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.
Early on in the ZetaTalk saga, an important point was made regarding indoor farming:
"What will the survivors eat? Those who have prepared by establishing intensive indoor gardening such as Hydroponics and the most protein efficient animal husbandry, Fish tanks and ponds, will find
themselves not only subsisting but subsisting well. Such arrangements require indoor lighting.
"Hydroponics can be grown around the clock and fish eat either this produce or water plants
that feed off the community's Sewage Effluent, but the base of this food chain is the hydroponic vegetation.
For plants, light is life, for without it plants die. Such indoor farming, in place prior to the cataclysms, should not rely on lighting from either the Sun or the utility companies. Both will in essence go out during the decades immediately following the cataclysms. Power for indoor lighting should rely on harnessing wind, or water flows, or other such mechanical generation that can be counted upon to be present after the cataclysms."
What I take from this ZetaTalk is that if we want to eat well, we need to be able to generate sufficient electrical power for "intensive indoor gardening" efforts. Using solar powered LED lighting might help provide ambient lighting, but certainly won't satisfy the lighting requirements for indoor farming.
Unless you have access to ocean fishing or are willing to survive eating bugs and weeds, I believe it will be a vital longterm necessity to be able to generate sufficient electrical power and possess all the proper lighting equipment well before the Last Weeks commence.
In subsequent posts, I'll outline in detail how this can be accomplished.
Hi Brian ! - Don´t despair - YET !
You may still be able to COMBINE various solar models, thus not putting all your eggs in the same basket..
Look, f.i. here : http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-computing/articles/9552.... (the solar backpack)
After a while researching, I finally got the idea to research ONLY *marine solar* or camping solar*... this is where you´ll find the cutting edge products, and there are more every day... It´s as if the universe is stepping in to send us the best, right here at the last minute...
Storing the energy, though, is a long term thing which requires longer term solutions, and for that you will need deep cycle batteries...(that are rechargable, many, many times).. even these come in modern-day no-maintenance shapes, so there´s hope, as I said... most present day solar rolls (photovoltaic or film) can be serial connected to either provide more voltage or watts. And modern/present-day inverters aren´t big ugly do-hickeys but neat small thingies...
But you´ll have to look for camping or marine solar, or you won´t find it...
My set-up is based on a camping level. Period. Whatever else I MAY be able to procure, I certainly will, but who knows if I shall even be the one to profit from it ?
And as Howard wrote : whenever you think of LIGHTING, think LED !
All the best to you !
Brian G said:
OK, this is getting more complicated than I anticipated. I had not really thought of indoor lighting for plants. I'd just guess that it will take a lot of power to manage the lighting. Ryan has pretty much confirmed that. I was mainly thinking of ambient lighting to keep the kids happy instead of being in pitch blackness at night.
I can't imagine how I'd light up enough plants for useful food production. The only option would be a wind or water turbine as Viktorio says. I don't anticipate to have moving water nearby. I also did not realize a 300W wind turbine weight 200kg!
I've just bought some diy solar panels from US. It will only generate about 50W. In poor lighting, I'd expect about 10-20W. That was about all that would fit my current budget. Another low power option is kinetic torches where you shake for light, but that's only for limited lighting.
That pretty leaves me with wind turbines again. If all the shipping lines get disrupted when the 7 hits, the turbine will be off the list too.
Anybody got any other ideas?
I have mentioned before that a problem with a wind generator on a tower is that it is very visible and shows that you are there and that you have "good stuff". You may not want to do this in the "early months". If you are very isolated then it may not matter. Wind generators also make noise..could also be a problem.. and worth thinking about.
Solar may also not work in the early years due to gloom and ash. Worth having some for later tho.
This leaves you with hydro.. and I would give this some thought.. even on a VERY SMALL scale. There will be lots of rain.. which means flowing streams.
Producing sufficient power to support "intensive indoor farming", as described by the Zetas, is a complex issue and while concerns such as the type of equipment to use, the weight and overall cost are important considerations, some fundamental elements need to be in place before this type of farming is a viable option.
