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Old 01-27-2014, 01:41 PM   #1
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Solar backup

I don't know a lot about these things, and a lot of the stuff I've been looking at on the web is so wide and varied it's getting a bit confusing. I would like a system just big enough to power my furnace & fridge plus maybe a few lights if the power goes out for more than a couple hours up to a couple days, I'm thinking in the 1.5 - 2Kw range. I would like one of those all in one kits so that a guy that grew up in the lego generation can just follow the simple directions and snap parts together and plug stuff in. It look like I could get better stuff cheaper by buying pieces separately but then I'm afraid I'd be lost trying to get it all put together. Anyone recommend a system or know of the best parts to try and put together that are fairly simple to install?
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:53 PM   #2
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http://www.wholesalesolar.com/produc...dPackages.html

http://sunelec.com/

http://store.sundancesolar.com/power...h-usb-adapter/

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/PV/pv.htm

http://www.mrsolar.com/page/MSOS/CTG...r#.UubG9fso7Gg



http://store.sundancesolar.com/solar...nd-cabin-kits/
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:25 AM   #3
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I see ancona beat me to it - the google-fu is strong with this one. There are *tons* of places who'd love to sell you a kit.

But it's BS. You are talking the two most heavy drains on almost any system - and your numbers seem quite low for drain compared to what I've measured here, with the most efficient stuff money can buy (lots of money). A dorm-room (tiny) fridge draws well past 250w, and the older they (same one) gets, the more they draw, and the more often they run. What kind of furnace? Only a circulated water/propane furnace comes in at those kind of levels. Anything with a blower is going to draw about 2kw/hp of blower (because the motors skimped on the copper and iron, though ore-efficient ones are possible to buy at high cost - a hp is only really 750w, but...50% efficient induction motors, at best, are the norm - the manuf doesn't have to pay your electricity bills, and designs accordingly).

If you haven't, get a kill-a-watt and actually measure that stuff. You're in for a shock...quite a lot of things draw what we call "vampire loads" even when you think they are off, on top.

If what you are thinking is actually just backup, I'll save you a few tens of thousands right now.
Buy a generator. Last I checked, a 3.3 kw one at the hardware store was about $359. A few cans of fuel and you're good to go. Expensive to run, yes. But you said "backup" not "base load". Which implies rare use. IF you want the latest/greatest, think of a newer, more expensive, inverter-generator. Those don't have to run at 3600 rpm even at no load to make 60hz (if you're in the US, if elsewhere, scale by 50/60) and are far more efficient at "idle" but still some load. I paid about $1k for mine (rated 1kw, but it has my batteries and inverter working together, so it only has to make my average drain, not the peak) - Chinese clones are about half that. Even that - I had to bring it in and warm it up, as it would not start at the <10F we just had here. That model (Honda) couldn't be adapted to my super duper electric start (makita drill, socket drive, spin via the flywheel nut till it starts) as there's junk in the way.

Regardless, you'll want to do some electrical wiring so your critical circuits can switch between the grid power and whatever backup you use in a legal fashion. It's a huge no-no to push power out into the grid when it's down..you'll probably just burn your own stuff out, but you might kill a repairman if you don't.

Sure, there's other options...A Xantrex inverter, batteries...generator - no need for solar except for very extended periods of outage (weeks-years).

I DID build my own system, documented heavily on my forums. Cost a number of 10's of thousands to do it (around $40k). Runs one dorm fridge, heaters don't draw power at all (propane and wood), and even then, right now, I'm running a generator, as my panels are all snow-covered. Hopefully the waste heat from that will melt the snow off a few, so they can see that it's dark outside in the daytime due to the snowing conditions anyway.

Much as I'd love to push pure solar (or nearly pure as I have) - you have to want it for reasons other than a mere backup once in awhile before it's even remotely a reasonable thing to consider. Even if it's your base power, as in my case, most investment analysis would say - boy, you should just stack gold or something else. In my case, it allowed me to build my homestead without building permits, and ancona and others here can probably tell you how much that has saved me over the years and initially...but that will only work if you start in the boonies with raw land - so your house can wind up being taxed as a storage shed, as is the case here.

The fridge is actually the very worst load I own. I can choose not to weld or not to run the mill. The fridge comes on when it damn well pleases. In the early days, I even put it in an unheated building in the woods, and ran it's thermostat on the warm end just to keep from having to have huge batteries I could not afford.

