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Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Bob Adkins, Jul 13, 2004.

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  1. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    I've always wondered why I've never ran across a discussion of an
    "Augmentation" approach to alternative energy. I'm sure it's done, but it
    must not be real popular.

    Here's what I mean:

    The power produced by solar panels or wind power would be fed directly into
    the grid. Period. No battery storage or huge inverters. A small inverter and
    a light duty grid tie would be all that would be needed.

    When the sun shines or the wind blows, your power bills could be a little to
    a lot lower. Best of all, batteries and massive DC current would be taken
    out of the equation, and dependability would be very high. Maintenance would
    be almost zero . It would possibly pay for itself within the owner's
    lifetime. Placing a small Watt hour meter inline with the utility company
    meter and keeping track of monthly savings would be fun. It would encourage
    you to get efficient lights and appliances too.

    I know there's nothing new here, but I don't remember it being discussed
    specifically. Aside from not having emergency power backup, what's the down
    side of power augmentation?

  2. Dave Hinz

    Dave Hinz Guest

    Well, it's fine as long as the grid doesn't go down, you're basically
    using the grid as your storage device. (not directly of course, but
    as a "get credit for what you put in, pay for what you take back" kind of
    Right there is the problem, I think. One of the benefits of the "bank of
    batteries" kind of system is that it's effectively a large UPS system, giving
    you power when the utility goes down. Around here, my utility drops power
    many times a year, and a grid-tie system wouldn't give me the dependability
    I'd get from having my own battery bank. Still have to have an inverter
    (in this case, a synchronous inverter to match phases), so the only expense
    and complexity savings is in the battery (and of course the box for them which
    is apparently very complex from what I've read here?).
    I think that's the only one I can see, but it's a biggie. If it fails to
    meet 1 of the 3 design criteria, that's pretty much a non-starter, for me.
    If it's just a "Hey, let's throw up a turbine or three and a few panels
    to cut down on the bills", sure, no problem. Depends on what you're after.

    Dave Hinz
  3. m Ransley

    m Ransley Guest

    Utility companys usualy dont pay you what it is worth they charge maybe
    4 times more than they pay. But different states have different laws. It
    would be smart for US conservation for them to play fair. But they are
    in the business of making money and need to be forced.
  4. Dave Hinz

    Dave Hinz Guest

    It's, as you say, a state-by-state thing. Talk to your legislators, and
    get 'em to do their jobs & fix it if your state doesn't make such
  5. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

    This is called grid tie, and it's quite common.

    Search on "netmetering"

    different states have different rules on how much you get paid, or even if
    you are allowed.
  6. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    That's what I said.
    Yea, I know that too.

    I was fishing for the benefits of eliminating batteries. Since most grids
    are very reliable, I'm wondering if they are even needed.

  7. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    So 280 million people are living dangerously? I don't think so. In 50 years,
    I've only lived without electricity about a week, and it didn't hurt me at

  8. I don't get it Bob.

    1. You know you can go grid-tie with a suitable inverter.

    2. You know that batteries are optional, and that it's up to the
    individual to decide whether they want independent power in the event
    of a grid outage, or not.

    What deep issue are we missing here?

  9. This is too narrow a view. You need to imagine that you have put in a hard
    day, you and your kids are all settled down, the power goes off and you are
    not even aware of it. Kid wakes up screaming and you have no idea how
    serious this is. You leap out of bed into the big dark, find the cat
    sleeping on the rug where your foot landed, and break several sharp objects
    in your fall. Are you not hurt by the power failure? And I have lived with
    power failure during the ice storm. We did have candles and plenty of flash
    lights. Our toilets did not freeze. But the house got seriously cold. Made
    sleep difficult. A long enough lack of power in mid winter can be a killer.
    It is easy to underrate this stuff if we think we are somehow tough and we
    can take it. We aren't. We need that power and it can become life and death
    very fast without our machismo having anything to do with it.
  10. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    Ha! You'll not get anything deep from me except BS!

    All seriousness aside, I didn't want to get that deeply into it. I was just
    wondering aloud, hoping someone had thought about it.

