The Midwest Renewable Energy Association Workshop Schedule. Call MREAfor cost, locations, instructors and further workshop descriptions. Membership and participation in the MREA are open and welcome to all. Significant others may attend with you for 1/2 price. Contact: MREA, PO Box 249, Amherst, WI 54406 • 715-824-5166 • Fax: 715-8245399

Back Issues of Home Power !

It contains an index of all articles back to issue #1.

You can buy back issues individually:

• $4.75 each for #21 through #45 (except for #35 & #36)

Deal #1: All 44 available issues for $145 Deal #2:6 or more issues (of #21 through #60) for $4.00 each (sent bound printed matter). for U.S. ZIP codes only, see page 81 for international back issues.

(Sorry, we're out of issues 1 through 10, 12 , 14, 15, 35 and 36). We are planning to compile them into a CD. Until then, borrow from a friend. If you have a computer (or a friend with one) download the article you're missing by calling the Home Power bulletin board at 707-822-8640. Or check with your local library; through interlibrary loan, you can get these back issues. Jackson County Library in Oregon has all issues as does the Alfred Mann Library at Cornell Univ.)

Home Power, PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 • 800-707-6585 • 916-475-0830 visa / mc the Wizard speaks.

the Wizard speaks...

Video Review

Last issue I reviewed a book on "free energy". This time I will discuss a video that could almost be considered a companion to that book, though produced by different folks. The title of this video is Free Energy: The Race To Zero Point. It is 110 minutes long and full of interesting discussions and demonstrations. Many authors, scientists, engineers, and inventors participated in this video.

The subject matter includes a wide range of topics from historical to present day and beyond. Theories are mentioned and devices discussed or demonstrated. The fields of endeavor include electromagnetics, electrostatics, permanent magnets, plasma discharges, and nuclear fusion. Heat engines and alternative fuels are also discussed and demonstrated.

Applications for these devices and theories are also covered These include energy generation, propulsion, transmutation, levitation, and anti-gravity. This video is really an introduction to what may be the technology of the twenty-first century and beyond.

The video can be obtained from Lightworks Audio and Video. The address is PO Box 661593, Los Angeles CA 900664507. You can order this video by phone at 1-800-795-TAPE. The price is $34.95 plus $5.00 shipping.

E-mail: [email protected]

Web: http://www. Iig htworksav.com ®)

Adopt a Library!

When Karen and I were living with kerosene lamps, we went to our local public library to find out if there was a better way to light up our nights. We found nothing about small scale renewable energy.

One of the first things we did when we started publishing this magazine nine years ago was to give a subscription to our local public library.

You may want to do the same for your local public library.We'll split the cost (50/50) of the sub with you if you do.You pay $11.25 and Home Power will pay the rest. If your public library is outside of the USA, then we'll split the sub to your location so call for rates.

Please check with your public library before sending them a sub. Some rural libraries may not have space, so check with your librarian before adopting your local public library. Sorry, private or corporate libraries are not eligible for this Adopt a Library deal—the library must give free public access. — Richard Perez To Adopt a Library write or call

Home Power® PO Box 520,Ashland, OR 97520 1-800-707-6585 or 916-475-0830 or FAX 916-475-0941

Letters is


Not Thermosyphon

Home Power#58, page 30 "How to..." uses the much accepted word thermosyphon.

As a Ph.D. Physicist (ret.) I have always criticized the use of THERMOSYPHON since the circulation is not related to syphon action. It is from density gradient from thermal differences, a pure weight displacement circulation. But people know what one is taking about using ThSy so I give in.

Florida people have used solar heating of water for years. In the twenties many houses had large solar collectors using black iron pipe! (I've lived in Florida 71 years having been brought here in 1925.)

My own solar I made in 1975 using 7/16" copper tubing (an odd size)—25 feet looped back and forth bending about 165°-170° to obtain a positive slope with no air pocket collector about 3 1/2' x 4' feeding into a 20 gallon tank 2/3 the way to the top (an important point to me) and all heavily insulated. An inside wall switch was used for electrical heating if too many days without sun! Worked fine.Yours for hot water from sun,R. W. Long, Moore Haven, Florida

I can understand your frustration, Dr. Long. I was educated in Physics also and it drives me up the wall when folks confuse power with energy and other Physics esoterica. Bottom line for me is: does it work and can we do it for ourselves? When it comes to cost effective RE (and how long are we going to have justify RE based solely on cost?) the best bang for the buck is solar hot water. It's easy, cheap, and works everywhere. We need to be doing more of it. Richard Perez

Solar 2

Please, please use high quality graphics in your upcoming CD Rom, Solar 2. Low quality graphics make CD Roms very dull even if they do have a lot of information. Who cares if it runs a little slower? At least we can enjoy it!

