For many, Aftertime preparations are relegated to securing a safe location, gathering vital essentials and do not include provisions for generating electrical power.  While this isn't imperative for survival, it will be required for optimum vegetable cultivation, radio communication, among other quality of life improvements.  Although many are hoping to be deemed worthy of receiving a perpetual power pack, there's no telling when or even IF this can be expected.

 

Some may be able to rely on their ability to generate power from salvaging Aftertime wreckage, but most of us cannot.  This discussion is offered for those intending to generate power in the Aftertime and wanting to learn more.  Anyone currently living off-grid or with expertise generating and storing power is encouraged to share their ideas on reliable alternatives in an Aftertime environment.

 

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS

 

There's much to be said regarding human powered generators in the context of an Aftertime scenario.  Most commercially available human-powered generators involve either a stationary bicycle that utilizes legs for pedaling or a hand crank mechanism that utilizes the upper body. Since a human is only capable of producing relatively low RPMs, power output is likewise limited.  And while pedaling a stationary bike for an hour currently may not be overly taxing, when your day is comprised of chopping wood, carrying water, and other physically exhausting activities - and you're borderline malnourished, this may not be a realistic option. Before exploring other alternatives for generating power, it's important to clarify some common misconceptions:

 

Misconception 1:  "I can salvage an alternator from a car or truck and generate power, right?"

 

Not easily. Most vehicle alternators start producing power at RPMs far greater than humans can achieve without substantial mechanical gearing to increase the alternator speed.  While vehicle alternators can be modifed to generate power at lower RPMs, this involves replacing the existing stator windings with windings that have more turns of smaller gauge wire, which is no small feat.

 

Using a vehicle alternator to harness wind power is also problematic. A car alternator is designed to be lightweight and operate at very high RPM. Since it won't produce useable power below 1000 RPM, ordinary wind turbine blades mounted on the shaft will spin relatively slowly and not produce useable power. While you can attempt to compensate for this speed mismatch by introducing gearing, rewinding the stator coils, or even using shorter blades, you'll find these laborious efforts only result in a wind generator that is clumsy, inefficient, and produces little power.

Also, you have to remove and bypass the internal voltage regulator if your battery is not right next to the alternator. So unless you have the battery mounted on top the tower, the voltage at the alternator will be higher than the battery voltage due to resistance in the wiring and the regulator will start to limit the voltage output before the battery begins charging properly. All in all, trying to use a vehicle alternator is a bad idea.

 

Misconception 2:  "I can hook up any Permanent Magnet Generator (PMG) to a stationary bike and generate sufficient power to charge my battery bank, right?"

 

Not necessarily.  Even PMGs advertised as "Low RPM" that reportedly generate voltage and current at any RPM need to be evaluated based on your ability to turn the generator fast enough to charge your batteries.  If you're trying to charge a 12V battery and you can't pedal fast enough to generate more than 12V, your battery will die just slightly ahead of you.

 

Misconception 3:  "I can use car batteries in my battery bank, right?"

 

Bad idea. Most batteries that start engines (starter batteries) are designed to be drained only slightly (2 to 5%) during ignition, after which they're recharged by the vehicle's alternator. This type of battery fails to hold a charge when repeatedly drained and recharged (deep cycled).  A used automotive battery can fail after only a few deep cycles, while a new deep cycle battery can last for over 20 years. While it would be recommended to obtain deep cycle batteries now, deep cycle batteries could be acquired in the Aftertime by salvaging those found in boat wreckage (marine batteries), as well as ones residing in forklifts, golf carts and floor sweepers (traction batteries).

 

Misconception 4:  "I can erect a wind generator anywhere and it will generate power as long there's wind, right?"

 

A wind generator needs to be positioned in a carefully chosen location that satisifies stringent criteria:

a.  Dependable Wind.  Any location will have periods when there's no wind, but you want to choose a site where there is some wind most of the time.

b.  Sufficient Wind.  Even though the blades may be turning, most wind generators won't charge batteries in winds less than 7 mph.  Power output increases almost linearly in winds between 10 mph and 20 mph, after which power output levels off and actually decreases in wind speeds over 35 mph as overspeed controls come into play. 

c.  Excessive Wind. While not enough wind is a problem, too much of it is a bad thing, too.  In wind speeds greater than 35 mph, most wind generators have built-in overspeed controls that slow blade rotation to prevent damage.  This reduces power output and increases wear and tear.  While some wind generators cannot survive wind speeds above 50 mph, others can endure wind speeds up to 120 mph.

d.  Good Wind.  For optimum performance, a wind generator should be located far away and well above the nearest obstacle that could affect the quality of wind by introducing turbulence.  Some say a wind generator should be located at least 300 feet away and 30 feet above the nearest obstacle, while others suggest a horizontal distance of 200 feet and vertical height of 20 feet is satisfactory.  It all depends on the location.  An 80-foot tower is not unheard of.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN

 

So what's the best means of generating power in the Aftertime?  This depends on many factors including your geographic location, how much power you envision your group requiring, what your group's capabilities are and what your available resources are for obtaining energy system components. 

