). Not to worry , we have plenty of time for that, apparently.

The most important part of any "Alternative Energy" project is PROPER PLANNING starting with a very thourough and clear analysis of your COMSUMPTION HABITS and your future goals and needs. This raises issues of lifestyle and forces us to review our priorities. A very healthy exercise indeed for all.

It also entails a fair bit of research to find the more energy efficient systems and appliances to meet that lifestyle. The COST of such Projects can be a problem for the average family. This is why I beleive governments have a role to play and the responsability to encourage the introduction of these alternative energy technologies to the masses at reasonable cost levels for the average consumer. (Just like they financed space research) This is being done in many parts of the world today. We may be lagging behind the Europeans in this matter.

Great strides have been made in many areas of alternative energy including solar panels,hydro, wind power, geothermal and fuel cell technologies just to name a few. The European Community has been actively (FINANCING) supporting all types alternative energy technologies (specially solar power)through specific programs such as the "100,000 solar roofs" program in Germany.

By the way, advanced solar power and fuel cells technologies are a direct benefit resulting from the SPACE PROGRAMS which spearheaded the incredible exponential growth of the scientific body of knowledge (including microchips and computers)we are witnessing today. (Just giving credit where credit is due, Ok N.A.S.A.and E.S.A.)

The greatest TOOL TO RESEARCH your project of course remains the INTERNET / WEB SEARCH. The most incredible tool EVER for us "commoners" to find information about absolutely eveything you can imagine.

What an incredible world we live in ! Do what you can to protect it for your children and theirs.

Enough already, I'm IN ! After all, it is a NEW MILLENIUM !

Canuck Solar = Clean & Free

-- Mike Willems (michelwi@colba.net), January 08, 2000.

-- Ned Raggett >

Ned, hopefully we'll be able to see if it is really possible to save money in this way. Certainly some systems are more cost effective than others, at this point in time. I certainly agree with your expectation that further refinement will engender wider acceptance and understanding. What's both exciting and, at the same time, frustrating, is that wider acceptance and understanding will also engender further refinement (and lower cost, resulting in wider acceptance, ad nauseum)

Thanks Old Git, for mentioning the link "about". I assume you are referring to the Alternative Energy sectionn?

Zog, RIGHT ON! I can't believe I didn't mention insulation :o( You are SO right on this. Always do the cheap easy stuff first. It doesn't make sense to set up a multi thousand dollar active solar system if you're losing tons of heat through your leaky single pane windows.

In addition to all the very valid comments you made about attached greenhouses, I'd like to add that, even here in the Pacific Northwest, where the sun often doesn't bless us with its appearance for days or weeks at a time, a PROPERLY designed attached greenhouse save a lot of energy. For one thing, it acts as a buffer between the house and the outdoors. My greenhouse rarely drops below 40 degrees, even when the outside temp drops into the twenties for days at a time. So the temperature difference between my indoors (70) and the greenhouse (usually in the fifties, actually) is only maybe twenty degrees, as opposed to thirty, forty, or fifty degrees difference, if the greenhouse were not there. I'm not sure if I am making myself clear (better scientist than writer) Did anybody understand that?

The attached greenhouse may not need ANY auxilliary heat, either, as opposed to a typical freestanding greenhouse. The greenhouse catches much of the heat which escapes from the wall it shares with the house. Mine, just for an example, has only needed extra heat on ONE morning, last year. I opened the door between the greenhouse and the house for about a half hour to warm it up, when the greenhouse's temp dropped below thirty-five. Coldest temp any other time was forty-two. That one morning was the last day of a very cold, days long cold snap.

Also, on those special days when the sun DOES come out here, one can open up doors and windows between the greenhouse and the house, and provide much, or all, the heat necessary to keep the house warm.

The greenhouse can even help keep the house cooler in the summer, if designed properly. But I'll save that for another time.

Zog, you say, " Less wear and tear on furnaces and airconditioning, much less dust and dirt inside, and a much quieter home." Again, I agree. Also, a more uniform temperature inside the home, which makes it more comfortable, and also enables one to be comfortable at a lower heat setting, with resultant savings.

>Next would come active hot water heaters, most places a rooftop solar collector of some form.>

Zog, I'd like to get more information on this one. I've designed and made lots of passive systems, some of which I will be marketing in the future. I have found them to be incredibly cheap to build, as compared to active systems, but my systems are limited to warm weather only, because there is some danger of freezing up in cold weather. My impression is (and this is without ever doing any hands on research) that there is so much more insolation available in the summer that my systems are way more cost efficient that active ones. Any thoughts on this?

