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Electricity & Solar Energy

manpaint

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So, I have been recently contemplating how our lives pretty much rely on a third party electricity supplier. While using a laptop, I got the idea that rechargable batteries where likely a thing, and started looking more into the subject.

From what, I have seen, the main thing that is being hyped up by "sustainable house" people appears to be solar energy. according to some website, like this one, it is essentially possible to have solar powered energy tanks that act as big batteries that you can then plug devices in.

That being said, I am a bit worried about venturing into that territory. If watching the whole crypto currency debacle from the sidelines has taught me, is that where there are alternatives, they are scammers. While I cannot deny that the idea of having a sustainable house is a good thing, I'd imagine that a some bad actors are already exploiting this.

Do any of you guys have any experience with solar energy? I am aware of that this thread already exists, but since it's more focused on plants, I though it was best to make another one. If you do have experience, what specific equipement do you use?
 

h00

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Low tech magazine is powered completely by the sun.

All the computing we did in the 80s/90s can be done with like 10W. A 10W panel isn't even $40.
Solar energy is super viable so long as you make your power requirements realistic.
If you really want that sustainable house, drop the refrigerator and maybe get an icebox or pickle/salt your food.
But on your concern about scammers n such: BUILD DONT BUY! Solar and battery tech is well established. Just don't buy some stupid "Smart green home" from yuppie developers and you'll be AJ Gooch.

But yeah, sustainability and permaculture is a super interesting and fun hobby. Try to min-max that carbon footprint :)
 
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handoferis

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So, I have been recently contemplating how our lives pretty much rely on a third party electricity supplier. While using a laptop, I got the idea that rechargable batteries where likely a thing, and started looking more into the subject.

From what, I have seen, the main thing that is being hyped up by "sustainable house" people appears to be solar energy. according to some website, like this one, it is essentially possible to have solar powered energy tanks that act as big batteries that you can then plug devices in.

That being said, I am a bit worried about venturing into that territory. If watching the whole crypto currency debacle from the sidelines has taught me, is that where there are alternatives, they are scammers. While I cannot deny that the idea of having a sustainable house is a good thing, I'd imagine that a some bad actors are already exploiting this.

Do any of you guys have any experience with solar energy? I am aware of that this thread already exists, but since it's more focused on plants, I though it was best to make another one. If you do have experience, what specific equipement do you use?
Quite frankly you're not an island and will always be relying on some third party or another. It's how humanity works, hermit lifestyle is well documented if you really want to eschew most reliance on others but even hermits have to compromise sometimes (or die).

Most solar+battery backup systems are exactly that - backups. They're not meant to be a substitute for relying on various suppliers etc.
 
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manpaint

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Low tech magazine is powered completely by the sun.

All the computing we did in the 80s/90s can be done with like 10W. A 10W panel isn't even $40.
Solar energy is super viable so long as you make your power requirements realistic.
If you really want that sustainable house, drop the refrigerator and maybe get an icebox or pickle/salt your food.
But on your concern about scammers n such: BUILD DONT BUY! Solar and battery tech is well established. Just don't buy some stupid "Smart green home" from yuppie developers and you'll be AJ Gooch.

But yeah, sustainability and permaculture is a super interesting and fun hobby. Try to min-max that carbon footprint :)

That magazine seens interesting, I'll take a look.

Quite frankly you're not an island and will always be relying on some third party or another. It's how humanity works, hermit lifestyle is well documented if you really want to eschew most reliance on others but even hermits have to compromise sometimes (or die).

Most solar+battery backup systems are exactly that - backups. They're not meant to be a substitute for relying on various suppliers etc.

Yeah I have no doubt that achieving full sustainability is unrealistic. Having an electricity back up is nice as I would have a plan B in an emergency.
 

Caspar

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I was trained to install solar panels as part of my education - though work has never had me apply that, and know a little about them from my own knowledge. You can set up solar systems in a couple of ways. The most cost efficient, imo, is to maintain a connection to the electrical grid and attach solar panels to reduce your utility bill - and it might break even somewhere between 10-20 years (depending on the price of the panels and the installer) and it'll be good for maybe 30-35 years total. So, if you wanna break that down mathematically, it's an investment that will return about 50% dividends in 30 years or better depending on how you manage it. Batteries are prone to problems, like leaking acid, being expensive, and an added liability for your system, so unless you're dedicated to off-grid living, I wouldn't really recommend them.