 

If you wish to have electrical power in the Aftertime, its essential that your survival group contain at least one person with sufficient knowledge to be capable of either salvaging the necessary parts in the Aftertime or building the group's renewable energy system from commercially available components right now.  Personally, I believe this also includes the ability to build a generator from raw materials since there's no assurance power generating devices, despite how carefully protected, will survive the Pole Shift.

 

For those interested in learning how to build wind generators from raw materials, I highly recommend Hugh Piggott's, A Wind Turbine Recipe Book. This book is also available for download. I endorse this book because I was successful building a wind generator using it's instructions. The book includes plans for building 4', 6', 8', 10', 12' and 14' rotor diameter wind generators and is available in English or metric units.

 

So if your intention is to generate power in the Aftertime, how do you intend to accomplish it? 

We need to start talking about this now.  After the 7 of 10 hits, it might be too late.

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I actually have a video on making a windmill using the old 60 amp GM alternators. However I think the Zetas were implying that you would make your own PM alternator using what magnets you can find in your car, from speakers and such, and then using the brake drums as the housing. I've seen it done where the brake drum rotates around the copper coils, or the copper coils rotate under the drum housing. Either way, they require knowledge to build.

And there is also the cordless drill setup where electricity is generated by manually rotating the drill.
Micro hydro (water) is ideal because it is continuous and steady as long as you have water. Wind and sun are not continuous. You can "store" water in a dam, thus store some electricity...for the night.

To me .. keeping your demand very low.. a few LED lights.. a small computer... is the key to a simple system. But having a small flowing stream..among hills..is what you need to look for. The hills will give you the fall you need to generate power. A high waterfall nearby is ideal. You will need BIG cables if you want to carry 12v power over a distance. But you may be able to salvage old power lines.. as they will be unused. The other thing you need ( besides a generator) is plenty of pipe.. and joiners. Your hydro pipe will also give you water delivered at pressure for your shower and kitchen.
thanks howard
Using a vehicle alternator to harness wind power is problematic. A car alternator is designed to be lightweight and operate at very high RPM. Since it won't produce useable power below 1000 RPM, ordinary wind turbine blades mounted on the shaft will spin relatively slowly and not produce useable power. While you can attempt to compensate for this speed mismatch by introducing gearing, rewinding the stator coils, or even using shorter blades, you'll find these laborious efforts only result in a wind generator that is clumsy, inefficient, and produces little power.

Also, you have to remove and bypass the internal voltage regulator if your battery is not right next to the alternator. So unless you have the battery mounted on top the tower, the voltage at the alternator will be higher than the battery voltage due to resistance in the wiring and the regulator will start to limit the voltage output before the battery begins charging properly. All in all, trying to use a vehicle alternator is a bad idea.
I agree Howard. Permanent Magnet Alternators are the only way to go. If you can't build them, there is a site that will not be up and running for long that sells the best pre made PM alternators I've seen. In fact, in my experimental days, I could not find ANYONE who actually built and sold PM alternators. I sure could have used them when I was building my bike generator. Even with a 30:1 gear ratio, I could not get the 60 amp GM alternator, which required 1200 rpm, to charge. However with these new PM alternators, some are built that begin charging simply by spinning the shaft with your fingers, you can get them at higher speeds to.

WindBlue Power is a website that would be very handy for those who wish to begin a windmill, watermill, or bike generator project.

I´ve bought this tiny mill which will provide 400 W....(when there´s wind:-).. It should have gone on grid 10 days ago - then the snows came, and I´ll only be able to supervise the completion of my project sometime this weekend.. Yes, I do plan to buy an inverter + deep cycle batteries for it... it is easily transported, save for the mast which may have to be divided into 3-4 smaller lenghts when I need to take it down again for moving.. But everything else is fitted (and, would you believe : paid for !) and I love it...

