Jon C's posts

Posted by Jon C on Feb 19, 2011 09:45 am

#31 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Solar Electric System - Photovoltaic > Re: solar panel mounting
James, If you use a horizontal or "landscape" mount for the solar panels, then the Ironridge Uni mounting kits should work for you. They are listed on the store solar panel mounts tab.

Posted by Jon C on Feb 18, 2011 09:41 am

#32 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Solar Heating - Solar Thermal > Re: Hot water heating element
Hi Max.  I think that heating water with alternative energy is definitely a worthwhile endeavor, since up to a quarter of household electrical power is devoted to this task.  The only real difference between a 120v and a 12v heater element is the resistance of the element and the number of electrical connections within the element.  The lower voltage elements often use multiple heaters &  connections so that they are adaptable to different low voltages....12, 24, 48.  I am currently heating domestic water, using wind, solar, and battery power......avoiding the inefficiency of conversion to AC with an inverter. I use a 1440W/120v element, which has a resistance of 10 ohms.  When powered by 48vdc, it generates a heating power of 230 watts and is sufficient to heat a 30 gallon water tank to 120 degrees.  If you are using a diverted 60 watt source of power you will be using less than 1/4 of that power level and will not achieve very much heating effect compared to what is required for hot water supply in the household.  But, you have a good starting point for a system design.  I wish you good fortune.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Dec 15, 2010 11:39 pm

#33 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > International Marketing
In addition to an avid interest in renewable energy, I also operate a hobby shop and am inundated by emails soliciting business with Chinese companies. Hobby shop owners in the USA refer to most of these as the "Gray Market" and see it taking over sales from domestic companies to a great degree.  I am curious to hear other people's opinion on this subject about buying from foreign companies simply because the price is lower.  I buy from domestic distributors whenever possible, but see the market turning away from US to THEM as a current trend. Is there a possibility that THEM will own US in the future?  I am shutting down my business next year, as my local distributors are going belly-up in our economic decline, and wonder where the future will lead us?  Any opinions on this?  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Oct 26, 2010 12:20 am

#34 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: How fast is your solar investment returns?
I totally agree with you Aaron, that return on investment is very much a personal mindset.  I have invested a few thousand on an alternative energy system, and expect no payback, dollar wise, on this in my lifetime, but have daily rewards in terms of peace of mind, freedom, and independence from the utility grid.  Many times, the local utility has gone down, and my lights didn't even flicker.  I am the only one in my community that has gone off grid with alternative energy and I get many "dropped jaw" responses when I say that I make my own electricity.  So, the payback is not in monetary's in personal terms.  I grin a lot. :-), but don't gloat.
I hear many personal stories here, and it is very much tailored to ones own personal needs.  This forum is so interesting that way......we get a glimpse of other people's experiences. From people that brag about being off grid for decades and wondering why everyone can't do it as well to those that have a starter system and look for ways to expand it.  This is very much dependent on climate, area, wind, and solar exposure.  My grandmother lived in a sod house in northern minnesota, with no alternative energy except wood heat, with temperatures around -30 to -40 degrees F in the winter months, and died at age 36 from pneumonia after giving birth to 6 children. Some are blessed by living in a warmer climate where they can actually live without other fuel sources, but fortunately, grandmother's children were farmed out to families that had the evil utility power and fuel oil heat that allowed them to survive and produce me. :-) We now have other heating/cooling sources like Geothermal, and have a better handle on alternative energy sources like wind and solar.
I applaud everyone's positive experience with this technology and never regret my investment in it. I wish good fortune to all.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Oct 3, 2010 11:15 pm

#35 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Solar Electric System - Photovoltaic > Re: Blocking Diode?
Hi Max.  You do not need a blocking diode for this controller.  I am running a C-40 controller which is similar except for usage at 48 volts as compared to your C-35 which is for use with 12 or 24 volt systems.  When there is no sun, the controller simply goes to sleep, so to speak, and draws a minimal operating current.  I wish you good fortune. :-)  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Aug 3, 2010 11:33 am

#36 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Solar Electric System - Photovoltaic > Re: Raising PV panels above trees
Hi Jerry.  Just a thought here........How about a 30 foot wind turbine tower and mast like SW Windpower offers?  With a suitable flange on top of the pipe and mounting rail for the solar panel, that might work.  The mast is guyed and will take considerable wind forces, and it can be raised by hand winch using a Jin pole.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 16, 2010 11:08 pm

