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Alternative Energy.....

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Fish4Fun, Sep 18, 2014.

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  1. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

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    AE (Alternative Energy) seems to be @ the forefront of everyone's mind, so perhaps there should be a "sticky" thread that covers some of the basics....With this in mind, let's use this thread to "hash out" some of the common misconceptions, problems and "answers" to some of the more common "newbie" questions/posts. Below are things I think might be good to point out:

    1) Energy Conversion Efficiency.....People always seem to assume that they can "use" all 100W from a source capable of outputting 100W...ie, if they have a 100W solar panel and it is "sunny" 14 hours a day, they assume they can STORE 1400W of power in a battery bank and later convert that 1400W to 120Vac/240Vac grid equivalent power....Obviously this is NOT the case. Other scenarios include inverter efficiencies, Rated Output vs Real-World output, Power available in the wind @ any particular Wind Speed vs Electrical power output @ the same wind speed.....Battery Charging Efficiency....Copper losses in power transmission (ie why NOT to use 1000' of 26ga wire for transmission of 12Vdc @ 10A, lol)....etc, etc. Basically a primer on the third law of thermodynamics....

    2) "Eliminating" Grid Demand vs "Replacing" Grid Demand....This is a bit of a play on words, but the idea is that if you "eliminate" an existing grid demand and instead power the device in question directly from an AE source, then the economic viability of the project can increase orders of magnitude....If, for example, you replace 10 "wall-wart" chargers that generally remain "plugged in" 24/7 with a single "solar charger" then you may have "eliminated" as much as 1.2kWh/Day from existing grid consumption, but the panel itself may only need to output 0.5 kWh per day to perform the same charging functions....while a solar array to "Replace" the 1.2kWh/day of grid demand might need to output as much as 5kWh/Day....Not everything has to "plug-in" to the wall....

    3) Reducing Consumption is infinitely more cost effective than AE power production....People ASSUME that producing "free power" will "offset wasting power", but in all truly successful AE installations the biggest "savings" comes from Managing//Reducing Consumption....

    4) How much 1kWh REALLY IS....Most people have NO IDEA what a HUGE amount of energy is available for << $0.20....AND examples of what 1kWh of energy can do....How many hours on a generator-bike///How many pull-ups///How far a toy car might travel///How far a projectile could travel///How many times a cell phone could be charged////How long a laptop could operate///etc,etc,etc....Most people really have NO IDEA...

    5) Perhaps develop some specific examples of ways AE can be cheaply and efficiently incorporated into the average household....For instance...solar hot water is the #1 best return on investment available in AE by at least an order of magnitude...In the same vein, properly insulating doors, windows, attics, basements and crawl spaces is far more cost effective than attempting to produce AE to offset heating/cooling costs....But in some cases energy efficiency is not the most cost effective approach...for instance in cities where water is expensive and typically tied to waste water treatment costs, it is common practice to "recirculate" hot water from the water heater to the point-of-use to "save water" when there is hot water demand...this is a HUGE waste of energy, but it is more cost effective than wasting water......The point here being that suggestions//examples of "effective uses" of AE should always take the entire situation into account....What is good in one case is NOT ALWAYS good in another...

    Summary: In short AE is generally viewed as a panacea to "replace grid power with free, renewable energy", but the reality is that AE is only one fairly small component in a complete re-vamping of the way we use energy....so let's throw some ideas around about how to create a "sticky" thread we can point newbies to in an effort to help them learn about the Realities of Energy use and how AE might be used to both meliorate the environment and help lower overall energy consumption//costs.

    I know this site is dedicated to electronics, and Alternative Energy is at best a fringe component of Electronics, but there are posts nearly every day from people who do not understand the distinction between Electric Power and Electronics....So if the site is already generating the AE traffic, and you can't really stop it, why not embrace it and at least attempt to answer the more common questions/concerns/problems in an efficient manner? Perhaps even create an AE sub-forum.....With this in mind, it is my hope that others will chime in to help "flesh out" the above outline...add more items....eliminate some....etc and then perhaps a mod/admin can extract the information into a coherent, informative sticky...And when the newbies post the already answered questions a simple "link" will suffice.....no need to recklessly disseminate any information about the "Top Secret Search Feature"...hehehe....

    Fish
     
    chopnhack likes this.
  2. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

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    Oh no, Not again...
     
  3. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

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    Aug 27, 2013
    @ Harold....LMFAO...rut-rho elroy.what'd I do now.....? I was just thinking it might be easier to point people to a sticky rather than muddle through individual responses...or ignore them till they went away.....didn't mean to kick a hornet's nest.....

