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rob_liberti
07-01-2008, 08:53 PM
Any of you aikido folks out there willing to share your thoughts about how to live off the grid?

I was able to find some information online that you need a minimum of 12 miles per hour wind before using the wind could be worth it. There should be some ratio of wind to power that can be generated - but I can't find it. There should also be some ratio for running water (or a water fall) to power that can be generated.

Beside ground loops, some areas can be drilled for geo-thermal power. How do you figure out if this is possible in a location, how far down to drill, how much power can be harnessed (and what is it based on - I assume how it is down there and ajusted by how far the heat has to travel up?).

Same question about solar power cells.

Any recommendations on the best products for such things?

The only thing this really has to do with aikido, is that if I can work this all out, I'll power a dojo this way and be thoroughly in harmony with nature. :)

Rob

lbb
07-01-2008, 09:26 PM
Hi Ron,

WRT hydropower, the term used is "head" (get yer minds out the gutter, people!). It refers to a pretty much immediate drop in one place, either natural or artificially created. You need to have that drop naturally, or you're looking at major engineering work -- basically you need to create a diversion dam at one point, dig out a canal that follows the line of the river but drops at a lower rate, and continue it downstream until you have sufficient head. You can see an example of this here (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=monroe+bridge,+ma&ie=UTF8&ll=42.720613,-72.951429&spn=0.007929,0.018797&t=h&z=16) -- it's a google maps satellite view of a diversion dam near where I live. Right to the left of where it says "River Road", you can see the start of the diversion canal. The dam, which you can see if you scroll to the right a bit, redirects the majority of the river's water into the canal, it travels downstream for about five miles, and then they drop it all down and spin them turbines.

Another thing you can do with hydro, in conjunction with other power systems, is a pumped storage reservoir. Basically it's a reservoir up on top of a hill. When you've got extra power in your system that's just going to waste, you pump water up into the reservoir and fill it up. Then, later, when you need power, you drop that water back down, and again spin turbines. Think of it as a sort of water battery.

I'd like to hook up a wind turbine, myself, but apparently the regulation is a bit of a bear. Helluva thing, but you can't just hook one up in your yard and go, I guess.

HL1978
07-01-2008, 09:40 PM
What will you be powering? Lighting only or for heating/cooling as well?

Assuming you only need power for lighting, look into a 12v system rather than 120. You can power a lot of LEDs that way.

Look into using radiant heating, i.e. water/oil in the floor in which air is pumped in by a fan to heat/cool the water during off hours and release/absorb heat during the day.

http://www.certredearth.com/documents/LowEnergyHousing-Synertech.pdf explains some of the concepts

rob_liberti
07-01-2008, 10:30 PM
What I will be powering seems like the opposite question. As I look at prospective land to potentially buy, I want to know what I could power.

For instance, if I knew how to measure "head" from a waterfall on a property, and then convert that to into expected watts then I would start being able to make better decisions about which parcel is best to buy. I would also want to get a sense of what it costs to harness such energy - and what the major factors are. And I suppose it would be good to know the gotchas like - you are not allowed to put up a windmill on your land becuase whatever reason...

It seems like this info should be on a wiki somewhere but google hasn't been my friend on this one.

Thanks for your help.

Rob

jennifer paige smith
07-01-2008, 10:50 PM
What I will be powering seems like the opposite question. As I look at prospective land to potentially buy, I want to know what I could power.

For instance, if I knew how to measure "head" from a waterfall on a property, and then convert that to into expected watts then I would start being able to make better decisions about which parcel is best to buy. I would also want to get a sense of what it costs to harness such energy - and what the major factors are. And I suppose it would be good to know the gotchas like - you are not allowed to put up a windmill on your land becuase whatever reason...

It seems like this info should be on a wiki somewhere but google hasn't been my friend on this one.

Thanks for your help.

Rob

Check out this website. Many off grid families are using products and info from these folks in Wilits, CA, Real Goods.

http://www.realgoods.com/?gcid=S31185x001&keyword=real+goods
They've been in the game a long time. I hope that is some help

.As it happens I lived off grid last year in Cen Cal. Solar Power,solar pumped water from a stream, propane and firewood all were part of the energy pieces used in my house and most others, too. Lots more work than just throwing a switch now and again, but I can only encourage you to do it.

Kevin Leavitt
07-01-2008, 10:56 PM
One start is living more sustainably on the grid. For example in Virginia, we can choose our electric provider. I chose one that gets all of it's power from wind turbines hence I operate my home at Zero Carbon Emissions. It cost a few Kw cents more, but by also taking other energy saving measures it is not bad.