#37 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Whisper 200 wind turbine FYI
Isn't that a bummer, John H.........Anything that is fun, or addictive is regulated or illegal?  I see formation of a new agency now......ATF+GSM (Alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and girl scout mints). Oh, well, we are still having fun with alternative energy and I think that's legal so far.  I did hear back from Southwest Wind Power Co., and they were very helpful with replacement parts.  The insulator failure was chalked up as an uncommon failure and not subject to design modification.  So, as they said in the old horror movies........"watch the skies and be afraid"  I don't believe in luck, only destiny. :-;  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 13, 2010 10:06 am

#38 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Whisper 200 wind turbine FYI
I like your sense of humor, David. :-))  I don't know about a clean life........but, perhaps a green life?  The lightning God must have been a God Child, since it was a small strike?  I did send the insulator back to Southwest Wind Power and asked them if they would consider using a nylon bolt in place of the metal one to eliminate the path for stray currents. The future might hold a product improvement?  I am making a note to buy some girl scout cookies the next time they come around.  :-;  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 11, 2010 10:46 pm

#39 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Whisper 200 wind turbine FYI
This week, one of my Whisper wind turbines apparently suffered a lightning strike.  The symptom appeared as a severely reduced output from the turbine, as though the Stop Switch had been turned on.  After winching the turbine down and disconnecting it from the tower, a Ohmmeter test showed leakage from two of the output wire brushes to the case of the unit.  The case ground path goes through the bottom brush in the brush assy, and the only path for a lightning strike from the case to the mast is through that brush.  There is a bolt securing the brush assy's to the yaw shaft, and a plastic insulator isolating the bolt from the output wire brushes. The lightning arced from the ground brush to the bolt, passing through that plastic insulator tube around the bolt, carbonizing it and creating a carbon resistor path of about 7 ohms on both ends of the insulator tube and effectively grounding two of the three outputs from the turbine.  To avoid a return shipment and a waiting period to Southwest Wind Power Co., I cut a piece of 3/16 inch polyurethane fuel tubing to act as a replacement insulator, and got the turbine back online the same day.  So far, so good.......It's working for me again. The turbine mast is probably the highest structure on most Alt E properties, so I'm thinking that others have suffered this same situation, and perhaps this will help with some diagnoses.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Apr 10, 2010 11:38 pm

#40 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Average Cost for Installed SHW Drainback with 80g ?
Hi Daniel in Florida.  I am amazed at the cost of a SHW system these days.........4.5 to 8K, you say, with 6k being nominal?  I am doing hot water heating for 1/10th that cost.......Have about $600 invested in my system.  As I understand the technology, you have plumbed solar collectors on the roof, temperature sensors, water pump, heat exchanger tank, much pipe and wiring?  I am just thinking slightly outside the box here, and use an electric water heater with the lower heat element powered by an alternate electric source, which is a small wind turbine, but could also be a PV array.  Wind is cheaper than PV, and would cost me about 2K to do the same thing with a PV array of 4 panels at 48v.  I simply have more wind than sun in my midwest location.  The upper heating element is for quick heat, en-corporates a safety breaker, and usually a higher wattage than the lower heat element, which is for "cooking" the water.  I swapped out the lower element for a higher wattage one and supply it with alternative DC power, while the upper element runs off of AC as usual.  An electric water heater costs around $300 or less, depending where you buy it and is quite adaptable to alternative electric energy, and if it is powered by PV panels, then it technically is a solar hot water heater also.  The heating elements really don't care if they are supplied with AC or DC power, since it is simply IR heating.  My hot water supply is always toasty hot, and I have saved about 1/4th of my total previous electric consumption.  Sorry that couldn't answer your question, but I shared some thoughts....... perhaps others on this forum can help with that.  I wish you good fortune. :-)  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Mar 23, 2010 03:03 pm

#41 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Amp Meter Shunt
Jon, the purpose of the shunt on an ammeter is to pass whatever current that cannot be passed by the meter itself.  The meter has a rather high internal resistance and will reach full deflection with a matter of microamps or milliamps of current.  The shunt on the other hand has a very low resistance, and when placed in parallel with the meter, will pass the majority of the current flow that the meter is calibrated to indicate.  Jon C. (in the case of a voltmeter, a Multiplier resistor is used in series with the meter to limit current flow to the calibrated value on the meter)