    Fish
     
  4. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

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    I think Harald was thinking you were talking about "free energy". Alternative energy is real. Energy can be taken from the sun, wind, etc. "Free energy" involves taking energy from the earth's magnetic field, or from a perpetual motion machine, or some other kind of "over-unity" device.
     
  5. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

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    Aug 27, 2013
    @kris....Ahhhhhh, IC....so you think he thought I couldn't think? LMAO! It is all good, I was in-fact talking about Alternative Energy....Solar Panels/Collectors, Wind Turbines, Geothermal, Hydro etc...but 95% of the AE posts I see here and elsewhere involve Solar PV panels and far too many of those posts are, in fact, made by people who might just have easily posted about "Tesla's new secret flux capacitors that will spin your meter backwards...." I don't really have any suggestions for helping people who take it on faith that the Laws of Thermodynamics are a conspiracy theory.....People who are serious about AE for any combination of the "right reasons" but lack the scientific background to separate fact from fiction...SOME of them might be helped....

    Fish
     
    KrisBlueNZ likes this.
  6. chopnhack

    chopnhack

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    I think its a great idea, I believe you can create a resource yourself. I am pretty sure you don't need to he a moderator to do so. I would love to see it when you finish it!
    AE is very real, but often overhyped and not always practical. I see tons of adverts down here for various systems... makes me laugh - those PV arrays are not small missile proof, a few good storms or some hail and your investment, which is supposed to pay for itself over ~12 years + is now toast, LOL...
     
    KrisBlueNZ likes this.
  7. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    yup I like the idea :) the thread has my support.
    Maybe Harald need to read your post again ;)

    we need to make sure that the information that does get posted in here is accurate, clear and to the point
    As the thread progresses I or other mod's may rearrange/merge posts and do periodic tidyups to keep things easy to read

    cheers
    Dave
     
    KrisBlueNZ likes this.
  8. chopnhack

    chopnhack

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    I will have to contribute... I receive so much good stuff here. I have an article I will try to find on using waste heat from heat pumps to provide hot water. Kind of AE, no?
     
  9. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

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    Aug 27, 2013
    @chopnhack....Thanks! And yes, I have NO DOUBT I could create a resource oriented post on Alternative Energy...but that would just be my thoughts, not necessarily representative of the majority of contributing forum members who get the opportunity to wade through 10 unrealistic AE posts a week....the point of this thread is to let contributing members decide 1) If there should be a "sticky" about AE at all 2) What are the most essential points to be covered in such a sticky....for instance should it be filled with dogmatic statements like: "Solar Power is a waste of natural resources, it takes more energy to manufacture, ship and install a solar panel than the panel will produce in its useful lifetime." Or should it focus on helping people fundamentally change the way they think about energy and help them attempt to get the most from the available resources and technologies...? Obviously I favor the latter approach, but I wouldn't really argue the former point......and perhaps neither approach represents the general opinion of forum members.... 3) Are the repetitive posts about AE similar enough to warrant a single sticky // cliff-note approach to the average 1 post wonder's inquiries about their "secret Alternative Energy project"?

    @davenn Thanks! Only thing I would like to suggest is that when the discussion in this thread is "over", if it seems like a sticky is appropriate, it would probably be best to create a "new thread" and either organize the information in a single post, or present it as a short "series of posts by topic" and then close the thread to further posts.....let this thread fade into the archives....I mean I think it would be great if the average newbie found this thread using the super secret "search feature", but I suspect that won't frequently be the case and it will be much easier to simply "reply" to particular posts with @Link... see post #4 if it is neatly organized.... But, obviously handle it any way you see fit....
    @All...there are a relatively small number of people here who "help"...there are a lot of one-time posts about AE; my thought is not that a "sticky" will in any way reduce the number of posts about AE, but it is my hope that a well-thought-out "sticky" might reduce the effort required to provide a "reasonable" response to constantly reiterated questions....

    BTW, some may prefer "Renewable Energy" to "Alternative Energy"....I see both kicked around fairly synonymously in wind/solar oriented forums/sites, but if anyone feels one term is more appropriate than the other then by all means voice your thoughts....

    Fish
     
  10. chopnhack

    chopnhack

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    The most useful resources/sticky's keep opinion and political motivations out of the discussion. Present the details of AE or RE without agenda, concisely, starting with the most commonly asked questions then moving on to the more complicated discussions. No, I don't believe it should be a thread focused on helping people change the way they think about energy, they obviously have had some thought about it to seek out the information. I don't think they need or will want to wade through dogma to get the info.
     