Trish Greene
07-02-2008, 12:05 AM
Hey there..check out this gentleman's blog. He has been off the grid for awhile and writes about his experiences...

http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/

My husband and I are building a cabin in the woods and looking how we can be off the grid as well..

eyrie
07-02-2008, 12:53 AM
One start is living more sustainably on the grid. For example in Virginia, we can choose our electric provider. I chose one that gets all of it's power from wind turbines hence I operate my home at Zero Carbon Emissions. It cost a few Kw cents more, but by also taking other energy saving measures it is not bad. I think Rob means being "self-sufficient"...

Kevin Leavitt
07-02-2008, 04:46 AM
No, I am pretty sure he meant sustainable

Focusing on his endstate which was "to be totally in harmony with nature". is what I see as important.

I would have bought "self sufficient" if he said "my goal is to be independent."

There is actually a cost to everyone being self sufficient in many ways.

I am a huge advocate of sustainability. In order to get there I think it requires us to be interdependent and to work together.

I live in Wash DC suburbs. It is impossible for each individual to erect our own power source independent of the grid. It is not reasonable asthetically nor financially.

However if you focus on sustainability and interdependence....there are alternatives out there NOW that allow you to accomplish the same things without having to wait for the future.

People will not change if they see it as hard or sacrificial in a big way. small changes matter. The ones we can do today.

What is the difference between choosing to be on the grid and getting your power from a totally green source from the "man" versus "doing it yourself".

getting it from the man demonstrates that he has a future in sustainable and green power and will gravitate to providing it.

IMO, if you are really concerned about harmony and sustainability, it is a BETTER choice to get it from the man, which drives down the cost when you deal with economies of scale and encourages others to make simple, small and economical choices that they can do themselves.

If you choose to do it by yourself, that is fine, but I don't think you have quite the economic or sociological impact.

Nothing wrong with living off the grid. There are many good reasons to pursue it. I will be building my house and dojo on 21 acres in the middle of Virginia in about 10 years. Living off the grid will probably make sense there as there is a huge cost in living on the grid and it probably won't make sense.

My point is this: there are choices that you can make today that are sustainable, don't cost much, and can have a significant impact on society.

It is important though, not to confuse the method with the endstate.

rob_liberti
07-02-2008, 06:10 AM
Thanks all.

I'm actually interested in both avenues.

It's just that I already know how to find companies that will sell me electricity that isn't from burning coal. So I suppose I am just needing help figuring out how to be self-sufficient and I didn't ask well enough.

Thanks for the links, please feel free to add any additional info to the thread, I assure you I'll be reading all of it and posting anything I learn to make it easier on the next person.

Rob

Kevin Leavitt
07-02-2008, 05:10 PM
Whatever your choice, I am with you on making it better for the next person!

eyrie
07-02-2008, 06:51 PM
FWIW, a friend of mine is going solar, but it doesn't quite generate enough kWh to match their current household usage, so they will still be dependent on the grid. The other problem is that it's dependent on weather/cloud cover.

Practically, I think you'll need a combination of various "technologies" (old and new) to generate enough power for heating, lighting and cooling - AND/OR "greener" design which would reduce the need for overall power consumption. Eg. skylights, double brick insulation etc.

If you're only planning to power a dojo and not generally livable space, I would think your power generation/consumption needs may be minimal - even negligible - well, if you don't plan to utilize it after dark. :D

brian donohoe
07-04-2008, 06:54 AM
A lot of the time people use different energy sources to do different jobs which then reduces the load on any one source. So then you get your hot water from solar panels your space heating from a heat pump or heat recovery ventilation and any lighting you need from a wind turbine. Solar panels should be enough to heat the water for showers in a dojo it should be just a matter of how many. heat recovery ventilation should have no problem heating a dojo particularly as I imagine what ever you build will be well insulated.
Most wind turbines have a battery buffer so that if there is only wind at times when you don't need the power the batteries store it till later a 3kW one should power the needs of a dojo on its own with out any other energy source. the local planing authority would be the place to go about restrictions on erecting a wind turbine. Most of the time they have to be a specific distance away from the building, somthing which might dictate the size of parcel of land you need. A good architect would be the thing to find, they should have no problem giving you the information you need

Cady Goldfield
07-04-2008, 02:09 PM
The couple who bought my parents' old house had an alternative energy firm come and dig 1,200' down into the ground to tap geothermal resources for both electrical use and heating, and now their house is totally off the grid. If you can afford that, you can skip all of the other stuff. ;)

I'm not off the grid -- still hooked up to utilities/natural gas, but eventually will go partially solar. Also, I use the woodstove for supplementary heating to reduce gas use. We get free firewood, thanks to the "significant other's" chainsaw collection. :)

We grow some of our own food using intensive horticultural practices, and get all of our fresh eggs from our own ducks and chickens (no chemical or hormone additives), who in turn get part of their nutrition from our kitchen scraps. Everything they poop out becomes compost to feed the kitchen garden. It's like a little eco-cycle.

rob_liberti
07-07-2008, 04:29 PM
How does someone figure out how far to dig down to tap geothermal resources? Would you PM me any info on the company used (if you know or have any hints)? I'm all for putting in the investment now for later.