If you're serious about using artificial lighting to grow vegetables in the Aftertime, there are some considerations to be mindful of. Most vegetables require at least 2000 lumens per square foot to grow. (One lumen equals the brightness of one candle one foot away.) For example, a 3-ft x 3-ft growing area will require 18,000 lumens.

(3' x 3' = 9 square feet. 9 square feet x 2000 lumens per square foot = 18,000 lumens).

While this light requirement can be supplemented with ambient light from the sky, this will vary depending on your location. On an overcast day, anywhere from 300 to 1000 lumens per square foot is available, but who knows what this will be in the Aftertime gloom. Regardless, since every Watt of power you produce will be a precious commodity, you want lighting that will generate the most useful light with the least amount of energy consumption. You also want lighting that is impact resistant and long-lasting.

Given these parameters, I recommend using Light-Emitting Diode (LED) grow lighting. Producing as much as 150 lumens per Watt, quad band panels of these tiny bulbs are compact, durable, long lasting, don't generate excessive heat, and best of all, can operate on DC power. While High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs have good luminous efficacy (a 250W HID bulb will generate 116 lumens per Watt), these bulbs are far more fragile than LEDs and require ballast electronics. Fluorescent bulbs produce even less lumens per Watt. A 48" 54W T5 High Output fluorescent bulb will produce about 93 lumens per Watt and a standard 40W F40 will only produce about 32 lumens per Watt. Fluorescent bulbs are also rather fragile and do not radiate the full spectrum of light necessary for optimum plant growth.

Another lighting option would be utilizing vehicle headlights. While these bulbs are durable, long-lasting, and could be salvaged in the Aftertime, their luminous efficacy is very poor (20 - 22 lumens per Watt for halogen bulbs and only 16 - 18 lumens per Watt for incandescent). While Xenon headlights produce about 75 lumens per Watt, they require a high starting voltage (25,000V) like other HID bulbs, and would require the integration of ballast electronics (igniter module and inverter).

I wouldn't count on being able to salvage a Low RPM generator in the Aftertime. As MegaMontana pointed out, low RPM generators are generally manufactured specifically for renewable energy applications. Most generators you salvage in the Aftertime will require rather complex modifications to lower the cut-in speed (speed at which they start charging batteries) before they'll be useful.
@ ryan, Brian and Howard :

yes, Howard corrected my Watt-writing earlier, thanks for seeing it..

Solar these years is FAR more advanced than you might think, most photovoltaic stuff these years will work
even in shadow, and some solar rolls will work with only a bit unrolled, yet still give you voltage.
Unfortunately the newest products sell out REALLY fast and have been for about six months or so.
Look to www.brunton.com and you´ll see what I mean.
Unfortunately they don´t ship abroad anymore, and they´re also so busy, they don´t answer emails from abroad anymore.
Photofilm can still be gotten, and we can get those from England, while there still are shops not inundated...

LED lights that Howard describes are for me the way to go... overhere we can even get them with a yellow, blue or red light in addition to the white.

Thanks for all the input !!
Yes ! - Garden solar LED lights. I have those - and they work beautifully !
Some thoughts.

Stock up on battery cables for joining batteries together, as these will be difficult or impossible to make or find post PS, these need to be thick to allow for even battery wear, and the connectors on these can be very difficult to make even pre-PS without specialist tools. Also keep some rolls of figure 8 mains flex for cheap 12V wiring, as 12V wiring cable of decent spec wont be available after the PS.

You will need battery cables whether you buy deep cycle batteries up front (recommended), or salvage them (not recommended) from cars in the after-time. As has been mentioned here, salvaging after-time this is not a great idea, as you can only draw down 10-20% from standard car batteries if you want to make these batteries last. TO not damage the batteries permanently, you will need to draw down lightly on each but have more of them to make up for the difference, and have good quality cables on hand to join them up to increase efficiency.

I'm of the opinion that any human powered generation devices will gather dust while you are out foraging and looking for food, if you expend more energy you will need to eat more. Larger communities might benefit from this, as there will be more hands to gather / produce food, and the ability to roster power peddlers on/off.

Power for LED lighting and recharging batteries for camping torches, radios and other small battery powered equipment will be the most practical for most people or small groups. For this a small solar panel and deep cycle battery will suffice, with some 12v battery chargers with several spares. This has the benefit of being portable.

Best to not rely on inverters for 240v/120v AC as they are prone to blowing and then you will be able to fix it, and none of your 240v/120v AC devices will be usable. I'm somewhat wary of having a large system of roof mounted solar panels going into the pole shift, as they would likely be smashed by any debris falling from the sky.

