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03/17/2011 03:39:10 PM · #101
Our rig.

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03/17/2011 04:43:35 PM · #102
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

This is intriguing, but I fear that the devil is in the details. How much was the setup, how little power does he consume (ie. air conditioning or no?), how often does he need backup, what does he do at night? Our solar panel only provides about 25% of the office's consumption. It's an office, of course, with lots of computers, but the panel is probably much bigger than anything your friend has.


The house was purpose built in 1988 to live off the grid, a timber frame saltbox colonial with massive insulation (r45 with reflective barriers, sealed cavities and foam spray in) composting toilet (a german model that cost about 5k at the time), well water, heated by a pellet feed stove with a catalytic converter, a battery array in the cellar (a rack of about 16 car batteries) to store power for overnight and all DC appliances. After about a year they strung a telephone wire the mile or so needed to get service and broke the purity of off grid for the reality of modern living. No AC but that is pretty standard for that part of the world, and not all that needed if you design well. The house works because they have built it to suit their rather crunchy granola lifestyle, but from a builder's perspective I was amazed at how little it skewed from normal given the radical nature of approach. In the twenty plus years of advancements some of their ideas have gone mainstream, some are still on the bubble, and some have been surpassed.

Message edited by author 2011-03-17 16:44:05.
03/17/2011 05:14:16 PM · #103
Originally posted by scalvert:

Originally posted by BrennanOB:

That said, solar can be enough to power a house buy itself. I have a friend who lives off the grid in New Hampshire, with a back up generator that they use occasionally, but if you've ever been to New Hampshire in February you know if you can do it there, you can do it most anywhere.

The house right across the street from me runs on solar power (geothermal heating, too). The panels are all on the back roof, so you can't see them from the street at all. I went over there once when we had a power outage and they weren't even aware of it.

Connecticut isn't exactly a beach destination in February either...
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It's not about the ambient temperature, in fact colder temps mean the solar panels are going to be MORE efficient, not less. I also see that the skies are clear, a good thing for solar panels, but a rare occurrence in other areas. I'll also wager that none of these solar powered homes have electric heat. Maybe a fan to blow warm air, but they aren't converting electrical energy into heat.

The issue in winter is the shorter daylight hours and locations with extended periods of overcast weather. Clouds are very effective at reducing solar radiation. Locally, we have gone 90+ days without seeing sun and blue sky.
03/17/2011 05:34:35 PM · #104
Originally posted by Spork99:

The issue in winter is the shorter daylight hours and locations with extended periods of overcast weather. Clouds are very effective at reducing solar radiation. Locally, we have gone 90+ days without seeing sun and blue sky.


6" of snow on them probably doesn't help either. :)

Brennan, I really think that sounds cool. I'd love to explore stuff like that when I finally get around to building my own house, although I don't suspect solar is the best option in Western Oregon. A heat pump with pipes drilled into the ground sounds neat to me along with smart grid technology to monitor electrical use.
03/17/2011 05:51:33 PM · #105
Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by BrennanOB:


It will be interesting to see if we begin adding DC power into the residential mix in parallel with AC power, which we only use because it is easier to push great distances through power lines.


My guess is "probably not," even though residential lighting may well be predominantly DC 20 years from now. We use AC for the following reasons:
- As you stated, because it is easier to transmit long distances
- It can easily be converted from one voltage to another with simple transformers
- It is required for many motor designs in use in residences
- It simplifies the design of appliances that require internal voltage conversion (which would otherwise require switching power supplies)
- It is safer in the event of accidental human contact
- Co-use of DC and AC within a residence would require dual wiring, which is uneconomical.
I can envision a scenario where individual low-voltage lighting circuits are strung, with AC feeding the controls, and DC actually powering the lights.


I never saw the maths done, but with more and more electronic devices in the households, I guess it would begin to make sense installing also DC (USB?) plugs, instead of dozens of rectifiers each dissipating heat and causing a fire once in a while. In house DC could also make sense if you have photovoltaic panels on the roof. If somebody knows about a study on this, I would be interested.

By the way AC is more dangerous (for your heart). And you get more losses transmitting AC over long distances...
03/17/2011 06:22:48 PM · #106
Originally posted by MistyMucky:


By the way AC is more dangerous (for your heart). And you get more losses transmitting AC over long distances...


The whole battle for which is safer AC or DC has an amazing history. Edison, champion of DC tried to get the term "Westinghoused" (Westinghouse was the proponent of AC power) to be used for death by electrocution, and bribed the use of AC power to be used in death penalty cases and brought the electric chair into being in New York State to show off the dangers of AC power.