    Without writing a novel:

    Batteries and huge inverters hurt payback time on grid-tie systems.
    Batteries, 12v DC appliances, expensive super-efficient 110v appliances, and
    powerful central air conditioning are extra expenses or problematic in
    off-grid systems.

    I was just wondering why more people don't augment their grid power with
    real-time alternative power that goes directly into the grid. Since off-grid
    will probably never be cost effective for us older guys, I was thinking that
    a cheaper grid-tie system may possibly pay back within our lifetimes.

    What if an off-grid system would pay off in 30-35 years, and a "minimalist"
    grid tie system could pay off in 10-15 years? You still end up with a power
    bill, but at least you're not broke and could realize a 25-30% power savings
    you could brag about before you die. When (not if) the average power bill
    goes up to $600 per month, that will be significant. :)

  11. daestrom

    daestrom Guest

    'Play fair'?? Gee, who strings the lines to your home? Who sends out crews
    to repair lines at all hours? If you meet the power company half-way and
    agree to pay the costs of maintaining the lines half-way between you and the
    nearest 115kV transmission line, I'll bet they'd be glad to give you more
    for your solar-electric. Would you be willing to pay 'replacement-power'
    costs when the clouds roll by?

    Point is, the rates they charge you are for more than just the energy
    involved. So most power companies want more for the electricity they
    deliver than what the raw energy is worth.

    This has been discussed ad-nauseum in the past. Look for threads discussing
    net-metering. Figuring the exact cost breakdown and what the electricity is
    worth is not a simple thing. Solar is usually at peak times (worth more).
    It doesn't go *all* the way back to the generating station, but neither does
    it *just* go to your next door neighbor. What does a block of houses with
    grid-tie PV do to the fault analysis when a line is downed by a car

    Many, many more things that just the cost of the energy.

  12. Maybe the problem is dependancy on electricity, not the instability of
    local grids.

    A 5 hour power outage shouldn't reduce anyone to a raving lunatic... or
    are all those panic films made by americains based on reality? Do you
    all run around like a bunch of lost sheep, drive of roads, scream, sob,
    and trample people in crowds at the slightest weird event?

    There I was thinking that these films were all grossely overexagerated!

    I'll have to revise my opinion of americans and their ability to deal
    with out-of-the-ordinary events.

    If you live in a climate that is so cold that you have a health risk
    everytime the electricity goes down, maybe you should integrate
    alternative heating methods - what about a log fire and a couple of
    mattresse so that you can sleep in the lounge room with the fire? Or a
    slow-combustion stove (withou an electric fan) That way you can heat and
    cook when the power is down. Even in totally urban areas, you can have a
    couple of bags of logs in the garage in case of emergencies, can't you?

    We dont't "need" that power, we "want" it to be comfortable and because
    we have become addicted to it.


    Fred B. McGalliard a écrit :

  13. Dave Hinz

    Dave Hinz Guest

    Dependancy on electricity is a reality for many people.
    Why do you turn the issue of wanting to have ready backup power,
    into an anti-American rant?
    It looks like your opinion of Americans is firmly established already.
    How ironic, then, that your country had such a high death toll in
    last summer's "heat wave" where it hit, what, 30C?
    Well, let's see. I live in a rural area, with my own water well.
    No electricity = no water. I work in the IT industry, and need the
    ability to connect to my computers at work to work on them. No
    power=no network=no paycheck. In this part of the world, the
    firefighters and emergency medical folks are all volunteers -while
    most of my fire and EMS equipment is battery powered, a long enough
    outage would meen no power=no chargers=no batteries=no radio,
    no defibrillator, no ambulance...

    Like it or not, electricity is necessary for the modern way of living.
    Perhaps you personally are willing to "tough it out" and live without
    it for 5 hours or days, but there are those of us who choose to not
    inflict the same inconvenience on ourself. By turning a simple
    discussion of "what's the most effective backup power strategy" into your
    interpretation of "Hollywood is reality" rant is simply inflammatory
    and un-needed.

    Did you have anything to actually contribute to the discussion, or did
    you just drop in to spout your ignorance?
  14. wmbjk

    wmbjk Guest

    ???? Sounds like they're not very well prepared for an emergency if
    they don't have vehicle charge adaptors and backup generators.
    "Inconvenience" .... good job making Mel's point.

