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Generating Off-Grid Power: The Four Best Ways

Monday, February 13, 2017 6:01
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Generating

Generating your own electricity

Save on electricity costs by generating your own.

Generating your own electricity can reduce energy costs and ensure security of supply.

For rural properties, it may be the only practical and cost-effective option. For urban properties, ‘micro-generation’ may also be an attractive option under the right circumstances.

There are several options, ranging from solar, wind and hydro to traditional diesel generators.

Why generate your own electricity?

Cost-effectiveness

Electricity is expensive and the price is expected to keep rising. Generating your own electricity may be cheaper in the long run than continuing to use power from the local lines.

For properties in remote areas, connections to the local lines can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Generating your own electricity can work out cheaper. It can also be an option in urban areas. At the moment the set-up costs are relatively high, but they are coming down.

If you are connected to the grid and you generate your own electricity, you may be able to sell any excess back to your power company.

Guaranteed connection

If you can generate and store your own electricity, either individually or collectively with neighbours, you have security of supply even if there is a black-out, or if your local electricity network is closed down.  This gives you much greater independence from the grid and can be useful in times of civil emergency or bad weather.

Environmental impact

In any year, up to 79% of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, bioenergy and geothermal. The rest comes from burning fossil fuels such as gas or coal, a process which produces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change.

As demand increases and additional electricity is generated, these emissions are likely to increase. By reducing demand for electricity from the local lines, and generating it yourself using renewable energy such as hydro, wind or photovoltaic cells, you’ll be helping reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and your personal carbon footprint.

How can you generate your own electricity?

Options for generating your own electricity include:

  • photovoltaic (PV) systems
  • wind turbines
  • micro-hydro systems
  • biomass and biogas engines
  • diesel or bio-diesel generators.

Wind, PV, hydro, biogas and bio-diesel all use renewable energy sources, produce no net harmful emissions and – depending on your circumstances – can offer cost-effective electricity generation options.

If you are already connected to the grid, changing to these systems can  be a relatively expensive option. However, all are worth considering, particularly for properties in remote locations – and the price is coming down year after year.

Find out how more than 78,000 Americans have greatly benefited from this amazing creation, and found energy independence, Click Here!

Biomass and biogas

Biomass is organic material that can be used to produce electricity, heat and can be transformed into fuels for transport. Examples of biomass are wood chips, timber offcuts, paper products, crop residues, animal manure and sewage. If factories or farms produce a lot of biomass waste, it can be economic to use this waste to generate electricity.

Around the home, it is more efficient to burn dry biomass in a woodburner for heating and water heating or in the case of leaves and garden waste to compost it.

When organic waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen, it produces a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. This biogas can be used instead of natural gas for heating, cooling, cooking and producing electricity. Methane and carbon dioxide are both greenhouse gases, but it is better to burn the methane than let it enter the atmosphere.

Biogas is useful for farmers who have to dispose of a lot of animal waste. However, a biogas plant does require maintenance and operational attention so may only be suitable for larger farms.

Diesel generators

Diesel generators have been used for many decades for generating electricity in remote locations.

They are also used for emergency electricity generation in case of power cuts. Hospitals, computer sites and other essential buildings all have them.

With a renewable energy system (especially wind or solar) you may still want a generator as a back-up. It may start automatically if the battery charge gets too low, for example on a windless or cloudy day.

They are simple to use and can be maintained by any garage mechanic. But they have drawbacks: noise, fuel costs, inconvenience of refuelling, exhaust fumes (including greenhouse gases and other hazardous air pollutants), wear and maintenance costs

Storing and using the electricity

If you’re generating your own electricity – especially with wind, hydro or PV systems – you can either be connected to the grid (and feed the electricity back into it) or be independent (a stand alone power system).  If you have a stand alone system, you will need to:

  •  have batteries to store the energy as it is generated, or
  • have an additional generating option available to ensure an uninterrupted supply.

If you are grid connected, you will be connected to the local electricity network, and can export excess electricity, as well as using mains electricity as a back up for your system. Using the grid for storage through a feed-in tariff arrangement with the local lines company will mean that you can save on the cost of having local storage battery banks.

What happens if we lose power indefinitely — foods that require freezing or refrigeration for long term storage are going to go bad? Emergency food storage in advance will be the only way to feed yourself and your family.

Batteries

If you are using batteries, you’ll need enough capacity to store electricity for your needs when your generators are not working. This may need to be the equivalent of several days’ supply if you rely on intermittent sources of generation, such as wind turbines or solar photovoltaics.

Your batteries will also need to be able to store electricity to meet your peak demand when several appliances are switched on at the same time.

They will need to be deep-cycle batteries. Most batteries, for example those used in vehicles, are damaged if you use up too much of the charge. Deep-cycle ones can survive regular discharge below 50%.