The difference in safety between taking 100 volts AC or DC is shockingly small.
03/17/2011 06:37:00 PM · #107
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

Originally posted by mike_311:


its a shame that we associate nuclear power with weapons and mutations and cancer, and freak accidents such as this continue to give it a bad name.

we need energy. lots and lots of it. we need nuclear power.


Bravo.


This is exactly the problem. Our mindless electricity consumption. I am not an ecological saint, I love gadgets. But when I get a cable TV box from my operator, which is using 40W of standby power, because it is just cutting the video output when I switch it off, this really pisses me off. Just an example among thousands of idiotic waste.
I would happily pay more for my electricity if in exchange, I could send back the iodide pills I received because I live close to a nuclear plant.
03/17/2011 11:37:59 PM · #108
Originally posted by scalvert:

... Germany generates about 26 gigawatts of power from wind turbines, and another 10 GW from solar. Sonnenschiff Germany produces four times more solar energy than it consumes. For reference, a nuclear reactor produces about 1GW.


While that may be true, what I would like to see is total cost comparison and just how effective is the generation of power under such scenarios.

It must be borne in mind that you cannot store all this wonderful power that is being generated for later use, and that distribution via land lines leads to a substantial loss of the electricity generated.

I am all for alternative measures, but not at any cost. In this country, were it not for massive government subsidies, I seriously doubt that the private sector would be all that excited about the process.

Easy to support things when the taxpayer is footing the bill.

Ray
03/18/2011 12:00:59 AM · #109
Originally posted by RayEthier:

Easy to support things when the taxpayer is footing the bill.

Ray

Like nuclear power? I don't think those plants come free, and I suspect that substantial taxpayer money gets involved somewhere in the process.
03/18/2011 12:01:32 AM · #110
Originally posted by MistyMucky:


I would happily pay more for my electricity if in exchange, I could send back the iodide pills I received because I live close to a nuclear plant.


Why did they send you 'iodide' pills? Are you being regularly exposed to more radiation than a person who does not live near a nuclear plant?
03/18/2011 12:05:43 AM · #111
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by RayEthier:

Easy to support things when the taxpayer is footing the bill.

Ray

Like nuclear power? I don't think those plants come free, and I suspect that substantial taxpayer money gets involved somewhere in the process.


I doubt it. The government collects rather large fees from nuclear power plants. They also won't allow any new ones to be built in the US, and this mess in Japan is not going to help that at all.
03/18/2011 12:31:40 AM · #112
Originally posted by RayEthier:

In this country, were it not for massive government subsidies, I seriously doubt that the private sector would be all that excited about the process. Easy to support things when the taxpayer is footing the bill.

That bill probably isn't as high as you seem to think. The 2012 U.S. budget allocates $3.2B for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs plus $300M in credit subsidies. For comparison, in 2010 we spent nearly $10.8B on retirement-survivor benefits for railroad workers and paid roughly $65B in gasoline taxes. The budget also provides $36B in loan guarantees for nuclear plants.
03/18/2011 03:32:22 AM · #113
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

They also won't allow any new ones to be built in the US...


Not true. There's at least one commercial reactor under construction in the US. The biggest obstacle to getting Nuke plants built isn't that the government won't allow it, it's raising the billions in capital.
03/18/2011 04:14:11 AM · #114
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

Originally posted by MistyMucky:


I would happily pay more for my electricity if in exchange, I could send back the iodide pills I received because I live close to a nuclear plant.


Why did they send you 'iodide' pills? Are you being regularly exposed to more radiation than a person who does not live near a nuclear plant?


No, the radiation levels are low enough. These pills do not protect you against radiation anyway, but against an accidental release of radioactive iodine (a fission product). I do not actually have to swallow them, they are only for an emergency. But when you receive them, it makes you think anyway. One is still told today that there is no risk of a release, so why bother distributing them?
I am not fundamentally against nuclear power, but there is too much hypocrisy around. In Switzerland we are talking about building new plants, whilst still no agreement could be found on a site for waste disposal since 40 years...
03/18/2011 06:27:55 AM · #115
Loose thought of a tired, but happy, guy content on being in Korea.

Can the radiation affect me over cyberspace... like when I turn on my computer/to DPC and at that exact same time one of the DPC Japan dwellers logs in....

Sad reality of man is that it goes out of its way to destroy mankind. I have to wonder how bad natural fossil fuels are compared to radiation/atoms and other man made 'improvements'.

Canon also closed their facilities.

