Jim Sluyter's posts

Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 24, 2009 02:29 pm

#1 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Swamp Cooler Conversion to 12 volt DC
My 'default' is always to go 12v dc on this type of thing. I tried to pump water once with a 110 v jet pump (admittedly inefficient at any power source) and found my batteries failing with the first round of garden irrigation. Back to 12 volts. Surplus Center (https://www.surpluscenter.com/home.asp ) always has a selection of dc motors to choose from...

Jim Sluyter

Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 23, 2009 04:55 pm

#2 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Appraisal of Renewable Energy System
We are considering sale of our off grid homestead and need advice on setting value.

Various solar panels, aged from 2 to 15 years.

1 year old Prosine 2.0 inverter

2 year old Whisper 100 on 3 year old 95 foot tower.

All accessories, including charge control, metering, older batteries, elderly Onan generator. System built originally in 1988, but upgraded as indicated above.

Not interested in selling components, but rather needing to provide the appraiser with a value 'in place.'


Jim Sluyter, Five Springs Farm

Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 23, 2009 04:51 pm

#3 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Renewable energy for farming
Here is some info on our little farmstead:

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Dec 9, 2008 03:35 pm

#4 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Airbird Wind Turbines
I got a call from a guy who bought one of these turbines (see http://www.airbird.org/Products.html) and wondered how to hook it up. I am puzzled by the info I see on the web site, including the controller they suggest (which does not look like it would handle even the smaller ones) and the extremely low price (which may be a clue to other issues...). Anyway, if ahyone out there has direct expereince with them I would be interested. BTW, it apparently comes with little documentation and customer service is less than stellar.

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Mar 12, 2008 07:27 am

#5 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Wattage for a Wind Turbine - what does it mean?
When I was looking at the Air-X and Breeze, I believe now I may have come to a false conclusion about them.  It seemed to me the X was more for off-grid cabin use (where you're more likely to be able to put it up high) whereas the Breeze was more for RV or sailboat use, where you'd have to make do with lower and more unstable winds, and as a trade-off, you get less potential output.  I had no idea SWWP or Alt-E considered the Breeze an "update" of the X!  I may have bought the newer one if I'd known that.  Still, my Air-X has only been in service for a few weeks, but it has shown its ability to serve its purpose.

Maybe for my usage (on my off-grid garage w/ EV charging), it would be a good to have both a Breeze (lower startup, but lower potential) AND an X (higher startup, but higher potential) on the same building.  For most people, though, it seems like the Breeze is the best option, and the Air-X was more mystical math than realistic performance?

If you are considering 2 Air turbines, think about putting a bit more yet into it and look at Whisper. There is much more power to be had, even with the smallest, and swept area is substantially greater. I am happy with a whisper 100.


Posted by Jim Sluyter on Mar 12, 2008 07:20 am

#6 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: PLEASE HELP ME , I am in need of education ASAP ! ! !
I am buying a small acreage in missouri and want to use wind turbines to supply all my electrical needs. I know nothing about this except the wind blows and it creates electricity with the turbines somehow! How and where do I get started? Please anybody that can HONESTLY help, please do so. I greatly will truly appreciate your help and be grateful.

I got my first turbine from a friend in Missouri because it was not making enough power to make it worthwhile. It was near Columbia, and though I do not now recall its height, it was almost certainly not optimal (guessing 40 feet, but it was a long time ago...). Also, it was an old wincharger, not that efficient. It is, I believe, a truism that the wind rarely blows as hard as you think, nor as steadily.

All that said, wind is a good mix with solar. We live in cloudy northern Michigan, and use wind to get though our winters and solar to make it in summer. Similar trends in weather will pertain in Missouri, though your winters are generally much more sunny than here (at least where I lived, southern and central MO). Well, almost everywhere is more sunny than here. I like the mix because it is often windy when not sunny, and vice versa.

I recently found a book that helps explain a lot of the options and implications in solar, wind and other forms of energy/efficiency. The Renewable Energy Handbook, William H. Kemp is a good start on your quest.

Good luck! And go for it...the info and equipment you need are out there, and much more accessible than when we started this project 20 years ago!

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Sep 25, 2007 07:25 am

#7 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Freetricity.com
Quick perusal of the site freetricity.com - it looks too good to be true, and too cheap. Bargains in this business often are not bargains. I would be very cautious with this stuff. Look around this site for much more info (I am not a rep for the alternative energy store, btw, and there is lots of info out there...try home power magazine at homepower.com for starters)


Posted by Jim Sluyter on Sep 20, 2007 08:32 pm

#8 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Testing Solar Panels
I have several PV panels that have been installed at various times over many years. I suspect that some have degraded or failed as by (admittedly inaccurate) analog ammeter they simply are not producing the power they did 5 years ago as a total array. Is there a way to test them in place, individually or do I need to disconnect them and test each one  not connected in the array (I would rather, of course, not mess with the connections).


Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 22, 2007 06:36 am

#9 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Controller battery voltage cutoff
I 'push' my batteries (golf cart) to 14.8 or so in the winter cold (they are in a cold basement) and back the controller down to about 14.4 in the summer.

The low point is about 1 volt below that, not user settable.

I am using the Flexcharge c20


Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 21, 2007 07:20 am

#10 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Air-X 12v wind Gen lifespan?
The AIR is not considered one of the better bets out there for wind power...the older ones had noise problems and they apparently solved that by slowing it down in higher wind, meaning that it drops off production dramatically at 30 or 35 mph wind.
   I have the older 500 watt turbine from the company that SW Windpower bought. But they dropped this little turbine (H-20). It has been flying for about 7 untroubled years so far.


Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 21, 2007 07:16 am

#11 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Solar Power Investment Opportunities
New Alternatives Fund is a mutual fund that invests in solar, along with other renewable energy systems and more general environmental companies. It is an easy way to get in. And it has done spectacularly well in the past 1/2 year or so, and off and on at other times.


Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 21, 2007 07:05 am

#12 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Grants for renewable energy
Hi, I am a teacher in North West Lower MI and my class and I are looking at renewable enrgy.  It is our intention to utilize wind power on our 250 acre campus.  We are starting with some small pico turbine kits to experiment with before creating an out line for a larger one.  Were a small school and dont have a lot of money to invest, are there grants or resources out there anyone might know about?  Thanks


I listened to a teacher from Michigan's thumb region talk about a large alternative energy project, grant based, that was installed in his school. I don't know the source of grants, but it was a cost-cutting or energy *saving* grant, not specifically for renewables. They installed small commercial sized wind and solar. One point it that they were creative in the grants that they sought, and used the money for renewables.
   For details contact
Woodland Wind, LLC
Brion Dickens
6323 Berne Rd.
Pigeon, MI 48755

Email: woodland AT airadvantage.net

Where in NW lower MI are you doing this project? You do know about the second annual energy fair in Onekama, right? Go to www.glrea.org for details. Our website, http://csafarms.org/fivespringsfarm.asp gives info on our modest renewable energy system (off-grid).

Good luck!

Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 14, 2007 07:25 am

#13 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Off grid or on grid
PS: If any other off the grid folks, especially in the Northeast or a similar climactic region, have any input or would be willing to share their off-grid experiences with me, I would be very appreciative!

We built our home in 1988, about 3 poles away from the grid, and went off grid. Several reasons were involved but the main one at the time was that we were actively protesting nuclear power and it seemed disingenuous at best to get our electricity from that source at the same time.
   It also seemed like fun.
   We remain off the nearby grid, and our expenses have increased over the years as our needs increased (primarily for irrigation as we started our CSA farm project). But our initial expense was probably about the same as an underground line from the grid would have been (we would have gone underground without any doubt, so that is the cost we needed to consider, if we considered it at all).
   We started solar onnly, added wind within a few years.
   And it was - and remains - fun.

Jim Sluyter
Bear Lkae, Michigan (NW lower MI, one of the cloudiest places in the US)

Posted by Jim Sluyter on May 14, 2007 07:14 am

#14 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Installer for Natural Light Tubular Skylight
A friend who is a carpenter put in mine; anyone who does roofing should be able to handle it. It really is not a complicated job (for someone who is comfortable with roof penetration).


Posted by Jim Sluyter on Mar 23, 2007 07:38 am

#15 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: how-to book for renewables
Thanks for the tip. That book seems perhaps more comprehensive and technical than I was looking for, but since all I have found up to now is pretty fluffy, this looks like the one to go for (too much is better than too little, right?)

OK, so what are good resources for thermal, to which you allude?

thanks again...


Posted by Jim Sluyter on Mar 22, 2007 02:59 pm

#16 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Using Roof Shingles instead of panels
Just to focus on the conservation idea and give it some more force: estimates vary, but every dollar spent on conservation will return in the range of $3-5 on system costs. This makes it very worthwhile to work hard on it!

We consider ourselves to be 'hyper-conservative' having built our off-grid home back in the expensive days of the late 80's, on a low budget. We don't have a way to *really* know, but we guess that we generate (and use) in the range of 30 kwh per month.

We have several varieties of panel, one of which is Uni-solar 64 (about half of our sloar production) and like them a lot.

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Mar 22, 2007 02:45 pm

#17 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > how-to book for renewables
Way back when, I built our solar system (I sure like the sound of that) using 'The NEW Solar Home' by Davidson as a guide. That book wasn't new in '88 and sure isn't now! When asked for advice, I would like to be able to offer a newer (in print would be nice) book or reference that would guide the process, from site considerations through panel installation to battery connection (with wire charts and all that). Basic-to-intermediate how-to for the handyperson. Any recommendations?