Note - a 24kwh battery pack is really only good for about 1/10th that a day. Panel specs are, shall we say "optimistic" as well. You won't be happy with any "kit" that takes less than a tractor trailer to bring, and forklifts for the batteries.

If, after all that, you still want solar, I'll be glad to help you with my 30+ years of practical experience designing and then living on my own system, which contains parts from way back then, and stuff bought last year, all combined.

Here's a bit of education:
http://www.coultersmithing.com/forum...014f3bc4802f27
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:28 PM   #4
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Our furnace is natural gas, it's a high efficiency and it's only a few years old, I haven't checked but I seem to recall the wattage for the fan was 650. I wouldn't be looking to run everything at once, just the furnace for 1/2 hour here and there to keep it above say 50 or 60 degrees and the fridge and a light bulb or two in between times. I can shut down most of the house through the circuit breakers and the furnace has it's own breaker. One of the reason I don't want to rely on a gas generator is if you heard any stories from sandy & katrina people with gas generators became huge targets as they could be heard from miles away. I would think about wind generator as well but that would require a special permit just for the tower and other problems as well. Like I said this would only be used with the idea of a temporary backup, so whatever the initial battery charge held then over the course of a day or two whatever it could recharge would have to make do. I've also heard that solar systems work best in cold weather, and that's when I'd need it most, but even in the summer I could still use it to run my fridge and bigger freezers cause usually in the spring I stock up with easily well over a thousand dollars in meat, so when we had a 5 1/2 hour blackout here a couple of Septembers ago, I was starting to get worried. I was getting ready to bring the battery backup for the computer downstairs to plug one of them into that.

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Old 01-28-2014, 01:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
I see ancona beat me to it - the google-fu is strong with this one. There are *tons* of places who'd love to sell you a kit.

But it's BS. You are talking the two most heavy drains on almost any system - and your numbers seem quite low for drain compared to what I've measured here, with the most efficient stuff money can buy (lots of money). A dorm-room (tiny) fridge draws well past 250w, and the older they (same one) gets, the more they draw, and the more often they run. What kind of furnace? Only a circulated water/propane furnace comes in at those kind of levels. Anything with a blower is going to draw about 2kw/hp of blower (because the motors skimped on the copper and iron, though ore-efficient ones are possible to buy at high cost - a hp is only really 750w, but...50% efficient induction motors, at best, are the norm - the manuf doesn't have to pay your electricity bills, and designs accordingly).

If you haven't, get a kill-a-watt and actually measure that stuff. You're in for a shock...quite a lot of things draw what we call "vampire loads" even when you think they are off, on top.

If what you are thinking is actually just backup, I'll save you a few tens of thousands right now.
Buy a generator. Last I checked, a 3.3 kw one at the hardware store was about $359. A few cans of fuel and you're good to go. Expensive to run, yes. But you said "backup" not "base load". Which implies rare use. IF you want the latest/greatest, think of a newer, more expensive, inverter-generator. Those don't have to run at 3600 rpm even at no load to make 60hz (if you're in the US, if elsewhere, scale by 50/60) and are far more efficient at "idle" but still some load. I paid about $1k for mine (rated 1kw, but it has my batteries and inverter working together, so it only has to make my average drain, not the peak) - Chinese clones are about half that. Even that - I had to bring it in and warm it up, as it would not start at the <10F we just had here. That model (Honda) couldn't be adapted to my super duper electric start (makita drill, socket drive, spin via the flywheel nut till it starts) as there's junk in the way.

Regardless, you'll want to do some electrical wiring so your critical circuits can switch between the grid power and whatever backup you use in a legal fashion. It's a huge no-no to push power out into the grid when it's down..you'll probably just burn your own stuff out, but you might kill a repairman if you don't.

Sure, there's other options...A Xantrex inverter, batteries...generator - no need for solar except for very extended periods of outage (weeks-years).

I DID build my own system, documented heavily on my forums. Cost a number of 10's of thousands to do it (around $40k). Runs one dorm fridge, heaters don't draw power at all (propane and wood), and even then, right now, I'm running a generator, as my panels are all snow-covered. Hopefully the waste heat from that will melt the snow off a few, so they can see that it's dark outside in the daytime due to the snowing conditions anyway.