But I love all of the other stuff too. Thanks for all of the excellent responses.

Rob

Cady Goldfield
07-07-2008, 07:28 PM
Rob,
No idea how they figured out how deep to drill, but it probably had a lot to do with research on the geologic structure of the area (seacoast continental crust). Actually, they drilled -two- 1,200-foot corings to tap the geothermics.

I know the homeowners told me the name of the company that did, it but I don't remember (they saw my brother and me ogling at what they had done to our old house, and invited us in for a tour. WOW! From a humble 19th-century ugly-duckling beach shack to a cutting-edge "green" home that is listed in a registry of energy-efficient houses in North America.)

Since they're in a registry that likely has a website, and I know their names (and address, of course), I'll see if I can Google some info and'll PM you whatever I find.

Dan O'Day
07-31-2008, 09:38 PM
My family and I spend time most summers in the Siskiyou mtns. in California's most northerly reaches.

I know a guy outside of Happy Camp who powers his entire house off an AC Delco alternator belted from from a turbine spun by water from a 2" pvc line which is diverted from a creek up on his property and then run back into said creek lower on down the way.

I think his drop is about 280 feet if I remember correctly. The Klamath Valley, however, is very narrow and the pretty much every which way you look is up. So it's not uncommon to get good head off the creeks for mini hydroelectric generation.

Anyway, he's been doing this for years and he says the old AC Delco alternator from an old Buick or something has run his deal for 10 years at a stretch. I can't remember all the conversion stuff he does or whetehr he does it at all. I think he just runs 12 volt and has an invertor for some items.

Or does he run a battery backup? I haven't seen him for a couple years so I don't remember many of the particulars.

I recently had a solar guy come out to my place and do an assessment on PV array, power generation, cost analysis with the net metering we have here in the rainy state.

The net metering we have is pretty cool. The utilities by law have to purchase your excess power and give you the payment in the form of a credit on your bill. So in the summer months, when we can generate alot of juice you can build up credit for winter months usage when, of course at our latitude less power can be generated from PV.

The only problem is initial cost. The rebate factor is minimal here in Washington. California used to - may still - have a great Fed and State rebate program which accounted for 50% of the inital cost outlay.

Here it's only about 10%. So a $20K array and hookup costs you $18K right off the bat. Lots of dough unless you do it yourself which takes time and some specialized knowledge.

Unfortunately I always have to do the time vs. money gig and it rarely works out for me to do larger projects on my own place. Unless they are over a period of years.

But anyway, photovoltaics have come along way. We just need some legislation to catch up so that we can get these on every rooftop, create a huge new industry that is domestically run and marketed and has exportable possibilities as well.

Dan O'Day
08-01-2008, 11:16 AM
Geothermal is pretty interesting. Here in WA you can go 600 feet to tap in. My understanding is you are sending water down and pumping it back up and then using heat/cool transfer device to tap the ambient temps. at depths in the ground.

Presumably something needs to run the pump and the heat transfer device thus one would still need to use electricity for that.

I installed a radiant heat floor system in a house a few years back. It had a concrete subfloor and what I did was install treated 2x4's flat at about 12" on center right on the concrete creating a pathway for the pex type water line to run.

Once the water line was in we then poured a lightweight "gypcrete" over it all flushing it out at the tops of the 2x4's to create the thermal mass necessary for efficient radiant heat.

A traditional tongue and groove hardwood floor was nailed and glued over that ( taking extra care to only nail into the 2x4's of course! ). The water line goes into a manifold, set above the flooring of course, which allows you to control flow, etc. except one doesn't really need to do anything.

To me the most interesting part was the actual water heater. It's called a Kombicore. It looks like a traditional water heater though inside it is a self contained maze of tubing like a car's radiator which the radiant floor water runs through. The rest of the space within the tank is for normal potable heated water.

Yes, you lose a bit of capacity for the potable water but it's negligable. The other fascinating thing was the pump itself. I had envisioned a stand alone pump which I'd have to run a dedicated 20 amp circuit for, etc.

But no...it was a little tiny thing about the size of a person's fist which drew only 1 or 2 amps.

Anyway...I did the job a few years back as I mentioned and a couple years later had occasion to visit the site on a snowy day with temps outside in the teens. I was absolutely amazed by the heat in that room. The most comfortable heat I have ever felt and I have a wood stove and live in snow country so I know comfortable heat.

All in all it was a very efficient system. You know, it's really exciting to learn how much technology and products exist in this arena. Even though it may be hard to figure out what's best for a given person's scenario it is nice to know the solutions are out there.