Posted by Jon C on Mar 11, 2010 04:14 pm

#42 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: getting started need help
Hi Amy Q.  In setting up a energy system, there are so many variables, that I am not sure where to start, but I can mention a few based on my own experience.  I operate off grid about 95% of the time, and have not found it possible to go completely off grid without distastefully altering my life style......I do like my creature comforts. ;-)  Your calculation for energy consumption sounds very precise, but I am sure there are variations in this figure depending on time and seasons of the year.  I found that my energy consumption was doubled in the winter time as a result of the difference between air conditioning and heating needs, and was far from a constant figure.  The solar panels and wind turbines are rated under ideal test conditions, which seldom exist in the natural setting we live in, so you will probably not get the rated output unless wind is gale force and sunlight is totally un-obscured by clouds, fog, rain, and you can adjust the panel tilt for optimum solar angle every day and hour and month.  Besides normal load currents, there are startup surge currents on devices like pumps and compressors, and your inverters must handle these currents as well.  With electronics, there are a multitude of inefficiencies and losses which will detract from your expected performance based on equipment ratings, so precise calculations likely have some inaccuracy in the practical sense. I simply over-rated all the components by a factor of two, which is not terribly scientific, but it has gotten me to a place where I now have a rather serious and workable system.  :-)  I wish you good fortune in your endeavor.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jan 29, 2010 03:41 pm

#43 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: How do you keep snow from sticking on solar panels?
Victor, I purchased a roof rake at the hardware store, removed the aluminum rake part and affixed a wide shop broom to the end in place of the rake.  It works quite well and gives me sufficient reach for the roof mounted panels.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Nov 30, 2009 11:27 am

#44 -  Renewable Energy > Wanted > Re: Motorized bicycle wanted
Hi John D.  I would be happy to share information on my electric bike with you.  I posted a picture of it on my photo gallery, but for some reason the site will not show any pictures beyond page 2.  If you would contact me at my email address JonChristenson @ I can send you the picture and whatever other information that you desire.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Nov 19, 2009 06:19 pm

#45 -  Renewable Energy > Wanted > Re: Motorized bicycle wanted
Hi John D.  I have a similar situation here.......about 3 miles to town and some major hills in between.  I converted a 27" 10 speed touring bike to electric drive for about $50 (cost of a couple 6v gelcell batteries).  I am using a 12v water pump motor mounted to friction drive the rear wheel with a freewheel rachet mechanism on the 1" drive roller, so the bike will operate normally when pedalled.  A 12v relay switches power from batteries to motor, with a push button switch on the handle grip.  One of the 6v batteries runs a 6v headlight, with a front mounted bike generator to recharge the battery. On a level straightaway, the electric drive will run the bike and allow me to rest my legs, and the electric drive is a power assist for the hill climbs. I use an external 12v charger for recharging the batteries.  It works for me. :-)

Posted by Jon C on Sep 8, 2009 10:50 pm

#46 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Help!!!! Wire crimping or soldering?
Hi Ann B.  I have done some custom cable crafting, and agree with Michael that soldering is the best electrical joint.  The local hardware store should have solder lugs for #4 since that is common for welding cable, and should also have some 60/40 lead/tin electrical solder as well.  If it is flux core, you don't need additional solder flux to do the job.......just a substantial soldering gun or small propane torch.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Aug 16, 2009 04:10 pm

#47 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Modified sine Wave VS Pure Sine Wave Inverters.
Hi Paul S.  Just a thought here........I am using a Trace inverter which is not small, but it has a "SLT" mode of operation.  In Silent mode, it essentially shuts down and waits for load to appear.  When a load is present, it turns on and produces normal power output again.  This gives it low power consumption in a standby mode of operation.  Perhaps there are other inverters that have this optional operating mode?  Good hunting :-)  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Aug 13, 2009 10:42 pm

#48 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Mini Wind gen question
Hi Max S.  Automatic furling is not terribly complicated and perhaps you could make your own furling mount.  Some of the basics of furling are shown on this link:
To prevent overspin and self destruction in high winds, you could use a simple controller that employs back EMF for braking.......the controller simply senses an overvoltage condition and switches the output of the turbine into a resistive dump load.  The turbine then works into a high current load that opposes rotation by using the counter electromotive force produced by its own windings.  The southwest wind power controllers do this (example...the whisper 200 controller) and provide a "stop" switch that does the same thing manually in the case of a forecast gale force wind condition.  Best of luck to you. :-)  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 23, 2009 10:49 pm

