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InvisibletrendalM
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Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas
    #2879377 - 07/11/04 09:52 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I've been talking to a few of you about this lately, and toying with the idea for some time now. Well I think it's about time we get some actual plans in order!

I'd like to try organizing this as a Shroomery project, as I know we have plenty of bright and innovative minds here!

Purpose: To design an "off-grid" house which is 100% self-sufficient. Systems should be as close to 100% efficiency as possible (of course 100% efficiency is impossible, but there's no harm in going for 99% efficiency in all energy conversions/transport!). The sole exception for grid connection will be a communications system (phone, internet, ect).

Hypothesis: Through carefully balancing energy needs with energy production capabilities, I think it will be possible to run a house with completely natural energy sources (non-polluting!!!)

Guidelines: All systems should be easily obtainable and, if at all possible, use simple construction that is fairly inexpensive. All systems should also be maintainable by a minimum number of operators (personally I'm going for a single operator). This includes the ability to repair systems on-site.


Now, I know there is plenty of information about this type of thing out there...and plenty of people already doing it! I'm not looking for links to ready-made houses, so please keep those to a minimum (or not at all, if possible). I'm hoping for some new ideas and innovations, here! :smile:


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2879381 - 07/11/04 09:53 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

This is a basic energ need/production list I have started:

Generation Capacity:
-wind
-water
-solar
-geothermal
-fuel-cell system
-battery backup/buffering system
-electronic control system (also falls under consumption, obviously)

Electrical Usage:
-heating (water, indoor environment)
-lighting (NO incandescent bulbs!!!)
-cooking (minimal required!!!)
-sanitation (pumps, water reclamation)
-water supply (pumps)
-electronics equipment ("recreational" - computer, video, ect)
-operations electronics (essentials, including computerized control system)
-losses in distribution system (MINIMIZE THIS!!!)
-communications systems (phone, satellite, internet)

Conservation Systems:
-heat exchangers
-minimal water usage with possible onsite recycling
-maximized thermal insulation
-passive systems
-GO FOR MAXIMUM CONVERSION EFFICIENCY IN ALL SYSTEMS!!!! (>90% efficiency possible?)


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2879395 - 07/11/04 09:59 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

What I'm trying to do right now (step 1) is calculate the minimum possible energy usage I could live with, and then figure out a scaling factor for multiple occupants. Once we know the minumum usage, we can plan a generation system to meet these needs (plus at least a small overhead). As I am going for maximal efficiency I am looking at alternates to the usual lighting/heating systems used in most houses as they are VERY inefficient. All computer systems should be based on the lowest possible power consumption (laptops only!!!).


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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InvisibleEvolving
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2879486 - 07/11/04 10:28 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Here's an interesting and inexpensive windmill design that can be built with off the shelf items. It could be used for pumping water or perhaps small power generation (?). I am contemplating buying the plans and seeing how it works out. Instead of one large windmill, I thought of a battery (or grid) of smaller windmills, each with one having it's own generator (such as an automotive alternator/generator) and circuit breakers to isolate it from the grid in case of a power surge. If you were to use just one large windmill and it experienced failure of some kind, you would be out of wind power generation. With multiple small generators, you also have more flexibility for servicing.

Grey Water Central has some good information and books you can purchase which will help you design a grey water system.

UnderGroundHousing.com provides concepts for inexpensive/energy efficient housing. This is another idea which intrigues me, but since I have a home already it remains just a curiosity. However, it might provide useful ideas for your purposes.


--------------------
To call humans 'rational beings' does injustice to the term, 'rational.'  Humans are capable of rational thought, but it is not their essence.  Humans are animals, beasts with complex brains.  Humans, more often than not, utilize their cerebrum to rationalize what their primal instincts, their preconceived notions, and their emotional desires have presented as goals - humans are rationalizing beings.


Edited by Evolving (07/11/04 10:38 PM)


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: Evolving]
    #2879507 - 07/11/04 10:38 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I definitely like the collection of smaller mills idea! I was also thinking of a fairly simple windmill design utilizing an automotive generator if possible. Also a good idea to have each circuit isolated! I'm sure we could also design a small computerized controller for a wind generation system to distribute the load amongst the generators evenly and isolate failures.


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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OfflineHooty
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2879982 - 07/12/04 12:31 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I've been running this idea around in my head for quite some time now and was delighted to see some other members of the shroomery trying to put thoughts into action. I'm just now getting to the point where I'm interested to the point of research, and would be glad to help with this project in any way I can.


--------------------


Without love in the dream
It will never come true


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OfflineHooty
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: Hooty]
    #2880036 - 07/12/04 12:47 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I don't know if you guys have seen them before, the lighting tubes that focus and direct sunlight from the roof during the day to light rooms. Here's a link:
http://www.sun-tek.com/Docs/ArticleDaylighting.htm

These would mean you only had to light the house during the night (for the most part) and would save a lot of energy.

