Mike Casper's posts

Posted by Mike Casper on Jul 17, 2008 04:24 pm

#1 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: First RE System is Planned
Oh, forgot to add that you may not be able to use the same charge controller for wind and solar.  You will need to fuse (or breaker) them each to the power they can put out.  My H40 required a 100 amp fuse and I had only 30-40 amps from solar panels so the breaker size used is 60 amp.

I did not comment on the rest of my system.  I use a Zantrex breaker box (DC250) for all breakers (try getting 200 amp fuse at night on Sunday), and a Prosine 2 inverter for 15 amp service.  The inverter will accept line power (in your case a genn set) and has built in transfer switch.  Two inverters will stack for 240 AC.  This is my setup, if you find those step transformers you could go for 24 volts but something tells me your gonna use a 48 volt inverter.


Posted by Mike Casper on Jul 17, 2008 04:00 pm

#2 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: First RE System is Planned
First about that wire run.  I would look into doing what a power company would do - step up the voltage.  Since it is 3 phase AC you would need 3 transformers (at the base of the pole in a box) to "step up" the voltage to something like 200-300 volts (AC).  Then use 3 more transformers at your power shack to step down the voltage.  You might save a lot of money on copper wire.  There might be a single 3 phase transformer that you could get if you check the web.

Next, the charge controllers. When I got my H40 it came with a control box (to handle 3 phase AC to DC convert) and diversion load.  You may want to order a matching set (power handling) for yours.  I did use a C35 for my panels (even though there were terminals to add solar to the genny box).  I set my wind control box to "divert" power above what the C35 had for shutoff voltage so as not to divert the solar panels before the batteries were actually charged.  The wind controller had a much better voltage selector for diversion then the C35.  The C series of charge controllers are very good charge controllers as they will accept various DC inputs and divert if needed.  You can get panel meters for them which will keep track of amp hours from your array.

The solar panels.  When I built (in design phase) my system I realized that I might have to maintain the system by myself.  So in keeping with the thought of moving panels about - I decided on panels that were not too big (feel bulky to handle) and used 80 watt panels.  At about 2 by 4 foot I could get my hands on both sides and the weight was aournd 17 pounds each.  Also the cost per watt was around 3 (dollars - $3 per Watt) which is much better then the smaller panels ($10 per Watt).  The bigger panels are for grid tie applications to reduce the amount of wiring.   The bigger panels do have lower cost per Watt but not by much.  So I would still go with 80 to 120 (123 Watt panel on sale) panels that you can get your hands around.

Posted by Mike Casper on Jul 15, 2008 02:13 pm

#3 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Global Warming and Energy Independence Supression
I agree. 

I have bought dehydrated and freeze dried food.  I have also bought solar panels and a place far from the populated areas.  I intend to garden (once peak oil wipes out most of the population) and know that I can (practice-experience).

I have also bought ultra-capacitors to replace the AAA and AA batteries in small devices.  I will build bigger cap batteries for the C & D devices soon.

Btw Thomas, it took me a while to get back here to post because I DID look at HAARP and Joe Newman and John Hutchingson (have the video of Stan Meyers & Hydro-Gen).  The results - for me:

1- HAARP is not a threat as I know enough about radio theory (ham radio licensed - KC8TMQ) and the energy needed to actually change weather.

2- Stan Meyers may have a good idea of using a radio wave harmonic to aid electrolysis of water.  The company Hydro-Gen uses much the same principle to create Oxy-Hydrogen for burning in a furnace.  A better cutter of water is sodium, you remember your science teacher putting a small piece of sodium in a glass beaker, it broke down the water into Oxygen & Hydrogen but exploded when the sodium stone heated up and allowed the re-combining of the 2 elements.  But since I cannot maintain this system without the inventer - it does me no good.

3-Joe & John, Even if thse guys had something I am still limited to the maintain-ability of a system.  Joe doe not even have a load on his flywheel.  I want to see a generator light some bulbs while being pushed by his puppy.  John might have something with his forever battery but he is running his military surplus equipment on common AC.  Since I don't know either of these guys I don't have anyone else who can fix their machines.

