Electricity Generation and Storage

Total independence from the electrical grid is costly for a conventional house in the United States.  We have become reliant on appliances that consume large amounts of electricity.  Solar panel and wind generator systems that can consistently furnish sufficient power for a modern all-electric house may cost nearly as much as the house.

Electric ranges, hot water heaters, air conditioners and heaters are rated at several thousands watts.  For identification, these multi-kilowatt appliances will be labeled tier one.  The second tier of energy consuming appliances consume between 1,000 and 1,500 watts of power.  These include hair dryers, curling irons, clothes irons, toasters and high-powered microwaves.  Tier three appliances, like televisions, computers, lights, most power tools, and water pumps consume less than 1,000 watts, usually much less than 500 watts.

An economical solar or wind generation system can be built to power tier three appliances.  In cost reduction and survival situations, functioning tier three appliances could make life much easier and more comfortable. 

The cost per watt for small wind generators is comparable to the cost of electricity generated by photovoltaic solar panels.  I have two 35 foot towers on which wind generators could be mounted.

Solar panels and wind generators can be used in one of three ways.  First, the devices may be used to directly power a water pump and other low-power appliances.  Second, the devices could be used to charge storage batteries which would provide electrical power on demand until the batteries are discharged.  The third alternative is to wire everything to the power grid.  Electricity generated by the solar panels and wind generators could be sold to the electric utility company thus reducing the cost of electrical power.  This third alternative has the advantage of eliminating the need for batteries.  It has the disadvantage of producing power for emergency situations only on sunny and windy days.  

The diagram below represents preliminary thinking.  It uses the second alternative described above for second and third tier appliances and direct connection to the power grid for tier one appliances.  This approach may make the transition to solar and wind power easier in the event of a failure of the power grid.

Electrical Diagram

Wind generation of electricity and solar photovoltaic cells are complementary.  Wind blows day and night, cloudy or clear.  Solar cells generate electricity during daylight only whether the wind is blowing or not. 

Next:  Potable Water Acquisition, Storage and Distribution