There are a range of options, but lead acid batteries are the cheapest for large-scale storage. Renewable energy systems usually use what’s known as wet batteries, rather than sealed or gel batteries.

Batteries emit corrosive and inflammable gases during the final stages of charging, so they should be installed in a well-ventilated structure separate from your house if possible.

They will need to be properly installed and maintained to keep them safe and in good condition. Check with your supplier and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They may need replacing every 6-8 years.

A bank of batteries sufficient for a stand alone system for one home may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, depending on how much energy you need to store.

Find more information on batteries for stand alone power systems on the Energywise website.

Other equipment

If you have your own power generation system and store power in batteries, you will also need other equipment such as:

  • an inverter to convert direct current (DC) stored by the battery to 230V alternating current (AC) used in standard appliances
  • a rectifier to convert AC to DC before battery storage
  • a controller to make sure the output is 230V and 50Hz, and that the battery doesn’t overcharge. It sends the excess power to a resistance element which can get very hot.

You’ll also need cables, which should be thick enough to carry the highest current. The shorter they are, the less power you’ll lose along the way. If they must be long, the voltage must be increased – which means you’ll need more equipment to change the voltage levels.

Note that a registered electrician must do all work with 230V equipment.

Selling to the grid

Your power retailer will sell you power at one price and may buy power from you at another price. You’ll need a contract with the retailer.

Depending on how your power is generated, the lines company may not accept very small quantities of fluctuating power. This may mean you have to use a battery as intermediate storage before sending the power back to the network.

Different suppliers allow different options, so check before you install a system. If you’re connected to the grid, you’ll have to pay monthly supply charges.

You will also need a control system that prevents power being sent to the grid when the grid is down to ensure the safety of anyone working on the lines.

Energy efficiency

Home electricity generation is expensive so you don’t want to buy a bigger system than you need.

Before installing any type of home generating equipment, make sure you reduce your electricity use with insulation, energy-efficient light bulbs, gas cooking, solar water heating etc.


 

So, you’ve thought about whether or not living off the grid is right for you; you know that it means no more utility bills and generating all of your own power, but what’s involved in that? It isn’t as easy as slapping a few solar panels on the roof and calling it good; when it comes to generating off grid power, there are a handful of methods that can combine to generate all the energy you’ll need to live comfortably off the grid.Plug in to off grid power with solar electricity
Solar power is probably the one that jumps to mind for most of us when it comes to off-grid energy. The sun-powered option, which includes photovoltaic solar panels, an inverter and batteries, can provide lots of electric power (especially if you get a lot of solar exposure where you live) for a long time, without any moving parts and a little maintenance. The downside, at least for now, is the cost: it is rarely cost-effective to power an entire home entirely with solar, even allowing for several decades for a positive return on the investment. Add to that the wide variance of solar exposure by location (see the map for an example) and the fact that solar only works when the sun is shining, and it’s easy to see why solar remains a part of the answer, and not the whole thing.


Generating off-grid power with wind electricity
If you get good news after you contact your local weather service to check on the average wind speed in your area, generating electricity from residential-sized wind turbines is another option for off-grid energy. Knowing the average and wind speed ranges, you can estimate how much electricity a given system will produce. Keep in mind, wind speeds on a specific lot can vary significantly from regional averages depending on local topography.

When it comes to picking a turbine, size matters. A 400-watt wind turbine, big enough to account for a few appliances, uses about a four-foot-diameter rotor; a 900-watt turbine uses a seven-foot turbine; a 10,000-watt (10 kW) turbine, enough to power most or all of a house, uses a 23-foot turbine and is mounted on a tower often more than 100 feet tall. Obviously, living in town or on a small plot, the big one isn’t going to work as well, but many people have the necessary real estate for an extra seven-foot turbine.

As with solar, there are pluses and minuses to going with wind energy off the grid; the biggest, most obvious one is the need for breeze: if the wind doesn’t blow, the turbine stays still and the electricity isn’t generated. Wind turbines also have moving parts, which means more things that require maintenance and have the possibility of failure. But if you’ve got a good consistent stiff breeze blowing through the back yard, you can harvest its energy for years to come.


Using microhydro electricity to live off grid
Probably the least-known of the off-grid energy systems, microhydro electricity uses a source of running water, like a stream, to generate electricity; it’s produced from the energy in water flowing from a high level to a lower level that turns a turbine at the bottom end of the system.

Microhydro electricity generation can be the most cost effective of the three, according to Energy Alternatives Ltd., “Our experience with micro hydro systems has demonstrated that water power will produce between 10 and 100 times more power than PV or wind for the same capital investment.” If your source is good, it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing lots of off-grid energy for a long, long time; because it produces so much more consistent energy, fewer batteries are needed to store the energy because there is less (or zero) time that the system isn’t harvesting energy. Of course, as with the other two, it requires pretty specific on-site conditions; if you don’t have a stream in the backyard, you can’t use microhydro.