As far as more efficient applicances, I agree. I also recommend an efficient wood heater, if you live in an area with a good supply of wood, and which is rural enough to provide enough dilution for the smoke. Wood is, after all, renewable, as opposed to any fossil fuel, and it does not need any electricity to make it work. A good wood heater a real security blanket!

You are also right about the advantages to designing a house from the ground up, in order to maximize its energy efficiency. In addition to earth sheltering, which I like in most instances, there is the very easy and efficient idea of designing the house on a long east/west axis, and leaving trees or other shading on the east and west ends of the house, where they will shade the house in the summer, yet not shade the house in the winter, when the sun rises and sets way farther south than in the summer

Thanks a lot for your great ideas, Zog; btw,where do you live?

Forrest, thanks for the input re "1500 watts of panels, batteries and inverters". I'm really interested in hearing more about that, including how you are planning to have such a quick pay off. I investigated this basic type of system when I was prepping, but opted not to, because the equipment I found was going to cost over 40 cents per kilowatt hour,when figuring in wear and tear according to Charlie Collins (Mrsolar.com) This was way too much for me to spend, when I can get "grid power" for five and a half cents per kwh. Where'd you get your equipment? Do you have any figures for cost per kwh?

Lisa, this is another fascinating subject about which I know very little. I don't know anybody at all with any experience with this, either. I have a very rudimentary understanding of fuel cells, but I can't figure out where the fuel for the ones I have heard about for residential use comes from. I have requested this information from the only manufacturer I have ever heard of (can't remember their name offhand). They refused to give me any information, due to trade secrets, which is cool, I guess, but frustrating to me.

I do know that there has been a great deal of research into using fuel cells for automobiles, but can't for the life of me get any straight answers about where the fuel comes from. It COULD (if we could get enough efficiency out of solar panels someday) come from electrolysis of water, resulting in the splitting apart of the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water. The hydrogen would then be recombined with the oxygen in an internal combustion engine, or so I'm told. Also, some of the electricity needed for this electrolysis would presumably come from running an electric motor backwards, as a generator, to generate the power needed to electrolize the water, much like the hybrid cars of today are said to do, only their motors/generators charge a battery instead of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. So in a sense, the fuel cell is a hi tech battery of sorts.

Could you lend us a hand in the following thread? Question has been posed for you by squirrel@hunter.com.


FWIW -- Extreme Fluctuations in River Level at Columbia River Hydro Stations

-- Interested Spectator (is@the_ring.side), January 08, 2000.>

Spectator, I spent about an hour typing out some info on this a while ago. Go to the link; see what you think.

TM, how about if we agree to disagree about chemtrails?

As far as methanol and ethanol, I'm all for it. In fact, I did a very small amount of research on ethanol production, way back in 1977 or so (wow, that was before the net; no wonder I didn't get very far) What I had in mind was making ethanol from waste food sources. I started by querying my friend who worked at a local fruit processing plant, asking if I could get a hold of their spoiled fruit; figured it would be perfect for making ethanol, since it would be free or at least cheap. She said there was no fruit they didn't use. I explained I only wanted the stuff that was unfit for human consumption. She told me that the stuff I was referring to was all used. It was sold to a major baby food manufacturer, who she told me, simply adds sugar, salt, kills the mold by canning it and sterilizing it.... Gross! I got discouraged and started working on solar water heating instead.

For what it's worth, and I think it's worth a lot, I understand that Brazil converted all their vehicles to ethanol back in the 1960's.

Anyone know if this is true? Or is it anothe Urban Legend I've been spreading around for over thirty years?

Anyway, I know ethanol is a good fuel source, even though it has less BTU's per gallon than gasoline, and is less volatile when cold, and therefore requires some minor customization of your carburetor (hah- I'm dating myself; I suppose not too many people still have carburetors? I don't know what modifications are necessary if you have fuel injection on your vehicle) Anybody else want to take a shot at that one?

Methanol, I'm told, is a bit trickier, as it is alleged to be pretty corrosive, necessitating special fuel lines and such.

Why methanol and not ethanol?

Where can you get hydrogen gas? Can you expain Brown's gas? And the solar trough?