I favor a couple if camping style portable solar panels, with inbuilt regulator, and deep cycle batteries, which can be kept inside under cover safe from damage (also due to looting etc.,). If you have a large rooftop solar panel system in active use, learn how to remove the panels and have a plan to put all or some of them under cover at the first signs of trouble, or cover them in place with a sturdy flame retardant cover for protection.

Note also that, "grid tie" solar systems (those with no batteries) wont work at all without grid power, to use such a system after PS, you will need to have a suitable regulator / charger and batteries on hand to make use of "grid tie" solar panels during post-PS use.

Note with a 12v power source if your battery chargers stop working, with suitable resistors to drop the voltage / current you could charge batteries directly if your 12v battery chargers eventually break. A bag of resistors is cheap and less efficient than a AA/AAA/C/D battery charger, but wont be knocked out by EMP etc., and can be used to regulate charge current, with some supervision.

With your 12V powered AA/AAA/C/D battery charger, make sure you have a good supply or rechargeable batteries, in all the common sizes you expect to use, and have plenty of spares. Also stock up on LED camping torches, radios etc., and make sure you have plenty of rechargeable batteries for them.

Even a small 120W solar panel with regulator and deep cycle battery, will produce some power even in a cloudy environment, and in the case of charging small batteries for torches etc., you might just have to wait longer for your battery to top up.

The possibility of "gift" compatibility aside, 12v is much safer than using 120V/240V AC inverters, which can electrocute and kill you, and due to complexity post-PS will be completely unfixable once broken.

There are many other alternative sources of 12V power available, and 12V is pretty usable given careful choice of appliances. For example many appliances run off mains via a 12V DC plugpack, these appliances could be configured to run directly off a battery. Likewise "car" adapters for things such as laptops, run off 12V.
12V power systems can be built into the home or made portable, they don't need to be in your car

12V gear will be exellent for charging torches etc., but laptops etc., are pretty inefficient power users. but good entertainment several years into the PS - but you will only have whatever movies you can fit on your hard drive and for as long as you hardware and software remains viable :)

I think if i had fresh fruit growing post PS, the last thing i'd be doing is making a poor-yield battery with them, i'd be eating them! Once the supermarkets are gone, you will only get a few months per year of fruit as cool rooms or importing fruit from other parts of the world where the growing season is correct, wont be an option anymore.

MisterLG said:
Once the power is gone. Using your car to charge your laptop will be useless because the network will be down (no power). The cell towers will run out of power from the generators. If you do get power running someone will kill you for it. You might want to invest in a lot of candles and start learning how to create light without electricity (Bagdad. Watch the 'Live after people' series from History Channel. The Baghdad battery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery) is good example of creating electricity from nothing. Grow citrus fruits. If you get a Ham Radio (taxi cars, etc) you might want set-up a grid of when to call (movie 'I am legend') where the person only called on a specific time and day to say he is alive and were he could be found. I would suggest at 1300 Universal Time for 10 minutes to save power.

agree with Viktorio... + my concerns about, will the things WORK post-PS aren´t really that big. I´ve had windmill + solar before, and after 10 years never had a problem with their functioning. Only to remember to put anti-freeze in the pipes in wintertime for solar to work. Apparently that´s not going to be a problem in Norway post-PS..;-)

Gathering enough solar LEDs is a top priority + many, many Mylar meters... I went with the alu-foil/tin-foil for a while, then realized I might get stuck with rolls of them that would be too damp to unroll - Viktoria pointed me in the direction of Mylar..

 

Getting enough daylight is my biggest concern. Not just for planting and growing but for myself..

As it is, I work nights, and right now in the dark of winter, hardly ever see the daylight when I have a work-period. Do I feel a difference ? You´re right I do..

Luckily daylight lamps can be had, and I use mine every day... Beating gloom, I know, I+d hate to be without the possibility of using one at least every now and again.. I know it will be VERY difficult to transport, keep and maintain, but nevertheless, I´m going to try...

Imagine being able to invite your group into a daylight room for maybe just a half hour every day...Well, I for one imagine that...and it´s my main electricity concern... if I forget to use it for more than 2 days - slam, my mood dives, my vitality sinks... it´s dark when I go to work and dark when I return home to sleep.. At least for now, it´s a can´t - do- without for me... I imagine that with Mylar reflectors a whole room can be lit up to the point where it resembles real daylight...  

 

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