Much as I'd love to push pure solar (or nearly pure as I have) - you have to want it for reasons other than a mere backup once in awhile before it's even remotely a reasonable thing to consider. Even if it's your base power, as in my case, most investment analysis would say - boy, you should just stack gold or something else. In my case, it allowed me to build my homestead without building permits, and ancona and others here can probably tell you how much that has saved me over the years and initially...but that will only work if you start in the boonies with raw land - so your house can wind up being taxed as a storage shed, as is the case here.

The fridge is actually the very worst load I own. I can choose not to weld or not to run the mill. The fridge comes on when it damn well pleases. In the early days, I even put it in an unheated building in the woods, and ran it's thermostat on the warm end just to keep from having to have huge batteries I could not afford.

Note - a 24kwh battery pack is really only good for about 1/10th that a day. Panel specs are, shall we say "optimistic" as well. You won't be happy with any "kit" that takes less than a tractor trailer to bring, and forklifts for the batteries.

If, after all that, you still want solar, I'll be glad to help you with my 30+ years of practical experience designing and then living on my own system, which contains parts from way back then, and stuff bought last year, all combined.

Here's a bit of education:
http://www.coultersmithing.com/forum...014f3bc4802f27
Hopefully in a few years when the last kid graduates we'll be putting up a house on our property out in the middle of nowhere and I'd like to make one of those eco houses and have a wind and solar source of power and I'll have to look at your set up closer.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:34 AM   #6
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On a couple things:
A 650 watt fan might draw ~ 10x that during startup (do actually test that - some are really bad). Most generators will "flywheel through" most such peaks till the induction motor spins up. Most battery/solar systems will take some peaks, but only the "good stuff" like Xantrex (one of my 4kw ones will produce 70kw peaks for awhile - but that takes some truly fat wire on the battery side, and some really large batteries, in fact, a shed full). A harbor frieght inverter rated at 1200w will not start/run a 650w motor.

1 kw from 12v is on the order of 80 amps. Imagine cranking your car for an hour...obviously, a higher battery voltage is good (I run on the low end with 24v nominal). It's a pretty evil current spiral as the battery goes down, with most inverters that regulate the output. Lower volts means higher current for the same watts.

Just flipping breakers is utterly illegal, FWIW (I wouldn't care, but then I'm an EE by trade and know how to BS inspectors - and from actual experience, it's nice to have a fusion reactor on the first floor to convince them you might have a clue about all this).

You need to install a break-before-make transfer switch or you'll have issues of one sort or another, unless you're quite clever about things and always get flipping breakers right on the first try. Not a good bet even for a smart/careful guy..It only takes one screwup.

While generator "heard for miles" is a bit hyperbolic, it's true that the older ones are noisy.
The backup I currently use is 65 db - you can stand there with your leg touching it and not need to speak above average loudness to be heard. Things have really changed in that biz, at all but the lowest cost levels. My 95cc Honda inverter-generator (1kw) has a 2 liter exhaust with oan outlet I can barely put my little finger into (and I have small fingers). I used 5-6.5 hp generators for years. In about the last two years, they went to real mufflers and got a lot less noisy. One of my neighbors has a whole-house generator/transfer system that's computer controlled, runs on propane, and sounds like an outdoor air conditioner/heat pump when running. It even does programmed runs once in awhile as preventative maintenance, to re-oil it all and make sure it's still going to work when needed. Those aren't cheap, but that one runs his whole home (including silly stuff like hot tubs).

But again - you were initially talking short-term/rare backup - if it's a choice to not-freeze, a little noise for a day perhaps to save 10's of thousands of dollars seems worth it, but maybe I'm too scroogy. I AM of Scottish descent.

It's a different world when all this is base-load stuff. Being your own power company means you have a job. It might mostly be light work, but there's those times...and you can't put it off unless you like freezing in the dark. It implies you'll never be too sick (or drunk) to go fix something in nasty weather, the only time anything seems to ever fail.

I've seen a bunch of attempts at "eco-homes", and the failure rate of being livaeble is right at 100%, either right off, or a few years later. YMMV, but a plain old well built, tight and well insulated home is about the pinnacle at this point. If you;'re going to have one built, you could do a lot worse than where I'm sitting right now - I took extra special care to insulate, and even more important, have a super tight vapor barrier and great siting. Those things matter more than the "dream world" junk, by a lot. This place is so tight I have to deliberately let air through it in winter or I'd run out(!). Makes all the other on-going costs minimal, and that counts over time - a drip can fill (or empty) an ocean. One should pay close attention to the difference between initial cost and rate (flow) of money - it really matters.