I've ALWAYS wanted to make a steam powered electric generator, ever since I lived off grid back in the seventies. I found a very interesting site for information on this, and yes, steam generator sales while y2k prepping:


Check it out! I got discouraged, though, because they tell me at this site that the steam engines are very inefficient, burn TONS of firewood, and are generally not recommended unless you have need for a whole lot of waste heat, which I don't. Does your solar trough produce the quantities of heat necessary to boil enough water (or other liquid) to run a steam engine?) I would be real excited if it does!

Mike, HI! I am very excited to have your input. I am unfortunately getting too tired to address the many interesting points you've brought up, but I agree with all of them. I will say in regards to "It also entails a fair bit of research to find the more energy efficient systems and appliances to meet that lifestyle. The COST of such Projects can be a problem for the average family. This is why I beleive governments have a role to play and the responsability to encourage the introduction of these alternative energy technologies to the masses at reasonable cost levels for the average consumer. (Just like they financed space research) This is being done in many parts of the world today. We may be lagging behind the Europeans in this matter. ", right on! I have been told, years ago, that if the US Government would swith I don't remember how many of their remote installations from gas generators to solar, the price of solar coud be reduced to some very reasonable amount. Sorry, I don't remember any specifice, and the numbers were only speculation anyway, but you get my drift. Also, my next door neighbor, a recently retired vice president of Unical Oil Co. told me not long ago that if the cost of oil were to return to the oost it was during the arab oil embargo of the early eighties, namely $10 per million btu's (I think was the number he gave me) we would be seeing solar cars NOW. But we have such a subsidized oil industry that the price of oil is very artificially depressed. He said he probably shouldn't say it, but he wished the price of oil would go up so we WOULD see this change.

I believe you are right that a lot of goverment programs are responsible for most of our hi tech computors, solar panels and more. So, government isn't ALL bad, folks!

To everyone who posted here, THANK YOU! I think this is a really exciting development. Now for a question which will reveal how truly computer illiterate I am:

Does anyone know a good way to keep a site to keep sharing info with each other strictly about alternative energy? I know we could just keep checking the "old posts", but these posts are, well, old. I guess we could ask the sysops to start a new board, to either parallel or replace the preparation board.

Any suggestions? (sysops, are you reading this?)

-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (jumpoff@ekoweb.net), January 09, 2000.

I personally built a small solar rig for the house, and it was a real pain in the butt. Mostly because I was using a wet-cell nicad battery bank, and it's non-standard voltage. I had some help from the equipment manufacturer, and some books, but it was still an constant adventure. Took awhile, and lots of frustration.

My biggest complaints were "I wish there were more people interested in this stuff, so there'd be some demand, so that there were some people locally that I could have help me" and "I wish that there was some standardization so that I wouldn't have to cobble this stuff together. "

At least I have a system that will run the well pump, and small appliances...Cost effective, no, satisfying to have, YES.

FYI, check out www.infinite-energy.com has plenty of info and puts out a magazine about new means of generating energy that you'll never hear about in the mainstream press. I can't vouch for their accuracy, but it's interesting.

Greenhouse idea would be very nice, if I could arrange it. Hard to do in my location, but that's an idea for the distant future. Forget solar water heating, as the house has a E/W orientation, so wouldn't get enough light. I could do it if I put the heating panels out where the solar panels are, but then I'd need a pump to move the water uphill...not very efficient.

-- Bill (billclo@blazenet.net), January 09, 2000.


Here's a site, though there aren't any messages at the moment (but still convenient, ehh?). ;-)

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=Renewable%20Energy% 20%2f%20Home%20Power

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), January 09, 2000.

Al -- Although ALL of these forums are irritating in the sense that it is awkward to work with "older" material, so lots gets repeated, the Prep Forum already has an alternative energy category. Why reinvent the wheel (though it's up to you)?

I am considering the thought of a simple web SITE page to tie together some of the prep and futures-oriented thinking that some of us enjoy, which might make it a bit easier to organize the things you are interested in, but not sure I have the "alternative energy" for it at the moment ..... helpers welcome (already have one).

Meanwhile, I'll link to this thread from the prep forum later today and encourage you, Al, to start MANY threads there that cover alternative energy topics (Don Kulha, at least, will join in, I'm sure).

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), January 09, 2000.

