Yeah, that's right. Alternative energy. Say it with me. It's not a dirty word. Seven syllables. (Isn't a haiku 5/7/5? I might have an idea! See below.)
In any case. I've been looking at alternative/off-grid power for a long time. My truck has an inverter and deep-cycle battery hiding in the toolbox. Doesn't see much use, but it's there. I've been toying with the idea of a small setup for fuel-free backup power at home.
Conveniently, Northern Tool Co sent me an emailthis week advertising various items for sale. Among those were their 15W/12V solar panels. I talked to the Mrs and ordered two of them along with a charge controller. The intention will be to put a small battery bank in the garage along with a small inverter, big enough to run the coal stove for a few hours at a clip.
Yes, we have a generator - but our genset will suck down nearly eight gallons of fuel every 24 hours, and there is a limit to how much fuel we can store. On top of that, it takes time to get the generator hauled out, fired up, hooked up, etc. I wanted something that could simply be one switch and an extension cord until we have time to get everything else going.
I'll be adding a few deep-cycle batteries in the next couple months, probably to end up around 300-400Ah of capacity. 400Ah with a 300W inverter (coal stove draws 200W, adding a cushion is a good idea) should last up to six hours. I'm well aware that 30W of solar power won't keep up with the load, but they will be more than enough to maintain and trickle-charge the bank. If there's an extended outage, one of the things to do will be recharging the battery bank whenever the genset is being run, then allowing the inverter to run the coal stove when the power is off. (Est. charge time 400Ah @ 30W/12V = 160hr sunshine - but that's from zero charge.)
In addition to providing a backup power source, we will probably get a portable fence charger in order to move the goats around the yard to spots that would otherwise be un-grazed, or if they go to visit family/friends for a vacation.
Somewhere on down the road, I'd love to have enough alt-energy to be, if not off-grid, at least not completely grid-dependent. I think a small wind turbine would be feasible where we are, and a good-size solar array would be plausible for about half of the year. Our average monthly electricity use is around 500kW-h, so a 1500W system would cover the vast majority of our power needs.
I'm still waiting for replacement LED bulbs that are both affordable and realistic replacements in terms of light quality.
green power calls me
it's not a bad thing
3 months ago