In my case, I was lucky to own and live on this land for some years before I built this home. That taught me where the wind blows, where the breeze is in summer, where the sun shines, and so forth. Then I could make a wise siting choice. My first try is now a storage shed, it's horrible - and only 50 meters away from here. There are literal "sweet spots" on most land.

The new LED lamps are pretty nice, and really sip the power, in particular, the Phillips ones seem very nice, and don't have a "line spectrum" at all. (like CCFLs do - and CCFLs use twice the power roughly for the same light) As are heated mattress pads. Saves a ton, even if you're on the grid - you don't use the light power as much, and you don't need as much heat at night.

In fact, that combo got me through last night - 5f, long after the fire went out, it was still decent in here - thermal mass, tight insulation, tight airflow control. I have exactly two holes in my vapor barrier. Not this crap where they punch a hole for each outlet and it's windy inside when it is outside (I own a trailer like that, you just cannot heat it - in 15 mph wind, any outlet leaks enough air to blow out a candle - it's a lotta btus).
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:02 PM   #7
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Quote :
it's nice to have a fusion reactor on the first floor to convince them you might have a clue about all this
awesome line Fusor !

And salutory observations regarding all those eco houses .......

Insulation and air sealing really is the best return on your money, although we did hear about a passive house in holland or belgium that got really mouldy due to lack of ventilation.
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:40 PM   #8
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It WAS funny to see the guy's jaw drop when I invited him in on the pretence of having him take a look at my wiring - and he's instantly confronted with this awesome physics lab/machine shop in a place where those are rare (I might be the only one, private or commercial, in the county). You can imagine - a bunch of stainless steel fancy-ass flanges with a zillion bolts, and tanks attached to mass spectrometers, rad sensors, all kinds of computers, a turbo vacuum pump spinning 60,000 rpm...every tool known to man...4 of those big roll around tool boxes 6' high, and one side is all bench - 30 feet long by 3 feet, for playing around with bench work. He probably thought he'd wandered into some NASA outpost, or CERN. (the similarity isn't totally an accident, we do the same type work)

I'd told him a neighbor who is an electrician didn't think much of it, and ask him to take a look just in case (social engineering, my wiring is awesome). The inspector (attracted in the first place by the major thrash outdoors with cranes and solar panels) looked at it, asked how long it'd been there and working - I said, dunno, 7 years or so? He said "well, you obviously know more about this than I do" and that was that. He wanted $25 for a permit to put up the panels. Someday I'll visit his office and get one... Maybe this year, maybe next. Passive-obstructive is the way to handle this particular local government. They forget...and I've gotten away with such stuff since '79 already.

I'm on building experiment #4 now - and this is it as far as I can tell, though I could wish I'd made it bigger - I only have 1024 sq feet (programmers and carpenters take note of that number - power of two and no wasted wood) on two floors total here.

Space is my final frontier, I have far too many toys (some of which have to be stored in the other three buildings as a result - but I count tools and stock as hard assets, like food and precious metals are. IRS, even when they thought I owed them a ton of money (they were proven wrong on that) wasn't interested, it's too hard to change what they know about into the cash they crave. I don't keep much in banks these days.

Surface area to volume ratio goes in your favor the larger it is, and the closer to spherical. Two floors, 16x32 feet...close enough, and you can carry an 8 foot stick vertically on either floor. 8" thick insulation, outer shell 3/4" plywood (treated), inner barrier a double overlapping layers of PE (4 mil) sheet and space blanket (aluminized mylar - and it's all gooped with silicone), followed by drywall, then whiteboard (all my walls you can draw on with dry-erase markers and wipe clean - turns out to be handy when fabbing one-off parts to have the drawing on the wall by the machine).

That space blanket stuff really kicks in when the temperature difference gets large - it doesn't do much for a 10 degree difference, but now, when it's more like 70 degrees drop out to inside - it adds a lot of R value.