Forrest, how do you figure a 3-year payoff on solar?

When I looked at solar, the panels run about $5 per watt. Or $5000 per kw-hr. And the average solar exposure where I am is 3.5 hrs/day.

Assuming $0.25 per kw-hr (high I think since I'm paying less than $.10) and crunching the numbers at 3.5 kw-hrs per day for 3 years would cost under $960.

And then I haven't included other costs such as batteries (which will wear out), controllers, inverters, and installing the whole thing.

One of us has made an incorrect assumption or math error. Mine are here for review -- what are yours?


-- Mikey2k (mikey2k@he.wont.eat.it), January 09, 2000.

Hi, Bill, I checked out the infinite energy site; it's interesting all right. I've been peripherally following this debat for several years. I'm in the "I'll believe it when I see it" mode. Also, fission energy was touted as "clean", when I was a kid. I have a suspicion that if we did have a cold fusion process, there would be some radioactive "daughters" created from all the electrons flying around. But this is only speculation on my part, as I am not at all well informed on this. I liked the part about all the scientists trying to debunk the Wright brothers' claims to have a flying machine!

Re solar water heating, the orientation of the house shouldn't be that big a deal. For one thing, the panels need not be on the roof. The main consideration is that they (or it) be at least a few inches lower than the bottom of the tank. I don't know why you'd have to pump water "uphill". Isn't your water already pressurized? If so, it wouldn't matter where the panels are (oops, maybe where you are referring to about your solar electric panels is way down hill from your house, or something? Unless you have a very shady spot, you can do solar. Maybe you have too many objects shading your house/yard?

By the way, a really excellent way to site a passive solar water heating sysem is to put the panel on a first floor roof, adjacent to a second story wall, with the tank just inside the wall. Not always possible, of course, but it's about the ideal, unless you don't mind having the panel on the ground.

Dang, Deb, I tried to go to this site (I would have remedied the problem of no messages there), but it wouldn't open. Have you tried it lately?

Big Dog, thanks for the tip; I have already reinvented the wheel many times over the years. I hope to learn not to do that eventually. I don't understand what exactly you have in mind for organizing a site. I might have time to help, but I have to warn you I'm not very computer literate, I have a five or six year old Mac 636 CD, and my honey thinks I was born without the proper genes in the organizing department. I've been called Dr.Entropy by those who love me, on occasion, when they aren't calling me the "Ent"

Meanwhile, thanks for transferring this post to the Prep Forum. I actually considered posting it there, but it seemed that 1) the traffic there has come to a near standstill, and 2)on the alternative energy section, there was a lot of non alternative energy topics. Maybe this is normal, don't know. By the way, I have trouble remembering who lives where on this forum; there have been so many folks here; but don't you live in my ex home state of Texas?

Mikey2k, I share your confusion on the cost effectiveness of Forrest's solar setup. I am waiting for his clarification with bated breath! I so want to find a photoelectric system to own and love...

As I said above, Charlie Colling estimates over 40 cents per kilowatt hour, which to me means you will NEVER have a payback, at least monetarily. However, there are other benefits, like social consciousness, environmental responsibility, etc.

This is why I was wanting to see what folks thought about the relative cost effectiveness of various types of alternative energy. I KNOW some alternative energy systems are not only cost effective, but actually have very short paybacks. Some are basically free, like planning the design of your house to take advantage of the sun and shade in winter and summer, planning to have as many living spaces, and as much of your glazing, as possible on south wall, long east/west axis, etc.

Wood heat comes in as a very cost effictive source of heat, too, if you can cut the wood yourself, and don't have to spend a fortune on truck expenses driving too far to find it.

Someone on another thread mentioned his "solar clothes dryer" I have one of these, too, and mine is supplemented by wind (think about it)

Anybody figured out what a trompe is yet????


-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (jumpoff@ekoweb.net), January 10, 2000.

Hello Al,

are you perhaps referring to a trombe wall ?

If so, it's a piece of wall painted a dark colour, behind a piece of glass. It should be situated (generally under the overhang of a roof) where the winter sun (not the summer sun) strikes it, and warms it. (Thermal mass) The glass acts as an insulator, slowing the heat loss.

I've never done it, but have seen it at a house that had no connection to any utilities. (Solar power, Rain (maybe borehall) water, Waste processing with a biogas digester - with piped methane for cooking, lighting etc.)

