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Alternative Fuels An energy source alternative to using fossil fuels. Materials or substances that can be used as a fuel, other than conventional fuels. Waste oils, vegetable oils or animal fats, which can be used alone, or blended with fossil fuels.

Alternative Fuels

Can you really live off grid?


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  #31  
Old 02-29-2012, 10:14:56 AM
John Marrais John Marrais is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

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Originally Posted by Avery22x36 View Post
, is it really possible to live in normal house offgrid?
It depends on what you call "normal." My wife and I have two homes here in New York. One totally off-grid and the other on grid-tie. Both use solar for electricity. We live in one of the darkest "low sunlight" areas in the US. So, if we can do it, so can anyone else. Not what many would call "normal" though.

Our main "winter" home is based on an 1820 farmhouse. I built a tractor barn with one roof facing south and angled to hold 5400 watts of solar panels. That's wired to a 48 volt battery bank and twin 10,000 watt inverters that make 220 volts AC. The only reason we have grid-tie is so the excess power we make does not get wasted. Heat is 100% firewood. That includes hot water in the winter. In the summer it's heated by roof panels. We have two water sources in the house. A hand-powered pitcher pump on a dug well (30 feet deep) and a submerged electric pump in a 200 foot drilled well. We keep 1000 gallons of diesel here all the time - mostly to run tractors. I also have a 17KW electric generator powered by a F140 four cylinder Continental gas engine that is set up to run on wood smoke. We have several 42" plasma TVs, microwave, etc. Also an equipment repair shop with a 220 volt welder, big air compressor, etc. Our kitchen has a Rumford wood cooking fireplace, a wood fired bake oven, a wood cook stove and oven, a gasoline stove, an oil stove, and two propane stoves. Yeah that's a lot but my wife used to teach alternative cooking at a living history museum and water powered mill. We both like backup systems.

If you have NO hookup to grid power - and you install solar and/or wind power - you will have times when you make twice the power you need - and it all gets wasted. And you'll have times when you make NO power. So, off-grid needs backup power to make sure your battery bank stays charged. A good battery bank will last 10 years. My neighbor is totally off grid and he uses propane to run a backup generator to keep his batteries charged when it's been dark for a long time. I know another family that uses water power for backup but that only works if you've got a good running creek or river on your land. That is unless you build a dam, pond, and water-release system.

By the way, I forgot to mention refrigeration. Someone else mentioned an absorbtion type. That needs fuel - either propane or oil. We use a Swedish Sundanzer 12 volt frig and freezer. Will run on 12-24 volts and they are amazing. One 120 watt solar panel hooked to one 225 AH battery will run one all year long. And - solar panels are very cheap right now. 1/3 the cost they were 5 years ago.
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  #32  
Old 03-02-2012, 08:38:16 PM
Jeff Smith Jeff Smith is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

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Originally Posted by Rod Fielder View Post
i have a friend that has free natural gas on his property and a natural gas generator. don't know if that's off grid, but he doesn't have any utility bills
Rod,

I know of the same thing, off the grid, but he has also converted his cars to natural gas and also gets enough $$$ from the gas it to pay the mortage...............
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  #33  
Old 03-03-2012, 04:19:54 AM
DLeach DLeach is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

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Originally Posted by Power View Post
local electric coop absolutely will not allow anyone (unless a line outfit under contract by them) to put up a line with a transformer on the end
Correct - you can't put up hi line, but you may be able to put the poles up, and they install the hi line. That should cut the cost. If the distance is so long that you need hi line and a can at your end, then there is more ugly.
Try thinking out of the box a bit. Maybe they will allow you to come in with 480 and drop it to 120/240 at your house. That halves the drop, and the cans have taps on them, so you can go to a higher tap - say 125/250 to keep full load drop within acceptable limits. We did an installation where they designed for 130/260 once. 130 volt bulbs are readily available.
That green is awful hard on the eyes.

---------- Post added at 01:19 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:08 AM ----------

Marvin
I live up in the Peacocks and have been offgrid for 8 years now. Will be adding a couple more panels in that demand is up a lil for power. Just added a gas clothes dryer so wife doesn't have to hang clothes on cold days. Maybe some day we can meet to compare notes.
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  #34  
Old 03-06-2012, 03:46:45 AM
marvgarr marvgarr is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

That would be great I too will have to add some more panels as i am at the limit in summer time but not much more
private message me and we will get together one of these days
thanks
marvin
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  #35  
Old 03-06-2012, 12:46:41 PM
Bill Sherlock Bill Sherlock is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

"That green is awful hard on the eyes."

If you left click and drag your mouse over the green printing it becomes visible.

Bill
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  #36  
Old 03-07-2012, 07:34:11 PM
G Willikers G Willikers is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

This lad is just around the corner from us:
http://www.lunaproject.ca/about-us-luna-project
Another way of living off the grid if you are up to the challenge?
But I grew up on a farm with wood stove heat and outdoor pooper facilities. It was a good life in that we had a strong family upbringing, had plenty to eat ( all from our farm) and knew as kids that we didn't have the money to have what some other people had. But then, back then, a lot of people lived the same way.
Having said that, you can shove your yurts and off the grid living firmly where the day's sunlight doesn't reach! A lot of people struggled and sacrificed so that we could have a better life - a warm, comfortable home with safe and reliable drinking water and toilet facilities for example.
Turn off the lights in the room you are not using, leave the tv off if you are not watching, turn the heat down a wee bit and wear a sweater, likewise the ac, don't surround yourself with every useless, modernistic, power consuming trinket that comes across from China. Live a sensible, modest lifestyle. The rest will look after itself!
RM.
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  #37  
Old 03-12-2012, 10:33:59 AM
Robdiesel.707 Robdiesel.707 is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

My wife and I have been off grid for 32yrs, living in her great granfathers house on his ranch. He didn't have a liteplant but had propane lamps, oil lamps ect. Propane cookstove, water heater and refrigerator. It all cost money! I talked to the power company about power in 1980, and they wanted $79,000.00 for 2 1/2 miles. Ten years later they wanted $180,000.00. I have 2 generators now, both diesel one to run the solar for the house and one to run the shop 3ph. We don't get enough water for a pelton wheel but we do have some wind, and I did buy an old wind generator. I just have to climb and limb a tree to put the thing in. The higher you go the more wind you will get. I'm going to make a bearing cap that will slip on the top of the tree after I top it. This bearing cap will have a stud to mount the windmill on so the windmill will spin free. My concern is climbing the tree to repair the thing. I'm kicking around building a steam engine to power my generator so I can burn waste wood around the place to offset my diesel use. I think unless you find a way to harness some unseen power sorce you will allways have to pay someone for fuel ect. The steam power thing would be good but I still have to figure out a boiler, size ect. I know nothing about how to build a safe boiler or just a boiler period. Another thing is a boiler consumes fuel, and if I should build the thing I should have a clean looking forest.
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  #38  
Old 03-12-2012, 02:40:06 PM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

Rob - woodgas might be a better solution than a boiler and steam engine. Can use your existing engines.
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  #39  
Old 03-14-2012, 10:42:55 PM
Robdiesel.707 Robdiesel.707 is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

What is wood gas?
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  #40  
Old 03-17-2012, 11:48:25 PM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

Google it. Also, we had some discussons on Stak. Look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_gas

---------- Post added at 11:48 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:45 PM ----------

Another article-
How to Power a Gasoline Engine with Wood - COVER
Historic document "How to Power a Gasoline Engine with Wood", woodgas gasifier plans
puffergas.com/florida/florida.html
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