I can get a mechanic to fix my car - I don't need Henry Ford himself - but I need to maintain the system somehow.  Solar panels can be maintained, if the glass breaks then I can put a new piece of glass in and seal it with pine tree sap (waterproof seal).  My cap-battery (modular battery) is maintain-able because I did build it my self, I have spare caps, wire and connectors in case anything breaks.

Peak Oil will winnow out the wheat from the chalf - if these energy guru's do have something then they will survive where even the oil companies have failed.  They WILL become the dominant life force.

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 23, 2008 04:25 pm

#4 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Global Warming and Energy Independence Supression
Ok, lets tackle this subject of global warming then the technology windfall.

Global warming could be happening.  When we take one hundred fifty million years of condensed sunshine (oil) and bring it out into the present day (last 100 years) we do have a buildup of carbon dioxide (by product of energy release).  The super short release time is changing the environment - it is as simple as that.  The government is just trying to contain the big problems (by weather manipulation) for the (rich) people/corporations here in America.  Otherwise it could be floods and famine for a while.  This manipulation also benefits the little guy too - if your home is lost then you have no job, don't pay taxes and have a big claim for your (profit motivated) insurance company.  There is another side to the double edged sword of oil and that is called "peak oil".  We (the people) used most all the cheap "easy to get" oil that we could get.  Oil will cost more and more and eventually many won't be able to get it.  This web site can explain it in much better detail then I could here in the forum.


Remember the government is the biggest energy user and will be the biggest loser in this game.  If "they" want to enslave you then "they" will have to stay alive.

As for the technology windfall.  If we did not have oil we would not have any technology at all.  With oil we have computers (NASA spinoff -circuit chip), GPS (military), internet (military or Al Gore), solar panels (Bell labs, NASA), Atom bomb (Made in USA), ipod (Apple co.), ultra capacitors, etc.  The list goes on and on but you get the point - you can put your hands on anything you can "afford".  As for "energy independence technology" They are all derivatives of oil.  But you can heat your home with solar hot air, heat water with solar hot water and have plenty of electricity.  Most people just do not want to invest in systems that they figure they have now.  For 9 to 12 cents you can get a whole kilowatt hour of electricity and by simply turning the faucet get all the hot water from natural gas you want.   You are a slave if you let "them" do it for you - you are independent if you "do it your self".  Solar is an investment (one that pays better then the stock market) you make once.  The government will even subsidise your solar energy purchase.

I believe that I may be 50% independent. I have 750 Watts of solar electric panels up north and 320 Watts at home south.  I have 550 ferads of super caps @3-4.6 volts to run 2 and 3 battery (AAA, AA, C, D) devices like my electric shaver (no NI-CD).  I have food to last a while (no "guns for food" gov offer) plus seeds for more.  I have a wood fireplace up north.  I have a plan.
I lack solar hot air & water up north.  Home south is too close to Detroit and is to be abandoned at 1-1.5 years time.

Oil is not artificially high, it is a simple effect of demand and supply.  They may control oil but you can get away from oil (think of getting out from the mob - it isn't easy but it has been done).

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 4, 2008 04:18 pm

#5 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: high mass heating system
First, I think that sand is a better insulator then conductor (From "safe House" "- sand has as much insulating ability as fiberglass and walls are much more bullet proof") so I don't know if heat will "radiate" enough to offset the heat lost in the cold boiler.  In fact if I remember my camping lore "covering baked potatoes in sand by the fire will help to keep the heat in".

Second, You might be better off building a small "out house" for a tank (and boiler) with all the wood you will need to brace a floor against 52 tons of sand.  I'm glad you will be the one to "move" all that sand.

I would insulate the floor with fiberglass and run Pex plastic pipe as a radiator.  Get a batch solar water heater with it's own tank mounted horizontally so as not to interfere with you window view outside.  Tie the boiler to the tank (plumbing).  Add a DC pump so it can be powered by solar later.  Add 2 ball valves to regulate the heat going to the first and second floors.

You should have heated floors by solar (tree will not compromise solar hot water much) or by boiler.  If you do build a "power house" then consider stuffing your batteries and inverter in there when you get them.

