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Alternative Generators for emergencies

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
By alternative, I mean other than gasoline powered ones. Anyone have any good ideas, links, books etc. to figure out what sort of system might be practical to have on hand for power outages?

I've looked a bit into solar, but the investment seems extreme from my limited understanding to just have as an emergency set up.

Right now, we have a geo thermal heating and cooling system but without power, of course this wouldn't work. We may install some sort of wood burning stove, but since our house is already built, it's not a simple thing. I'm looking for something that might run an appliance or two in longer term outages. Or just keep the sump pump going. We live in a northern area too, so I'm not sure how reliable solar would be here.
post #2 of 12

Solar is very reliable.  You use it to charge batteries.  The more batteries you can afford, the longer power outages you can be sustained through.  Lots of people up here live solely on solar and we get down to only 3 hours of daylight a day in winter.  And most of them are not what one would call sunny!  We just add another battery bank.
 

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you,
If they'll work for you in Alaska, I guess they'd work for me. But isn't solar very expensive to set up? A gasoline generator can be had for under $1000. If I could do a solar set up for that that would keep us up and running during an outage (to a small degree) I'd go for it, but I think the investment would have to be a lot greater.
post #4 of 12

Most people who are off grid use a combination of generator and solar to charge the batteries.  Yes, it is pretty expensive to set up initially but if you are going for long term self sufficiency, it's a really good way to go.  How about wind?  Do you live in an area that would support a wind mill to charge your batteries? 
 

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here's an alternative I've never considered. Four Afircan school students created a generator that runs on urine. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/urine-powered-generator-unveiled-international-exhibition-234718329.html

How cool is that?
post #6 of 12

Our initial set-up of the 30 solar panels was just over $40,000. 

 

Whatever type of generator you get, you will need to have the correct wiring done to use it.  Call an electrical contractor and talk to them about this.

post #7 of 12

I found a SMALL solar panel with one battery for $1,500. We are going to get it to power my husbands busking (it will power his amp for over 12 hours on one charge) and it would be enough to charge phones, and laptops during a power outage. Eventually I'd like to get enough dedicated installed panels to power our fridge. 

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post

Solar is very reliable.  You use it to charge batteries.  The more batteries you can afford, the longer power outages you can be sustained through.  Lots of people up here live solely on solar and we get down to only 3 hours of daylight a day in winter.  And most of them are not what one would call sunny!  We just add another battery bank.
 


Can you recommend somewhere to read how to set it up, in as child-like language as possible? redface.giforngtongue.gif

post #9 of 12

Don't know of any.  Try google.
 

post #10 of 12

I am looking at propane - because it does not go bad, ever, and I can run several systems off of it.  It is one option we are kicking around. 

We have a zombie stove already, a wood stove we use to heat our home, and can also cook on. 

But we have a lot a lot of meat in our deep freezer, so it is a big deal not to let that spoil.  We live out here, so we loose power pretty often.  The system I am looking at is more for on and offs, a couple weeks at a time, not as a zombie solution.  For JUST the freezer we have a gas generator, everything else we have other plans

Solar is nice as a way of living, as a back up system- I can not see that working out dollars and cents wise. If you just want one as a back up you have to ask the right questions - you want to look for used panels if you are handy at putting together your own systems, you can build solar systems for so much cheaper if you are creative in looking for the materials- but its a way of thinking if you are using solar as your energy

I am also looking into getting my water source not on an electric well pump.  Gravity fed water is a nice option, and I really really love hand pump wells, its on the wish list.  (My livestock goes through over 60 gals of water a day min- so a day without power on my well pump is a biggy(I store a lot of water) but water not relying on electric is a big deal

for the sump pump... what about a manual sump pump? 

post #11 of 12

We live very rurally and do not have a backup generator. We addressed the issue of backup household energy by preparing for having none rather than supplementing.

 

We have a very small refrigerator, most of our food is fresh or frozen. I also have a stock of canned food. We freeze 5 gallon water jugs in our freezers so that they will retain freezing temp for weeks. We are acclimated to cold temperatures by keeping our home heat very low (62) and we have good wardrobes of warm clothing. We are used to having no computer, we have no TV, we don't burn many electric lights, etc so that our lifestyle would not be terribly affected if we were without energy for awhile.

 

This seemed more rational for us than buying yet another energy system.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Indian summer View Post

Thank you,
If they'll work for you in Alaska, I guess they'd work for me. But isn't solar very expensive to set up? A gasoline generator can be had for under $1000. If I could do a solar set up for that that would keep us up and running during an outage (to a small degree) I'd go for it, but I think the investment would have to be a lot greater.

 

Solar is expensive if you buy them premade but there are TONS of resources online on how to make them yourself. It's actually a pretty simple set up. My husband and I are looking to go fully off-grid either next year or the one after. We budgeted 30k for a modest straw bail house, with a pond water system, and solar power. I think my husband was thinking of something that will pull a couple KW a day, enough to live modestly off of but it won't power a standard U.S. house's consumption. The most expensive part of solar is to store the power.... batteries are your money suckers.

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