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Alternative Energy Engineering Load Center

3500 Watt Coleman Generator

Alternative Energy Engineering Load Center

To Special ac loads: Hair Dryer, Washing Machine,

3500 Watt Coleman Generator

15 Amp Circuits to DC Household Loads: Refrigerator, Lights, T.V., etc.

Breaker Panel to ac Loads: Vacuum Cleaner, Computer, etc.

Edison ED series NiCd Cells 560 amp-hours at 12 volt: 2 x 10 @ 80 A-h 1 x 10 @ 160 A-h 1 x 9 @240 A-h + (3 x 80 A-h)

15 Amp Circuits to DC Household Loads: Refrigerator, Lights, T.V., etc.

Breaker Panel to ac Loads: Vacuum Cleaner, Computer, etc.

Edison ED series NiCd Cells 560 amp-hours at 12 volt: 2 x 10 @ 80 A-h 1 x 10 @ 160 A-h 1 x 9 @240 A-h + (3 x 80 A-h)

000 wire for the main run, sized down to #6 for the connection to the panel boxes. The household circuit wires were #10 up to #6, depending on amperage and distance requirements. We used several 3-way switches for the convenience of walk-thru light switching, so our wire sizes grew due to the extra length needed to complete such circuits.

Our lighting is entirely 12 VDC planned around task and background demands, but with as efficient wattages as possible. We created our own fixtures for most lights incorporating the use of down-spot halogen (MR-16s) and fluorescents for as many 12 VDC ballasts as we could afford. Regular lamps ended up with incandescent bulbs but were kept in the 15 to 25 Watt range. Adobe is not a highly reflective material, so our night lighting takes on a lower and softer level in the living room when that area is used for talking or watching TV. Reading is always bright enough with MR-16 halogens, even in the 20 Watt size. Our kitchen and our master bath use 35 Watt fluorescents and are very well lit, the kitchen especially so with its majority of light-reflective cabinets and walls.

The old propane refrigerator has been replaced by a Sun Frost RF-16 which we keep fully stuffed with supplies and ice cream (when there is room!). Its greatest claim to fame with us is that it basically is paying for itself. The old Servel ran great, but didn't keep ice cream hard and after 10 years of use we put enough money into it in propane to have paid for the Sun Frost! Of course, Sun Frosts didn't exist when we first (gladly!) bought the Servel. It was a while later before we could put together the finances to switch over

Photo: Katcha Sanderson

Above: Two disconnects (PV/battery & controller/inverter), The AEE DC load panel with metering, Enermaxer controller, and Trace inverter.

Bill and Katcha's Electrical Appliances

12 VDC Appliances_

Bill and Katcha's Electrical Appliances

12 VDC Appliances_

Battery charger (AAA, AA, C, D & 9V)

2 watt max

Computer (monochrome laptop)

60 watt max

Computer Printer

108 watt

Lights

16 @ 15 watt incandescent

Lights

6 @ 25 watt incandescent

Lights

1 @ 75 watt incandescent

Lights

8 @ 20 watt halogen incandescent

Lights

1 @ 13 watt fluorescent

Lights

3 @ 14 watt fluorescent

Lights

3 @ 35 watt fluorescent

Radio (Auto built into cabinet)

12 watt

Television Set

77 watt max

TV antenna rotor

10 watt

Video Cassette Recorder

22 watt

117 vac Appliances (Trace 612 powered)

Blender

300 watt

Computer (color laptop)

140 watt max

Computer Printer

T00 watt

Iron

500 watt

Kirby Vacuum Cleaner

470 watt

Mixer (counter top)

120 watt

Photo: Rudy Heckmann

Above: Bill and Katcha built their home brick by brick...literally.

to the Sun Frost. Not an unfamiliar story for most of us who have been living with the "as-you-go" system development plan.

Off-System Appliances

We want to note those appliances for which we have found non-system electric alternatives: alarm clock/calculator (3 VDC battery), clocks (AA batteries), clothes line, hair curler (butane), iron (butane), match/lighter (butane), smoke detector (9 VDC battery), and of course several flashlights (AA and D batteries). I even have a "button" battery charger with a mini PV for charging small watch and calculator batteries. We're sure that several readers have noticed that we don't have a clothes dryer, dishwasher, or microwave. They are items we don't use, but the house has been wired and plumbed for a dishwasher to be installed if one is wanted later. Katcha prefers to hang dry laundry

Photo: Katcha Sanderson

Above: The power corner including Edison NiCd batteries on the lower shelf.

outdoors in the sun and air, and in winter we have a line up in our garage. The obviousness of NOT wanting lights on in the house by day does need mentioning. We assured that by having clerestory windows at our roof peak, and careful window sizing and placement.

Additional RE stand-alone systems power our garage (one 40 Watt panel and an old 360 A-h lead acid battery) and our water system (two 40 Watt panels to a Solar Jack pump). Water pressure is by gravity from our 2500 gallon main tank and 1800 gallon overflow tank on a hill behind our house.

System Costs

Since our system has grown and changed over several years, figuring an overall cost is very difficult and maybe even not comparable in light of today's newer items and prices. A rough calculation reveals under

Systems

$5000 spent for panels, batteries, controllers, distribution boxes, and water pump. We made our own mounting racks for the PV panels on the house and garage. We also had great luck and timing to get our NiCds from a salvage source when they weren't as highly sought. We didn't include the Sun Frost in that total since it's an appliance, not a system component.

Would we have the same system if we installed it today? Probably not. Newer inverters make it possible for a "power shed" away from the house and for easier use with off-the-shelf appliances. They are also very reliable and work well with generators for charging and as a backup source in case of a system component failure.

Other people living in this same house would likely have an altogether different system. But then, that's the beauty of RE, it is ALTERNATIVE based; the more the choices, the better the system can fit the user. Plus, these systems are flexible and can be added to if and when requirements increase. Continuing to use DC is comfortable to us because it is in line with our preference to do things in as direct a means as possible and keep to the simplest means as well. One thing we know for sure, our system meets all our needs and doesn't send us a bill at the end of each month!

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Bill and Katcha Sanderson, 20295 Panoche Rd., Paicines CA 95043 • 408-628-3362 E-mail: [email protected]

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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.

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