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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am interested in maybe using small solar panels to charge small items like batteries or cell phones or maybe a light.

where can i buy solar panels cheaply to run as much as i can.
I can't afford to panel my whole roof to run a whole house system or something like that but maybe a emergency type kit to run what ever i can.

I was thinking also about buying solar sidewalk lights and then removign the panels for other uses.
anyone know how to wire them up or how to figure up whats needed to run what.
I'm a novice to solar energy so any help is appreciated .
 

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I have gotten all the things for my meager solar setup from this place...

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/...=mode+matchallpartial&Dx=mode+matchallpartial


I think it is probably what your looking for. I only have a 5 and a 15 watt panel and a couple of deep cycle batteries going to a 400 watt inverter. It doesn't run much, but it's electricity. I run an alternator off of a 6 hp engine to power a 1200 watt inverter. I have run a circular saw using that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks.

I have a 12 horse riding mower that the deck is rusted out on and i don't use it anymore, I would love to find details on how to make a homemade genny out of that and make as much power as i can.

I can't seem to find a basic lamens term guide on how to do that.
Can you point me in a good direction.
 

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My brother, who really knows what he's doing, has taken a regular 3 hp lawnmower cut out a side between the wheels, mounted two pulleys to drive a GM alternator. This alternator charges, now 5 old car batteries which in turn are wired to an inverter. Just playing around with this for a week he has fairly lived pretty well without hardship. Admittedly he did not compromise the refrgerator or summer airconditioning. Other than that intermittent tv, judicious lighting, etc. is all very possible. Hey, it's not living at the Ritz, but not some 500 buck loud gas guzzling 120 vac generator either.
 

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I forgot to mention that I messaged the guy who posted the Lawn Mower Engine 2 video about using more than one alternator with the 6 hp engine and he said it would bog the engine down. For 2 Alternators your looking at using a 10 hp engine.

Im sure Im not the first to think of this but what if you could run the alternator with an electric motor powered by an inverter that gets its power from the alternator?

There has to be an electric motor that can run an alternator. The next issue is starting it but Im sure in time that could be solved.
You would also be using maybe 50%(pulling that number out of thin air) of the power you generated to keep generating power.
I have a gut feeling though that there is a reason that this won't work but since I haven't tried to build it I can't see what that might be other than the electric motor needing more power to run the alternator than the alternator can generate.
Any ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the videos.

Anyone know how big a inverter I would need if i wanted to run a fridge or maybe one of the smaller "college mini" fridges.

How does a person know how much a inverter you need to run a set amout of lights or tv?

I'm not too sure a mower engine would run on straight veggie oil or even a large amount mixed with gasoline like in one of those videos.
 

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Thanks for the videos.

Anyone know how big a inverter I would need if i wanted to run a fridge or maybe one of the smaller "college mini" fridges.

How does a person know how much a inverter you need to run a set amout of lights or tv?

I'm not too sure a mower engine would run on straight veggie oil or even a large amount mixed with gasoline like in one of those videos.
Just find out the wattage of what it is you want to use. If your going to run two lamps and a radio and all 3 total 150 watts then I would suggest a 180 watt inverter. I always go beyond what I know I will need so that I'm not stressing the inverter. They do have peak amounts of power that they can put out but this is for a limited time and will shut down to cool off.
If you stay below that amount you can run your inverter longer.

If you want to run a fridge-full size I would get a 1,000 watt inverter. Those mini fridges could probably get by on a 300 Watt.
Here's a chart that gives some idea as to what the wattage use is based on the item.

http://www.invertersrus.com/estimatedwatts.html
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks tackleberry.

I like the idea of making a homemade genny but it attracts alot of attention to yourself when no one else has power and the city is quiet.

But It sure would be handy to have the voltage to run appliances or keep a 12 volt battery charged fast.

I like the free energy of solar cells but they are not very cheap and i'm not sure how much power they produce. for example how long would it take to charge a 12 volt deep cycle battery if i were to use the battery and a inverter to run a small fridge or light and radio etc.

is that possible to run things with solar energy instead of a generator for emergencys
 

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A buddy of mine years ago was looking at outfitting there "hunting cabin" with a fridge and a few lights. He was wanting to jury rig everything and cheese out- the China Freight panels, $79. inverter, all that mess. I sat down and figured out the cost of a REAL AE system- albeit a small one, and he was floored that it can be so cheap.

It's odd that so many folks that would be the first to jump and say "Oh no, you can't make it with a Mosin Nagant you MUST have an AR, etc. etc." want to cheese out on power systems.

The beauty of AE especially solar is that it's very MODULAR. You can start out with a relatively small system and add to it as money permits. You can cheese on certain things but don't cheese out on your panels or your inverter.

A few years back I started running out of juice a LOT sooner than I normally would. Went and checked the batts, they were fine. Went to the panels, a couple of panels were only producing 9 volts in full sun!! :eek: I contacted Kyocera (panels have a 25 year warranty) and they explained that they had a few problems with that batch from that time period. Not only did they replace the couple that were having problems- they REPLACED THE ENTIRE ARRAY- 14 panels!!! :D: In addition, they had done away with the 120's and went to 130's, so I got 10 extra watts per panel FREE. Over 14 panels that was the equivalant of getting 1 extra panel for free!