  11. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

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    Sorry, my fault. Ashes on my head.
     
  12. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

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    Aug 27, 2013
    @chopnhack....I agree about avoiding politics out and opinion to a bare minimum....not sure I agree about attempting to help people learn to view energy differently...but that is the point of THIS thread....I think a sticky should represent what the majority of members think/feel so as we flesh this out we will see where it goes... With that in mind, please take a few moments to enumerate what you think are the most commonly asked questions and which points you think should be made ;-)

    @Harald....LMAO, the fact that you so quickly assumed THIS was another "free energy" post perhaps suggests that a section on realistic energy conversions might be helpful...lol. Heinlein summed it up...TANSTAAFL..."There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch".... And you don't need to worry about me thinking that the Laws of Thermodynamics are some kind of conspiracy....the only Law in Physics that I occasionally attempt to defy is the Law of Gravitation....and I don't dispute it on a philosophical level, I simply occasionally find myself in precarious situations HOPING against all odds that gravity will give me a break....so far it hasn't....

    @All....it seems the notion of a sticky to help answer some of the more basic AE/RE posts has garnered enough support to warrant investigation.....lets get a bit of input about what should actually go in it....developing the bullet points isn't really time sensitive...having a sticky will be just as handy a year from now as it might in 3 days.....so give it some thought as the new threads roll in ... perhaps we might even invoke the "super secret search feature" as a sanity check to see how many previous, similar posts there have been....I know...crazy talk...

    Fish
     
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  13. pilko

    pilko

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    @ chopnhack " I have an article I will try to find on using waste heat from heat pumps to provide hot water"
    I play around a lot with my heat pump and would be interested in your article.
    If you cannot find it, can you briefly describe it ? --- thanks
    @ OP sorry for hijacking, will start a new thread if necessary.
     
  14. chopnhack

    chopnhack

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    Unfortunately I couldnt find it. I had it on my desktop for months and months, but of course when you need it! It was on a restaurant chain called Checkers - a quick serve fast food store. They were installing heat exchangers into their heat pumps and recovering the waste heat to provide hot water for their washing needs. Very cool reuse of waste. Sorry I could not find the article, it was interesting. It was in PDF format that I pulled off of the web. I don't recall the context in how I came across the article.
     
  15. pilko

    pilko

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  16. Colin Mitchell

    Colin Mitchell

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    You cannot convert 100 watts x 14 hours to 1400 watts.
     
  17. chopnhack

    chopnhack

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    Fish does indicate that this is not the case:

    1) Energy Conversion Efficiency.....People always seem to assume that they can "use" all 100W from a source capable of outputting 100W...ie, if they have a 100W solar panel and it is "sunny" 14 hours a day, they assume they can STORE 1400W of power in a battery bank and later convert that 1400W to 120Vac/240Vac grid equivalent power....Obviously this is NOT the case.
     
  18. Colin Mitchell

    Colin Mitchell

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    You cannot store 1400 watts. You cannot even store 1 watt.
     
  19. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    But you can store a watt second! (or a watt hour, or a kWh)

    A watt is a rate (like speed), and kWh is a measure of energy (like distance).

    You store energy. You store it (or consume it) at a rate.

    So the source of your energy (e.g. a solar panel) has a rating in watts. And your battery has a rating in Wh, These tell you how fast the solar panel can capture/convert energy, and how much total energy the battery can store.

    100W * 14 hours is 1400Wh

    that's like

    100km/h * 14 hours is 1400km

    and that's because a Watt is a Joule per second. So I can rewrite the first of these as:

    100J/s * 14*3600 seconds is 1400 * 3600 J
     
  20. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

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    Aug 27, 2013
    Hey Colin,
    My Apologies for the improper syntax...I DO understand the difference between a kW and a kWh....the point of the example was to re-create the diction used in a typical post by someone who not only does not understand the difference between a kW and a kWh, but who believes absolutely that energy storage is as simple as "filling a glass with water"....That being said, it is obvious I did not make what I was attempting to convey clear enough. To clarify things for you, the point of this thread is to discuss the viability of a "sticky thread" that addresses some of the more common posts made by people with unrealistic expectations about Alternative/Renewable Energy....The point of such a sticky thread would be to allow a simple "link" to replace lengthy, detailed responses to 1-post members who "want help running their xxxxx on a 100W solar panel...." Perhaps it is a fool's errand....but I think if done correctly it could be helpful to people who will take the time to read a bit....and I am certain it would help prevent wasting time on people unwilling to read a bit.

    Cheers!

    Fish
     
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