Author Topic: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!  (Read 8387 times)

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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« on: November 02, 2008, 06:24:18 AM »
I'm sure most of you have heard of Jaimie and his Giant Spider Robot project. I'm also certain you know of how he lives in the mountains and basically is self sufficient (makes his own house, gets his own water, etc.).I would do this in two years or so. I spoke to him through chat a couple of times and he told me that it costs him less than 8000 dollars a year to live up there ( including land tax).

My idea is to go up  to land I own for weekends and sometimes during the week and basically take myself off the grid like Jaimie did. Only thing I would need on my land would be a river within a mile or two of where I would choose to put my house ( probably uphill). The river is great because that means hydroelectric power and water. Hydroelectric generators are pretty simple things to make - did you know the technology was in use in the late 1800s? Once you have your own electric power you have heat, light, and joy of all joys - internet.

I want to keep this discussion going . It seems like a fun topic.
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Offline Ro-Bot-X

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2008, 07:07:45 AM »
I am also into alternative energy, my 5 years family project includes building our home and use free energy from water, sun, and wind for it. I am sure the technology will advance by the time I will need to actually use it, and I mean the electronics behind the generators that helps regulate power and also the batteries used to store that energy for night use. But the principles are the same as when I was a kid and went to a mountain kids camp where there was a rapid mountain creek that wasa used to power a generator that would give the camp energy all day and night. I was impressed at the time and since then this idea merged with the building my own robot idea, so the house would be controlled by a computer in the way the power gets produced and used. Lights will come on at night where human presence was detected, voice could control different devices, courtains would cover the windows at night time and uncover at down, and so on. At the time it was just a kid fantasy, but today everything is possible. I can do all of this and much more if needed, of course, with the apropriate funds available. Heck, in 1986 I was in junior high and built automatic courtains with transistors and relays, opening up the capsule of a BC107 transistor to make it light dependant... So yes, ideas are old, but todays technology make them easier to use and more efficient.
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2008, 07:30:59 AM »
question is how much is force of the river related to voltage and current. Whats cool about hydroelectric is that  if you have a decent current in a river you can generate a ton of electricity . Only problem I can think of is in the winter - what if the river freezes over?
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Offline Webbot

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2008, 09:03:05 AM »
Quote
what if the river freezes over?
Use some of that 'ton of electricity' to melt the ice around your water wheel  ;)

Or wait for global warming to solve the problem  ;D
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2008, 09:27:29 AM »
Quote
what if the river freezes over?
Use some of that 'ton of electricity' to melt the ice around your water wheel  ;)

lol good point

Anyone know how to estimate how much power I would get from a river? (based on force of the river)
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Offline Webbot

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2008, 10:08:05 AM »
Isn't it kinda like the reverse of driving a motor? ie if you have a water wheel connected to a motor spindle, the flow of the water will drive the wheel at a given speed, which may go thru gears, drive the motor (alternator) to generate a current.

I guess the flow will vary depending on rain etc.

The motor spindle will have some sort of resistance against the speed of the water. So the force the water creates will depend on the surface area, and number of, paddles in the water at a given time.
To get the most surface area in the water then the wheel will need to be 50% submerged - but then you have to cope with rising and falling water levels. Most 'antique' water mills tend to have a man made channel coming off the river with a gate to control the flow of water. Also you could arrange for this water to run faster than the main river (by it being shallower) which could help with stopping it from freezing over.

Hmmm - just 'thinking aloud' here.

Certainly heard a program on the radio the other day where someone had bought a kit to go in their small stream and were generating enough power for 4 houses and then selling the extra unused power back to the electricity grid.
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2008, 10:16:57 AM »
This is the most efficient water wheel type
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/53/Overshot_water_wheel_schematic.svg/580px-Overshot_water_wheel_schematic.svg.png

Certainly heard a program on the radio the other day where someone had bought a kit to go in their small stream and were generating enough power for 4 houses and then selling the extra unused power back to the electricity grid.


Any more details or links ? How strong of a current did this stream have?
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2008, 10:23:04 AM »
Looky what I found http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/ageng/epp13.pdf

Its a goldmine for hydroelectric power !