  15. The relevant part of your response is:

    "Like it or not, electricity is necessary for the modern way of living."

    Electricity is NOT necessary for a comfortable, safe and hopefully happy
    life. Yes, it does help a lot, and yes it is enjoyable. (I love my
    computer and my stereo, and steady light to read by) But if life becomes
    a huge drama because of a day or two without electricity then I think
    that there is a problem with electricity dependancy, and we should be
    having a good second look at "the modern way of living".

    I'm sorry if you have misunderstood my "anti-American rant", but I was
    having a dig at the image Hollywood gives the rest of the world of
    Americans - which as I said I thought was completly unrealistic.

    I agree with you that in France there is a problem with dealing with
    summer heat - and most of it can be blamed on very poor construction
    techniques that have not been adapted to local climates.

    Many people think that you can build the same house in the north of
    France as in the south of France and that you will be as comfortable in
    one area as the other. It just isn't possible, a more wholistic approach
    is necessary if we aren't to become electricity dependant. And this was
    proved in last years heat wave - there weren't to many deaths in
    southern France - in part because older buildings are adapted to hot
    summers, in part because local doctors are more aware of the impact of
    dehydration, in part becasue stupidly built buildings had already had
    air conditioning installed because they were unlivable in a normal summer.

    Unfortunatly, the governement reaction has been to air condition at
    least one common room in every public retirement home (they gave no
    thought to blinds, venetians, ventilation, normal staff levels to help
    rehydrate oldies, enforcing extra summer comfort design rules for futur
    retirement homes and hospitals....)

    I decided to "spout my ignorance" becasue I firmly belive that the first
    step on the renewable road should be demand side management. The long
    list of "R"s is my mantra (refuse reduce reuse recycle renew...)

    And Fred's justification for the necessity of electricity really boils
    down to the fact that he is worried that he isn't prepared enough to
    live without the grid in case of another ice storm. Maybe there are
    other investments he could have done before getting a costly battery
    back up system? (if he has one)

    And I hate to see people living dangerously.


    Dave Hinz a écrit :
  16. Dave Hinz

    Dave Hinz Guest

    We are prepared, we do have them of course. She was deriding the need for
    such precautions.
    What, that we panic and run through the streets? I don't think so.
  17. Dave Hinz

    Dave Hinz Guest

    The only person making this into a "huge drama" is you. It's just another
    thing to choose to plan for, or not, just like havinga spare tire in the
    car in case of a flat, having an umbrella in case of rain, or whatever.
    Sure, getting rained on won't kill you, but it's just another thing to
    decide if you want to plan for.
    Riiiiight, I'll just dig my own well then. Couple of days without water?
    No biggie, right?
    You said 'maybe it's true after all' or words to that effect. I saw a
    cultural slam and called it as I saw it.
    Of course. My reaction was to you projecting Hollywood's BS into the

    By the way, when you top-post your response like this, it makes it
    impossible for anyone to quote you with the context of what you're
    answering, without spending a lot of time copy/pasting stuff around.
    Do you do this on purpose? Since I'm not going to go through the
    effort, I'll answer them in the order you left it.

    "I'll have to revise". You're clearly saying that now you agree with
    these films. This is what I am taking exception to.
  18. I top post becasue I hate having to scroll down pages of stuff to get to
    the new text.

    Unfortunatly, electricity generation can and does kill people. That's
    why we should be trying to reduce our electricity use.


    Dave Hinz a écrit :
  19. Dave Hinz

    Dave Hinz Guest

    So learn to trim un-needed context. Those pages of stuff, if they're
    not needed, can be cut. To do otherwise is pure laziness.
    Riiiiight, so now it's "use less of it because it can hurt you".
    I'm not sure what your actual point is but it seems to be moving
  20. Americans? No. That's just New Yorkers, and the weird event is just the
    morning rush hour.
    I must admit that Some European country, or perhaps a south American
    country, seems by my failing memory to have a record for the number of folk
    trampled when a soccer crowd went out of control. All the fold about your
    place are well behaved in a "situation" then? No stampedes to get to the
    free tickets to the rock show, eh? Must be nice.
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