I guess what I an trying to say is that if I wanted to learn how to read I would pick up a book with some captivating pictures instead of a dictionary!

PS. You have the greatest magazine and I like how your articles stay in one piece rather than having parts all over the magazine! I hate newspapers! Long live the Mac, Alex Gomartely, Willow , Alaska

Hello, Alex. We started selling Solar 2 at this year's Midwest Renewable Energy Fair. It was an instant hit! The photographs are in high resolution (280 dpi) and only very slightly compressed (JPEG low). We've tried printing stuff from Solar 2 and it looks very good on a hi-res color printer. Also prints fine on B/Wprinters, particularly laser printers. Solar 2 is on sale now, check out the ad in this issue. Richard Perez

Out of Mischief

First off I really enjoy the articles and the advertising in Home Power and so do some other people. On page 91 of issue #57 (OOPS that was my last issue, time to renew) you have a special rate for libraries. Here's a subscription for the Arivaca Public Library. Now I can tell those who wish to borrow (and forget to return) my copy of Home Power—Go To The Library. Perhaps this will help keep me from forgetting to renew on time.

Ah, now what's been keeping me out of mischief the past couple of months? What else but resurrecting a 12 Volt, 200 Watt 1940 Wincharger. Building the mast for it to set on was a slight modification of one in an article of Home Power. (Didn't have any long wood poles, but I did have some 3 inch, sch. 40 pipe.) The site it sets on is solid rock, which required drilling five, three inch diameter holes five feet deep, plus four more holes of the same size and depth for the guy wires. Thank God for pneumatic rock drills! The finished height of the mast is 30 feet up from the ground to genny. Yes, it hinges in the middle so that I can work on the generator when necessary. After a storm that exceeded 55 mph winds it was necessary to put the brushes back in their holders. Gonna have to design a folding tail as the air brake just don't work that good at those wind speeds.

Do you happen to have anything on a folding tail for a Wincharger or know who might have such a device? Preferably sketches or plans so that I can build one. I checked with Lake MIchigan Wind & Sun to see if they did and they don't. Got that info (name & phone number) from their ad in Home Power. Would appreciate any help that you can offer on the folding tail, as I hate reinventing the wheel.

The second project is building a rain water collection system. Hmm, one square foot, a tenth of an inch deep is eight ounces of water, now when you have 600 square feet of roof area that is worth trying to save here in the desert. The average rainfall here in Arivaca for the last three years that I have measured is 11 inches per year. That translates to 4,113 gallons per year. At least it saves on my well water for building my next project, which is a 40' x 50' x 14' high workshop with rammed earth walls. Yeah, been hanging around permaculture people. Avery practical people. Avery practical concept (permaculture and it works.)

Once again, Thank You for a great magazine and keep up the good work. Carl Martin, Arivaca, Arizona

Sounds like a great tower, Carl. We're lucky around here, most wind tower foundations can be dug with a backhoe or a shovel. I can't imagine having to actually drill the holes, but I'll bet the tower stays put when it's done! We have no specific plans for a folding tail for the Wincharger. How about it HP Readers? We've been getting many letters lately asking for plans to build and modify wind generators. Does anyone out there have such an item and are you willing to share the info in these pages? Richard Perez

In Spite Of

Home Power is a great magazine and I have learned much from your articles. It's exciting to see the alternative energy business grow in spite of the government and industry saying it doesn't work and isn't cost effective. If people paid the true cost of petroleum instead of having huge subsidies, alternative energies would indeed prove cost effective. Either way, I feel that by using solar, being as energy efficient as possible, and especially sharing and educating friends and anyone who will listen, the future seems a little brighter because those of us who have taken the plunge to use alternate energies and be pioneers in a field that has far to go. Keep up the good work HP! Linda S. Ochs, Waterloo, New York

Thanks for the flowers, Linda, but with all the work you are doing, the flowers should be placed at your feet.

I remember the first few issues of Home Power; ten years ago we had fewer than twenty ads per issue.Now the number of advertisers in each issue is greater than a hundred. The RE business is growing rapidly in spite of minimal government and big business support. Home power is a grass-roots movement toward an affordable and sustainable energy future. Since renewable energy sources are freely offered to everyone daily, it is of little wonder that big business is not interested. There is no future in renting out sunshine. I look on this as an added benefit to RE. We can raise our own energy just like we can raise our own food in a garden. Self sufficiency has benefits far beyond just no electric bill to pay. Richard Perez

An Incredible Inn

Please send a gift subscription to John and Joan Dobson, builders and proprietors of Dobson House Inn, El Prado, NM (505-776-5738).