Conservation: addition by subtraction
Even though this doesn’t technically generate electricity or transfer energy, we have to mention this; as was noted previously, one dollar worth of energy conservation can save three to five dollars in energy generation equipment costs; if you can use what you have more efficiently, there’s no reason to spend more to make more. While designing for efficiency is the best way to achieve high levels of energy conservation, there are lots of retrofits in insulation and efficiency upgrades that can help cut back on demand.


Survival Food Prepping Ideas/ULTIMATE Top Skills 2017

Discover how to survive: Most complete survival tactics, tips, skills and ideas like how to make pemmican, snow shoes, knives, soap, beer, smoke houses, bullets, survival bread, water wheels, herbal poultices, Indian round houses, root cellars, primitive navigation, and much more at: The Lost Ways

The Lost Ways is a far-reaching book with chapters ranging from simple things like making tasty bark-bread-like people did when there was no food-to building a traditional backyard smokehouse… and many, many, many more!

Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll find in The Lost Ways:

From Ruff Simons, an old west history expert and former deputy, you’ll learn the techniques and methods used by the wise sheriffs from the frontiers to defend an entire village despite being outnumbered and outgunned by gangs of robbers and bandits, and how you can use their wisdom to defend your home against looters when you’ll be surrounded.

Native American ERIK BAINBRIDGE – who took part in the reconstruction of the native village of Kule Loklo in California, will show you how Native Americans build the subterranean roundhouse, an underground house that today will serve you as a storm shelter, a perfectly camouflaged hideout, or a bunker. It can easily shelter three to four families, so how will you feel if, when all hell breaks loose, you’ll be able to call all your loved ones and offer them guidance and shelter? Besides that, the subterranean roundhouse makes an awesome root cellar where you can keep all your food and water reserves year-round.

From Shannon Azares you’ll learn how sailors from the XVII century preserved water in their ships for months on end, even years and how you can use this method to preserve clean water for your family cost-free.

Mike Searson – who is a Firearm and Old West history expert – will show you what to do when there is no more ammo to be had, how people who wandered the West managed to hunt eight deer with six bullets, and why their supply of ammo never ran out. Remember the panic buying in the first half of 2013? That was nothing compared to what’s going to precede the collapse.

From Susan Morrow, an ex-science teacher and chemist, you’ll master “The Art of Poultice.” She says, “If you really explore the ingredients from which our forefathers made poultices, you’ll be totally surprised by the similarities with modern medicines.” Well…how would you feel in a crisis to be the only one from the group knowledgeable about this lost skill? When there are no more antibiotics, people will turn to you to save their ill children’s lives.

If you liked our video tutorial on how to make Pemmican, then you’ll love this: I will show you how to make another superfood that our troops were using in the Independence war, and even George Washington ate on several occasions. This food never goes bad. And I’m not talking about honey or vinegar. I’m talking about real food! The awesome part is that you can make this food in just 10 minutes and I’m pretty sure that you already have the ingredients in your house right now.

Really, this is all just a peek.

The Lost Ways is a far-reaching book with chapters ranging from simple things like making tasty bark-bread-like people did when there was no food-to building a traditional backyard smokehouse… and many, many, many more!

And believe it or not, this is not all…

Table Of Contents:

The Most Important Thing
Making Your Own Beverages: Beer to Stronger Stuff
Ginger Beer: Making Soda the Old Fashioned Way
How North American Indians and Early Pioneers Made Pemmican
Spycraft: Military Correspondence During The 1700’s to 1900’s
Wild West Guns for SHTF and a Guide to Rolling Your Own Ammo
How Our Forefathers Built Their Sawmills, Grain Mills,and Stamping Mills
How Our Ancestors Made Herbal Poultice to Heal Their Wounds
What Our Ancestors Were Foraging For? or How to Wildcraft Your Table
How Our Ancestors Navigated Without Using a GPS System
How Our Forefathers Made Knives
How Our Forefathers Made Snow shoes for Survival
How North California Native Americans Built Their Semi-subterranean Roundhouses
Our Ancestors’Guide to Root Cellars
Good Old Fashioned Cooking on an Open Flame
Learning from Our Ancestors How to Preserve Water
Learning from Our Ancestors How to Take Care of Our Hygiene When There Isn’t Anything to Buy
How and Why I Prefer to Make Soap with Modern Ingredients
Temporarily Installing a Wood-Burning Stove during Emergencies
Making Traditional and Survival Bark Bread…….
Trapping in Winter for Beaver and Muskrat Just like Our Forefathers Did
How to Make a Smokehouse and Smoke Fish
Survival Lessons From The Donner Party

 

SOURCE : http://www.prepperfortress.com/generating-off-grid-power-the-four-best-ways/

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