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 4, 2008 03:11 pm

#6 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Old PowerUp panel compatability?
My vote is for the Xantrex C35 charge controller. (full disclosure: I own and use one)  It will wire up as 12 or 24 volt, will handle all the current (above what you specify).  The options for this meter include a temp sensor and production meter (cumulative resetable amp hour counter) both of which can be bought anytime.  The meter can be remote mounted or front panel on "the box".  You can also hook up this controller for a diversion load (once batteries are charged then apply power elsewhere) like a 12v water heater element for your electric water heater or 12v fan for cooling.

All this for less then $100 bucks.  (Sensors and meter sold seperately)

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 4, 2008 02:40 pm

#7 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: New to alt. energy, looking for advice.
They are already hard to get and more expensive.  In 2003 I was caught up in the August 14 power outage.  A little while after that I bought solar panels for under $3.10 a Watt.  Look at prices now $5 - $7 a Watt.  Silicon is also in big demand by panel makers - who used to just take the silicon leftovers off of chip maker's hands.  Chip maker's now sell each barrel for more than $100 (US dollars) and they mostly don't have extra (purified silicon) any more.

But solar panels are solid state and will last longer then a wind turbine.  There are no parts to replace, they are quiet and can be scaled from "one panel/one battery" to utility sized "farms".

If you do add wind in some time in the future - don't put it on the house, the vibration will make you feel like your inside a transformer.

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 3, 2008 02:59 pm

#8 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: New to alt. energy, looking for advice.
Good for you on wanting to change up.

The best way to start out is to start small.  Think about this - a small portable (wheels) solar energy system.  It would be kind of a "demo" version of a bigger system.  I built mine from scratch - hand truck, wood box, 2 T125 batts, charge controller, desulphator, 2 inverters 400/1200W and a meter.  You can just buy an X1500 (check portable power) with batteries, inverter, meter and wheels.  Add a solar panel and charge control for a complete mini grid.  I would add another smaller (150-400W) inverter because the 1500W inverter is a little big (1/3 amp no load power draw) for 30 Watt fans and 10 Watt radios.

Since it is portable you can keep it in a corner of the yard and your dad won't have that shiny solar panel gleam in his eye.  You should use it for your electric needs (and wants) because when Peak Oil really hits then you will be the only one with power.  See if you can get your dad to help - it is kind of a science project after all.

Whats "Peak Oil"?  A condition where easy to get oil is used up leaving only expensive hard to get oil.  The harder it is to get the more it costs.  Eventually it costs more than you get back - costs of $160 for 1 barrel $130~ of oil would NOT be profitable.  Would you like a better explaination?  Type in "latoc" (life after the oil crash) in a web searcher.  This is not like Y2k which was an event (happens once) this is a chronic (continues, worsening) condition.

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 3, 2008 01:46 pm

#9 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Diversion mode, Blocking diodes, 600 watt heating element
This really sounds like one of those questions that you get in a math text book.  If I decipher this right I get that you are going in the red with loads at night (low voltage warning).  The answer here is simple - get a bigger battery.  Your 1500 Watt inverter needs to be fed better, 2 mid-sized batteries just aren't enough.  Consider this 1500W/24v=62.5a - how long will your batteries last under this load?  I have 20kW worth of batteries so I have a little something for the cloudy day.

The C35 charge controller will charge your batteries and then divert excess power (full batt.) from your panel into a dump load (full disclosure - I own one).  But if you have power left to burn (dump) then you are not storing it.

Wind turbines usually come with control panels and dump loads so you should not even need to change the C35.  But I would hold off on a wind genny (not much wind) and get the batteries and maybe another solar panel (or 2) first.

Oh, and No, 150 Watts of electronics does not equal 600 Watts of dump load.

Posted by Mike Casper on Jun 3, 2008 12:50 pm

#10 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Old PowerUp panel compatability?
If the specs are the same then you should be able to use the "newer" panel with the old.  The spec for max volts and amps has to be very close (or same).

The manufacturing techniques change over time, businesses benchmark each other and low cost practices are adopted to save money and produce a better product.  The "newer" panel may just show this.  You will have to decide if 2 panels that may look different are going to hurt your final goal (looks great or works great).  From what you put in your post - you want more power.  From that point the 20W panel will do.