The Dobsons, at an age when the majority of folks are retired, almost single handedly constructed a 6000 square foot inn based on renewable energy systems. The architecture is based on an Earthship design with many customizations. These are some truly remarkable folks. I think they would be good candidates for a Home Power profile article but I fear there modesty might prevent it.

When my family and I stayed at Dobson House earlier this year John and I had a long discussion about battery maintenance. John Wiles' article on batteries would be of interest to the Dobsons.

At the bed and breakfast was a model of an EV that John Dobson helped design and build when he was a professor of engineering in Texas. We only scratched the surface of the Dobson story and came away with the feeling that this remarkable couple is unique. They are the Renaissance couple.

By the way, we've been solely on solar electricity for about seven months. For two years leading up to our change of lifestyle I avidly read Home Power magazine and it gave us the confidence to take the plunge. Thanks for the information you provide. Larry Swisher, Penrose, Colorado

Hey, Larry, maybe we can get an HP reader to profile the Dobsons. They sound like folks who have already traveled paths which many of us are just starting. Publishing technical information about small scale RE is our main mission at Home Power. Most of our articles are written by our readers. Sharing is where it's at! Richard Perez

Flawless Performance

Great going HP folks. We just returned from a six month cruise on our 36 foot Ketch in Mexico. Our RE system performed flawlessly. It included photovoltaics, batteries, inverter/charger and associated controls. Great sailing, serene anchorages and uninterrupted, silent power! Eric and Nicole, Rainbow Voyager

Hello Eric and Nicole! I'm green with envy, six months of smooth sailing and RE to boot. You are indeed lucky folks. Sailboats are excellent platforms for solar and wind power. I'd like to run more articles about RE on sailboats, that way when I'm ready to run away to sea, I'll know what works. Richard Perez

Ballon Lighting

I have been subscribing to Home Powerfor the last couple of years and have managed to collect most of the back issues. I consider your magazine as a treasure and hope you will continue the excellent work for years to come.

Recently, I happened to see a programme on BBC (Tomorrow World) of an invention in France where a helium filled balloon with a CFL fixed inside the balloon, could light up a large area and this invention has been successfully used in many road accidents in remote areas. This invention opens up several possibilities in energy savings. I have failed to get more information from BBC. Can you throw some light on this? Dr K.S. Dhathathreyan, H 129/1, 34 Cross Road, Besant Nagar, MADRAS 600 090 INDIA; e-mail: [email protected]

I've never heard of this idea before, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Perhaps one of our readers in the UK can supply you with access data for this invention. Richard Perez


In HP #59, I found the chart of the Evans electrical energy consumption (RE Earthship Design) very useful. Obviously, everyones electrical energy consumption is idiosyncratic. Our house, like the Evans house, has a washing machine (a Whirlpool, not a Staber at least not yet) and a gas dryer (a Kenmore). I immediately noticed that the Evans use their washing machine for 3 hours a week, and their dryer for 1 hour a week. This is commendable. It means that they are not drying most of their clothes in the dryer. They must be using a clothesline.

If a family takes the wash out of the washer and throws it into the dryer after every load of wash, they will find that, on the average, they will be running their dryer for twice as long as their washer, not one-third as long.

By the way, our washer draws 780 to 960 watts, considerably less than the Evans washer (1450 watts), while our dryer draws a little more (312 watts, versus the Evans 250 watts). If the Evans were using their dryer for every load, and if their dryer drew 312 watts like ours does, they would find that their dryers daily average of total electrical consumption would jump from 1.9% to 12.5%.

I certainly agree with the basic message conveyed by your chart: in most alternative homes, the washing machine and the refrigerator consume the bulk of the energy. The chart helps confirm my plan to buy a Staber as soon as I can afford one. Martin Holladay, P.O. Box 72, Sheffield, Vermont 05866; e-mail: [email protected]

You are correct Martin, the largest electrical energy consumers in a well designed home RE system are the refrigerator/freezer and the washing machine. Bob-O and Kathleen's tests of the Staber washer show it using an average of 251 watt-hours per load of wash (see HP47). Karen and I just bought a Staber and should have it installed before long, so we'll let you know how it works here on Agate Flat. We are planning on using a clothes line outside in the summer, and in the greenhouse in the winter.

