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The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 16 Oct 2018, 16:33:25

KaiserJeep wrote:I get by with two solar panels (400w) on top of the Jeep when camping. You can easily design a temporary residence, boat, or road vehicle for reduced power, but let's be honest, that does not represent your average energy consumption. But I'm betting, you also have a galley stove and space heating burning some form of hydrocarbon fuel. Just like I buy seasoned fire wood and use a propane Coleman stove/oven.

I would dearly LOVE to put up a 15-25kVA wind turbine on Nantucket, but the zoning and permits for a "Historic District" (not to mention I'm a mile from a busy airport), are formidible hurdles. I am thinking of building 1 or 2 rental properties first, then a single wind turbine to power several homes, all all-electric (except backup heat), with efficient applliances and heat pump HVAC systems.


Our galley stovenis kerosene. We use less than 2 gallons a month. For showers we use a camper propane heater, small cylinder. That lasts months. Probably gonna buy a solar shower soon. We have a diesel forcdd hot air heater installed but don’t use it in the Caribbean. No AC.

A couple of points which I’ve made before. I disagree with all this focus on the development of alternatives. The primary focus should be on conservation, then alts to furnish the balance. Living in temperate zones or exceedingly hot zones is a luxury we can not afford in the future. Heat and AC are generally outside the average persons ability to use for heat and AC on alternatives alone.

Yeah I know some of you guys do it, but it wont scale to NYC, even Topeka sized loads.

So good on you all for developing alternates. Seriously. But we must come to grips with our profligate ways.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Tue 16 Oct 2018, 17:36:21

Newfie, I understand your point and agree. But I wonder if you understand the full extent of it. This country has been building infrastructure since about 1877, the year that the formal Civil War reconstruction ended. About 100 years after that, we had the OPEC oil embargo, and it has only been the last 30-35 years where we have really cared about energy conservation.

Most of the existing infrastructure is obsolete from an energy conservation standpoint, and needs replacing. Almost any system can be redesigned for energy efficiency with computers, and then operated and managed with computers to save power. For example, you can buy performance automobiles that will outperform anything from the muscle car era, while using 40% of the gasoline.

Infrastructure renewal, firstly of our systems for growing and transporting food, secondly of residences, and thirdly of transportation itself, all are in need of renewal. However we really have not started this and we are gonna run out of FF's before we can possibly get halfway through.

Then Darwinism will sort out the winners and losers. But you won't like the process at all.
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Resistance is Futile, YOU will be Assimilated.

Warning: Messages timestamped before April 1, 2016, 06:00 PST were posted by the unmodified human KaiserJeep 1.0
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 16 Oct 2018, 19:00:06

Naw, synchronicity!
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby GHung » Wed 19 Dec 2018, 14:30:37

A pretty concise review of this guy's experience having a Powerwall installed, including operation so far and his projected payback time:

Tesla Powerwall and Solar Review After 6 Months

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s6kN9Ezws0
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby GHung » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 09:07:21

My gripe is (as he mentions) that the system won't work autonomously for long if the grid goes down, or even if his internet connection craps out. I expect that he couldn't even use a generator to fool the system into thinking it's still grid-tied. If I'm going to invest in a system with a big battery, I want it to function as a stand-alone system if needed. Not much of a "personal power plant" that requires connections to top-down complex systems to function.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby careinke » Fri 21 Dec 2018, 00:14:58

Baha,
You certainly seem to have the expertise to answer my solar questions. I'm thinking of adding solar to our Class A motorhome that my wife and I now live in. (sort of the land version of Newfie).

First, if I want to store a LOT of amp hours, (for boondocking trips), would a power wall work to replace my 4 six volt deep cycle chasy batteries? My concerns are safety, and would they be robust enough to survive 5-6 hours of a continuous 4-5 magnitude earthquake while driving.

As far as panels, I'm leaning towards the ones you glue to the roof. My reasoning is they are more rugged and handle variable light conditions.

I'm hoping someone will come up with solar panels that would replace my awnings. That would increase my surface area by at least another 400 sqft.

