Been reading alot on alternative energy systems, especially solar and fuel cells. I work mostly resi but who knows whats will be the "low hanging fruit" of the near future. I have a customer screaming for a system that will work with or without the "grid". Anyone have any good experiences with an install for residential? The new Energy Bill gives a 30% Tax Credit(credit=$ for $ off taxes your know) for solar and fuel cell installs up to $2k on resi and no ceiling on commercial. This is avail starting 1/1/06 for a two year window. 'preciate any pointers or advice. I truly believe fuel cells will explode given the attitude America now has! IMHO
It has been my experience that solar would probably be most effective. I started building a wind system, but ended up having to take it down. The tower went 17 feet in the air, the propellor was 6ft in diameter. At 800 watts rated at 33 mph, id did no good in the summer. Winter winds are better here, as with most places. Wind is good if you have a lot of land. The most important thing for off grid is batteries. If I could afford them, I would buy forklift batteries. I reccomend http://www.otherpower.com . Their stuff is mosty home built, but you get the idea. Solar can get expensive though, and especially very cost inefficient up north, like here in PA. It's usually cloudy, hazy, or winter up here. Sadly to say, unless you have a lot of land or money, it's gonna be hard to use alternative energy. :-( There's always bio diesel, if you can get used to a generator that sounds like a loud lawnmower.
#55977 - 09/11/0511:43 AMRe: Alt. Energy Systems Install
The solar that really works is the relatively low tech water heating systems. A pool heater is probably the best dollar for dollar return, Domestic hot water is a close second. When you start trying to make electricity the cost of the "plant" quickly eats up a decade or more of potential profit ... assuming nothing breaks. I had a good friend who put in a water based active solar home heating system (northern Va). It was a nightmare.
BTW the biodiesel thing sounds great when it is just Willie Nelson and a few "earth friendly" activists doing it but how much farmland would be needed if we actually tried to replace any meaningful amount of oil? Just using the recycled grease from McDonalds wouldn't even get the employees of that store back and forth to work. These ideas do not take the scope of the probl;em into account.
#55978 - 09/11/0509:37 PMRe: Alt. Energy Systems Install
Most areas don't get enough consistent wind to make wind power practical, much less dependable. And just when it DOES get to really blowing, you have to shut the blades down to prevent damage.
We(our utility) invested in some Fuel cell tchnologies several years ago. We were supposed to get the first ones about 3 to 4 years ago and still haven't recieved one.
We did get to see a prototype a couple of years ago. This particular technology passed a hydrocarbon (in this case propane) through a proton exchange membrane to create the voltage. Trouble was, the membrane gets contaminated by the hydrocarbon (like ink through cotton, to use their analogy) and eventually (every 3 or 4 years) must be replaced at an estimated cost of approximately 30% of the original investment (which was in excess of $5000 for a 7.5 KVA unit). Plus it needed a water source for cooling.
Hopefully the technology will develop....right now it doesn't seem very viable.