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    The following is my personal experience with a complete DO-IT-YOURSELF approach to installing a wind turbine and solar panels  to produce power for my home .   
  
 In the beginning, even though I had experience as an electrician, I was very intimidated by all the things that it would take to eventually produce my own power. I had no idea that I had the capability to succeed.
I feel that there are many others just like my self who are overwhelmed with the notion of becoming energy independant but have some hands on experience with electricity.  Today, I know I am capable and would like to give back and share my detailed experience. I hope that this makes it easier for you to become more energy independent and do your part in our energy revolution.

QUICK LINKS: Turbine Mechanical Manual -- Turbine Electrical Manual -- Voltage Drop calculator -- Electric Meter Registers -- Concrete Calculator --
                            
Solar Noon Calculator -- 2008 National Electric Code Book -- Wind Speed Map -- YOUTUBE install Videos -- DIY Axial Flux Turbine --
                               Magnets -- Federal Tax Credit -- NC state tax credit --

        My name is Shane and I live in North Carolina. In April of 2007, my wife and I saw the movie "An inconvenient Truth". Afterwards, we both agreed that we wanted to do our part in becoming more energy self sufficient and in consequence help the environment at the same time.  I did some research and found a renewable energy installer and consultant at www.solarvillage.com. He happened to be in my local area. I called him and he agreed to come out and talk to me about my installation options and get an idea from him about what would be realistic in my situation. He charged me about $75 for 3 or 4 hours of consultation.
I took notes and gathered alot of info from the conversation.

The main ideas I gathered were:

  1. Find ways to reduce my current power usage. In May 2007 our average Kwh usage from the the Commercial Utility Grid was 1900 Kwh. (As of May 2009 , average kwh usage from the Utility Grid (Progress Energy) is around 550 KWH per month)
  2. Find phantom loads in your house and try to eliminate them.
  3. Be willing to spend about 20,000 dollars. (this price is specific to my goals/situation at the time   ie. wanted a wind turbine and solar panels,  needed 240 volt A/C for certain appliances and well pump - 240v A/C requires 2 inverters instead of one, etc.)
  4. Use Trojan L16H batteries, Outback inverters and charge controller, evergreen solar panels.
  5. Am I going to tie my system into the commercial electric grid and sell power back to the electric company or will I want to be off grid and on my own completely.

After the consultation we decided to get right on it and find ways to reduce our electricity consumption. 1.) We went to Lowes and bought 40 of those squiggly looking fluorescent screw in light bulbs. They were 15 watts each. As of Dec 20 2007, Lowes has been selling them in 6 packs for $9.99. Thats about $1.66 a bulb. In all we spent about $45 dollars for the bulbs and ended up replacing about 35 light bulbs in our house. 2.) We then took an inventory of all the electronics in our house that use phantom loads. A phantom load is when a device is plugged into the wall and is turned off but still uses power when turned off. I did not realize this. Most devices use a phantom load. Some examples are : vcr's, dvd players, Directv boxes, Tv's, cordless phones, baby monitors, computers, wireless dsl routers, cble modems, laptops, etc.  3.) I gathered up several power strips and then went to Lowes and bought several of those $8 dollar "Intermatic" brand timers Model: TN711CL At each location where I had many electronics aggregating together,  4.) I plugged all the devices into one power strip.  Make sure that the intermatic timer's receptacle is for a three prong plug (has a ground) and NOT for a 2 prong. Grounding is very important.
5.) I then plugged the power strip into the intermatic timer which of course was then plugged into the wall. On the Intermatic timer I set the timer so that the power strip would cut off (cuttiing off phantom loads) at 12:00 am (latest bedtime) and cut back on at around 8:00 am (usual wakeup time).

I ended up installing power strips and Intermatic timers in three locations in my home:
  1. Entertainment center (tv, vcr,dvd, directv,cordless phone)
  2. computer area (computer, printer, cordless phone, baby monitor, computer speakers, external harddrive, computer monitor)
  3. Internet router area (dsl router, wireless routers)
I then went to Lowes once again and bought a hot water heater timer for electric hot water heaters. The brand is also "Intermatic" and is called "the little grey box" timer model WH40. The timer was about $25 dollars. Basically it goes in line between the power feed from the main power panel and the hot water heater. Using a cordless drill and sheet rock screws to screw the timer into the wall (flush mount), about 5 feet of 1/2 inch sealtight (flexible conduit) and (1) 1/2" straight sealtight connector and (2) 1/2" 90 degree (elbow) sealtight connectors, some red wire nuts, and 8 feet of #10 romex wire I was able to install the timer in about an hour. As far as setting the timer , I set the timer to apply power to the water heater elements at 5:00am then off at 6:00 am then on at 1:00 pm then off at 4:00pm then on at 6:00 pm then off at 8:00 pm the back around again to being on at 5:00 am. This schedule seems to work with our family water use habits. The electric hot water heater is 80 gallon. I have several small children and a wife that is home most of the day. We have never run out of hot water.

The results of our changes were surprising. We were able to cut our next electric bill down by 1/3 and it seems that our electric bill on average was cut in half. WOW!! All this just by changing out lightbulbs, water heater timer, and eliminating phantom loads! Go figure....
We were pretty excited at this point and felt more confident in our decision to work towards energy independance.



Comments?
email me at rockriver.enterprises@gmail.com




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