Want to go 40 Watts?  You can do that too. The bigger panels are lower cost per Watt (cost/watts=cpW) and if you buy 2 you may have plenty of power and they will match.  Of course you will have an orphan 20W panel that cannot be used with the 40W panels (well actually it can work if you hook it to it's own charge control).  Speaking of charge controllers - you need one big enough for 40W panels.

If you just buy one 40W panel and want to add another later (year or 2) you may have the same problem as you have now (process improvement).

Posted by Mike Casper on May 21, 2008 12:53 pm

#11 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Solar Chicken Coop
I think the answer to your question is to use solar thermal hot water.  All you will need is 1 thermal panel (water), a tank (heat exchange/storage), a radiator for the coop, a small 12v pump and 2 sensors (coop and panel temp).  You would also need a solar panel and battery for the pump (and lights) but far smaller then the electric heat option.  For the low temps use a non-toxic antifreeze in the system and realize that your system will not have pressure (like city water pressure) so leaks should be minimal.  The tank is to be insulated above what it has now but will give heat for days.  If you like to tinker a bit then maybe you could add a fire place water heater - heat water in pipe inside wood stove and splice to in/out going pipes to the tank.  The temp sensor in the coop regulates the amount of heat.

As far as light - I would go with LEDs.  I would use a 25 LED unit (www.ledlight.com/detail.aspx?ID=220) part # 64985 in super white (500k) which is as close to true sunlight as you can get without actual sunlight.  LEDs are expensive but have no flicker (animals can see flicker) and last far longer than anything else.  You will have to use a series of these so take advantage of the bulk discount.  These LEDs have automotive connectors and I get the matching holder (www.autolumination.com) so I can "change" one out (desk lamp white LED to red) or in case one is bad then you have not "modified" it and can return it for replacement.
Actual sunlight could be used of course (without windows) if you put in fiber optics.  Just run some fibers from the "ceiling" to the outside (side wall exit avoids roof holes).  Use small pieces of clear plastic that are finely sanded for diffusers at the end of each "light pipe" at the ceiling.

Posted by Mike Casper on May 12, 2008 03:50 pm

#12 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Freetricity.com
Yep,  go to:
They have household, automotive, and 12 volt led arrays.  I use the automotive (1156) type LED array (pn 64985) in desk lamps to replace the 20W quartz bulb with a (sunlight spectrum - 500K) 2W white LED light (also replace the bulb holder with ba15 base from www.autolumination.com so I can change to red LED "bulb".  I use a plastic coated bread wire tie between 2 screws to hold up the LED bulb.

The 3W LED light (pn 75644) is good for a porch light that only shines down.  The 2.5W LED light (pn 45859) is good for a 45 Watt appliance bulb or if you have a 3 socket fixture for 135 Watt lighting for 7.5 Watts.

Posted by Mike Casper on May 12, 2008 03:13 pm

#13 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Charging batteries
My vote is for the charge controller.  On my Solar Boost 50 there is a way to set the actual top voltage.  According to (for my L16H batteries) that top voltage should be about 14.8v (number given from inverter charger with Trojan setting).  I did not see any top or peak volt number given in your post.  But you should check the controller manual for adjustment of peak volts to trigger the trickle charge (batt voltage settles to 13.5v at trickle for me).  The charge controller should trigger bulk, absorb and trickle operation at voltage "set points".  Set the trigger voltage for your battery at 14.8v for a couple days and see if that fixes the problem.

Posted by Mike Casper on May 12, 2008 02:31 pm

#14 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: My mini solar system.
In answer to the charge controller question.  If you get more solar panels then your present charge controller can handle - just get another charge controller.

Getting more batteries might mean you will want to get more solar panels, as a "general rule of thumb" you should have 10-20% of solar for battery power.  So if you have a 120 amp hour battery then you should have about 12 amp panel set.  Think about it - you use half the battery (50% Depth of Discharge = DOD) 60 amp hours and then charge it at 12 amps - you need 5 hours (5hr x 12a = 60ah) plus 1 hour because battery is 80% efficient at taking a charge.

Battery life is shortened by deep discharge and by being left in a discharged state.  Faster charging is better for batteries because there is less "permanent" sulfating.  Get a desulphator for your batteries.  Your batteries are your weakest link - do the most for them.  You might also want a battery charger (grid plug in) to compliment the solar panels on cloudy/ winter days.