Thanks
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby GHung » Fri 21 Dec 2018, 10:02:12

Adding to what Baha said, I was a fulltimer in my RV for 6 years (while a roving engineer and while building my house). I had four 100 watt 12 volt panels mounted to the roof of my Class C motorhome run by a PWM solar controller, eventually replaced by a better MPPT controller, both charging 4, then 6, Trojan golfcart batteries. The system worked well even with the panels mounted flat. In good conditions the system was producing about 25-30 amps into the batteries. I eventually installed an Outback 20-12 inverter that would run everything AC except the air conditioning. It has a direct connection for shore power and the generator and a 50 amp battery charging capability. All controlled by a built in transfer switch. This was a very nice setup. The inverter can also be programmed to autostart the generator if the battery voltage falls below your chosen setpoint. The Outbacks are pure sinewave inverters, very high quality. They were (are?) used in US Abrams tanks, very tough.
https://www.altestore.com/store/inverte ... TVFXR2812A
They now make a 2800 watt version.

If you use higher capacity/voltage PV panels (say one 300 watter) you must use an MPPT controller to step the voltage down to the 12 volt battery voltage. Beware of the cheap Chinese controllers claiming to be MPPT. Most aren't. My motorhome house batteries could be charged from solar, the generator, shore power, or the RV's engine alternator. They were happy batteries.
https://www.altestore.com/store/charge- ... ler-p6875/

Our home is built on exactly this design (with a 24 volt battery set). Indeed, it was my experience with the RV that gave me the experience and confidence to go off grid. I just scaled things up. The computer I'm using now is running directly from the battery set; no AC conversion required. If you need any tips, especially on how to safely cut costs, let me know, and ALWAYS MAKE YOUR WIRES/CABLES BIGGER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED!

A low cost source for panels: http://www.sunelec.com
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby Newfie » Thu 21 Mar 2019, 07:09:12

careinke wrote:Baha,
You certainly seem to have the expertise to answer my solar questions. I'm thinking of adding solar to our Class A motorhome that my wife and I now live in. (sort of the land version of Newfie).

First, if I want to store a LOT of amp hours, (for boondocking trips), would a power wall work to replace my 4 six volt deep cycle chasy batteries? My concerns are safety, and would they be robust enough to survive 5-6 hours of a continuous 4-5 magnitude earthquake while driving.

As far as panels, I'm leaning towards the ones you glue to the roof. My reasoning is they are more rugged and handle variable light conditions.

I'm hoping someone will come up with solar panels that would replace my awnings. That would increase my surface area by at least another 400 sqft.

Thanks


We have 2 - 300 watt panels charging 4 - 6volt Golf Cart batteries. The panels get a lot of shading from the wind generator and the radar dome, so I’m loosing a lot of power. But then again I’ve got the wind gen and that works all night.

I think 4 GC batteries is a pretty small storage package. Our power usage is minimal. We charge laptops, drills, etc. during the day, and that is occasional. We have only LED lighting. The major power drain is our our reefer, and that depletes our batteries pretty well over night.

The batteries are 3 years old. I never get to do an equalization charge so that doesn’t help.

I’m now using a Victron MPPT controller. The bigger panels have a higher peak voltage. Think of panels as constant current sources, about 8 volts. To get more power they raise the voltage of the panel. A MPPT controller will accept a higher input voltage at the same amperage (input is 30v x 8a = 240w) and change that to a lower voltage/higher amperage output (output 240/w / 12v = 20a). That’s a stupid simple example just to show the math. Not real world values.
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Re: The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Unread postby EdwinSm » Sun 14 Jul 2019, 01:05:36

I have the first year's data for our solar panels. It is just a small array of ten panels, sized to fit in with our estimated monthly use in summer. Given our northerly latitude there is no way we could size the system for mid-winter [a low of 5.0 kWh production in January, and 5.1 kWh in December].

The results were in at 3.7% above the standard estimate for this part of the country. OK, but might be better in coming years as a big tree that partly shaded the roof blew down in a storm last autumn/fall [I knew the tree was a problem, but there was no way the wife would agree to it being cut :cry: , moreover, as it fell over the road the fire department cut it up for free :-D ]
The amount produced covered just over 25% of our annual electricity consumption.

However, the finances are worse than I expected, as a) I miscalculated how much electricity we would need to buy in early morning before the sun got around to the panels; b) the buy-back price was much lower then the salesman indicated 8O :shock: Anyway, for other reasons (environmental and political) I am glad that we went ahead.

One further surprise, was that in looking at how I use electricity as to how to make best use of the solar panels (eg only put the washing machine on later in the day, and then only on sunny days) I seemed to have had a significant reduction in total electricity used - and I thought that I had been careful before.

- - -
As a side note, much of the bought electricity in our neck of the woods comes from hydro-electric, so a high solar production in the summer fits well with the seasonal low water of the hydro systems, as shown by a higher spot-price for electricity in the summer than in the winter.
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