The Handson Journal Of Homemade Power

Issue #37 October / November 1993


6 Handmade Hydro Homestead

Eighteen years ago Matt Olson built this thirteen foot overshot water wheel for electric power. It makes 2000 watts of regular 120 vac, 60 cycle housepower. This hydro cost Matt less than $250 through diligent recycling and mountain man engineering.

22 A Kitchen in the Sun

What does your solar oven look like? Take a look at eight different designs in HP's solar cooking contest. Complete plans for the winner.


52 Racing Solar Panel Design

Michael Hackleman discusses the construction of The Solar Eagle's (a sunlight powered racer) PV array.

57 Catching the Dream

Rick Proctor gives hard data about electric vehicle performance and efficiency in two major races.

64 Relaunching the Esther

Richard Orawiec and LeRoy Wolins tell of their adventures restoring the good ship Esther (1896) back to her original electric power. Included are details and historical info on marine electric propulsion.

50 The Silent Revolution

Michael Hackleman introduces our new GoPower section on alternative transportation.

70 Marine Electric Propulsion

Michael Hackleman discusses technical aspects of powering a boat with an electric motor.

74 Electric Car Speed Control Systems

Shari Prange discusses different technologies that control the speed of an electric vehicle's drive motor.

RE Systems

13 PV in the City

Burke O'Neal and Ben Fiore describe the solar electric system they installed in their rented apartment. You don't need a country homestead, just a great landlady!

19 From Darkness to Light with the Power of the Sun

Read how a single PV module changes the life of the Piyasena Family in Sri Lanka.


30 Tower Economics 101

Mick Sagrillo gives the hard economic facts about wind generator performance and tower height Learn how wind speeds vary with ground cover and height.

Cover: A homemade thirteen foot water wheel produces 2000 watts of power. Photo by Richard Perez

40 Using Magnetic Field to Change Voltages

Dr. Kluge and his ducky buddies give a short course in the bucks and boosts of DC to DC power conversion. Learn how linear current boosters work!

46 Phantom Loads

Learn how inoperative American appliances consume more power than the countries of Greece, Peru and Vietnam. Don't let Phantom Loads suck your battery dry!

34 Berkeley Thermonuclear «¡m Paraboloid

Learn how to build a solar parabolic cooker that cooks hot enough and fast enough to make popcorn! Construction cost? Under 25 bucks!

82 Build a Simple Buck Regulator

Chris Greacen shares his design for making 12 VDC in a 24 VDC or higher system.

Michael Hackleman tells about REDI in Willits, California.

85 Power Politics

Michael Welch discusses federal energy subsidies and the societal costs of energy.

91 The Grid Man Cometh

Bob-O Schultze looks at the effects of utility-leased offgrid PV systems.

93 Code Corner

John Wles discusses cables and currents. Learn what type of wire and cable should be applied in your system.

97 Back to the Basics

Therese Peffer gets into small rechargeable batteries.

107 Home & Heart

Kathleen discusses house swapping.

109 Good Books

Solar Cooking Naturally is a cookbook for the solar chef.

109 The Wizard speaks...

On resources and recycling.


4 From Us to You

80 Home Power's Subscription form

81 Home Power's Biz Page 103 Happenings — RE events 111 Letters to Home Power

121 Q&A

125 Micro Ads

128 Index to Advertisers

Access and Info

Access Data

Home Power Magazine POB 520, Ashland, OR 97520 USA

Editorial and Advertising:

916-475-3179 voice and FAX Subscriptions and Back Issues:

916-475-0830 Computer BBS: 707-822-8640

Paper and Ink Data

Cover paper is 50% recycled (10% postconsumer and 40% preconsumer) Recovery Gloss from Silverleaf Paper Company.

Interior paper is 50% recycled (10% postconsumer and 40% preconsumer) Nature Web Suede from Simpson Paper Company.

Printed using low VOC vegetable based inks.

Printed by

St. Croix Press, Inc., New Richmond, Wisconsin


Home Power (ISSN 1050-2416) is published bi-monthly for $15 per year at P.O. Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520. International surface subscription for $20 U.S. Second class postage paid at Ashland, OR and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER send address corrections to Home Power, P.O. Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520.

Copyright ©1993 Home Power, Inc.

All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted or otherwise reproduced without written permission.

While Home Power Magazine strives for clarity and accuracy, we assume no responsibility or liability for the usage of this information.

While Home Power Magazine strives for clarity and accuracy, we assume no responsibility or liability for the usage of this information.

Recycled Paper Recyclable Paper

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78 GoPower Editorial

Who owns the sun?


Richard Perez

©1993 Richard Perez

Energy is an essential element of modern life. Ever since the industrial revolution, our energy consumption and dependence has skyrocketed. Budding industrialists clearly saw our future use of energy at the close of the 19th century. These early energy pioneers bought, controlled, and distributed the then known sources of energy — coal, oil, and natural gas. The descendants of these early energy entrepreneurs are our modern energy businesses — electric utilities, oil companies, and natural gas companies.

Energy as a commodity

Energy companies sell us their product. Who among us does not pay an electric bill, or a gas bill, or pay the gas station for fuel for a car? It has been this way since the early days when these companies cornered the then difficult to access, process, and distribute energy sources. Oil, coal, and natural gas are, and always have been, commodities to be bought and sold. And in the business of owning and selling energy, energy companies have been very successful.

In 1963, I first heard that electric power could be made directly from sunlight — photovoltaics. The real implications of the photovoltaic module didn't dawn on me for over twenty years. Here is an energy source that is free to access, already processed, and delivered daily everywhere to everyone. Sunlight is freely offered to us all rather than hidden in holes in the ground which can be owned and controlled. PVs convert sunlight directly into electricity in a single silent step. Contrast this with an oil refinery, coal mine, or natural gas plant.

Photovoltaics are the first widely applicable electric power source which is not a commodity. Solar energy is the first power source that can break the energy companies' monopoly on power. While this revolutionary aspect of solar power remains unrealized by most of us, energy-selling companies were quick to see sunshine's impact on their businesses. Just as the early energy pioneers saw our coming dependence on oil, coal, and gas, modern energy companies see our future dependence on solar energy.

Utilities, both public and private, are now planning on selling solar energy to their ratepayers. The specific scenarios vary from large utility scale solar power plants, to distributed production with PVs on everybody's roof, to utility leasing of PV systems to off-grid homes. In common to all scenarios is that the utility sells us the solar power — we don't own it.

continued on page 88

David Baty

Cody Brewer

Jay Campbell

Sam Coleman

Ben Fiore

Chris Greacen

Lalith Gunaratne

Michael Hackleman

Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze

Stan Krute

Burke O'Neal

Richard Orawiec

Therese Peffer

Karen Perez

Richard Perez

Shari Prange

Rick Proctor

Mick Sagrillo

Bob-O Schultze

Michael Welch

John Wiles

LeRoy Wolins

Let us hope that the sun, even though captured, will be free to the peoples of the world.

G. Don Graham (sent by Jack Thompson)

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