There's one hole in the floor to let in the electricity. It's tight and gooped too. No rodents get in, ever. Not even insects most of the time. The big hole is the fan, and that defeats them - if they make it, they're lucky heroes, most get chopped up on the way past the fan blades and blown back down.

Now add some tons of machines and metal stock, some serious scientific gear - I've got the thermal mass (I store the I beams by the stove) - the thermal time constant is many hours long. Definitely a man-cave - that's also my "living room"...all benches, tools, stuff like that. Toys - I never said I grew up, I just got older.

Upstairs is similar with benches (chemistry, electroplating, and electronics/gunsmith tinker, bullet casting), but I have the kitchen, bed etc up here too - and a ton of computers which help me make my daily bread and entertain me, along with many books - I make the matrix look like a low budget movie sometimes. It works. I only wish I'd made it 32 on a side, instead, for more room. But that would have taken a digger - on about the flattest land I have, it's on the ground at one corner, and about 6 feet off the ground opposite. That's about as high as I want to make a foundation. We do have wind now and then. This place just survived a 70 mph micro-burst storm, nothing even rattled, though things shook and whistled. It all just weighs too much, and we really overdid the solar panel mounting stuff, since it looked like the big one for wind risk.

I use another building (dubbed "the office trailer" since that's where our team made all the money programming and designing), about 20 meters behind this, for the one that might someday again be a "chick cave" - it has the plumbing, more solar panels, and some very excessive fast-heat capability - I have 65k+ btu propane to just heat the tiny bathroom - it can go from frozen toilet bowl to burn your butt when you sit down in about 60 seconds - so that only runs when I do, so to speak. There's another woodstove at the other end of that - I used to live in that one, and it leaks like a sieve. I am right now (it's 5f, again) heating that basement with a gas mantle lantern, supplied by a 20 lb propane grill tank - because I like it when my plumbing doesn't freeze, and running the woodstove, which I do quite rarely when it's not stupid-cold (as now, but this is an 80+ year record for cold here). Most times I just shine it one for that one. To really fix it up nice, I'd have to rip out every inside wall (computer benches first - they're bolted to it), replace all the vapor barriers, rewire it (it used Al wiring, ugh, I've redone it once, and every single outlet had had a fire in it already and it's failing again) - I'll get around to it when "miss possibly right" shows up (again, if ever). Else it stores spare tech junk and my main reloading stuff, my darkroom (which is also the loo), which I mainly use when the weather is fit anyway.
No point building ammo when it's too cold to go shooting anyway.

But that place gets pretty hot in summer, despite AC, and is always cold in winter, despite the fact that the roof has been replaced with real wood, insulation and vapor barrier - unlike most trailers, you could dance on this roof (long story). It's fine (though some inside ceiling joints sprung due to shrinkage due to the cold this time - wood and Al metal have very different tempcos) - but it only takes every single outlet blowing a little wind to make it virtually impossible to heat/cool. I'd thought putting it in the shade of nearby trees would do - but putting it over the roots just killed the trees, and nearly us, when they fell later. Hint - don't do that.

At least it sees a nice breeze all summer long - a north facing (down) hill behind it sees convection cool breeze due to the flat-hot highland to the south-front, and now it has solar panel shade in summer (we'll see - haven't had summer since I put them up there). And is protected from high winds by the trees on that hill - close, but no cigar. It really does take time to find that perfect spot to build on. I finally got it.

Took awhile for the zen part of me to recognize where nature wanted me to be, so I went with its flow, instead of trying to force it - works better, around here, you fight nature, it wins - it's much bigger than you are, even with modern-tool-help and materials. It's what keeps the population density low, and the neighborliness high.
ZH had an article today that blamed wealth disparity on lack of community. That's not even the main issue. It's more the anonymity that comes with too many people per square that's more responsible for the breakdown - a defence mechanism that doesn't really work.

I let air into this (nice) building in one defined spot, at a north corner on the lower floor, so it has to pass over my woodstove on the way in (and is from the shade side in summer) - via a cracked window. Diagonally opposite of that is a 6" hole in the floor with a slow, quiet fan blowing air into the crawl space (about 60 cfm) so my floors stay warm and the crawl space (dirt) stays dry (and there's no measurable radon collecting either). I crack a window upstairs all year, so there's some flow-through ventilation - but the important fact is - it's totally under my control - I don't depend on leaks or diffusion, I control the airflow totally - including inside the insulated parts which I can vent or not as I please. I can seal this place nearly (and dangerously) airtight if I desire. It's amazing how much heat (or cool) you can lose with a leak that's otherwise almost imperceptible. But if you burn things - well, I got a CO detector, as you can get in trouble with that.