No these panels weren't cheap, but I had my eye on the future not just on present needs. Sure all you might want to do NOW is to charge a couple car batteries, etc. LATER you may want to power a whole outbuilding, ceiling fan, etc. If you bought some cheese ball equipment, your going to find it all pretty much useless once you get a real system going. If you bought decent components to BEGIN WITH, they will integrate easily into your new system.

And I don't think China Freight has a 25 year warranty on there panels.....

Yes I know the investment is intimidating, but think of it this way- how much gear/supplies have you bought and then later figured out it was worthless/junk or just wasn't needed? It's a pretty darn good bet your going to find that out with the "quasi AE" stuff out there like the $79. inverters and the China Freight panels.

Seems to me IIRC that the cost per watt on there panels was over $6. You CAN do better with real AE panels, you just need to shop around.

check www.altenergystore.com
 

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there was a thread on here that had a link that showed you how to wir the alternator to the converter but instead of being hooked up to a lawn mower it was hooked up to a bike but if you replace the bike with a motor it should be the same thing wish i couls find you the thread
 

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Solar panels are getting cheaper and smaller every day, foldable, rollable and compact.
The new printed flexible solar panels are driving the price down on the old big panels, but the U.S. government has dibs on the first two years production. Look for a drastic decrease in price of the old Photo panels after that, iv'e heard 1/3 the price.
I can get a Solar AA and AAA battery charger for under $20 usd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You make alot of sense Lowdown, thanks.

can you give more advice on how a newbie should get started and what to buy, and how to install it all or recomend a good DIY book or video.

I was also interested in bike generator plans Luvdahills, I'm not sure i would want to exercise that much but it's interesting.
 

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I forgot to mention that I messaged the guy who posted the Lawn Mower Engine 2 video about using more than one alternator with the 6 hp engine and he said it would bog the engine down. For 2 Alternators your looking at using a 10 hp engine.

Im sure Im not the first to think of this but what if you could run the alternator with an electric motor powered by an inverter that gets its power from the alternator?

There has to be an electric motor that can run an alternator. The next issue is starting it but Im sure in time that could be solved.
You would also be using maybe 50%(pulling that number out of thin air) of the power you generated to keep generating power.
I have a gut feeling though that there is a reason that this won't work but since I haven't tried to build it I can't see what that might be other than the electric motor needing more power to run the alternator than the alternator can generate.
Any ideas?
Aye it has been thought of, and disproven by Sir Isaac Newton, with his laws of thermodynamics, specifically, the law of conservation of energy, which basically states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. All energy must be gotten by some form of conversion: such as, converting the potential energy of wood into heat using using the chemical process of fire, or converting matter into energy by fusing two hydrogen atoms into one helium atom.

The system described above would be converting the mechanical energy supplied to an alternator (or generator) into electrical energy, then using the electrical energy to run a motor that in turn provides mechanical energy for the alternator. Because energy can never be created or destroyed, the very best you could possibly achieve in such as system is generating the exact amount of energy to turn the motor as is being by it. So, if you tried to add an additional alternator to siphon off any energy, the system would shut down. Of course, as a mechanical device, even that kind of efficiency is impossible.

Every form of energy harnessed for use MUST be generated by some other form of energy. All of your fuels (coal, wood, petroleum, etc) contain potential energy that can be harnessed by burning it. Heat from the sun can be harnessed with solar panels. Wind can be harnessed with a windmill. The point is, all of these things already contain energy, and so can be used, but they can never provide more energy than they started with- in fact, they always provide less, because we haven't yet figured out how to make a 100% efficient system for harnessing energy. Of course, energy can be generated from matter (in fact, a LOT of energy for just a small amount of matter), but such conversions are well beyond the capabilities of the average do it yourself-er.
 

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You make alot of sense Lowdown, thanks.

can you give more advice on how a newbie should get started and what to buy, and how to install it all or recomend a good DIY book or video.

I was also interested in bike generator plans Luvdahills, I'm not sure i would want to exercise that much but it's interesting.

Thanks. A couple resources that might help-

Part 1 of a 4 part series-


http://www.buildanark.net/index.php?homesteading/What you can do with your Generator.html

To me, this plan is the easiest and cheapest way to get up and running if someone already has a generator. If you DO NOT have a genset already, consider a diesel genset for many reason- mainly longevity of the engine and the fact that diesel stores SOOO much safer and longer than gas. All BS aside, I have off road diesel that's from 1999 that is still chugging away just fine in our diesel genset, heavy equipment and tractor!! Treat it with PRI-D and it will keep a long time.

Books-
The Renewable Energy Handbook by William Kemp

Very simply written, easy to understand.

If you have any specific questions please let me know.

Another week or two and I'll post another video of a smaller AE system, this one was down for around $2,000.00!!!!! I'll post it here when we get it done.

Good luck!

Lowdown3
 

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For my home made generator, I picked up a gas powered preasure washer with a bad pump. I pressed on a PWR steering pulley from a GM 3800 engine. There is a special tool to do this. It fit perfectly. Next I looked for a short serpintine belt to run to an alternator. I couldn't find one, so I used two Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0 liter water pump belts that are 3 ribs wide. 2 of them side by side makes a normal 6 rib. I made a tightener on the alternator to get the right belt tension. I put 3 wires each on the positive and negative and twisted them to make two high amp leads. Last, you need to be able to turn the alt on and off, otherwise the engine will not start with the load. I put toggle a switch between the main power stud and the field terminal on the alt. This system does require a battery connected to it to work, and obviously an inverter to get 110v.
 
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