Info

Avg. WH/Day

1,933.4

pressure. Water exerts 1 pound per square inch (psi) of pressure for every 2.3 feet of elevation gain. So our operating water pressure is about 60 psi at the house. Inside, we have a shower, toilet, and bathroom and kitchen sinks, with a low-flow shower head and flow restrictors throughout. With careful use of water we have enough for our needs. Our laundry is done at a laundromat and our dishes are washed by hand. We choose to have neither a washing machine nor a dishwasher—the two biggest water users in the average house.

Our hot water is heated by a custom-fabricated water jacket, installed in our wood cookstove. Hot water is

The loft's north exit leads outside to these electrical compartments. Also pictured are the wind genny's tower base and the PVs.

stored in a super-insulated, standard hot water tank, and is circulated through the stove by thermal convection. One or two meals a day cooked on the stove provide plenty of hot water during fall, winter, and spring. During the summer, when we are not using the wood cookstove, we use solar showers. Careful layout of kitchen and bathroom plumbing eliminated long runs of hot water piping. The use of rainwater eliminates any buildup of minerals in the hot water jacket.

The loft's north exit leads outside to these electrical compartments. Also pictured are the wind genny's tower base and the PVs.

RE System Evolution

While we were living in the barn, we had minimal room. We had a Wind Baron Neo Plus 750 watt wind genny and six Siemens SP75 PV modules. Their output was stored in twelve Interstate L-16 partments. batteries. A Trace 2512 inverter ie PVs. provided AC power for our VestFrost refrigerator/freezer. We chose the VestFrost because it does not use ozone-destroying CFCs. Lights were all 12 volts DC. The size of this system was overkill.

Load

The barn living quarters have since been converted to a shop that is powered by the Wind Baron and an old Arco M75 salvaged from our first use of solar-electric panels in the mid-1980s. Energy is stored in six, ancient T-105 batteries. The Trace 2512 serves a few 120 volt power tools, a concession to the fact that I am not as young as I was when I started my off-grid lifestyle 29 years ago.

McCoy/Reising PV/Wind System Costs

Trace SW2512 inverter_

6 Siemens SP75 modules, 75 W_

12 Interstate batteries, L-16 Whisper H900 wind genny & controls Tower and installation 2 AstroPower AP7105 modules, 75 W 2 Breaker panels, 12 VDC & 120 VAC

Disconnect switch, 12 V, 400 A_

Ananda PV60 charge controller Misc. wiring and parts DeSulfator, DS-1000

$11,837

For our new house, we have eight PV panels—the six Siemens SP75s and two, 75 watt Astropower modules for a total of 600 rated watts. These are controlled by an Ananda Power Manager PV60 charge controller. The panels are mounted over the rear exit on two I-beams set in concrete. A 2 inch galvanized pipe is bolted to the I-beams, and the PV rack is U-bolted to the pipe. Adjustable braces from the rack to the I-beams keep the whole thing stable, and allow for winter and summer orientation.

We used #4 (21 mm2) wire for the 20 foot (6 m) distance from the PVs to the charge controller. I used a chart to find the correct wire size, then chose the next size larger.

Another Wind Generator

We also have a Whisper H900 wind generator. Our Whisper is mounted on a four-section, army surplus crane boom. Total height is 56 feet (17 m), which gets the genny adequately above surrounding trees. The wire run from the genny to the controller is 65 feet (20 m), using #00 (67 mm2). The Whisper produces 60 amps peak output when winds are 28 mph.

We are still using the twelve Interstate L-16 batteries to store energy in our system. The 6 volt, 375 amp-hour batteries are wired in series and parallel for a rated 2,250 amp-hours at 12 VDC. I made my battery cables out of welding cable from a defunct portable welder.

Since we are on a hilltop, we get plenty of wind. The hilltop is not large, so putting up the tower was not easy—no room for a tilt-up! We hired a crane with a 130 foot (40 m) boom. The crane operator set up out front and reached over the top of the house to set the tower in place. The tower only cost US$500 delivered, but the cost of the crane was nearly US$1,000. The tower is extremely sturdy and is guyed to three points. It is easy to climb and feels solid. It stands on a footing that is 5 by 5 foot by 11/2 feet (1.5 x 1.5 x 0.5 m) deep. The guy wires are fastened to poured concrete footings.

We did have problems with the Whisper control unit. The circuitry that monitors the battery voltage failed. So once the batteries were fully charged, instead of shunting the wind generator output to the diversion load, the wind generator continued to charge the batteries. The unit got so hot during the failure that the solder was melted off the wire terminal connections.

We thought that two returns to the factory for repairs had fixed the problems. A third failure, while we were on vacation, proved too much for our batteries. After ten days of high winds with the diversion controller and dump load not working, our twelve storage batteries are now operating at about half their rated capacity. The factory finally sent us a new control unit, and it seems to be working properly. However, we do feel compelled to keep a constant watch on its operation.

The RE components are safely outside the house in insulated compartments, with the batteries in their own vented space.

The house's 120 VAC and 12 VDC wiring allows Colin and Christine to use either AC or DC loads.

The RE components are safely outside the house in insulated compartments, with the batteries in their own vented space.

The house's 120 VAC and 12 VDC wiring allows Colin and Christine to use either AC or DC loads.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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