Posted by Jim Sluyter on Mar 22, 2007 02:41 pm

#18 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: solar in midwest
A lot of us up here in NW lower michigan are making a go of it on solar (usually with some wind too). Most are off the grid, but not all. It is at least as cloudy here. But it is true that there are few places with *less* solar.

The Uni-solar panels tend to shed snow more effectively than others, if they are standing nearly straight up (good for winter setting anyway). But ours still need to be within reach of a squeegey to clean them off from time to time.

The utilities in MI tend to be behind on everything...contact Urban Options in Lnasing (a google should get you there) for some advice, and also glrea.org.

Michigan Energy Fair (second annual) in Manistee County June 22-24 (I think) would be a good resource.

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Jan 30, 2007 07:59 am

#19 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Go Power Brand Inverters
I am considering this upgrade after many years (18) of running all AC loads on modified waveform. But with  new electronics becoming more...um...complex I am thinking it is time to go with a pure wave form. Frankly, I would like to quit wondering whether the next thing I plug in will be incompatible...Also, I grow weary of the telephone and stereo buzzing (sometimes subtle, other times not) that I have put up with all these years.

We do run computers and have had no problems, and even power tool battery chargers that used to be probematic seem ok now with modified sine. Motors seem to run hot...like the vacuum cleaner and others, but not *too* bad...

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Jan 26, 2007 03:33 pm

#20 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Go Power Brand Inverters
Isn't GoPower protected from over-surge??

My thinking is to use the battery charger that is built into my DR series Trace inverter for those rare times I run a generator, recognizing that I would have to turn it on for that function (and make sure it 'hooked in' and that the sine wave inverter was *not*).

I am not committed to hard wire, but would prefer that...but also would have to wait longer to afford the 'next step up.'

Prosine and exeltech are on the possible list. But the 1kw and 1100 watt rated ones are really close to the 10 amp rating on our biggest regualar load, a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Jan 24, 2007 01:02 pm

#21 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Go Power Brand Inverters
I am considering a move 'up' to sine wave inverter power after almost 20 years on 'modified' sine wave. The Go Power inverters seem very economical and have a nice, long warrenty. But I have heard little about them. Any experiences with them in actual use? Do they hold up? Perform up to spec?

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Jan 21, 2007 07:47 am

#22 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Preparing an off-grid system - Comments? Concerns?
One thing I don't see on your list is a system monitor. I strongly recommend one as a safeguard and method of keeping track. I use the tri-metric and like it; there are others that are similar.


Posted by Jim Sluyter on Jan 6, 2007 07:20 am

#23 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Sine Wave Inverter Selection
I am about ready to upgrade to a sine wave inverter. I know the many advantages over modified sine wave but not all of the variables in sine wave products. For example, I have read (but can't recall where, nor the details) that some are regulated more effecitvely than others and that frequency control is an issue, and variable between models.
   Are these real and important differences and if so are there ways of determining these differences from porduct specs?
   I will be replacing a Trace DR series inverter that has a completely acceptable battery charger. My thinking is to use the battery charger for those infrequent generator needs and save on the new iverter by getting one without a built in charger.
   My considerations are quality wave form (if that is an issue - first questions above) and low power use at no-load (idle) in a 1000 to 1500 watt unit. Suggestions from your actual experiences will be welcome./

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Dec 5, 2006 07:31 am

#24 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Unisolar Module or is there better?
the comment on power and size is a reasonable one - unisolar is larger 'per watt' than other panels. But I think they make sense on a boat, especially if you are going for the flexible ones. We use uni-solar in our land-based system and like their output in lower light situations and relative tolerance of shading (a significant issue, I have to think, on a sail boat) since even modest shadow - say, from a mast - can impact output in the crystaline panels.

Don't underestimate that small fridge. Even a small load, running much of the time, adds up fast!

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Dec 4, 2006 01:17 pm

#25 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Basic question about voltage
I used to watch the voltage closely and I think you are taking it too seriously...especially under a large load. I have watched our battery bank drop to 11.7 when the vacuum cleaner is running or the grain mill (a suprisingly heavy 100 amp @ 12v load). Then it bounces back once the load is off (especially the grain mill, which only runs for a couple minutes). But to *really * know what is going on a good investment is a system monitor. Now I watch our Trimetric with the same intensity, but with much more information, that I used to give the volt meter.

Posted by Jim Sluyter on Dec 4, 2006 01:09 pm

#26 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Which solar water pump
I would look closely at the slowpump from dankoff (conergy, now, I think). These are very efficient and durable. I used one heavily for irrigation for several years, though a few years sitting on a shelf seems to have left it unable to pump to capacity. You can read about it on this site. 

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