Using simple strategies can reduce the washers burden on a small RE system. Just as the Evans learned, the time to do the wash is midday, not at night. This allows the washer to consume less battery-stored energy, and allows the battery to recover after the wash. If you are using solar to heat the water, then daytime clothes washing makes more effective use of the sun's energy, and saves propane. Richard Perez

Steam Power

In your response to a letter from a reader in Issue # 58, you invited information about steam power.

I have worked for over 20 years on systems which generate electricity using point focus solar collectors. What began as complex equipment primarily suitable for industrial applications is slowly evolving into quite simple, practical, robust technologies, appropriate for homeowners.

Because I live in the cold and cloudy Northeast, I burn wood for heat in the winter. I am building a wood-burning 5 kilowatt electric reciprocating steam engine driven power plant which will allow me to generate power in addition to providing heat and domestic hot water. Once the system has worked well for a year, I will add a fixed-focus solar concentrator to fire the unit when the sun shines and reduce the need for wood and removing ashes.

Although they've been around for a long time, small steam engines have been essentially neglected for a century. Typical, old fashioned steam engines used low pressure saturated steam (up to 200 PSI and 450° F). They usually turned pretty slowly (less than 400 RPM), were very heavy (3 horsepower engine with boiler together weighed a ton or more), operated for a long time (decades) and could be easily maintained by backyard mechanics. They were not very efficient, converting less than 5% (often less than 2%) of an energy resource into shaft power.

Over the years I've used a variety of steam engines and have the most experience with piston operated valve engines. In this type of engine the piston opens a ball or poppet valve which admits a small amount of steam. Depending on the design, the steam expands 10 to 20 times as it drives the piston down until it uncovers exhaust ports. These single-acting unaflow engines can be moderately efficient (to 16% steam to electricity) but require that the steam exhausts into a vacuum. Any internal combustion engine can be easily converted into a steam engine using this technique. We used 3 and 4

cylinder Lister Diesel engines to reliably produce 32 to 48 kilowatts (60 kW peak) at 1,850 RPM (3 phase AC induction generator) using steam generated in the receiver of a large point-focus solar collector or by burning oil. Although these systems worked well, they needed significant maintenance every few months and had complications we can now avoid.

Probably the best prototype small steam engines were designed and tested by the Doble brothers in the 1920's for use in steam powered vehicles. These high performance (converting up to 25% of the available heat into usable power) engines: are still state of the art, can operate at higher speed (to 2,000 RPM), are lighter (100 HP version less than 500 lb. including the boiler and auxiliaries), and use higher pressure superheated steam (1,600 psi at 900° F). They were very simple to operate, were maintained by backyard mechanics and lasted a long time (still ran well after 500,000 miles). A variety of fuels were burned to generate steam for these engines including wood chips, brown coal, coke and oil.

I am working with a small version of a Doble engine which was designed in New Zealand and probably built in England (I found it in Canada). This compound (exhaust steam from the high-pressure piston expands further in the low pressure piston), double-acting (the pistons deliver power both on up and down strokes) engine produces up to 20 horsepower at 2,000 RPM and weighs 65 pounds. The monotube boiler fits into a bushel basket, and has coils of small tubing (1/2 OD and less) totaling 250 feet. This type of boiler is quite safe because there is very little water (3 pints) at high pressure while it is operating. In its current configuration, the engine requires steam produced by burning about 4 pounds of wood to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity. By the coming heating season I hope to integrate these components with the chunk wood furnace I use to heat my home. The furnace will burn a 140 pound load of wood in about 5 hours which should generate 20 kilowatt-hours (stored in a bank of batteries) and deliver 500,000 BTUs of heat (condensing the steam after it exits the engine) into the hot water storage tank.

Since I have to work full time at an unrelated job, in my free time I can only develop components which make economic sense for my family of four. The furnace took only a few weeks to assemble out of firebrick, insulation, metal parts, a fan and simple controls. My six cords of wood for next year are already under cover so over the summer I'll be rewinding a conventional 230 volt at 850 RPM, 7.5 HP DC motor (as 28 VDC 760 RPM 5 kW generator) for this project. Afar better solution would be an Al Forbes type generator matched to a simple, low cost triple or quadruple expansion Doble-type engine which should improve performance above 25%, steam to electricity. On the input side, an automatically fed wood chip/pellet furnace backing up a solar boiler is ideal for me. If others show interest in this type of approach I will try to coordinate my work with theirs.

