Alternative Energy
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Alternative Energy Systems

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Manistee River Trip 1

Manistee River trip 2

Allisons River Journal 1

Allisons River Journal 2

Allisons Journal 3

Manistee River Pictures

Journals from other participants

Five Springs Farm is not hooked up to the "grid" so all of our electical needs are provided by:

Solar Panels (photovoltaics)
About 400 watts of rated solar power is produced in various panels (added as needs arose). Unisolar "amorphous" panels provide most of the power (238 watts) while a couple of more conventional panels provide the remainder. The panels are mounted on our shed, over the greenhouse.
A Wind Generator
This is one of the last Whisper Model H20 500 watt wind generators made, as the company was taken over by Southwest Air. It is on a 44 foot tip-up tower made of 2" steel water pipe. If it were mounted at twice the height we would get a lot more out of it...
110 volt AC power
from a reliable and sturdy Trace DR 2412 inverter provides up to 60 amps of AC power to operate power tools, TV/VCR, coffe grinder, some of the lighting in the house and other appliances. It also has a built in battery charger that kicks in automatically if the gasoline generator is fired up
are charged by the energy system for use in the house and farm. 6 golf cart batteries, 6 volts each, are wired in series and parallel to provide a 12 volt DC system
This old generator
picks up the slack, mostly in the late fall and winter. When the sun is low in the sky and the wind quiet we run the generator to prop up the batteries, and while it is going get in a load of laundry (we use a highly efficient Staber automatic washer) and a bit of vacuuming (even our little "Champ" model from Simplicity takes a boatload of power to run). The Trace inverter has a built in battery charger that kicks in automatically when the generator is running. We run the generator 10 or 15 hours a year.
Water for Irrigation
is pumped by a new but old-fashioned piston pump with a 12 volt DC motor ("Solar Force" from Windy Dankoff). The water source is a spring. A point is driven about 13 feet into the ground and water is pumped up a substantial hill to pressurize our drip irrigation system. We water about 1/2 acre of raised beds, and the system proved itself in the summer of 2001 when it kept the veggies growing through 2 months of unusually dry and hot weather
is provided by a "low Keep" 12 volt highly efficient chest fridge that uses about 20-25 amp-hours of 12 volt electricity a day in the summer (we put it in a cool basement location to make it more efficient, which means we get a little excersize every time we go down there for a beer)

more info on alternative energy is easy to access at Home Power Magazine