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First let me frame my question like this. As individuals interested in alternative energy from a survivalist application do we really need A/C and inverters. Most of our heavy energy application like cooking, heating and the like will be from other energy sources. Most other applications either use an external transformer or an internal transformer to convert 110/115v a/c to low volts DC.

Are we wasting money, size and weight trying to feed house current only to be stepped down at the application.

If our goal is to keep every household appliance going with an off the grid system huge battery systems and 110/115v a/c is necessary. But during a survival event is that necessary or practical. It just seems like a lot of upkeep and upfront expense for surviving. I looked at doing such in the 70s and again in '08. The pay back exceeded 3 years and I'm too lazy to do the upkeep.

Am I wrong? About the system I know I'm right about me being lazy.
 

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I'm easily confused so don't expect much from me. But if you did not invert/convert what are you able to use the raw power on from - say - a solar panel?
 

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You cannot run straight solar or wind power. The outputs of both are vary erratic. Winds vary so output of the wind generator varies. Solar panel outputs have a vary wide swing due to any clouds. That is why the outputs are sent to batteries & you draw off the batteries.

So you want as many things as possible to be able to run off DC voltage. Unfortunately these are normally low power draw items. The high power draw items usually have an AC motor so need the inverter to operate them.
 

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My plan for wind is to build a generator that generates 3 phase AC current. It is just as easy to build as one that generates DC and has the added benefit of not losing so much wattage in the transfer from the generator to the battery bank, assuming I am careful with how I build the rectifier. Plus I can run thinner gauge wire which is a BIG cost savings.

I am kind of stuck in a rut on figuring out even if I want to try solar. Solar panels still seem very expensive and still inefficient. I keep waiting for some major technical breakthrough that will allow them to be more efficient and/or cheaper, but it has not happened yet.

I am definitely in the Tesla camp, rather than the Edison camp, preferring AC to DC just for efficiency. - Just my 2 cents.
 

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Problem with technical advances is they don't always correlate to production. If a technical advance gives an extra 10% efficiency but it costs 15% more to retool & make it its actually a loss. Right now, buying in bulk or on sale you are looking at about $1/watt for panels.
 

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My feeling is when the grid collapses the less things I need to worry about the better.

So if my water keeps coming out of the tap, my gas stove keeps lighting, and the water is still hot, I can focus more on security and building neighborhood watch programs.

Yes civilization has existed and still exists in a power free world, my preps into solar just give me more cushion in adapting.
 

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It really depends on your location and pocket book whether or not you should plan on having an off-grid power system or not. If you are in a populated area with a lot of people who don't have any provisions then having any outward signs of power generation is just going to be a neon sign that says "I have something you need" and probably not a good idea. On the other hand if you live in a secluded area that hides you from the rest of the world it might be a worthwhile venture to take. I plan on using alcohol powered engines to power my equipment that is run on electric now because I can also barter the excess alcohol and convert gas engines to use it. It would be nice to have a windmill and solar array but I have neighbors that might present a problem and My area is too open to hide me from the rest of the world. anything that uses an electric motor can be converted to an internal combustion engine so most everything I have that uses power - that I would like to maintain in a SHTF scenario - can be kept running. The gas water heater uses a pilot light and although my oven uses an electric pre-heater the range top I can use without power. (I think I can convert the electric preheater to a pilot light. The microwave will be a nice place to store dry goods but then we don't use it often enough to miss it. My coffee maker..... well I can use an old dripolator (top water reservoir middle grounds compartment and the bottom holds the coffee) on the stove or even over an open fire or alcohol stove. The refrigeration and freezer will run just fine on a small alcohol fueled engine and I could even run the air conditioner that way. (not likely to be done but it is possible). If the gas goes out the burners can be converted to alcohol.
 

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I'm easily confused so don't expect much from me. But if you did not invert/convert what are you able to use the raw power on from - say - a solar panel?
You need to store electricity in most cases... The raw output isn't enough to run an appliance by itself...

I know next to nothing about electricity, but I'm also pretty sure solar outputs DC (the battery does for sure) and you need AC to run most appliances... This is why the inverter is needed.
 

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Solar Panels From 58¢/Watt, World's Lowest Price.

Panels have been as low as .60 cents a watt in bulk. There are some listings closer to to a $1 for small orders and this site updates quite often. My brother ordered a pallet order from them for our ranch about three months ago. The orders are direct to the seller not related to this site. I saw the panels, one was broken and they could not replace so they refunded promptly.

My plan for wind is to build a generator that generates 3 phase AC current. It is just as easy to build as one that generates DC and has the added benefit of not losing so much wattage in the transfer from the generator to the battery bank, assuming I am careful with how I build the rectifier. Plus I can run thinner gauge wire which is a BIG cost savings.