How much should one of these simple, high performance 5 kilowatt steam systems cost? The answer depends on who puts it together and who is responsible for keeping it running. Parts or raw materials should cost roughly $500 each for an engine, boiler, generator and safety/control components. The situation is similar to the early hobby computers where nerds had to assemble systems using available chips, storage devices, and interface/display components. Only after customers define substantial markets do well integrated systems evolve. If all goes well, I hope to be able to write a Home Power system article with pictures and lots of graphs/diagrams by the summer of 1998. Bill Rogers, DEng., 99 Mickel Hill Road, Troy, NY 12180; email: [email protected]

You're on, Bill, we will be looking forward to your steam article. Skip Goebel of Sensible Steam (417-336-2869, E-mail: [email protected]) also responded to our request for steam info with a blockbuster article, look for this in an upcoming issue. Richard Perez

Managed Forests

I will be building my electricity independent home from trees I sawed from my land, glad to see your concern for dead trees, however, forest's managed right can be sustainable. I planted eleven acres of my agricultural land back to trees, hope it helps your concern. I like your advertising design philosophy, great mag—only had one slightly damaged cover—coming in great shape. I am also interested in home sized steam/electric plants—wood fired. Dick Linderding, Elmond, WI

See the letter above, Dick. We're working on some steam stuff. I agree—wood is a sustainable resource. We burn about four cords of firewood yearly here at Funky Mountain Institute. Id love to get some electrical energy as well as heat. Richard Perez

New York Professional

I am a solar professional installing solar thermal and solar electric systems in New York state. We have been doing renewable energy installations since 1978. Check out our web site:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/DaveNRG man/savnqnrq.htm

I am really impressed with Home Power mag. It is the best I have ever seen and it is superior to even the solar trade magazines in terms of pictures, diagrams and practical nuts and bolts usage. Dave Austin, South New Berlin, New York

Thanks for the flowers, Dave. We try our best to make HP as good as we possibly can. Our main purpose is the communication of technical information.Our attitude is, "If we can do it (and none of us are rocket scientists), so can you!"Richard Perez

A Very Small PV Tipi

We live in a solar powered tipi at 9300 feet. It is amazingly satisfying and the system is so small. 44 Watts of panel, 81 amp hours-full battery, small controls. It powers lots of light, radio, CD, CB, AA battery recharger for headlamps, chainsaw sharpener, & recharger for 9.6 Volt Makita cordless tools, etc. Lots of Sun! Robert Janssen, Aspen, Colorado

Hey Robert, You have probably noticed by now that we ran the tipi picture you sent us in #59, page 4. I would like to encourage you to send us an article on your tipi system. We receive many requests for small system articles. It would net you another two year sub! Karen Perez

Start to Finish

Please, Please, Please continue to run your articles start to finish. It has always been a pet peeve of mine to have to continually flip through a magazine hunting for the rest of the article.

Also, I believe that adults should be able to check and renew subscriptions on their own. It is a measure of ones appreciation of whatever one is subscribing to.

Good information! Keep up the good work. Judy Criswell, Chiloquin, Oregon

Most of our readers feel as you do, Judy. We will continue to run articles without breaks or ads.Our advertisers are very cooperative and realize that HP subscribers read everything in the magazine, including their ads. After all, knowing how to use the technology is useless if you can't get your hands on the hardware. Richard Perez

Cassini Mission Plutonium

The Cassini mission to Saturn is the #1 censored story on Earth, LOVEARTH® is organizing the national effort in trying to stop the October 6, 1997 launching by NASA of Cassini. There are three major rallies scheduled. The United Nations on Saturday 9/20/97, noon to 8 PM; the White House on Sunday 9/28/97, noon to 8 PM; and Cape Canaveral Air Station on Saturday 10/4/97 starting at 2 PM.

I am writing to you asking for your help to make these rallies as successful as possible. With your support and involvement at any one of these rallies the goal of stopping Cassini will be that much greater.

At 5:38 AM/EDT on Monday, October 6, 1997, from launch complex #40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Station, a spacecraft called Cassini is supposed to lift off. On board Cassini will be 72.3 pounds of the deadliest substance known, Plutonium (Pu). Inhaling less than 27 millionths of a gram of Pu will give you lung cancer, NASAs own odds state there is a 1 in 345 probability for a release of Pu on this mission. There are 2.3 million people within the six county region surrounding Cape Canaveral. If there is a failure on lift off like the 1/28/86 Challenger did at T+73 seconds and the Pu is released, the prevailing winds in October are blowing back over all these people. Worst case contamination clean up costs for this region run at 4.1 trillion, it could be useless for 12,000 generations.