1. Cohesive Survival Group. If you haven't yet formed a survival group consisting of a dozen or so people you know and implicitly trust whom collectively possess all the skills and resources necessary for long term survival in primitive conditions, attend to this matter first. If you plan to ride out the Pole Shift by yourself or with only a few others, you won't have sufficient time to manage and maintain a renewable energy system and all the indoor farming endeavors. Your small group's time and energy will be consumed with the basic activities to ensure your survival such as collecting and drying firewood, distilling water, and either scavenging edible bugs and weeds and/or harvesting nutrition from waterways.
2. Permanent Survival Location. If you haven't yet identified and secured a location where you can at least start pre-positioning the majority of your equipment and supplies within a reasonable distance from a permanent survival location that can generate at least wind energy, attend to this matter first. If you only have a general idea of where you'll be headed to ride out the Shift when you decide to "bug-out", its unlikely you'll find such a location under duress with the large moving truck you'll be relegated to using for transporting the volume of materials necessary to support your indoor farming operations, not to mention your other more vital provisions.
3. Minimum Power Requirement. When the Zetas use the term "intensive indoor farming", I don't believe they're referring to what could be grown with a low power generating system. Unless you intend to utilize dozens of such systems to power your grow lighting, the necessary approach would be to employ devices with high power generating capacities along with the conventional hardware such as load controllers, dump loads, deep cycle battery banks and AC inverters. While survivablility and safety issues do present themselves when considering the use such components, a knowledgeable group member can mitigate these risks through intensive protection measures and common safety practices. If your group does not include such a person and/or you cannot collectively afford to purchase the necessary equipment, large-scale indoor farming is not an option.
4. Grow to Seed. While being able to generate sufficient energy for plant growth is essential, the single most important capability for long-term success involves the ability to grow your vegetables to seed. The Zetas have advised limiting how much we plant until we can reliably harvest seeds from the vegetables we grow, thereby replenishing our seed stock. Getting vegetables to "bolt" (i.e., grow flowers that produce seeds) is not always a simple matter and may require different types of lighting depending on the plant. Even if you're successful generating flower blooms, there's no guarantee they'll produce seeds and may require the cooperation of pollinating insects. Again, an experienced group member with demonstrated abilities is necessary to ensure these vital considerations are satisfied. A highly useful resource book is Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth (recommended by MegaMontana).
Assuming you can satisfy all these conditions, the next step is determining how much energy production your group will require and therefore what your energy system acquisition will entail both financially and logistically. This is the average daily power consumption that will support your indoor farming needs, as well as any other desired loads, and can be determined simply by adding up all your power requirements and sizing a renewable energy system accordingly. Let's start with grow lighting.
Grow lighting with the best luminous efficacy utilizes cutting edge LED grow light technology. Also recommended by MegaMontana, the SG 1250 HO covers a 6' x 4' (24 square feet) at 580 Watts (actual). However, if you grow herbs and vegetables that can thrive under lower light conditions, this 24 square foot grow area can be expanded considerably. Such herbs and vegetables include leaf lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, beet greens, basil, chervil, chives, coriander, mints, parsley, sage, sorrel, and tarragon. Also, utilizing reflective materials such as mylar, as mentioned by others in this discussion, will expand your grow area even further.
Assuming a 50% grow area expansion, the revised grow area dimensions would 9' x 6' or 54 square feet. Therefore, for a 100 square foot grow area, two of these LED grow light fixtures would be required.
Power Requirement for Grow Lighting: 2 x 580 W = 1160 W or 1.16 kW
Based on a 12-hr grow cycle: 1.16 kW x 12 hours = 13.92 kW-hours or 14 kW-H
Thus, the daily power requirement for grow lighting would be 14 kW-H.
Over a month's time, this comes to 14 kW-H x 30 days = 420 kW-H per month
To gain some perspective on how much energy one can expect from a 400W wind turbine, consider the Southwest Air-X Marine 24V. Assuming this wind generator is positioned in an excellent wind location that averages 28 mph winds, this generator will produce on average 400W . It's important to remember, however, this will only be the case if located at an optimum wind location (which is not easy to find) and if the wind generator is positioned sufficiently high on a tower well above any nearby obstacles. It's also unrealistic to presume the wind will blow consistently all the time.