According to that you can calculate it like this:
Power output, in kilowatts is calculated by the
formula:
Quote
where:    Q = water flow, cubic feet per second
H=  head, feet
E= efficiency of hydroelectric plant, per-
cent divided by 100
KW = 0.0846 x E x Q x H


Average home uses 8,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.  The KW of the formula above is KW-hour right?
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Offline Webbot

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Offline SciTech02

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2008, 02:49:41 PM »
Hydroelectric power is great if you can get it, but aren't most rivers public property?  I mean, it seems like you would need a permit to do anything in or around a river.  Unless you don't live in the USA, there would be a lot of red tape to go through (also, trying to find land near/with a river large enough for power generation would be difficult).

In my opinion, wind generators are a much easier idea to implement.  You can even build them yourself if you wanted (plans are all over the internet).  Also, water can be obtained from a well (it would take some energy to get it).  It seems like you could also collect rainwater if you directed the gutters to a water storage tank (with filtration of course).  Solar panels would be ideal if you live in an area with decent sunlight.  I think the ultimate power system would be a combination of these power methods.

Another interesting idea would be to try to make a self-sustaining household. by growing a limited amount of food, using a hydroponic garden/miniature farm.  You could controll all of this with a single computer like Ro-Bot-X suggested.
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2008, 05:46:18 PM »
even a stream can provide enough hydroelectric power for one energy-efficient home .
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Offline Trumpkin

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2008, 06:02:11 PM »
Quote
even a stream can provide enough hydroelectric power for one energy-efficient home .
You sure about that?
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Offline izaktj

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2008, 06:58:39 PM »
You forgot to take a girl with you.

Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2008, 07:12:03 PM »
You forgot to take a girl with you.

that was implied   ;)

Quote
even a stream can provide enough hydroelectric power for one energy-efficient home .

You sure about that?

Have a look at the calculations  , it could work. A stream looks like this

If you smooth out a section of the stream and throw in a generator you could generate a nice amount of energy.

Also I don't really mean an entire home in the woods . :P Basically the only appliance there would be a Fridge/Freezer. Maybe also an A/C unit.

I guess if I buy property with a waterfall that would make my life way easier and I'd have no worries about too little power . :P
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Offline izaktj

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2008, 08:17:13 PM »
Dang that landscape looks beautiful!

Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2008, 08:19:00 PM »
Dang that landscape looks beautiful!
yea , the wilderness is beautiful

In about a year I'll have collected enough funds to purchase a mountain property and then I'll begin the quest of inspecting each property  to see if it suits my requirements.

Basically what I need :
Waterfall or fast moving stream or river
On a mountain with lots of trees ( less chance of flood)
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Offline Webbot

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2008, 08:30:42 PM »
Now ..... back to robots.....
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Offline sdavis6736

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2008, 05:36:23 AM »
Taking yourself off the grid is a great way to live.  I did it for awhile and it was great, but life moves in mysterious way and I had to come back to this life(but I'll be back!!).  Have you seen the solar discs that are coming out now?  Here is a link, they are large scale but it is very possible to make the on a smaller scale.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4288743.html?page=1

i think using water, sun and wind is the best way to go.

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2008, 12:41:38 AM »
Quote
he told me that it costs him less than 8000 dollars a year to live up there
sounds like what it costs me to live in Bangkok while keeping my western standards . . . ;D

Offline Trumpkin

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2008, 09:33:02 AM »
Make sure the UPS man can deliver your robot parts up there!  ;)
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Offline Webbot

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2008, 09:42:10 AM »
So
Quote
Admin has gone crazy
and airman00 has become Robinson Crusoe.

Who's next I wonder?  Maybe its all the lead fumes from too much soldering.
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Offline paulstreats

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2008, 06:54:00 PM »
I think its literally the size of the water wheel that determines how much electricity can be generated. A big wheel needs a lot of current but can also turn a more powerful motor. Whereas a small wheel on a small motor would generate less. Maybe use more than 1 waterwheel.

Unfortunately in england theres really nowhere that you can buy in the wilderness anymore. And even if you did manage to buy somewhere the governing council would be unlikely to give you planning permission to build a garden shed let alone a home. And thats not to mention the forestry commision blocking anything that they dont agree with. I investigated doing something like that but there is no chance in the UK. You cant even opt out of council tax for your home. (council tax covers things like the fire brigade costs and police costs just in case.... I dont have anything against the system but i dont think that im irresponsible enough to have to pay to rely on them). Also my wifes parents live right out in the country, their water is sourced from a natural spring but the designated area water board still bill them quarterly for water. Whats that about?

