Getting started with alternative energy

Recently I turned my attention to alternative energy including solar, wind and hydro.

I gave no hydro possibility, but still researched some of the offerings since many of the techniques apply to wind also.

This leaves solar and wind as possible sources of energy.

Solar can be further split into two categories: thermal and photovoltaic.

In this post I will summarize the findings applicable to my own situation.

SOLAR THERMAL

Grate Wall of Fire

If you have an old fashioned open fireplace and have always wondered “there has got to be a better way to ‘do’ fire” here is your answer.

The secret about LG clothes washing machines

While doing research for a new front loader clothes washing machine, my wife and I looked closely at the offerings manufactured by LG. We saw models at Sears and Home Depot. The models and their features are very nice.

While at Home Depot we asked about differences between all the various models including LG. The saleslady spoke about this and that, but was particularly careful to understand where we would be placing the new clothes washer and dryer in our home.

The Premium you pay for a matching Washer and Dryer

My family and I stopped by Sears and Home Depot after Church this morning to take another look at front loader clothes washing machines. Our current top loader won’t rinse well and both my wife and I consider the front loader method superior to the top load for a variety of reasons which some may find debatable. That’s not the point of this post, however.

All the front loader clothes washer offerings from Whirlpool (Duet), LG, Kenmore, etc. have a companion dryer to match the style. Of course my wife is all over that and desires both a new washer and dryer so they will “match.” I just want to replace the broken appliance and get the washer.

Blueline Power Cost Meter

I ordered a PowerCost Meter from Blueline Innovations in an effort to better demonstrate to my family the overall power consumption of everyday things in a home.

The hope is by seeing the cost per hour as things are turn on and off, increased awareness will suggest to turn things off. That’s the hope of the Power Cost meter it seems.

Please understand this meter does not save you any money on your power bill. It does not do any quack technique of saving energy. It simply reports your energy usage so you will be understand where your waste might be. It is up to you to do the actual saving.

Battery on Concrete Floor… Myth?

BatteryThe 12 volt lead-acid battery for my backup sump pump does not seem to last for more than about one year. There is a “maintenance” battery charger that is, supposedly, designed to keep a battery topped off and ready to go should the backup power be needed.

I have heard the rumor putting batteries on the concrete floor will shorten their life. Research on the net suggests a few theories why this is or was true. Thoughts include:

Energy Monitor for Home

I have long wanted to provide a way for the family to “see” how much energy is being used at any given moment so they can get a feel for what uses the most. I had plans to incorporate toroid pick ups in the two hot lines in the breaker panel.

Thankfully, the late overall awareness of energy cosumption has intiated the creation of many products which will “read your ac power meter” and provide a display in the confort of your home.

I have ordered a Blue Line Power Meter from Northern Tool to solve this monitoring question.

Outdoor Yard Lighting attracts Lightning

Well not really attracts lightning, but certainly allows for more pickup of lightning energy.

Last night on our Sunday Night Tech Net (Fauquier County, VA Repeater) a fellow named Bob brought up the topic of proper grounding for his upcoming coax fed 40 meter antenna. During the discussion about common ground points and other relating lightning protection possibilities, he recalled a story.

Seems , once upon a time, Bob installed some 120 Vac yard lighting around his property. The lighting worked quite well, but Bob immediately correlated a rise in damage to devices plugged into the ac power in his house with the installation of this yard lighting.

Energy from Water Volume

The web site…

 http://water4gas.com/2books.htm

  …speaks of 1,833 gallons of hydrogen and oxygen production from one gallon of water in their electrolysis device.  They go on to suggest this will last for months of driving.

The typical sub-compact automobile consumes over 300 gallons of air per minute at typical power generating RPMs (data converted from http://ptaff.ca/air/?lang=en_CA#table3).

If the Water 4 Gas device is turning energy into hydrogen and oxygen at such a slow rate compared to the large volumes of gas flow through the engine, how are we to believe it makes any difference at all.

Magnetic Antennas Work Well on Vehicles

If you are new to ham radio, CB or scanner listening you may have been told magnetic antennas are less efficient than comparable antennas that attach via a direct physical connection.

The answer is… it depends. However, magnetic mount antennas seem to receive more criticism than they deserve and for VHF and higher frequencies the coupling they provide from shield to vehicle body may, indeed, be superior than other mount methods.

The details are available at this article from COSjwt…

http://www.cosjwt.com/index.php?a=3

Read this and know magnetic antennas are a viable option for the CBer, Ham and scanner listener.