#49 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Diversion Load Issues
Thank you for your feedback, Thomas A. and Ben R.  I am pleased to hear that others have success stories as well, and also pleased to be in the company of innovative people such as you that do the ground work, do the math, and most importantly......just do it!.  Like everything in all comes back to us, and our choices, and any errors land on our shoulders, as it should be. It's better to lead the sheep herd than to walk in the aftermath of the herd.  Wink ;-).  Best of continued good fortune to you.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 23, 2009 06:42 pm

#50 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Attn. Wind Turbine Owners
I was recently interviewed by Public Radio, and was surprised to learn that some people are disappointed with their wind turbine performance.  It seems that we soon will have data from a new government Small Wind Certification Council to help with selection of wind turbines currently on the market. Personally, I had no unrealistic expectations of turbine performance, so I experienced no disappointments either, but I would be interested to find out what others here think about their particular turbine.  This might make a good topic for the forum.
Smiles :-) Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 21, 2009 10:05 am

#51 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Revolutionary Non-Fuel Electric Engine - NEW - Recorded with U.S. Govt.
Ok, thank you Harold.  I see the schematic, but it appears to me that the battery is only supplying the field winding of the alternator, and the power for the alternator is pully drive from the magnetic engine?  I see the alternator putting out 1080 watts and the engine generating 1939 watts of power.  I am looking for the missing 859 watts, and still confused here, but I will let your hairs rest, including my own, and be content with my conventionally driven electric golf cart. :-) Best of luck to you.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 20, 2009 11:03 pm

#52 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Revolutionary Non-Fuel Electric Engine - NEW - Recorded with U.S. Govt.
I can't resist biting on this one. ;-)  Please tell us more, Harold.....what is the power source for the AC alternator that develops the 12VDC to run the electromagnets?
I was mystified for the longest time by the 1930's inventor that claimed he could run an automobile on water.  Then later, discovered that the water must first be electrolyzed by an external power source to separate hydrogen gas, which could then be burned in an internal combustion engine. I also learned one of the basic laws of physics, that energy can neither be created nor can only change form.  Forgive me for being skeptical, but my intentions are good.....I just need more information,and find perpetual motion a very difficult concept to swallow.  Smiles :-)  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jul 14, 2009 11:38 pm

#53 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Over 7,000 years of practice...
I am trying to avoid two subjects here.......politics and religion, because they are so controversial and sometimes lead to heated controversy, and of little service to this forum, but I would like to point out that the original inhabitants of this continent, the native americans, were here for 15 thousand years.......long before the immigrants landed with their religion and politics, and had a simple theology of reverence for mother earth and father sky.  They did not own the land and sky, but rather thought the land and sky owned them. I am Ojibwe indian and try to honor this philosophy, and also see the movement towards alternative energy in alignment with this respect for the planet. We have no more right to the planet than any other species. We do not own it, but we must learn to honor our place and try to live in harmony with the elements.  The future of our species depends on this simple concept. Peace to all. :-)  Jon C. 

Posted by Jon C on Jun 27, 2009 12:11 pm

#54 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Photovoltaic advice please
Hi Carol M.  This is a noble mission you go completely off grid with your alternative energy system.  This was also my intent when I first got into this a few years ago.  So far, I have been able to achieve only about 90% off grid condition. I don't know your location and conditions of sunlight exposure, but in my case, the Midwest, I have had to supplement the PV power with wind power as well.  There are few times when there is a lack of both wind and sun, but this happens on occasion too, and this requires a massive amount of battery storage to maintain household power under all conditions.  There are many variables and one has to take all of these into consideration.  Sometimes we simply try things and see how they work for us......going for the practical instead of just the theoretical method.  In any case, its a time consuming and expensive process.  In order to go completely off grid, I think that one would have to make some concessions on occasion, like doing without home entertainment, hot showers, hot food (there is always McDonalds, haah), and some sacrifices of comfort and convenience that may not appeal to everyone. I started with a personal audit of my typical power consumption for various needs to identify the major power consumers, and then tried to trim my consumption to an absolute minimum for daily living. It has been an interesting experience, however, and a work in progress.  I wish you good fortune in this endeavor. :-) Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jun 26, 2009 10:22 pm

