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Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • in reply to: off grid in australia #68565
    lorenzop
    Participant

    I’ll always reply as long as the site is online and I keep getting emails. years keep going by and I’m in no better shape than the year before. I’d like to avoid being in debt to a bank, but it may be some time until I’m financially able to do what I want. I cannot wait to wake up one morning on a cob bench and build a fire to make breakfast, and no longer have a list of bills.

    one thing I would love to do is start an off-grid internet provider. being off-grid, one of the only bills I’d have left is a large one for internet access (I pay extra to host servers on it.) if I could find an existing off-grid community which would let me join in exchange for my ability to do this, might be a good way to go.

    in reply to: looking for like-minded people to live off-grid in Georgia area #68442
    lorenzop
    Participant

    The camper 12 volt dc/propane refrigerator uses to much power. The last one I tested used 5 amps an hour 24 hours a day. At 12 volts the best fridge I have found is a compressor type. 2.5 amps when running and only runs 8 hours out of a day. By adding extra insulation to the exterior you can cut that running time in half. If you are wanting a full size fridge most are going with a standard ac energy-efficient fridge and using an inverter. For what you save on the cost of an ac fridge you can buy a lot of solar panels to help run it.

    after a bit more research on my part, you’re right. I made a few assumptions which turn out to be wrong about rv refrigerators. it does appear they’re only cost effective if you’re using propane. maybe more direct solar heating or wood burning could work, but not ideas I’m ready to venture into. thanks for pointing me in the right direction. glad I haven’t spent money on one yet.

    Do you currently live in Georgia.

    I live just outside of Atlanta and would be interested in talking to you a bit more about your plan.

    I’m also a developer/programmer and do a fair amount of “tinkering” with microcontrollers and such.

    I live in pennsylvania, but I’m strongly considering moving south, possibly to your state. I have much more reading to do before a decide on a location. I’d love to have a chat some time, especially if you have similar goals and interests. can’t find how to send you a pm. I’m always on irc, I have a few instant messengers, or facebook.

    in reply to: Using capacitors instead of a battery #68137
    lorenzop
    Participant

    that’s a nice piece of equipment, but a high cost for only 130 watts. there are cheaper alternatives, but the concept is the same. it may be possible to step down in octaves of volts. converting from 70-90 volts down to 12 would pull much less current from the capacitor bank than when the bank gets down to a lower range like 15-30. my thinking is, converting from such a wide range would have inherent inefficiencies.

    EDIT: actually, thinking about it, how complex would the charge controller be to efficiently charge the capacitor bank from solar panels? you wouldn’t want 90 volts going into a dead bank, as you’d have much current loss without converting it down.

    in reply to: Inverters for Computers #68114
    lorenzop
    Participant

    I’m sure you know of the dangers with 180 volt DC. the entire system running at such high voltage means the entire thing must be designed very safe. don’t cut any corners and don’t work on a live system, ever. drain capacitors, air gap equipment, use ground fault interrupters, avoid all possible risks, put equipment under lock and key to avoid unfamiliar hands.

    in reply to: Let's Build an Off-Grid Village In North Ontario! #68109
    lorenzop
    Participant

    beast, I second that. I’d love to live in canada, but I’ve dealt with snow all my life here in pennsylvania. I’m planning to move south a few states. I’m an electrician / programmer who has loved 12 volt electricity since I was your daughters age. you’re welcome to pick my brain about any solar questions. I also build my own hydroponic automation. I’ll likely build my own high efficiency charge controller, but that’ll be a big project. I don’t yet have experience with whole house solar, but I have a good understanding of it all, and equipment will soon be on order to start experimenting.

    in reply to: Inverters for Computers #68110
    lorenzop
    Participant

    some good information here, but I’d like to add some myself. don’t be fooled by what you think an UPS does. they are good to have, and can help protect your computer hardware and unsaved files, but they wont necessarily change the characteristics of your AC power. normally, an UPS will power a computer straight from the wall, using a relay inside it, which you can usually hear click if you listen for it. if power from the wall fails or the voltage dips low, the relay will click over and it’ll start using the battery to produce power and keep the computer running. the device you’re thinking of is called a power conditioner. it can be used as an UPS, with a built in battery as well, but the difference is there’s no relay, and it’s always producing its own clean sine wave power. basically, you could say you’re taking the DC from your battery banks, into the MSW inverter, converting to DC in the conditioner then back to AC a second time with a pure sine wave, and into the computer. power conditioners also have the down side of some power loss due to the conversions to DC and back to AC. simply put, save yourself time and money and get a PSW inverter, even a cheap one.

    for my own use, I do plan on using a PSW inverter and an UPS for my desktop. I’m a programmer, so a desktop is important to me. there is a little extra power used by an UPS to keep the internal battery charged, but it’ll protect your computer from unstable power and allow you to shutdown properly. a laptop basically does this internally, because it has a battery, however it’s still possible a MSW inverter could harm the power supply for your laptop. these and wall warts can also overheat and burn out just like motors.

    MrEnergy, your video has me thinking. when you’re testing on the bench, do you have a load on the inverter, or is only the oscilloscope connected? putting a small load on it may change the wave you’re seeing. it’s possible the squaring could be very low current. I don’t have as much knowledge of the internal workings as I’d like, but maybe it’s possible there are noise filters at the output of the inverter which are acting as tinny capacitors, and throwing off the scope. just a theory. try putting a 100 watt incandescent lamp on the inverter while testing it. let me know what you find.

    in reply to: Using capacitors instead of a battery #68111
    lorenzop
    Participant

    capacitors are interesting, but not the best choice for solar power storage due to the way they discharge and drop in voltage faster, as other posters have mentioned. what’s interesting is, as a large capacitor drains, the voltage will drop smoothly, but eventually will be low enough an inverter will power off, even though a capacitor would still have plenty of current left to deliver.

    what if, you put a capacitor bank before the charge controller? you would still need a lead acid battery, but I wonder if a capacitor bank would be worth having to supplement. may also need a dump load or disconnect to prevent over charging the capacitors. the way I picture this experiment working, solar panels charge the capacitors, which feeds into an efficient MPPT charge controller, then into a smaller lead acid battery bank. the charge controller can then pull more power from the capacitors after sundown, and draw them lower than what an inverter alone could do.

    taking the experiment a bit more to the crazy side, you can wire a DPDT relay to switch 2 banks of capacitors between parallel and series. put a sensor on each bank to detect when they’re both lower than 50%, then trigger the relay to switch the banks over to series which puts your MPPT charge controller back to 100% voltage. although the current will be about 25% of what you had when it was in parallel, the voltage will be boosted high enough to allow a deeper draining of the capacitors, which they’ll be more than happy to do daily.

    what do you think of my idea? I’m unsure if this would help or hurt efficiency in the real world, but it is interesting and could be worth trying. any flaws I haven’t thought of?

    lorenzop
    Participant

    a few things I’d like to mention, may be important but unclear in my post. I plan to give myself 1-2 years to prepare. my goal is to be living off-grid full time before the end of 2015. once I commit to buying land, I plan to have enough saved up to not need a supporting income, or a low pay part time job if needed. any free time I have after farming and building, I’m usually programming. I’ve worked to rid my current life style of stress, but it still seems to get in the way of my love for code. I don’t feel love or nature where I’m at. all signs point to this goal.

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