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Thread: Is it worth being off the grid?

  1. #1
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Is it worth being off the grid?

    I have a large enough stream in the back yard for a mini hydro system. At 30 degree temperatures I can probably produce enough to supply all my needs at least 9 months of the year.

    But, my elec. bill this month was $56. Average in the summer is about $35 and the most, with below zero temperatures and a 100 foot heat trace on, might be $200.

    So is the cost of putting in a mini hydro system worth it? If I allow $1,500 - $2,000 for the hydro, I won't see a payoff for 3-4 years.

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    Member akprideinvegas's Avatar
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    Default

    I think just being self reliant is worth it. It also is just another way to get to try something new and challenge your brain... some new technology is how i see it. Not having any electricity bill would be awesome even if its only 30 bucks. just my thoughts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    I have a large enough stream in the back yard for a mini hydro system. At 30 degree temperatures I can probably produce enough to supply all my needs at least 9 months of the year.

    But, my elec. bill this month was $56. Average in the summer is about $35 and the most, with below zero temperatures and a 100 foot heat trace on, might be $200.

    So is the cost of putting in a mini hydro system worth it? If I allow $1,500 - $2,000 for the hydro, I won't see a payoff for 3-4 years.
    Off the top of my head I'd say your cost estimate to set up a hydro system is quite low. Batteries, invertor, protection/monitoring/distribution items, collector box, pipe, turbine.....especially so if you plan to run a home that's currently on the grid, which means it is probably not a model of electrical efficiency.

    I'd still do it, but my 2-3 days a week of off-grid living are what makes me happy, and I don't plan on going anywhere for a lot of years.

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    Member anonymous1's Avatar
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    Default It Is Worth It

    Dave your livin to cheap better turn on another light bulb
    Another way to look at it would be to caculate what your maximum continuous hydro out put could be into kilo/watt hrs and compare it to the rate you pay per k/w hr course you would have to use it all to rationalize it that way.
    A couple years ago I helped a guy set up a small (3.8 kw) system. He refurbished a 1920`s Pelton type turbine and belted it to a new Marathon 5 kw 1800 rpm gen.
    He got 600' of 5" poly pipe on a spool from an outfit in Alberta (saved alot over US suppliers). He set it up on a spindle hooked it to a Lewis Chain Saw Winch and snaked it up the crick. He has about 100+' of head which gives him about 44psi at the 1 1/4" nozzle and delivers about 7.5 gal per sec. to the turbine and produces about 3.8kw at 240v He got the gen and tech info through http://www.canyonhydro.com/
    Dan is a super guy. The whole set up cost about $6000 using the old turbine would be about double with a new turbine. It puts out its maximum power continuously and the extra goes into hot water and baseboard heat using an electronic governor from http://www.smallhydropower.com/thes.html#no2
    But is it worth it probably not if your on the grid. You can do a DC battery inverter system for way way less than AC but its pretty neat to have the waste heat


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    anonymous1,

    Cool system. Good links. Thanks for the description. The only turbines I've personally seen in operation were much smaller. What does your friend do with the outlet water? Does it go out under the turbine pedestal?

    Here's another resource for small system components.
    http://www.absak.com/

    Alaska Battery Manufacturing had a couple of small turbines the last time I was in their Anchorage store. They're a good local supplier for solar and wind power as well.

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    Member anonymous1's Avatar
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    Default Outet Water

    The turbine sits in a shed built on top of a plastic fish tote buried in the ground with a plastic culvert to divert the waste water back in stream. The water just drops out of the bottom of the turbine into the tote.

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    Do you have to have a permits for using the water? Intake requirments so fish and stuff don't go down the pipe?

    I wish I had a creek to do that with.

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    Member anonymous1's Avatar
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    Default Permits

    My friends place is in Washinton. Water rights and requirments are very ridgid there. His stream is from a spring on his property with no fish. I would emagine its a similar situatin in AK with the STATE in control of all surface waters.

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    Dave,
    If you got it all setup can't you sell electricity back to your local provider? I think they have a program like that here in Fairbanks.
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    Matanuska Electric does not have that program, but they should.
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    Member akmac's Avatar
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    Default Please excuse my ignorance...

    How do you keep this system from freezing up in winter? Do you pull the water from the bottom of the stream then run it underground?

    Mac

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Yes

    Yes you are supposed to be able to sell the excess back. But rumor has it that it takes way too much trouble. Might be better selling to a neighbor.

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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    Default The price of Electricity

    When I was living in Kotzebue, My electric bill was 800 a month !!!

    same as my rent! When it became impossible to purchase Ivory from the NorthWest Arctic Borough, we had to leave Kotzebue.

    (The person in charge was fired for selling white walrus ivory to white people).

    Here in Barrow Alaska, heat is FREE! All homes have natural gas from prudhoe bay! for FREE!

    ELECTRICIY IS extremlly cheap here. Less than 100 a month but water is much more expensive than electricity !

  14. #14

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    White walrus ivory meaning not carved yet?

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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    Yes white walrus ivory, is LEGAL for Inupiaq Eskimos to carve with / on / using.

    It is Illegial for a Russian Eskimo to purchase.

    ANYONE, .. .. may buy, carve, work with, "beach washed" ivory.

    Fossil ivory is 100% Legal for ANYONE to purchase, or carve with.

    Same is true with Mastadon or Mamoth.

    Alaska Fur Exchange in Anchorage, sells tons of Ivory, but they will NOT SELL anything that is illegal.

    Although I purchase thousands of dollars worth of (fossil) Ivory from this place, it is all for my Inupiaq sons to work with.




    Here is a piece of White Walrus Ivory, This particular piece was scrimmed, by Hanko Koonuk in Point Hope, Something such as this will fetch a handsome price. But nothing illegial has been done here.

    The Northwest Arctic Borough, (Kotzebue). Fired the "person" who was in charge of this Arts&Crafts division. One of the workers there is a Russian Artist. Although she is married to a Inupiaq native in Kotz. she is not allowed to purchase or work with "White Walrus Ivory".

  16. #16
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    Yes you are supposed to be able to sell the excess back. But rumor has it that it takes way too much trouble. Might be better selling to a neighbor.
    My understanding is that (by law) they have to buy it back. But, as you can imagine, electric companies have the ability to punish you for that.

    First, they can just make it hard. They can require you to have all manner of special switching equipment before you can put power back into the grid. There's more fun and games they can require.

    Second, they only have to pay the wholesale price for it.

    It's better to charge batteries or sell the power to a neighbor (if you can even do that legally).

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