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.
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.
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...
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...