NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Solar and wind energy  (Read 5006 times)

sunnyjohn

  • Joined Jul 2008
  • Milton Keynes
Solar and wind energy
« on: July 23, 2008, 11:47:46 pm »
Hi All,  I know this Forum's about smallholding as in growing things that are green, or squeak, but I blame John Seymour of the Self-Sufficiency books :-\. I came across his stuff a few years ago and it completely 'lit my candle', so ever since, I've harboured the desire to get some 'free' energy using solar and wind power.

There was a recent TV series featuring Dick Strawbridge, in which he aspired to some of the same, and thanks to some life-changing events in my circumstances, I find myself newly inspired. I'm planning solar panels based on domestic radiators (suitably encased and plumbed in) and wind-turbines using any or all of several alternators, dynamos and odds-and-ends I've mustered, with wood, metal, and/or plastic blades, depending on what works and is safe.

Has anyone on the forum any pearls of wisdom, 'do try this' or 'don't do that' messages that could save a swear-word or two, please?
Voss Electric Fence

rustyme

  • Guest
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2008, 01:08:55 am »
hello SJ,
         if you are trying to do things a bit on the cheap using old or second hand , or just using basic non techno type things ( like doing things like they used to ) then there is a really good little book on windmills. Not the huge Norfolk Broads type , but the old American ones they used to have on the farms to pump water and then later to generate electricity.  I have a copy and can confirm it is well worth the money . The book is 'Windmills and Windmotors' and is available from Lindsay Publications in the USA :

http://www.lindsaybks.com/bks3/wmotor/index.html

If you decide to buy the book I think you get directed to an English company that sells Lindsay's stuff over here.  There are some other really good books on their site too , so have a look round .
  I am in the planning stage of making a waterwheel at the moment. It is going to be a big one , about 12' diam, and 3' wide . It will have to be an undershot one as I don't have the head of water for an overshot. I hope when done , it will provide all the mechanical power I need , pump some water and run an alternator to charge a battery bank , which will provide lights and power for a laptop . So , good luck with all you are doing , hope the book and the link is of some use ....
 cheers

Russ

sunnyjohn

  • Joined Jul 2008
  • Milton Keynes
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2008, 04:50:49 pm »
Thanks, Russ; a good tip. And yes, I'm working on the cheapest options (a) to keep costs down, (b) to recycle things that would be thrown away, and (c) because spending a fortune on shiny new bits to capture 'free' energy strikes me as perverse!

Re your water wheel; You may already have come to the same conclusion, but if not I mention something I learned at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal (Near Jodrell Bank, S of Manchester, UK... where are you writing from?). That is a late 1800's brick-built cotton mill now in the hands of the National Trust. It had a HUGE water wheel. It turned slowly, but with a lot of torque; like 1000's of horse-power! It was impracticable to gear-up the axle as a 'drive-shaft' to power machinery, so they put a gear ring insde the edge of the wheel. That turned a small pinion wheel (much faster), which turned the machinery in the mill. You may have to substitute belts for gear teeth, unless you have precision lathe equipment, but the principle of using the circumference rather than the axle might give you a higher rotation speed, which suits alternators. And a polypropylene rope, spliced in a continuous ring, might be a suitable 'drive-belt' as a 12' diameter is a bit large for a car fan-belt from Halfords.... Just a thought....

I'll check out the "Windmills and Windmotors" book. It sounds up my street.

Thanks,
Sunnyjohn

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2008, 07:41:15 pm »
I have absolutely no idea what both of you are talking about but it sounds very impressive. Good luck with your projects - can't wait to see the videos!

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2008, 10:16:15 am »
I find this very interesting, as before I moved down here, I built my own house (a project following the untimely demise of my husband!).  I went part of the eco way by installing keep heat windows and doors and 'well above building regs' insulation in both interior and exterior walls as well as the roof, and also a woodburning stove which could be used for cooking in an emergency as well as heating.  However, my friend next door is also building a house - but a real eco friendly one - reed beds for sewage digestion, windmill, etc etc.  Thankfully she stopped short at composting toilets or I'd never have visited them again  ;) 
To a certain extent I agree with the principal of not spending money on shiny new stuff as I can't see how you can recoup those in a normal lifetime, but when building a new house it is relatively cheap to install these items, since they are sometimes the same cost or very little more than a non-eco alternative.  I wish now I had done more in my newbuild than I did.  I would love to do another build and would definitely go down that route, so good luck, SunnyJohn, it will certainly be worth it, if not so much for you, certainly for the environment.
Annie
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2008, 11:08:21 am »
We've been thinking about investing in greening our house, since we've decided to stay put. In purely cost terms, the savings don't seem much compared to the outlay for installation - the payback time is incredible. We might just stick to upgrading the loft insulationand the external doors and replacing the light bulbs.

To be fair, we've underfloor insulation, cavity wall insulation and DG windows. But we also have an open fire and a combi-boiler. I find the whole area terribly confusing. We'd like to reduce our fuel consumption and maybe generate our own but at the moment it seems ike a long way off.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2008, 01:43:11 pm »
Hi Rosemary, a lot depends on where you are - trees around usually means free wood and a woodburning stove is better than an open fire - heats a whole house if you get a fairly high kw size, and just as nice to look at, plus cooking possible on flat topped ones if you have a powercut.  A house windmill can be very economic too - a friend of my daughter makes these - he's down here soemwhere, will try to find details if you want them.  Seems you have gone quite a bit down the eco way already anyway.

annie
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Henrietta

  • Joined Aug 2008
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2008, 09:53:25 am »
Hi there,
You are right ,it is confusing and expensive.  We are going to put in a solar panel for heating the water and are going to have a go at making our own.  We do have a very old Rayburn and a woodstove in the living room and burn wood on both.  The Rayburn is alight for most of the winter, although it goes out at night.  It gives us more hot water than we need, does all our cooking and dries all the washing.  The house is quite small and open plan so the heat goes upstairs as well.  In the summer, I don't light it untill I want to cook the tea as it can all get too hot.  This is where we need the solar panel.  You do need a good supply of wood which can be the stumbling block.

Rosalie

  • Joined Jan 2008
    • http://www.OurHelpYourSuccess..com/
Re: Solar and wind energy
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2008, 11:14:26 am »
At the moment we use a generator, as we have no main electricity here in Spain, we are also looking at Solar and wind power plenty of sun and wind.

I made a solar oven at the begining of the summer and it as worked very well, now having to think about using my calor gas for the winter. Because of costs we will start of with one panel and add as we go along.  Does anyone know which panels are the best to pick up energy when the sun is not shining, any help or info would be great.
Finca in Spain for sale Please Visit www.my1standalucianhome.webs.com

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