If you actually do get a "battery meter" (Trimetric) then it will upgrade with your system no matter how big it gets.  The battery is the only component that won't upgrade however so get a set big enough to only discharge 20-30% for your power needs (ex: 60 amp hours x 12 volts = 720 Watt hours so a microwave that takes 700 Watts will run for 1 hour).

For a cheap meter "system" get a "Watts Up" or "Doc Wattson" (ea. $60 at www.powerwerx.com) for the charge controller to battery counting (Watts).  Get a "Kill a Watt" (ea. $33 at www.altenergystore.com) for the inverter.  Then - make sure that you always have 20% more Watts coming in then going out.

Posted by Mike Casper on May 12, 2008 11:51 am

#15 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: For those that have successfully gone off-grid, how many watts?
Depends, if you are going to build a small solar panel to power a 3v, 4.5v, 6v radio then buying individual "cells" will work.  If your going to build panels to power your home "cell by cell" then you are dreaming.  I had the intention (a long time ago) to build a solar panel by buying single solar cells once a week (had $5 allowance).  The 3rd week the store ran out of cells, when the 5th week came there were more cells but they were different (poly crystal instead of mono crystalline).  If your thinking about saving money then buy the panels - you can get 30% back from the government.  Type in "used Solec panels" in your web searcher for a deal on slightly used panels (30% off -not a deduction).

Posted by Mike Casper on May 12, 2008 11:13 am

#16 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: watt meter for DC
A Trimeteric IS for keeping track of the "state of charge" of your batteries.  You kind of need one if you have a bigger system.  The cost is justified (for a Link or Trimetric) for a larger system (with more then one battery).  My larger system has 8 Trojan L16H batteries (cost over $2000) so I have a Link 10 watching them.  A smaller system I just completed (portable - (hand cart) with 2 T-125's = $360) only has the Watt's Up meter.  The Watt hour function is accurate for all rates because it multiplies voltage by amperage for a moment by moment tally (100 Watts @ 12v = 100 Watts @ 120v.  I put my meter between the charge controller and the battery to keep track of charging current and total charge.  At the other end I plugged in a Watts Up KWH meter to keep track of inverter usage.  Last thing if you use 100 Watt hours put 120-130 Watt hours back in (80% batt efficiency).

Posted by Mike Casper on May 6, 2008 12:06 pm

#17 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: For those that have successfully gone off-grid, how many watts?
Although I have not gone completely "off grid" I can give you some first steps to get there (because I am getting there).
1-conserve--Replace big appliances first (frig, furnace) my 19' cubic Kenmore frig (freezer top) uses only 1 kilowatt a day.  Furnace is high efficiency (96%).  Replace lights with LEDs (porch light is outside in cold so it is LED) CFL's elsewhere.  I converted 20W desk lamps to auto LEDs (www.ledlight.com).  Add plug strips to phantom loads, then switch all of them off at once (until you need them).  If someone tells you "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but your frig is costing more than $3 bucks a month - its broke.  Oh, get newer shower head (low flow/high pressure) and a new toilet, aerators for faucets.
2-smart solar--start with solar hot water.  This is least expensive and gives the most payback.  You use hot water all the time.  Get solar hot air, there are 4 x 8' panels that only need a 6" vent hole (or 2) to install.
3-solar electric--get this after you review your electric bill (with conserve efforts included).  Most off-griders get a gas generator for the winter season but you can save that cash as you have the grid (use cheapest energy first).
Other savings--wood is a good storage medium for heat, get a wood stove (not fireplace) if you have woods near by.

As for the "how many Watts" question? as much as you can afford.  You may have a family and may use more than just me.

Posted by Mike Casper on May 6, 2008 11:08 am

#18 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: watt meter for DC
I know what you need.  Get a Doc Wattson at www.powerwerx.com for about $60.  This meter measures volts, amps, Watts, and total kilo-Watts, highest Wattage, total amp hours, the minimum voltage.  You can read the doc's but it will keep track of your total Wattage by tracking voltage and amps.  I use 2 to keep track of power coming in through wind and solar.  I wanted to know how much from each.  They also have a Watts-Up meter but it has lower Total Watt before it rolls over.  Careful if you use one between battery and inverter as Doc-Wattson will max out at 100 amps.

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