Cassini is to use the 72.3 pounds of Pu not as a fuel to propel it, but to power (by the heat given off during radioactive decay) three Lockheed-Martin built radioisotope thermal generators that will create the modest 745 watts of electricity, to run all of the on board instruments and experiments. This modest generation of 745 watts of electricity, can now be done in deep space conditions, by using a combination of advanced photovoltaics (solar power) and long lived fuel cells. (European Space Agency 4/29/94)—the safe way.

Cassini is a 3.4 billion dollar, eleven year mission that is to explore Saturn and one of its satellites, Titan. After a hopefully successful launch, to get out to Saturn (the on board rockets don't have the thrust), Cassini must use a maneuver called the gravity assist swingby. This maneuver is accomplished by flying very close to a planet and using that planets gravitational field to transfer some of its energy to the spacecraft to increase its velocity tremendously. This will be used four times, on 8.16.99 will swingby Earth at an altitude of only 310 miles, traveling at 711.666 miles per minute, leaving only a 19.81 second window of trajectory. If something goes wrong and Cassini inadvertently reenters our atmosphere the extreme temperatures of 3000 degrees plus will vaporize Cassini and the 72.3 pounds of Pu will be released, possibly causing tens of millions of premature deaths, mostly from cancers over the next couple of decades.

Please take a few minutes to visit the web site www.lovearth.org to find out how to help stop this launch. Mark Elsis, Lovearth, 84-10 53rd Ave, Elmhurst, New York 11373; 718-426-5361

Plutonium is indeed nasty stuff.It strikes me that shooting it into space is a dumb idea for all the reasons you have mentioned.But then I'm not a rocket scientist. Richard Perez


This letter is in reference to the article in Home Power #58, titled "Empirical Investigations of Solar Water Heating Technology" by Dennis Scanlin. This article was well written and informative. I am new to the concept of solar heating and would like to utilize such a system to heat a 24' round, above ground swimming pool. At the end of Mr. Scanlin's article there is a list of sources for additional information, one of which is the Florida Solar Energy Center. I have written them and called the number given and neither the address or phone number listed go to this business.

Could you please advise me on any plans or other information which I can study before attempting to build a swimming pool solar heater. Some persons have advised me to simply use 1/2" or 3/4" black PVC on my roof and then tie it into the pool filter pump.

I would appreciate any assistance which you may be able to give me. Dennis Pellegrino, Canton, Ohio

Sorry about the mistake, Dennis.Here is the correct access data: Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922-5703 • tel: 407-6381458 • FAX:407-638-1010 • www.fsec.ucf.edu

If I wanted to do some hands-on solar thermal, I'd call Smitty or Chuck at AAA Solar (800-245-0311 • www.rt66.com/aaasolar). These fellows are "Da Solar Guys" and stock all the bits and pieces you will need. They also have a wealth of design info. Richard Perez

EV Help Needed

I am starting an experimental project. With it I wish to prove or disprove some ideas that I have on expanding the range of a battery powered vehicle. What I need: and hopefully you can steer me toward: is information. To be specific I am converting a 1973 VW Beetle into an "electric powered trike." I know that hobbyists have converted VWs, as well as other makes of automobiles, into EVs (electric vehicles). What I don't know is where so I go for engines, kits, controllers, supplies, experience, etc. on how to convert a Volkswagen transaxle into adopting an an electric power plant. Please help me.

At this point in time I can only be reached by phone "answering machine" or by mail. If your organization can help me, it would be greatly appreciated. If you can help me but there is some cost involved, this is still not a problem. I can forward the cost "preferred method", or I can handle C.O.D., if I know ahead of time, what it and the cost is.

Your help will be greatly appreciated. Marshall Lund, W 4824 Woodlund Rd, Preshtigo, WI 54157, 715-7892256

When it comes to putting electric motors on VW transaxles, the folks at Electro Automotive had done more than anyone I know. Give Shari or Mike a call at 408-429-1989. Richard Perez

Please, Oh Please

Flog me with the blades of a wind generator! Lash me to the mount of a PV tracker! Cement my toe in the hole of a leaking hydro dam! I have let my subscription Expire!!! I am guilty of premeditated slackness. I read my label last month & knew it was the next to last issue for me and thought "Oh I have plenty of time to send in my renewal money!" Then I received my Last Issue and thought" Oh, I must send in my money in the next few weeks." Now as I look in the mail box each day for the next Magazine—Alas—I am struck by the reality that it is not coming!!!