And if you were say using the underground housing like evolving mentioned in his post they would help with the problems caused by innability to have light from windows. The only thing is, and this just occured to me, is that it would probably be hard to supply light using these to the bottom level of a house, and this would be the part of an underground house that would most need them, as in most of the plans I've seen part of the top layer is above ground. But if you would somehow put columns in the top layer rooms, that would look like support columns, you could probably run the tubes through those and supply the bottom level. Just a thought.


--------------------


Without love in the dream
It will never come true


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: Hooty]
    #2880042 - 07/12/04 12:50 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Well let's first try to get a list together of the essential energy requirements for a "comfortable" living. In general I'm thinking we would need heat, water, light, and sanitation. Heating of course may not be needed in some parts of the world...but I live in Canada so I'm going to include it in my list :wink:

Now we should come up with a list of the specific energy requirements for each of these "essentials" using current low-energy methods. Add these together and we will have the specific energy requirements for essentials - not including any improvements we can make or conservation systems - and we can proceed from there with trying to find the lowest possible energy requirements (this time including improvements/conservations) for essentials. That should at least give us a rough idea of what we should look at for energy generation.

I'm thinking we could break it down into something like this (with various ideas for each item):

Environmental (heating/cooling):
-forced air systems (most common, here, are natural-gas fired forced air furnaces)
-passive solar heating
-floor/wall heating (tubing embedded in the floor and/or walls which would have a liquid pumped through it - the issue then becomes the energy requirement of the pumping and heating of the liquid)
-standard "radiator" style heating (either electric or pumped liquid/steam)

Water supply:
(in nearly all cases I think the energy requirements here depend on the pumping system used)
-surface water such as streams, lake, ect
-rainwater with collection system (may be too unreliable)
-groundwater (probably the most energy intensive for pumping, unless an adequate positive-flow spring can be found nearby)

Waste-management:
-septic tank (VERY energy efficient, possibly even not requiring any energy at all)
-passive filter system (using a biologic approach: bacteria could be used to process waste before mechanical filtration)
-active filtration system (probably the most energy intensive)

Cooking:
-this will probably be the hardest system to design with energy efficiency in mind...as heating food generally requires a LARGE ammount of energy. I'm not sure of any other way to do this other than open fire or electric heating (other than a microwave, which is still VERY inefficient, about 30%)

In all cases it might be very beneficial to combine several different approaches into one system. Heating, for example, could rely on passive solar heating during the daytime and switch over to electric heating at night. It would probably be a good idea to tie all systems together so that heat produced by all systems is reclaimed and used for other purposes rather than have it escape as "heat pollution". A septic system may be the cheapest (with reguards to energy use) way to go for waste management, but it is terribly wasteful with the water supply. I would rather find a way to reclaim as much water as possible with a waste-filtration system of some sort.


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: Hooty]
    #2880049 - 07/12/04 12:52 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I've seen those light-tube systems before, yes! I definitely want to incorporate them somehow into the system, and it would be VERY easy to use fiber-optics as the transport for the light. Fiber-optics are extremely flexible so it should be easy to route the light anywhere in the house that you need it, even to the basement!


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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Invisiblezeta
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2880206 - 07/12/04 01:31 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

This would be so much easier in a geothermal area


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OfflineHooty
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: zeta]
    #2880326 - 07/12/04 02:01 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I really think the underground housing idea would alleviate many of our heating and cooling problems...even in the great white north.


--------------------


Without love in the dream
It will never come true


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Offlinepsikooz
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Project Conception/Ideas [Re: Hooty]
    #2880640 - 07/12/04 03:28 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

This is comes from the musrhoom.

Every see lord of the rings? Very deep messages from that movie.

The shire is a commune!

My dream is to live 100% self sufficient from the american economy. It all starts with this right here. To build a self sufficient house. once you do that, you can expand and move onto food.

Underground is the best idea for solving heating and cooling, like said above. Lights can be candles, or lamp. The should be "solar fields". Areas Full of solar panels that absorb and store energy. Solar fields, combines with wind mills is a great idea.

AS far as the internet goes, thats a tough one, i think when this all happends, the internet will not exist, nor will television.
Music will allways be with us.

lets figure this out

peace and love.