Solar panels get better and cheaper year after year, but I would just advise never to buy them around the time of a crisis or election. Like other things, I believe their price jumps a tad. I would say you may way to skip on them if your roof isn't angled such that the slope of the roof faces North/South since you'd get fewer panels per sq. ft. and they'll be installed in an uglier, more costly, and less stable manner than otherwise - since they'll have to be put on those stilts.

Altogether, it depends on what you want them for. If you want to have a mobile set up for a road trip or the van life meme, it's okay. If you want it for a house for economical reasons, it's sometimes okay. If you want it for off-grid living... lots of people do it, but it only lasts 30 years - after that, they're going to be in trouble since they can't replicate the technology on their off-grid lot. If you want to be off-grid, my advice is to be a bit more creative - wind or water power are probably better imho. I'm not a fan of the batteries, personally.
 

manpaint

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I was trained to install solar panels as part of my education - though work has never had me apply that, and know a little about them from my own knowledge. You can set up solar systems in a couple of ways. The most cost efficient, imo, is to maintain a connection to the electrical grid and attach solar panels to reduce your utility bill - and it might break even somewhere between 10-20 years (depending on the price of the panels and the installer) and it'll be good for maybe 30-35 years total. So, if you wanna break that down mathematically, it's an investment that will return about 50% dividends in 30 years or better depending on how you manage it. Batteries are prone to problems, like leaking acid, being expensive, and an added liability for your system, so unless you're dedicated to off-grid living, I wouldn't really recommend them.

Solar panels get better and cheaper year after year, but I would just advise never to buy them around the time of a crisis or election. Like other things, I believe their price jumps a tad. I would say you may way to skip on them if your roof isn't angled such that the slope of the roof faces North/South since you'd get fewer panels per sq. ft. and they'll be installed in an uglier, more costly, and less stable manner than otherwise - since they'll have to be put on those stilts.

Altogether, it depends on what you want them for. If you want to have a mobile set up for a road trip or the van life meme, it's okay. If you want it for a house for economical reasons, it's sometimes okay. If you want it for off-grid living... lots of people do it, but it only lasts 30 years - after that, they're going to be in trouble since they can't replicate the technology on their off-grid lot. If you want to be off-grid, my advice is to be a bit more creative - wind or water power are probably better imho. I'm not a fan of the batteries, personally.
I see. Thanks for the advice.
 

punishedgnome

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Just get a woodstove and a propane fridge. Propane fridges burn fuck all in propane. I had mine going for a month last summer in my trailer and didn't even burn through a full 30 pound tank. Then you can get a battery pack for charging your smaller devices and small gas generator and a cheap solar panel to charge that and you can use the solar panel when it's a nice day and you're not in a hurry to charge the battery pack. By battery pack I mean something like these engerzier ones that can charge a smartphone 25 times and a laptop around 5 times on a charge:

pack.jpg

For water get a trailer water tank and a small DC pump. To fill it, if you're in a place with the right type of soil a sandpoint well would be easy to do or you can collect rainwater depending on the climate. I'm in a place with a really high water table so renting a mini excavator and digging a shallow well is an option in my parts.

Dig an outhouse for a shitter. You'll be fine just letting your bath/sink water run out on the ground, just don't pour anything toxic down the drain.

If you're in a place where some kind of municipal government will keep you from doing any of this, there is zero point to attempting to go off the grid imo.

Maybe if you're really hellbent on it and in a place where regulations would stop you from doing an actual off the grid house, look into doing the whole living in a van thing. If I were in my early 20s and single now, I'd totally be into trying that out for a year or two.
 
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manpaint

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Maybe if you're really hellbent on it and in a place where regulations would stop you from doing an actual off the grid house, look into doing the whole living in a van thing. If I were in my early 20s and single now, I'd totally be into trying that out for a year or two.
Well truth to be told everything is still very theoretical - I am just pondering about alternative options. I greatly appreciate all the knowledge that has been shared so far though.
 

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Well truth to be told everything is still very theoretical - I am just pondering about alternative options. I greatly appreciate all the knowledge that has been shared so far though.
If you want to know anything just ask. I don't know a lot about solar, but I live in a place where having an off the grid cabin is very common and I have an off the grid trailer.
 
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