Japan has a tough time coming... and so do all of us.
03/18/2011 07:30:57 AM · #116
Originally posted by MistyMucky:

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

Originally posted by MistyMucky:


I would happily pay more for my electricity if in exchange, I could send back the iodide pills I received because I live close to a nuclear plant.


Why did they send you 'iodide' pills? Are you being regularly exposed to more radiation than a person who does not live near a nuclear plant?


No, the radiation levels are low enough. These pills do not protect you against radiation anyway, but against an accidental release of radioactive iodine (a fission product). I do not actually have to swallow them, they are only for an emergency. But when you receive them, it makes you think anyway. One is still told today that there is no risk of a release, so why bother distributing them?
I am not fundamentally against nuclear power, but there is too much hypocrisy around. In Switzerland we are talking about building new plants, whilst still no agreement could be found on a site for waste disposal since 40 years...


becuase of the same situation in Japan, while there is little or no chance of radiation exposure from the core itself, venting the steam in an attempt to release steam from emergency cooling of the core.

and to comment on a few others:

Originally posted by MemberBrennanOB:

The whole battle for which is safer AC or DC has an amazing history. Edison, champion of DC tried to get the term "Westinghoused" (Westinghouse was the proponent of AC power) to be used for death by electrocution, and bribed the use of AC power to be used in death penalty cases and brought the electric chair into being in New York State to show off the dangers of AC power.

The difference in safety between taking 100 volts AC or DC is shockingly small.


its not the volts that's kill, its the amps. become part of any circuit with enough current and its not going to matter what type it is. ac current is usually very high current just becuase of its use. taking 10,000 volts of dc current would probably be safe but sting considering the source (stun gun, static electric shock) but touch a 600volt dc third rail or centenary on a subway train and you're cooked.

Originally posted by MemberDrAchoo:


This is intriguing, but I fear that the devil is in the details. How much was the setup, how little power does he consume (ie. air conditioning or no?), how often does he need backup, what does he do at night? Our solar panel only provides about 25% of the office's consumption. It's an office, of course, with lots of computers, but the panel is probably much bigger than anything your friend has.


Disclaimer, My brother owns solar installation company so i know a tad about this. i know here in new jersey there is a substantial rebate program one of the best in the country, but in order to qualify for those rebates you cant install a system that generates more power than you consume, you cant become a powerplant, or at least they wont subsidize it. i forget what the ratio is to apply for the rebates however if you want to pay for them yourself, you are allowed to generate as much as you want, they aren't cheap. In recent years those rebates have gone down and investor programs have stepped in. the investors front the bill and they get to keep the green energy credits for say 15yrs. during those 15 years you get the decreased electric bill and good earth saving feeling while they get to keep and sell the credits, after the contract is up you own the system and you get to keep and sell the credits, so its mutually beneficial. But that still isn't catching on. the money right now is in solar farms where land is bought and a football size or so solar field is set up and the investors earn ton more of those credits, plus the energy they provide.

Message edited by author 2011-03-18 07:32:21.
03/18/2011 08:40:36 AM · #117
Originally posted by mike_311:

Originally posted by BrennanOB:

Originally posted by mike_311:

I'm sure in the wake of this event those guidelines will be looked at and revisions will be made to current systems at facilities in high risk areas.


Frankly, I would be surprised if anything changes. Japan already has the highest standards for seismic structural resistance in the world, and while they, and we in the more earthquake prone areas of the rest of the world, are building to resist 7.5 events, no one can afford to build for 9.0 monsters like the one they just had. Its a bit like trying to build a camera lens that could work after a four story drop, it might be a good thing to have but the resulting product would be so big and so expensive that no one would want to use it, even if they could afford it.


well yes, but they may decide to move the backup generators to an area where they wont get wet :)


again i take back my statement...

The cascade of events at Fukushima had been foretold in a report published in the U.S. two decades ago. The 1990 report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency responsible for safety at the country’s power plants, identified earthquake-induced diesel generator failure and power outage leading to failure of cooling systems as one of the “most likely causes” of nuclear accidents from an external event.

While the report was cited in a 2004 statement by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, it seems adequate measures to address the risk were not taken by Tokyo Electric, said Jun Tateno, a former researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and professor at Chuo University.


excerpt from:

//www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-17/japan-s-nuclear-disaster-caps-decades-of-faked-safety-reports-accidents.html
03/18/2011 11:21:42 AM · #118
Originally posted by scalvert:

nobody is going to flee in panic over a damaged turbine or solar panel.

Turns out they're also more resistant to damage.
03/18/2011 11:38:09 AM · #119
Originally posted by scalvert:

nobody is going to flee in panic over a damaged turbine or solar panel.