I also paid attention to where nature directs the water during things like hurricanes or flood conditions. So I have no issues there - it goes over to one side naturally. I'm halfway up my mountain, so the floods are "down there" and the high winds are "up there" and I'm fat and happy in between them. Since I have the terrain, why not use it? That part "I didn't build that". But then, neither did any part of government, Mr O'bozo.

That would have to be my definition of an "eco" house, but I'm not specially "green" - just cheap, I wanted sustainability sans cash and people hired to fix stuff all the time, or me having to (at 60 already, I think I might get old someday), that's all. I really did the solar to avoid power co hookup costs and PP taxes, frankly, though I thought it was also a "pretty neat idea", to coin a phrase.

I got an adventitious benefit from mounting the solar panels on 2x8" rails (treated wood) instead of the $500/rack overpriced aluminum angle they all try to sell you - which a high wind will turn into a pretzel. It creates this awesome convection channel that will blow out a propane torch at the top most days - as I found when doing the final soldering for the solar wiring. It really helps in summer, since the roof is both shaded and actively cooled by that airflow. I'm guessing it would help in winter too, if I'd gotten around to making the foam blocks I'd planned to make to block those channels, but I didn't get there yet. Wish I could take credit for designing for that, but I can't - it just happened. Works a charm, though.

I keep my batteries and some of the power electronics in a small (4x8') shed behind this. You don't want those battery fumes in your space. It has tiny fans that are programmed to push air through it when the batteries are outgassing (explosion hazard too if you don't vent it), so the fumes won't eat the electronics either - it still looks like the day I installed it in there, about a decade ago. At 24v nominal, I'm using gauge 000 wire (the copper is larger in diameter than my thumb), and short from batteries to inverters and solar charge controllers, and keeping that as short as I can. Even a milli-ohm of resistance can create significant drop and loss at the currents you have when there's hundreds of amperes flowing through it. In fact, I use a one milli-ohm resistor as a current measuring shunt - and it gets way too hot to touch - solder melting temperatures at times. - 300 amps times .3 volts is...~90 watts of heat in a couple cubic inches - and that shunt is multiple parallel two inch long by 20 mil (.02") thick pieces of copper bar, brazed to the connection blocks.

I have, of course, backup generators, which is what I was recommending for 11c1p - you're going to need them (hot spares!) anyway in a full solar system, as it's not practical to have enough batteries to handle a week of "dark" which we have coming up soon - February is a bear here - rainy season. It's just not worth it to spend the extra dough, and have to deal with the added self-discharge an oversized bank of batteries has, year round. So, even though generator electricity is among the most expensive there is (over a buck a kwh) - it's cheap, all things considered. I don't need to use it much. Perfection can really be the enemy of good enough, and I caught on to that one, finally. So I can't say I'm totally independent of fossil fuels, but if I was willing to spend the odd week really hunkered down, I could do without.

Now, all this is pretty off-topic for the OP, but I thought I'd get it out there as documentation of what works, after trying (hard) 3 other times. Because someone might want to do this, and believe me - you'd rather avoid my failures - they weren't cheap in any of time, money, or hassle/quality of life. I couldn't pull this off again - I was a lot younger when I started on this path. Sweat equity, I believe they call it. I only sweat now when I choose, mainly. But it truly seems that whenever a generator or suchlike fails, it's always during some weather emergency on a Saturday night, when no spare parts are available at any store till Monday...or similar - as in "you can't get out to the store because of feet of snow or you already had too much to drink". Some aspects of this do remind me of space or an underwater environment - you have to be really ready no matter what.

So, if it all hits the fan...not much will actually change here. I've provisioned for the extra humans who will no doubt show up in that case, and have plenty for them to do if they should.

This all looks deceptively simple, but in truth, it's not, and it took literally decades for a pretty smart guy to work this all out so it looks (and now is) simple. As some of our older software comments said "Beware the checks that aren't there, because they don't need to be - by design some errors cannot happen unless you change something you don't understand". It's like that.
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Old 01-30-2014, 05:31 AM   #9
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Took awhile for the zen part of me to recognize where nature wanted me to be, so I went with its flow, instead of trying to force it - works better, around here, you fight nature, it wins - it's much bigger than you are
So many dream of being able to 'go with nature' and are forced by rules n regs as to what and where they can build.