There is a fascinating book about a family that retrofitted a house to make it energy efficient in Australia (will find the title, ISBN etc for you if you are interested.) Also, Bill Mollison's Permaculture book has some very basic ideas on energy efficiency, like using a greenhouse and shadehouse for heating/cooling)

I am also very interested in alternative energy (amazing book called The Coming Energy Revolution) and look forward to looking at all the sites mentioned by other posters here.

-- (indigoseahorse@hotmail.com), January 10, 2000.


I opened it up yesterday before I posted the URL here... There weren't any posts on it, but I thought it might be a convenient meeting spot for those who wanted wanted to talk about this subject. I hope it wasn't shut down for good. :-(

BTW, can anyone recommend any good books on solar energy, please? I've seen a few up for bid on Ebay and am wondering if they're worth the money... Thanks!

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), January 10, 2000.


Please try this URL, I was just able to get onto the board and there are a few messages... It's listed under Greenspun's "Inactive" messageboard list, but there are messages from earlier this past week and it looks like we can still post...

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=Renewable%20Energy% 20%2f%20Home%20Power

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), January 10, 2000.

Arrrrgggghhh! Ok, that URL doesn't work now either... Ok, here's how to get to the board "Renewable Energy":

A.1. http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/all-forums.tcl 2. Scroll down to the "Renewable Energy" line and double click to enter.


B.1. Go to http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/

2. Click on "List all forums (including inactive ones)."

3. Repeat step A.2. from above.

YES, you can post on that forumn - I just posted a question there myself. Sorry for the confusion! :-(

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), January 10, 2000.


I know what you mean about "wait til I see it mode" concerning cold fusion. It looks great, but have to see an operating unit first. It appears that most of the development money is being spent overseas, as our Energy Dept isn't interested in the competition. They'd rather give massive subsidies to their buddies in the oil and nuclear industries. A technology that threatens their relationship with big business and big money must scare them.

As for solar heating, I haven't researched it thoroughly. I was under the apparently mistaken impression that the heating panels needed to be higher than the tank to allow gravity feed. I do have pressurized water here (solar well pump/household water), but thought that I needed to pump the water back to the pump, since there isn't a good spot to put the panels on the roof. Hmm...maybe more research is needed. Thanks fella, you just gave me another project to add to my already long list of things to do... :)

I've made good progress in reducing my energy consumption, but rather seriously doubt that I'll be able to sever the tie to the grid entirely. Certain appliances aren't practical on batteries, like furnace, and AC. Have a wood stove, but there are times when I just don't feel like firing it up and feeding it every 1/2hr.

-- Bill (billclo@msgbox.com), January 10, 2000.

Bill, I agree that oil and nuclear is subsidized, not to mention the highways and automobiles, and jet travel. Wouldn't it be nice if a substantial part of these funds were funnelled over to solar energy? I feel confident that solar could be a happening thing in very short order. I mean, it already is a happening thing, but it's still so darn expensive!

As for solar water heating, there are several different designs. One design calls for the panels up on the roof. When a sensor tells a pump that the panels are hot enough, the pump circulates water through the panels. When there's no sunshine, the pump doesn't pump. Hence, there's never any water in the panel when it's cold and dark, and little risk of freezing. Another (my favorite) design is PASSIVE. In this form, the tank is slightly HIGHER than the panel. When the sun hits the panel, the water in the panel is heated. Hot water is less dense than cold water, so the heated water from the panel rises through a pipe into the tank. Cooler (and therefore less dense) water from the bottom of the tank subsides down a pipe to the bottom of the solar panel.

Bill, you might also consider buying a more advanced wood heater. The new ones will produce way more heat and way less smoke on a given volume of wood. Actually, I'm extrapolating here; the new stoves in Orgeon ALL have to meet these criteria. They also don't need to be fed wood very often--only every few hours, typically, in my experience.

-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (jumpoff@ekoweb.net), January 10, 2000.

seahorse, Nope it's not a trombe wall. (by the way, if you ever want to do a trombe wall, make sure to have provisions to cover the glass at night with insulated panels. The trombe wall has the one drawback that the wall itself, being the hottest part of the house, after being heated all day in the sun, radiates LOTS of heat right out through the glazing, otherwise.

-- jumpoff joe a.k.a. Al K. Lloyd (jumpoff@ekoweb.net), January 10, 2000.

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