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Winter Solar Blues

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Old 02-13-2013, 06:13 PM   #1
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Default Winter Solar Blues

The winter time up here in the North Country leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to sunlight. First of all, the lake effect from Lake Erie not only dumps feet of snow all over the place, it keeps it somewhat cloudy throughout the season. If you add the angle of the sun this time of year, at best I can expect 4-5 hours of solar at my yurt, and that is only if there is a clear sunny day.

Normally when I am up at camp, the power I use on my system is restored almost daily during the spring and summer. During the winter though, I have left for a couple weeks and when I returned, the system had not fully recharged. I finally had to rethink how I was going to manage this.

I had a 20% off coupon at Harbor Freight and after reading some reviews, I bought this very small and extremely portable gasoline powered generator:



It was on sale and with my 20% coupon, plus a two year no hassle warranty, I was able to get it for about $95. I put the link here to Amazon because HF is not everywhere, and I think you will probably get a better price if you are having it shipped to you (and you are a prime member).

I use this in conjunction with a battery charger to charge up the solar batteries before I leave camp. Yeah, it is a little inefficient to convert DC to AC and then back to DC, but this also allows me to use this generator for other tasks. It is truly portable, meaning you don't have to be as strong as an ox to carry it. It doesn't seem to care for the cold, so I leave it inside for a bit before I take it outside to start it. While I am cleaning up camp and packing up to go, I have this running and charging up the system. It runs a LONG time on 1 gallon of gas. In fact, I think I charged the system 3 times on one tank. Now when I come back to camp, the batteries are topped off with no worries for a couple days.

Just figured I would share.

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Old 02-18-2013, 07:08 PM   #2
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I have this generator and it too has worked as well as a $100 generator could. It is much louder than a small Honda inverter generator, but those are $700.
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:48 PM   #3
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I was just shocked at how long it goes on one tank (1 gallon) of gas.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Winter Solar Blues

Hi Jeff and all (just was able to get back on the forums after forgetting my password). My friend Shane was talking about this recently. He strongly encouraged me to look into wind power- I said I had thought my area (southern Maine) didn't have enough wind and HE said.. 'not in the summer..but those winter storms...' I think he makes an excellent point- sun for summer, wind for winter- I am planning an expedition to see the windmill design his friend is using- homemade blades, car alternators to generate the power- dunno, it's beyond my present skill level but it's an excellent concept. lw
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: Winter Solar Blues

I have been looking into some. We talked about possible wind turbines for a yurt in this thread. My only concern is the noise. I have heard from a few people they can be noisy. I am waiting for someone on here to try it and let me know.

Oh and welcome back!
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Winter Solar Blues

YOU TUBE has a lot of video how to for wind power and solar power. they go into great detail on some of them.

Last edited by Marshall Eppley; 04-11-2013 at 05:42 PM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:42 PM   #7
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I wonder how many of them tell you if you can hear the turbine inside your yurt lol! :P
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:23 PM   #8
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^^^ haha! funny. So what about converting a generator to run on some type of bio fuel like some people have done with vehicles? i.e. vegetable oil or grease?
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Winter Solar Blues

Here in south western ontario we run the farm on both solar and wind,according to the wind maps the hill we're on is the highest wind zone on the entire Lake Huron shore line, now we're at least 20 kms inland. The solar system was very expensive.Panels Batteries and the inverter, but it does run the main house and barn, and my yurt.The wind turbine is 2kw and was reasonably priced and have noticed no real noise, except in very high winds but the yurt isn't exactly silent when its that windy.but I've never heard the turbine over the roar of the wind. Now the first turbine we had would tip back when the wind got too strong and make a very distinct flapping sound, but it got struck by lightening and the one that replaced it does not tip out of the wind,it can take 130-140 kms(80 mph) wind.any stronger than that and noise is the least of my concerns. I've been looking into a wood gasifier to run a generator but haven't quite figured it out yet. Also looking at passive solar that you can make yourself to heat under the floor.But with research and effort getting off-grid is very do-able. Good Luck
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