This guy did it but had to break the rules -
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ust-3-000.html

and everyone Ive talked to about self build, has a dream of something like this ......


My current thinking about power generation is to really consider what you actually need.

If you can get space heating, hot water and cooking from woodburning, then light and comms is all you need to power and as you say this is pretty minimal.
We would not need aircon here in Blighty if we built things properly.

I no longer feel the desire to be totally self reliant having done my 'bunker years' but do consider it smart to be able to get through a difficult time in relative comfort.
So my biggest fear is a lack of fuel for my chainsaw(s) and as Ive said before, in the event of a total collapse of society, I do not particularly want to be a survivor .......

The basic rule being 'if its not fun dont do it'.


So when will the Fusor Home pack be available ? (-;
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:53 AM   #10
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My mantra is "fun", too (not hedonism, which tends to be self-limiting and shortening of life). Back when I was a bit younger and more energetic, building up all this counted as fun, though there were both sweat and some "interesting times" involved - it was an adventure. While I have to admit I'd love to be fully self-sufficient - I also realize its unlikely to happen realistically, and it wouldn't satisfy the fun criterion (farming is hard!).

However, as a neighborhood, we'd probably make it - remember, a lot of my neighbors are farmers, and we're all friends - which latter is key.

And they break all kinds of regs too - somehow most of them seem to pay little or no tax, show almost no income, though they indeed are well off in almost every sense, including monetary. I shared our Thanksgiving holiday with one of their extended families, and not one bite of the delicious banquet was produced outside their own farms. The salt (which I seemed to be the only one desiring) probably came from outside. The rest, all local, and as fresh as it gets - the turkey harvested the day before and such like, the veggies from the greenhouse on the back 40 and all that. Baked on a wood cookstove, with of course, wood grown locally.

There is considerable wealth spread around here, with me in the upper part of the distribution (with a goodly few far above me - 10x or more, and a lot way down there, as well), but there's not one person who won't reach down and help someone of lesser circumstance - if that person is trying to better things already. It's kind of a matter of pride around here to help others. Actually, it goes the other way too - people less well off than I, in general, will come help me with their different expertise and tools, and plain old sweat, when I need it. We don't need government to redistribute or do much of anything for us, and at a local level, we're in charge of it - not the banks, not the feds, nor the state, really. It's too much space and not very many people - the system works under those conditions (which were the ones extant when the system was designed, when you think a bit about it).

There are still quite a few places in this country where this is true.

I've broken my share of regs to do it - but we have a lot fewer here than most denser places too - what I've done would be impossible in many places due to not only more regs, but more enforcement of them.

I heard (apocryphal? CS Lewis book.) that in UK, if you cut down a tree in your backyard, make boards of it, and build a shed, you're broken about 100 regs, and angered a bunch of unions to boot. I just could not live in such a place - I'd always be angry about that. It comes with too much density and too much contiguous government control over everything, in my view.

That said, I understand why, say Bloomberg doesn't want me carrying a gun in NYC - even though I'm a "gun guy". In that place, there's no chance you could swing your arms without one landing on someone's nose, so the denser people get, the more regs you need, and the harsher enforcement required to make it all work. Further, such places tend to attract the losers for the better welfare availability they require to handle them. Which is why I ran like hell from Washington DC. Same issues there (or worse). Here, if I want to go shoot in the backyard, or even set off say a pound of HE - the only complaint I'd get is that I didn't invite some neighbors to watch the excitement. Were I to try that in the nearest "town" - I'd probably have to sweat jail time. This is why I am against statism - one size simply is a poor fit for all, and statism denies that obvious truth in the lust for power and control at the center. I'd rather just be my own center.

It's also why I don't want the state in control of my "sick care". That gives them a vested interest in how I live, to save "their" money. It's a very steep and slippery slope to total control of everything. And the latest health fad isn't always actually correct - I'm old enough to recall when butter and eggs were "bad for you". The nutrition business has flipped to the other side of that once they discovered trans fat. Just one of many examples.