I am kind of stuck in a rut on figuring out even if I want to try solar. Solar panels still seem very expensive and still inefficient. I keep waiting for some major technical breakthrough that will allow them to be more efficient and/or cheaper, but it has not happened yet.

I am definitely in the Tesla camp, rather than the Edison camp, preferring AC to DC just for efficiency. - Just my 2 cents.
 

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Hydro is the best for consistent power generation. It doesn't require the wind to blow or the sun to shine. Though it does require one to have a head of water sufficient to turn the turbine. I spent a summer working a remote ranch that used a turbine set in a fast flowing creek to generate power for the bunkhouse. It didn't power everything, yet we had lights the use of a radio (pre internet) and refrigeration. What more do you really need?
 

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Hydro is the best for consistent power generation. It doesn't require the wind to blow or the sun to shine. Though it does require one to have a head of water sufficient to turn the turbine. I spent a summer working a remote ranch that used a turbine set in a fast flowing creek to generate power for the bunkhouse. It didn't power everything, yet we had lights the use of a radio (pre internet) and refrigeration. What more do you really need?
I really like the idea of putting a small hydro plant in. The only problem with my BOL is that the water flow from the nearby spring is low when it isn't snow melt season... The spring also feeds water for 2 homes and a horse barn. At my BOL, I'll probably eventually go with a hybrid wind/solar system...
 

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could someone recommend a book that would get me started in this topic?
 

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and has anyone come up with a workable way of lighting your home (off the Grid )

candles, batteries,lanterns... so far nothing is working well
 

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jadm, there are many good books on the topic, but I might suggest you subscribe to Home Power Magazine. HPM is full of useful info and projects covering a wide range of topics for the DIY alternative energy crowd. You will find good articles on solar, wind, micro-hydro, hydrogen generation, and many more.

Home Power Magazine
 

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What will work for you depends on and will be determined by your location, the property you are on, its resources, and your pocketbook. In addition will be city, county and state regulations that you must adhere to when planning "off grid" lighting.

Some cautions:
If you use natural gas do not use flames for lighting.
check your city/county and electrical supplier before buying any kind of power generation equipment. Some place welcome the additional power while others have restriction on their use. There is no value in buying something only to find out you can't use it.
Anything that connects to the power grid requires a permit and an inspection to be legal. If you install anything "on-the-sly" and you have a house fire or any accident happens to your home your insurance can refuse to cover the damage, whether it is related to your installation or not.

One county here in Washington requires that you are connected to the electrical grid whether you use it or not - and there is a minimum monthly charge plus the cost of connection.
 

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What will work for you depends on and will be determined by your location, the property you are on, its resources, and your pocketbook. In addition will be city, county and state regulations that you must adhere to when planning "off grid" lighting.

Some cautions:
If you use natural gas do not use flames for lighting.
check your city/county and electrical supplier before buying any kind of power generation equipment. Some place welcome the additional power while others have restriction on their use. There is no value in buying something only to find out you can't use it.
Anything that connects to the power grid requires a permit and an inspection to be legal. If you install anything "on-the-sly" and you have a house fire or any accident happens to your home your insurance can refuse to cover the damage, whether it is related to your installation or not.

One county here in Washington requires that you are connected to the electrical grid whether you use it or not - and there is a minimum monthly charge plus the cost of connection.
thank you PaulS!
I am in the middle of a city and I can't do a full blown off the grid thing. the city wouldn't go for anything like that.
I was considering something for more of a short term problem (a few weeks)
so far I have rejected
*candles (fire hazard & not enough light )
*solar walkway lights ( not enough light &not dependable)
*battery powered lanterns ( too many batteries needed)
* generator (too much noise) brings too much attention

I would plan to cover all windows as not to be the only house on the block with light.
I doubt any of my neighbors would any preparation at all.

what I do have that works pretty well in several Coleman rechargeable lanterns ( I should have bought several more)
 

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You cannot run straight solar or wind power. The outputs of both are vary erratic. Winds vary so output of the wind generator varies. Solar panel outputs have a vary wide swing due to any clouds. That is why the outputs are sent to batteries & you draw off the batteries.

So you want as many things as possible to be able to run off DC voltage. Unfortunately these are normally low power draw items. The high power draw items usually have an AC motor so need the inverter to operate them.
so what kind of battery would be needed?let's say I wanted to run three MR16 lights in my drive way from a solar panel to a batterythen out to the lighte how would I set this up to ba as easy as possible?
 

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It really depends on your location and pocket book whether or not you should plan on having an off-grid power system or not.
- Paul S

you are right Paul!
here in my city they won't let you get off the grid at all even garbage service is mandatory.
I am doing some homework for when I move. I have noticed that solar panels have kind of a short life span. I am not sure if that is the way to go. I was thinking wind. what does the group think? I'm sure there are many of you who are a lot better informed on this subject that I am
 
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