[FoRK] Solar power

Justin Mason jm at jmason.org
Mon Feb 9 09:53:10 PST 2004

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Eugen Leitl writes:
> I have the opposite problem: are any of you living off the grid? I'm looking
> into winter garden, solarthermics, photovoltaics, augmented by a wood stove 
> (or oil; liquefied gas gas). I don't find lead/acid batteries too sexy, so 
> there's a need for a small generator for night/spike use. Internal house grid 
> could be 12 or 24 V, with a few inverters strewn in between. If it wasn't for 
> washing machine and cooking, the power requirements would be pretty low.
> I'm thinking about buying a piece of land off the grid, and build a
> well-insulated house (with proper ventilation/heat exchange, of course) with
> photovoltaics integrated into the facade and solar collectors into the roof
> (which will be probably grass, though that's just a lark).
> Phone could be cellular, Internet connection either long-haul WiFi or
> satellite.
> So far, this is largely a dream. I need to crunch the numbers, to figure out
> whether it's stillborn.

Eugen --

I've talked to Doug Korthof (SoCal electric-car afficionado) about this.
His home and 2 electric cars are mainly solar-powered, using cells on his
roof.  (Easier in SoCal than in many parts of the world, I'd suspect!)

He noted, and I've heard the same from others, that the main issue is a
large initial capital outlay to get all this equipment bought and
installed; if I recall correctly it'll take about 10 years to amortise
that cost.   But after that point, you're home free.

(And given predictions of fossil-fuel lifetimes, the price of those fuels
may rise enough in the short term to bring that down to 5 years,

PS: regarding cooking with propane -- natural gas may be an option;
at least then you're talking *local* fossil fuels rather than ones
from the middle east.

Also: grass roof -- go for it! ;)

- --j.
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