Not everything that works in one place works everywhere...I guess that's my take on it all. I feel very lucky that nature has created this place where the population density is bound to be low, almost forever. The low density encourages friendships, not anonymity (which is sort of impossible in this situation), as well as one helping the next one - we've all "been through it", and sympathize with the other guy. More often than not, just lifting a finger helps the other guy out of all proportion.

Example - when I first moved here, I needed a place to put my car, a driveway. I was out with a pick and shovel cutting a path through a 3' high dirt/rock bank for a couple days - really hard work here, and not making progress too quickly, even though I did have help from another poor neighbor. Well, yet another neighbor drove by while that was going on, and without any words - I didn't know his name, even (I was new here then) - he shows up 10 minutes later with a digger and does the job in seconds. Wouldn't even take a cold beer in return. It's that kind of place.

Since when you stop rationalizing - this is available, all you have to do is move - why does anyone choose otherwise? i've heard every excuse there is, but I don't buy the bulk of them. Yeah, you can't make as much money here for doing nothing but push paper. Is that bad when the cost of living is also far lower? People hide the truth from themselves frequently.
Man is a rationalizing, not a rational, animal.

Which is why I've repeatedly said here - if you have the slightest plan to "bug out" - go ahead and do it now, while it's a lot easier than it would be if things are bad (and you're older and tools/help less available and all that) - while you can still get that kind of help out of the overflowing cornucopia from others who are better equipped and inclined to help - since they are not busy fending off thieves and losers. And it takes time to get set up! None of us are getting younger.

As for the fusion home-pack, well, that's my ultra high risk, ultra high payoff (potentially) "trade". I continue to set records, but have a long way to go yet, and there's no guarantees I'll make it. At the very least, I've helped pave the way for others, since I make all my work public domain.

We'll just have to see (you get to wait and see, I get to play and see). It IS fun, and having your own "star in a jar" is kinda cool, you have to admit. My "star" is at this point, ~ millions of times more energy per cubic than the sun (a good thing, we'd all be fried if the sun was actually a good reactor for human size installations, as is, it just barely works - it's nanowatts or less per cubic meter, I'm up to microwatts per CC).

But I'm fusion powered anyway - from the sun on the PV panels...I'm just working on this because hey - the sun isn't up 24/7, which is also good, I like nighttime too (at least when it's not so damn cold). Nah, that's not even it. It's just fun, and I can. And if not me, then who? Some things are better done on one's own dime, since it makes one more agile and likely to change course when that's indicated, rather than push a dead horse, as governments seem to do in this field. I consider it a good investment, even if I don't make a dime from it. We (I have a partner in fusion crime) only have about 1/4 million and a few years in it so far. Yet we're beating out government projects that have spent billions and decades at it. Could be worse, the results are encouraging, at least comparatively speaking. We haven't hit any "walls". Just learning, and the more we learn, the better we do - since we don't care about the things most wage slaves do - tenure, pay, perks, fame - we just want fusion.

I feel extremely lucky to be in the situation I'm in, though in some cases I had to "make my luck". Fair dinkum.
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Old 02-02-2014, 11:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
Since when you stop rationalizing - this is available, all you have to do is move - why does anyone choose otherwise?
Because drastic change is hard, especially when it goes against everything you have grown up with and everything you are being told from the world around you. Add to it the primordial fear of having to make a decision with nobody else to blame when it goes bad. It is much easier to keep as is, do like everyone else, let things happen to you.

I figure you were asking rhetorically, but I wanted to say it out loud.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:27 PM   #12
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ddB - well, kind of. I suppose we're both right here. I was kind of lucky in that regard. I didn't have a significant-other (in other words, no one to blame me if the change was for the worse).

Also, there was no question DC sucked - not only did this place attract, the prior one repelled.

Almost no one knew me here, I got a start from scratch which luckily, I didn't actually need - I had a decent rep where I came from. It took awhile to build up here, gain a reputation for honesty and being a good guy and all, and becoming "one of us" vs "that guy form the city", but it was worth it. Way worth it.

Hmmm...maybe that S-O problem is larger than most admit. In what I guess I'd call an ideal relationship, the blame game wouldn't be going on anyway, right?

I guess I never had that other problem - I know who is to blame for 99.999xxx of things I experience - me. I guess I was raised right.

And after all, if you can't take the blame, you shouldn't try to take credit - I'd like to see that particular meme go viral.
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