#55 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Problem with Trace C-60 charge controller.
Thomas, this is a response to your post last week about overheating on your C-60.  I just experienced the same thing on my C-40.....probably similar circuitry in both units.  I recently added another bank of solar panels and upped the ante on pass current for the controller.  We had unusually hot weather this week, and the temperature was over 100F where the C-40 is mounted, in a garage. The controller shut down and flashed yellow LED to indicate an overheat situation. My Ammeter showed zero current for battery charge and that is what got my attention, along with a voltage drop on the battery bank.  I found a 5 inch box fan in my goodie box with mounting holes that lined up with the top case cover screws on the C-40, and simply bolted it in place with some long machine screws.  The outlet air blows across the heat sink on top of the unit and solved the problem, much as you did.  A timer that turns on the fan at 11am and turns it off at 7pm completed the fix-up. I think this will only be necessary in the summer months when the weather is hot here in the midwest.

Posted by Jon C on Jun 23, 2009 10:51 pm

#56 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Diversion Load Issues
Ah, ok, Thomas.  I was not aware that the Bergey would self regulate with no diversion load.  I am accustomed to the old bare bones turbines that require a dump load to avoid self destruction.  Without a load, mine would begin to throw parts, make smoke, followed by running and screaming, etc.  Your calculations on the water heater element stats sound close enough to be doable, and sounds like you are good to go on this project. The appropriate wire size can be found on a table showing wire size and typical current ratings.........I love Google for this.  I settled on a hardware store heating element designed for 120v at high wattage....entirely adequate and a fraction of the cost of the low voltage ones.  The heater element really doesn't care if it is supplied with AC or DC voltage......only that it operates within parameter of wattage. I was not concerned about exposure of the low voltage to water, since water is hardly conductive unless it is contaminated with a conductive chemical, but rather the fact that the heating element must be allowed to dissipate its heat by direct thermal conductivity into the water, or it may overheat......air is not very conductive this way.  Again, best of luck and let us know how it works for you?  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Jun 22, 2009 03:24 pm

#57 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Diversion Load Issues
Hi Thomas A.  I am currently doing this.......heating water with a wind turbine and using a water heating element as a diversion load.  I am using the lower element in a conventional water tank where it is side mounted and completely submerged except for the element flange and wiring.  The size of wiring from the turbine controller to the element may be of issue, depending on how much distance it must run.  But, with adequate wire size to minimize voltage drop on the wiring, I experience no problems with this concept.  I am thinking that you would not want to expose any portion of the heating element to air, and risk a burnout.  If the element should burn out though, you know what the danger is to the wind turbine.......A runaway condition of the turbine with possible self destruction?  Best of luck with your project. :-)  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on May 27, 2009 10:53 pm

#58 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Help Needed Please
Hi again, Janet.  I did not mean to imply that you have a short circuit condition in your refrigerator load, but merely that it may appear as a short circuit to your inverter.  I don't know what inverter you have, so I can't make a judgement there.  When a refrigerant compressor first starts up, it draws an enormous load current, and the inverter may interpret this as a short circuit condition.  I would be hesitant to say that you have insufficient battery capacity, but more likely, an insufficient inverter surge capability.  In my case, I am running a 48v system as well, with 6 x 16 6v batteries, each with a capacity of 375 amp/hours, and inverter capacity of 11,000 watts, but this means nothing when I try to start up a heat pump compressor that draws a starting current in excess of 55 amps (off scale on my AC ammeter).  The inverters just go into fault mode and shut down due to excessive surge current. My solution was to operate the heat pump on its own dedicated line from utility power, and removed it as an inverter load.  My refrigerator is an older model (not high efficiency) and runs fine off the inverters.  This may or may not have anything to do with the problem you are having, but its my 2 cents worth anyway. Smiley  Best wishes with your RE system.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on May 26, 2009 11:58 pm

#59 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Help Needed Please
Hi Janet.  My first thought is that the inverter you are using is sensing a short circuit load when the refrig/freezer compressor initially starts, and is shutting down.  Do you get a fault light on the inverter when this happens, indicating an overload condition for the inverter?  I had a similar situation with a heat pump...also uses a compressor, and so this thought registered.  Jon C.

Posted by Jon C on Mar 23, 2009 10:38 pm

#60 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: blade dimensions for a wincharger 1222
Hi Bert.  Just a thought here............have you considered changing the blades to a fiberglass type that will weather better than wood and perhaps be more durable?  I have purchased some from Applied Magnets that are presently working fine for about $60. (set of spare) You may have to redesign the hub to accomodate them......thats what I did. Where there is a will, we find a way. ;-)  Jon C.

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