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InvisibleautomanM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2880689 - 07/12/04 03:38 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

tren, first off we need a location. many of our designs will be location dependant. take windmills for example. most mills need 7mph winds to get everything turning. most places dont have a constant 7mph wind, so generation would be speradic at best.

to be totally suficient, i believe the best was would to mix 19th century and 21st century design.

first thing would be to find a location. imo, it's better to just find a location you like and design around it. that way, you wont just find the best energy location. you actually find a spot you WANT to live. so, i will design for a location i am interested in.

i want a small place in eastern british columbia at the foot of the rocky mountains. this place would be next to a mid-sized creek. i would cut, what i call, a cascading water wheel design, meaning: dig a pool on the side of the hill, off that is a flume that leads over a water wheel into another pond, which leads down a flume, over a water wheel, into another pool, etc. that way, given enough length down the hill, you wouldnt need any major generators. you could go with less expensive alternator style gens that way. just find the minimum number of peak watts and add 10% for "just-in-case" watts. at the end of the "cascading water wheel" run, just return the water to the creek.

as for batteries, i wouldnt use them. they are so expensive, need to be replaced after "X" amount of recharges, and not really needed if you add a margin of "just-in-case" watts to your final numbers. as long as the creek doesnt dry up, (which is a rarety on spring feed mountain creeks) you should always have continuous power.

now for house design, heating, and light. i agree with the above posts that a subterranium home would be most efficient, but for my design it would be totally inefficient. the reason being that i will be living off a mountain stream. to put the home far enough away to be away from the water table and snow melt water runs, i would lose too much power importing the generated power. (the closer you are to the gens, the less power you lose due to wire runs.) i would opt for a stilt system so i could get as close to the creek as possible. for heating and cooling, i would opt for a more traditional design. since i will be in B.C., cooling isnt really a problem. just build the house so that you can open large sections of it to nature and natural wind. as for heating, i would build a loft style cabin, meaning that the sleep platform would be as close to the ceiling as possible. a wood stove would supply heat. i would also build a connected room/building for cooking. that way i could use a wood stove to cook food without having to worry about supplying too much heat to the main cabin during summer months.

in my design, my main souce of used power is a deep freezer for meat and veggie storage. as a naturalist, i have a problem with hunting for sport, but not for food. during spring, fall, and summer, fish should be easily attainable from the creek. as for the rest of the year and for a once a week deal during the warm months, a moose, for example can dress out to over 1000lbs. if 2 people are living in the cabin, they could each eat up to 3/4 of a pound of moose meat (which is delicious) a day and still only have to kill 1 moose a year... not to mention the deer and elk that are in the area. a small garden and pressure cooker for canning (which will run off the wood stove) can supply food for the rest of the year.

as for light at night. i am a huge fan of candles and oil lamps, but energy should be sufficient for a few fluros for the kitchen or whatever.

the water heater would probably be wood heated and gravity fed. just start the fire 30 minutes before you want to take a shower. the waste system would be a creek fed gravity system that goes to a septic tank. no power is used here.

that is how i invision my self sufficient home. any thoughts?

:edited for spelling:


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: automan]
    #2881711 - 07/12/04 12:24 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

The only problem I have with wood heating is the possible environmental impact (I know it will be small...) involved with burning anything. I'm also confident that I could come up with a much more efficient way of producing heat with electricity and passive solar heating.


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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InvisibleautomanM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2882420 - 07/12/04 03:51 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

The only problem I have with wood heating is the possible environmental impact (I know it will be small...) involved with burning anything.




fire is not bad for the environment. quite the opposite is true. also, for every tree i cut down for fire, i would plant 2. it must not be too terrible an idea.... i worked for 10000 years :P


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Offlinedaba
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2884799 - 07/13/04 04:21 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I discussed this with you in IRC, but I'll state it here as well, trendal.

I think the most efficient and convinient (perhaps even the most practical) way of solving your electricity, heating, and water needs is a watermill type design. Skylights always add heat and extra beauty to a home.

One installment I remember my old neighbors built was a large amount of solar panels mounted on their rooftop. I believe this has become quite popular.


--------------------
Fold for The Shroomery!


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2887150 - 07/13/04 08:22 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I'm looking at an idea right now (and may build a small prototype in the next few weeks) for a combined solar-heated thermosiphon and stirling engine to drive a couple alternators.

Details to come...


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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Invisiblefunkymonk
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: trendal]
    #2887259 - 07/13/04 08:53 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Lighting inside the house: SolaTube
And for cooking, solar cooking is the only way to go. Solar oven, Solar Grill. it's now hard Solar Cooking


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InvisibleautomanM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: automan]
    #2895119 - 07/16/04 12:03 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

i wonder how hard it would be to build a closed system boiler style generator that uses steam to spin a turbine. like the system on nuclear submarines, but using wood as the heat source.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Living Off the Grid - Stage 1: Project Conception/Ideas [Re: automan]
    #2895276 - 07/16/04 12:34 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Not hard at all, I would think. The hardest part would be designing and building an efficient turbine, I think.


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
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