Offline Ro-Bot-X

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2008, 07:09:31 PM »
Also my wifes parents live right out in the country, their water is sourced from a natural spring but the designated area water board still bill them quarterly for water. Whats that about?

Perhaps for sewage?

About sewage and recycleing water. I read that the biggest percentage of the water that goes down the drain comes from toilet use. Smart people thought to recycle the water that does not have much impurities in it (grey water), coming from the sink and shower and send it to the toilet tank, and only then to go out the waste (black water). Of course there are several systems of filtering and recycleing the black water to be used in the garden or on the lawn... So, the only requirement for a self sustainable home is a way to get water, with the less energy spent to get it, the better.

It's funny, UK is the country with the most help from the goverment to get people use alternative energy and water recycleing.
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Offline paulstreats

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2008, 07:36:33 PM »
Quote
It's funny, UK is the country with the most help from the goverment to get people use alternative energy and water recycleing.

Being a UK resident, i cant say that i have seen any evidence of this. Maybe the help is by spending all of the money on the huge amount of television advertising telling us all what we could do rather than spending it on helping us to do it....

The statutory recycling dustbin system is also a farce. Most coucils pay outside companies to actually do the recycling. The companies being paid to recycle the waste manage to get rid of it cheaper by filling up land fills (even sending it to foreign landfills in some cases). And the recycling that you can do is also very limited(like no manilla envelopes and no envelopes with windows in them. I suppose we can all recycle white christmas card envelopes once a year).

Mind you different coucils have different systems, im sure some of them work fine.

Sorry..... Just ranting about the system...... ;D

Offline Asellith

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2008, 03:59:14 PM »
I thought I would pass my research on spiral pumps on to you guys because it might come in handy.

http://www.google.com/notebook/public/01055776634137413731/BDQ8rDAoQ8rT0qtUj

Sorry the pics are trashed but the link to the site I got them from is there. They look great in my notebook just the public version stinks.

Anyway a spiral pump is a water wheel with a spiral of pvc pipe on the site that pressurizes the water and sends it down a pipe that can push water quite a distance with a slow moving river. This can be used to irrigate crops or fill a cistern from a river not far away. Might be a nice companion to your hydroelectric system. I am researching a solution for that next. this is all for my new project www.lostministries.org
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Offline cooldog

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2009, 04:32:09 PM »
you could increase your power by putting in a wind generator

http://www.instructables.com/id/Wind_Power/
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Offline Dscrimager

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2009, 07:56:18 PM »
The best source I know from people who have been doing this a long time:

www.homepower.com

Used to be free online but now they charge something. The magazine also hits the news stands. Great sources of real systems with realistic power budgets and production. For instance, very few streams ( full blown rivers, yes) are going to generate enough electricity for even one modern house much less more than that. What you learn is that the energy budget has to be realistic and storage is the real problem not so much generation. You have to smooth out the demand and then store the excess supply when you can get it. And it seems that most successful installations often use a number of methods for the complete solution. It'll give you a reality check on the costs, efforts to engineer and maintain, etc.

Also, although mostly illegal in the United States , something like this will run on virtually anything and can be kept running for years on very little maintenance: http://utterpower.com/listeroi.htm

I like many want to go this way with a cabin in the woods someday... if storage technology get's better ...

Doug

Offline bukowski

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Re: Living on a Mountain - taking yourself off the grid!
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2009, 01:12:53 PM »
believe it or not, this is kind of how i grew up. minus the hydroelectric source; the high desert of CA doesnt offer much in that arena.
My stepdad owned 40 acres out in the boondocks and we had somewhere between 10 and 20 solar panels for most of the power, with a small wind machine as an aux. He got his hands on 12 HUGE lead acid cells used for some kind of construction equipment, and we had a large diesel welder for times when we needed it. We got a lot of stuff from RV shops; a lot of stuff that worked off 12V. We sank 3 wells, got a total of about 8 gal/min out of them combined. We ran about 50-60 head of cattle, had a garden, and didn't need too much else. Downside: no telephone, no internet, no TV (reception was nil), just books and A TON OF WORK. It's funny, people that have always had a comfortable life want to go out and rough it. People that have lived like that never want to do it again.

We almost had purchased some land up in Alaska also. It was actually pretty nice, but the problem was the 60 minute small plane ride, followed by a two hour jeep ride, followed by a 15 minute boat ride just to get home.

 


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