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Author Topic: Living Independent from the Utilities Grid  (Read 6868 times)

Top Dollar

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Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« on: October 17, 2003, 11:09:22 pm »

Home Water Supply is a comprehensive book on home water supplies, covering wells, catchment, and desalinization:  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0882663240/103-6110666-0157423?v=glance

Add the solar power discussed earlier, and now you're completely off of the utilities grid.  That remote acreage is now a lot more valuable without spending tens of thousands of dollars to bring in connections from the local monopolies.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2003, 10:44:55 am by thewaka »
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Top Dollar

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Re:High Speed Internet: Where?
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2003, 11:16:55 pm »

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Tracy Saboe

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Off Grid Living
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2003, 09:44:43 pm »


Just thought I should start a topic.

Tracy
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We agree that "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." --George Washington

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mvpel

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Re:Off Grid Living
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2003, 11:03:28 pm »

Check out Home Power Magazine - http://www.homepower.com/

Also, check out a friend of mine's website - http://www.veggieavenger.com/ - running diesel cars on straight vegetable oil and converting oil into bioldiesel.
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thewaka

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2003, 11:29:15 am »

Top Dollar, thank you for posting these. Do you have any experience (especially several years or more) with composting toilets? I am very interested in them (though the cost makes me cringe). My husband is wary of them, though, so someone posting about actually having one in-house would be great.

Diana
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Top Dollar

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2003, 12:30:59 pm »

I haven't used these myself.  I would be interested in hearing from an experienced user as well.

There is also the incinerator toilet, http://www.incinolet.com/index.htm.  These require less maintenance for maintaining the compost environment and removing solids.  There is some sterile ash produced.
The Incinolet is planned for use on the Freedom Ship, www.freedomship.com.

I prefer the composting toilet since it recycles the waste as compost for the garden and uses less energy.
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Top Dollar

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2003, 12:34:14 pm »

High Speed Internet, Television and Telephone Service:

Direcway is two way satellite service for $60 per month with $600 upfront equipment cost if bought directly from Hughes.  Resellers may have it cheaper.  DirectTV may be added to it as well.

http://www.direcway.com/default.asp?CurrentPath=direcway/for_home/learn_more/oneway_twoway.htm

It still isn't quite as fast as cable, but much better than dial-up.  

To avoid the need for running a phone line to the house, use Vonage, another $25 per month, http://www.vonage.com/.  It plugs into your ethernet router and uses the internet connection for phone service.  It works just like a regular phone, includes a phone number, and has 500 minutes US long distance.  Unlimited long distenace is $35 per month.
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U.S. Constitution Text:  http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.text.html
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Top Dollar

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2003, 12:38:33 pm »

http://www.backwoodssolar.com/ offers wind, hydroelectric, and solar systems for sale.
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Reaper

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2003, 11:06:10 am »

Aren't solar arrays (photovoltaic cells) expensive and unreliable?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2003, 11:06:40 am by Reaper »
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Reaper
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Top Dollar

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2003, 02:13:32 pm »

Last I checked, photovoltaics were selling for about $4-$5 per watt.  They are quite reliable themselves, but are dependent on the availability of sunlight.  Sizing of the storage batteries depends on the amount of sunlight in a given area.  The total cost of everything - cells, batteries, and electronics is closer to $10 per watt.  The cells do degrade with time but last 10 or more years.  It is a gradual decline in efficiency, not a sudden loss of power, so they drop to 80% of their original power rating eventually.  The tradeoff is the cost of running connections to the electrical grid and paying the monthly bill versus the initial solar outlay and replacing the batteries once in a while.  

I favor solar concentrators using commercially available mirrored plexiglas formed into a parabolic trough, heating circulating oil to a tank for thermal storage, with a heat exchanger in the tank to boil water for steam to run a turbine (maybe an automotive turbocharger and alternator), produce heating and air conditioning from the waste heat, and fresh water from the condensed steam.

In New Hampshire, I see small scale hydro combined with aquaculture ponds as more practical than solar.
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mvpel

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2003, 02:29:40 pm »

An important thing to note - Satellite internet is NOT AT ALL suitable for voice service.

The round-trip latency (2 trips to the satellite and back) is usually around 0.5 to 0.8 seconds, and the upstream bandwidth is too low for voice.

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Top Dollar

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2003, 02:56:00 pm »

http://www.skycasters.com/satellite-phone-direcway-voip/ show a voice over IP (VOIP) system using Direcway.
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Tracy Saboe

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2003, 05:02:03 pm »

PhotoVoltic Technology typically has a warentee of between 20-30 years and typcially lasts longer then that.

PhotoVoltic Tehcnology is based on Transistor technology, which we're finding typically has a lifetime of around 30 years. Solar Cells are typically only in use for about a third of the day or so, so it's concievible that they could hvae a lifetime of around 90 years.

They are quite reliable. But yes, Solar electricity technology is more expensive currently. But that French/Italian company might make main stream electricity generation by solar energy more mainstream in a couple years.

Tracy
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Top Dollar

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2003, 05:10:29 pm »

Photovoltaics rarely catastrophically fail, they just degrade and lose efficiency over time.  It is the housing and mounting which is more apt to corrode and fail at some point.  It would be nice to see a breakthrough technology which makes them as cheap as mentioned in the article on organics.  I've seen so many hyped imminent breakthroughs that I'm pessimistic until I actually see it on the market.  I've personally known two researchers who quite Arco Solar because the technologies they developed were patented and shelved instead of brought to market.
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Adam Selene

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Re:Living Independent from the Utilities Grid
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2003, 10:16:26 pm »

Too bad Alaska wasn't chosen as the Free State. However, maybe we can import a few of these into NH. Set up one of these, a local water supply, and broadband Internet WiFi, have everyone use Vonage IP telephones, and you have a town completely independent of the State utility monopolies.

Read the full article, very cool.

Anchorage Daily News

A Japanese corporation wants to thrust the Interior community of Galena into international limelight by donating a new, unconventional electricity-generating plant that would light and heat the Yukon River village pollution-free for 30 years.

There's a catch, of course. It's a nuclear reactor.

Not a huge, Three Mile Island-type power plant but a new generation of small nuclear reactor about the size of a big spruce tree. Designers say the technology is safe, simple and cheap enough to replace diesel-fired generators as the primary energy source for villages across rural Alaska.

Such a plant would also have enough excess power to create hydrogen gas, proponents say. They envision Galena as a demonstration center for the highly vaunted hydrogen economy, in which cars and trucks could run on the clean-burning gas.

Full Article: http://www.adn.com/front/story/4214182p-4226215c.html
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