PLEASE, OH PLEASE, OH PLEASE take this check & cash it as soon as you can to help pay for more paper, ink, computer disks, & all the other things it takes to produce your wonderful magazine. Hopefully my slackness will only cause me to miss one issue. (I wonder how long I can check out that issue from the library at our University?)

In all seriousness—Thank you to ALL the people who help put Home Powertogether. I am considering giving a one year subscription to my customers who buy a complete system from us. What better way for a new system owner to learn about what is "out there" and how it works & what other like minded people have learned from their experiences. Enclosed is copy of my mailing label. I am anxiously waiting to receive my next issue as I recover from my flogging. Rod Baird, Rock Castle Solar, RR 2 Box 677, Boone, NC 28607 • 704264-4484

Don't worry, Rod, we won't let you miss an issue! Richard Perez

Re: Tom Snyders Letter #59

The solar water heating system described in my article (issue #58) is designed for the "do-it-yourselfer" to build simply, with available materials that can be purchased cheaply at a local hardware store. With this design, the water is heated mainly by radiation and convection and very little is heated by conduction. The copper piping grid inside the collector is not soldered to the galvanized steel roofing panel. It is only touching it in a few places where it is attached and both surfaces are painted with a high quality, high temperature paint. With proper painting corrosion between dissimilar metals does not happen. In fact, if the galvanized steel roofing panel is left out of the system, the system would still heat water and work very well! The corrugated galvanized steel roofing panel (absorber) is only there to absorb some radiant heat and re-radiate that heat to the colder water within the pipes. The gist of my article is keep it simple and cheap.

If I wanted to sell the readers on a copper-plated thermal collector, I would have just suggested that they purchase one from American Energy Technologies, because for the money, they build a very fine product, but that wasn't the point of the article at all.

The #1 reason why less than 1% of American households use solar water heating is because the systems are too expensive, are loaded with unnecessary gadgets, and they have a bad reputation for needing expensive repairs. Conversely, in Australia, over 10% of the households use solar water heating. Over there, the systems sell for less than $1500 installed and they use direct and glycol based thermosyphon systems, and that is why people buy them, they are cost effective.

In my article, I was showing the readers how they could have solar water heating for about $500. Thank you, Perry A. Bocci. Gainesville, Florida

It is very easy to get provincial with solar DHW. What is KISS in climates like Florida's, can be a frozen disaster in Iowa. I agree with you, many solar DHW systems are needlessly complex, but those of us living in cold climates need to protect the system against freeze-ups, and still produce hot water in the winter. Once again, when it comes to renewable energy, one design does not fit all situations. Happy systems are custom designed for the application and environment. Richard Perez

120 Volt Power

Home Power magazine and the Home Power staff provide a valuable connection to RE users, news and technical information. I think you are doing an excellent job.

It seems petty for me to request more articles about 120 volt Dc and ac systems but that is all I need to make your publication perfect for me. I use 120 VDC power because, back in '84, when we were starting here, a 120 Volt Jacobs was available and we have a long run from the machine to the house. Keep up the good work. Paul Kenyon, Bridport, Vermont

High voltage DC systems are becoming more common as system sizes grow. Years ago 24 VDC was considered high, now over 160 VDC is considered high. Most of the high voltage DC system pioneers were running the old Jacobs wind electric gear. Now we are seeing PV/utility intertie systems running voltage between 48 and 160 VDC. How about it HP readers? A report on one of your high voltage DC systems? Richard Perez


Coming home to a secure electricity supply is almost impossible to describe to those who take electricity for granted. Living in a country where blackouts are once again averaging well over 12 hours per day, where a burning main power line cut us off for five days last week and a gravel truck took down our line for a three week outage in January, we think that the investment in solar power has much more than paid for itself. As I write this, we are once again the only house in sight with electric lights on, although I can hear a noisy generator somewhere off in the distance. One of the nice things about solar is that you can build the system in an incremental fashion, as finances and/or needs (read: sometimes desperation) allow. Keep up the good work with the reports, ideas and evaluations. I read (and reread) it all. D J Farquharson, Haiti

As you have discovered, DJ, having a power supply that is reliable is just one of the benefits of RE. Many of our international readers live in areas where the utility grid is less than reliable. I remember our trip to Colombia in 1992. Colombia is about 80% hydro-powered and was in the middle of a drought. There were rolling blackouts everywhere, and the grid was present less than half the time. In downtown Cali, we saw hundreds of gas generators, running on the sidewalks, powering the city's businesses. Many of the more upscale homes had battery/inverter combos. While not solar-powered, they could store grid energy when it occurred and use the stored energy during blackout periods. Add a few PV modules to this system and the power becomes constant and reliable. In the over twenty years during which we have made our own power here at Agate Flat, the only time it has stopped has been when we are working on the system. I'd match the constancy of an RE system to the grid anywhere, any time. Richard Perez

Living Well

We live well on 1 KWH per day. We have refrigeration, a water pump, adequate lights, radio, TV, washer, and during periods with excess power, we run all of our power tools building the latest addition to our house.