Dunno, I think I'd get out of the way of this :-0

03/18/2011 11:42:57 AM · #120
Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by scalvert:

nobody is going to flee in panic over a damaged turbine or solar panel.

Dunno, I think I'd get out of the way of this :-0

Yow! Still, you wouldn't evacuate a 20km radius, seal everyone indoors and hoard groceries.
03/18/2011 11:59:40 AM · #121
Originally posted by scalvert:

Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by scalvert:

nobody is going to flee in panic over a damaged turbine or solar panel.

Dunno, I think I'd get out of the way of this :-0

Yow! Still, you wouldn't evacuate a 20km radius, seal everyone indoors and hoard groceries.


...It wouldn't produce electricity 24/7 either.

I think we both made our cases here!
03/18/2011 02:06:30 PM · #122
Originally posted by scalvert:

Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by scalvert:

nobody is going to flee in panic over a damaged turbine or solar panel.

Dunno, I think I'd get out of the way of this :-0

Yow! Still, you wouldn't evacuate a 20km radius, seal everyone indoors and hoard groceries.


I think we need to understand the difference between a real danger and a perceived danger. The government may very justifiably act upon either, but this does not mean they are the same thing. Right now, I don't think there is any evidence of any real danger over the vast majority of the evacuation zone.

Now you could rightly counter by saying there there isn't a scenario with wind where there is the possibility of a real danger 20km away while the scenario exists with nuclear. I'm a big proponent of wind, but I don't think any single alternative energy source is going to replace carbon burning. We need them all along with a healthy dose of conservation. But, if any single source has a theoretical chance of completely replacing carbon burning, it would probably be nuclear.

Message edited by author 2011-03-18 14:07:50.
03/18/2011 02:33:58 PM · #123
Originally posted by mike_311:

its not the volts that's kill, its the amps. become part of any circuit with enough current and its not going to matter what type it is. ac current is usually very high current just becuase of its use. taking 10,000 volts of dc current would probably be safe but sting considering the source (stun gun, static electric shock) but touch a 600volt dc third rail or centenary on a subway train and you're cooked.

Actually it's the power that cooks you, that is voltage x current. If I believe the Wiki sources, low frequency AC at domestic voltage requires 5 to 8 times less amps to kill you than DC. AC is also said to cause muscle contractions, so that victims cannot release the electric contact under certain circumstances.

Originally posted by mike_311:

becuase of the same situation in Japan, while there is little or no chance of radiation exposure from the core itself, venting the steam in an attempt to release steam from emergency cooling of the core

Radioactive iodine comes out of the core, nothing to do with steam. I would love to have your conviction!?

Edited to add link

Message edited by author 2011-03-18 14:36:18.
03/18/2011 02:59:16 PM · #124
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by scalvert:

Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by scalvert:

nobody is going to flee in panic over a damaged turbine or solar panel.

Dunno, I think I'd get out of the way of this :-0

Yow! Still, you wouldn't evacuate a 20km radius, seal everyone indoors and hoard groceries.


I think we need to understand the difference between a real danger and a perceived danger. The government may very justifiably act upon either, but this does not mean they are the same thing. Right now, I don't think there is any evidence of any real danger over the vast majority of the evacuation zone.

Now you could rightly counter by saying there there isn't a scenario with wind where there is the possibility of a real danger 20km away while the scenario exists with nuclear. I'm a big proponent of wind, but I don't think any single alternative energy source is going to replace carbon burning. We need them all along with a healthy dose of conservation. But, if any single source has a theoretical chance of completely replacing carbon burning, it would probably be nuclear.


There's a real concern over the infrasound produced by wind turbines...even though a comprehensive 2009 study dismissed "Wind Turbine Syndrome" as nonsense, people still believe that it exists...especially if they suffer from the symptoms. I do know that sound energy in that low frequency range will travel a long distance and is difficult, if not impossible to stop. I want to read that study, my feeling is that the current understanding of how infrasound affects humans isn't well understood.

Also, if you've ever driven on by the Tehachapi Wind Farm on Hwy 58 between Barstow and Bakersfield, you know it's difficult to keep your eyes focused on the road because of the distraction created by the rows of spinning wind turbines.
03/18/2011 03:08:41 PM · #125
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Now you could rightly counter by saying there there isn't a scenario with wind where there is the possibility of a real danger 20km away while the scenario exists with nuclear. ... if any single source has a theoretical chance of completely replacing carbon burning, it would probably be nuclear.

No argument there. I'm just saying that you CAN generate significant energy from wind power with little to no downside. Now, if you're talking about "a theoretical chance of completely replacing carbon burning," I'd be looking for fusion!
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