Assuming the wind speed averages 28 mph and this wind generator will produce 400W, over the course of 24 hours: 400W x 24 hr = 9600 W or 9.6 kW-H.
But this is shy of the daily power requirement of 14 kW-H. You would need at least 2 of these 400W generators to satisy the above grow area power requirement. And this is assuming perfect operating conditions.
What if your location averages only 15 mph wind speed? According to the performance curve, this wind generator will produce 85W at this wind speed. Over the course of 24 Hours,:
85W x 24 hrs = 2040 W-h or 2.0 kW-H.
In this situation, you would require SEVEN of these 400W generators to power your grow lighting.
Therefore, to satisfy the monthly power requirement of 420 kW-H for grow lighting, large capacity power generating devices are required.
So what WILL work? It's recommended to utilize as many different power sources as possible (wind, hydro, solar, human-powered). Considering the likely Aftertime environment, I believe wind power will provide the most "bang for your buck", followed by hydro, then solar, then human-powered. Let us, therefore, explore wind generators first.
Waveguide directed me to Bergey Windpower that manufactures the Bergey xl1, a 1.3 kW wind generator. Under optimum operating conditions, this wind generator will produce nearly 1000 kW-H per month. Assuming that it produces only half that capacity, it will still produce sufficient energy to satisfy the 420 kW-H grow lighting requirement.
Clearly, all of these provisions require a substantial financial investment. If your group can't afford this commercial wind generator, a comparable generator can be constructed utilizing Hugh Piggott's 14' design at a fraction of the cost. It's highly recommended someone in your group be capable of building these generators regardless in the event your commercial generators don't survive the shift.
A somewhat less expensive lighting alternative would be T5 High Output Fluorescent Lighting. Although more fragile and less efficient than LED grow lighting, thirty 48" bulbs will produce sufficient light for a 100 square foot grow area of low-light vegetables with a monthly power requirement of 583 kW-H.
Bottom line, by building your own generators, the necessary lighting and power generation can be acquired for $5,000 U.S. This amount divided among 20 survival group members is $250 per person. While this doesn't include hydroponics costs which are minimal in comparison, it illustrates that indoor farming in the Aftertime is possible, but it will require a coordinated effort among survival group members.
In subsequent posts, I'll elaborate on other power sources such as micro-hydro, solar, and human-powered generators, as well as the necessary energy system components.
This is a good discussion Howard and Brian, because you are showing just how difficult it is to generate significant amounts of electricity. People should aim for simple low cost/low wattage systems. Only the wealthy and very organized will be able to have enough power to grow plants under light.
I think it is more practical to store simple foods.. grains.. enough to last for two years. Hopefully after that you/we will have figured out how to grow/forage enough to eat.
Right now I think the main concern for anyone who feels they can produce wind/water power is how to maintain an extensive battery bank, or as Howard mentioned somewhere before, to be able to create your own ac grid which I know that I will never get that far before the shift. You can create as many PM alternators with the proper rectifiers and charge controllers as you need without too much hassle, but as far as I know, you will need a battery bank which won't last forever. Right now I am partially learning about smart sine-wave grid-tie inverters that allow you to directly supply 14 volt DC current from your energy system into your 115 volt ac system without the need for batteries. Im not quite sure yet though how to make this work solidly without any batteries whatsoever. You would obviously need continuous power so water would be more suitable for the grid-tie inverters.
Ryan H: Sounds like a good plan if people can afford the set up. The problems will be keeping the bulbs from breaking during the pole shift and making sure a group is STO and isolated enough to get the essential battery pack gift. With electricity that will never end, a lot of problems will be solved. But few will be eligible for various reasons. All people can do is try (NO STS adults or the gifts may only be super seeds).
So it sounds like grid tie inverters would be useless without a steady ac grid. Battery banks it is then, I suppose. Thanks for your guy's research on the matter.
Yes, battery banks with deep cycle batteries...