Our local dealer, David Palumbo has been a real help. Home Power has been our bible, our source of inspiration and knowledge. Keep it up! Sam Russell, Craftsbury Common, Vermont

One KWH a day is a lot of energy, if it is used well. You have evidently learned to use your energy in the most efficient fashion. You are doing better than we do here at Funky Mountain Institute. We cycle about 10 KWH per day (about 70% for Home Power magazine production and the rest for our home). David Palumbo is one of the original RE pioneers—he knows how to really squeeze all the energy out of a KWH! Richard Perez

At Twice the Price

I would pay for your Journal at twice the price. It has helped me over and over, and I'm a master electrician. I have two trackers and one rack mount. Also, a 1500 watt wind generator on a 50 foot pole. All together about 5 KW. Our best energy day has been 29,000 watt-hours.

Before I installed all of this my light bill averaged over $150.00 per month. Our last bill for March was about $25.00. Our average year round electric bill is now around $50.00 per month. G A Feris, Tolar, Texas

Wisconsin Brownouts

I believe the $29 million Wisconsin Energy (WE) sunk into its recently abandoned merger with NSP is partially responsible for an increased risk of summer power shortages in Wisconsin.

As a conservation and renewable energy advocate, I can't begin to estimate how much legal time or airline tickets this money bought. But, I can estimate what $29M would have bought in energy conservation or renewable energy capacity. Both technologies would've reduced the current risk of any summer power shortages.

If WE had sunk $29M into utility scale wind turbines over the past 22 months, it would now own fifty, 600KW wind turbines capable of producing 30 megawatts peak (@ 12% of one Point Beach Nuclear reactor) or enough juice to power a city the size of Cedarburg, about 10,000 residents.

Had WE invested its merger funds into energy conservation measures like electric motor replacement etc. the economic and environmental returns would have been even greater.

Energy conservation measures would DOUBLE the above savings. So, $29M invested in energy conservation would save about as much energy needed to power a city of 20,000, Like Watertown.

Finally, the environmental opportunity costs WE failed to gain from this money will affect people beyond Wisconsin because air pollution from coal power plants has no boundaries.

Twenty-nine million dollars invested in clean, quiet wind turbines would have saved 67,500 barrels of oil or 16,875 tons (about 175 train car loads) of coal each year. The carbon dioxide emitted from this coal would require 1,650,000 trees to absorb it during each year of the turbines 30 year design life. Again, the above savings are doubled for energy conservation measures.

Regrettably, WEs cookie jar is now $29M lighter. This money could have certainly eased the risk of energy shortages and made a large down payment on a clean, safe and more secure energy future for all WE customers in Wisconsin and beyond.

Customers must now prepare for a summer of possible brownouts and increased air pollution. Those outcomes would have been greatly reduced had the merger funds been invested wisely in energy conservation and utility scale wind turbines. Mike Mangan, Delafield, Wisconsin

It's going to take America's utilities a long time to realize the benefits of RE, Mike. On a good day, I figure that we are dealing with huge businesses with tremendous interia—this is the way they've always made power and they see no reason to change. On a bad day, I figure that utilities are basically greedy and see no profit in renewable energy. I've worked with Wisconsin utilities and found them to be among the most reasonable and enlightened in the nation. Try talking RE utility intertie with a mega-IOU like Pacific Gas & Electric and you'll see what I mean.

Until America's utilities realize that their hundred year monopoly on electric power is over, can we really expect them to change? During the next century, the utilities role will be one of distribution and storage. The power source will be the big nuke located 93 million miles from this small, green planet. Power conversion will happen everywhere—every roof top, and every hill. Each of us will be power producers and the utilities will broker this energy where it is needed. This change will happen slowly, like all meaningful changes. The best way to hurry it along is to put our homes on RE and sell our excess to the local utility. This is the way the world changes, one system at a time Richard Perez


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