Has anybody had any experience with BATCAP's (large 12V capacitors designed as current boosters in cars) they are currently ridiculously expensive, but they should last for a very long time, and would be ideal where you are running a system with variable power output (solar, wind) and are only using a battery to take usable/stable 12V power off directly to feed indoor grow lights etc., during the day while the wind blows / sun shines.
The assumption i'm making is that in the event your power generation stops (no wind or too dark) then the output power would stop relatively soon after. But running solar/wind through a battery just to level off the voltage levels is going to destroy even a deep cycle eventually, unless you do pretty continuous load management.
A BATCAP system would offer it's charge until it was gone, and then the loads would stop, but this sort of usage pattern wont hurt a capacitor/BATCAP, you would loosely speaking match your source wattage to be 4 x your load wattage, and would not need to be doing continous battery management for those loads.
You would put short term loads on BATCAP, and long term loads on deep cycle, which would then last better.
That would be sweet if you could get them. If you are getting them as scrap / for free then you could gang them up to provide any required capacity. There are "reasonable" options other than high end audio stores, i saw http://www.epinions.com/t-20-f-capacitor which lists a few sub USD $100 20F units.
I also saw http://www0.epinions.com/t-20-f-capacitor/search_attr_~price_range_... which are relatively cheap (if you close your eyes and say it quickly) compared to the car audio places.
I was thinking of running my small gear from the cigarette ligher style 12V/5V(USB) adapters which have inbuilt regulation. Also there are 12V distribution panels they sell for camera systems which have multiple regulated 12V outputs, each with it's own regulator and individually fused. Likewise there are 18V laptop power supply that ups the voltage from 12-13V.
Another option is a 12V regulator from a car, i presume they can handle several amps, depending on model.
Brian G said:
Hi Disclosure, I was thinking of using large capacitors as a stabilizer for fluctuating voltages. I was not going to use ones from cars (all the hi-fi ones are overinflated in prices) but was planning to use capacitors from old commercial power suplies. I used to scrap old supplies and get large caps of around 22000 to 100000uF at 10-100v. Never had much use for them except for some amplifier power supplies that I made. Theoretically, it will charge to the highest available voltage from the turbine or solar panels and then discharge into the load. It should serve as a simple alternative to a battery and charger, but it will still be a good idea to add a regulator before the load if it is vulnerable to over voltages. I will definately be saving these capacitors as part of my emergency bits.
Power from solar (and i presume wind) can comes in dribs and drabs, say a cloud covers the sun or the wind stops for a short while. Normally the power source charges the battery, and then you can draw power at a reduced rate over a longer time period. When there is a battery it smooths out the dribs and drabs.
But heavy charge / discharge cycles will damage a regular car battery, completely discharging a battery say half a dozen times will permanently damage the battery. So in this situation you usually use a so called "deep cycle" battery which can be charged and discharged more ofter without killing the battery.
So a deep cycle battery charged by a solar cell has the fatal flaw, in that if the battery is drawn down to empty (which would happen if the load just kept running - there was nobody there to turn off the load) the battery will still be damaged over time. Even deep cycle batteries will eventually be damaged by deep charge/discharge cycles, it will just take a bit longer.
So then the thought was for situations where you are taking dribs and drabs of power, and trying to feed it evenly into a load, then a capacitor might suit a temporary bridge. But as Brian has said they are restrictively expensive as they are marketed to audio buffs with large pockets.
But from looking at Brian's math, it would need a prohibitive amount of capacitors if you wanted more than 1A for 4 minutes. Something like a high end procyon grow light draws 120W @ 120V, which by my math is about the 1A quoted, assuming there was some similar grow light in a 12V version.
ryan h said:
disclosure i dont think i completely followed what you said. besides smoothening the current fluctuation, how else will capacitors be useful? sharing the load between the battery and a capacitor will only be useful when there are sudden fluctuations in what a load demands (i.e. when a subwoofer hits the bass). no?
i think thts why they are sold as car parts. to supplement the audio system in a car.
but now looking at what "batpak systems" are, i came across "supercapacitors". i'll bet theyre expensive. but they apparently have a discharge rate between tht of batteries and capacitors. have any of you heard of them?