Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Off Grid Power

Off Grid Power

By Jalapeno Gal77 - Tue May 22, 10:30 am

electricity_generatorDo you like the idea of reducing if not eliminating your electric bill?  There are ways to do this, but of course the electric companies don’t want you to know because then it digs into their pockets.  There are multiple ways to generate electric without having to fully rely upon some multi-billion dollar company to do this for you, so let’s talk about them.

There are different types of power generators that you can purchase or make yourself.  They all pretty much have the same purpose which is to power up something or all things in our home or business.  Gas/diesel, wood, or wind are all ways that produce electricity.

So, now that we know that, we can do a little research into Power Generators.  When I think of any type of generator, and there are many, I automatically think of money.  The first thought being, how much is this going to cost me?  The second thought is, how much will this save me?  Ultimately though, a generator is well worth it, should there be a power outage or if you want to go completely off grid for a while, but do not want the absence of electricity.  Power generators, like food storage/preservation, also allow us to have a sense of security knowing that if the power is out, we don’t have to be.

The first step you should take, when choosing a generator, is deciding what kind you need to power your home and what its purpose will be.  Knowing this is crucial, in your decision making process.

Home Generators:

home standby generatorDo you want one that will power your refrigerator, air/heat, water heater and lights?  This type of generator is known as a Home Generator and comes in 4 basic sizes ranging from 22-48 kilowatts.  To determine which size you need, you need to find out how much electricity your house consumes.  These types of generators are very pricy.  The average starting at about $8,000, and go to $15,000 or higher.  Most of these are powered with natural gas and are not intended to be used as a prime source generator for your home.  However, many people with cabins or off grid homes will use these verses paying $50,000 to have electrical lines run to their home.

Portable Generator: (PG)

portable generatorThese are typically powered with gas or fuel of some sort. They are exactly what they are called, portable.  I have found they usually come in 4 different sizes, small, medium, large, and extra-large.

A small size PG usually cost about $200 – $300 and will power up an essential appliance in the event of a power outage such as your refrigerator.  Generally speaking, they will run about 9-10 hours per gallon of gas at half load.

A medium size PG runs between $400 – $4,000 depending on the brands and functionality of the one you choose.  These can run on L.P. Gas, (Liquified Petroleum) natural gas, or gasoline.  Some only function on regular gas.  These can provide electricity for things such as light, heat, water heaters, etc.

A large size PG start at $700 and go up from there.  Most run on gasoline and will power things like, electric stoves, water heaters, lights, air/heat, and refrigerators.  Well worth it if you don’t want to be inconvenienced at all.

An Extra Large PG starts at $2000 and up.  Now my first thought here is, who would need that?  The large size seems to do all the basics for comfort right?  Then I read this and now I understand,
“Most homes in Hurricane country are powered entirely by electricity — no natural gas or propane fuel source.  Standby generators simply don’t work in these situations because they need natural gas or propane to generate electricity.

Many homeowners would like a standby generator, but they don’t want to install an unsightly propane tank in their back yard. Their only option is a portable gasoline-powered generator with a big gas tank.

The Generac GP17500E – 17,500 watt generator is the preferred choice because it’s the largest portable generator available, generating enough juice to run a 5-ton air conditioner and a bunch more appliances.” ~ Jim Baugher, Product Expert of Electric Generators Direct
While an extra-large generator is technically portable, they are also very heavy at approx 400 pounds.  So you would want to put this some place you want it to stay.My research shows that the majority of these have automatic engine shut down should it run low on oil, so make sure and keep some oil and gas on hand :) 

Towable Generators: 
towable generatorNow we are talking about some major bucks!!  It’s enough to buy a new car!  The smallest size being medium and starting at around $18,000 and the largest at approx $54,000. Big time moola here.  From what I can tell, these tow-able generators use diesel fuel and are not for your average home or person.  These are used mainly as a source of power at construction sights, oil fields, banks, and smaller commercial places that take top priority in an outage.  According to my source, they are also not the best on fuel and consume more than others due to the high uses of electricity.

Wind Power:
wind powerI am sure you have all seen those big white things in fields that look like fans.  These are a form of energy stored to produce electricity created by wind.  At Breeze High wind Generator you can purchase kits for these for $800.  These seem relatively simple to put together, but do require some professional installment.  The unit actually bolts onto the pole so there would be no welding required.

Water Wheel Electricity:
waterwheelIsn’t that picture awesome?  I love the looks of a water wheel.  A lot of people have these just for looks, but some use them for power as well.  I have to be honest, I do not understand exactly how these work, but I have found a site that has a wonderful explanation as to this wonderful wheel.  A man named Spencer Boyd designs and installs these water wheels for a living.  After speaking with him, I have come to the conclusion that these probably are not the best source of energy unless you live near huge bodies of water.  I will explain.  To power an average American home, you would need to install a 12′ Water wheel which uses 3000 gallons of water per minute to run.  Spencer also only recommends that you only install these if you live near a large body of water.  If you wanted a 6′ wheel that would use approximately 400 gallons of water per minute.   Both of these would generate some power, but not enough to be comfortable in the ways we are used to living.  I asked him about running it temporarily in a power outage situation, and he explained that you can hook it up to the generator for such needs, and unhook it when you don’t want to create power.  I would strongly advise you all to visit his site to learn more about this sort of power.  They are also not that expensive and beautiful to look at.  As far as pricing goes, you will have to ask based on your needs and what you want to do.  Me personally, I want one in my yard just for the beauty of it. :)

Solar power:
solar3The ever faithful, solar power.  But what if the sun goes out? I’m just kidding LOL.  People have relied upon the sun for power for many, many years and there are sooo many possible ways to use solar power.  Solar panels are commonly used to generate power in the homes and reduce electricity bills.  Depending on the size and style you have installed, they can run washing machines, electric stoves, lights, run dishwashers and all without using on-grid power sources.  There are many options and styles that will reduce or even eliminate a power bill.  With solar panels, you don’t have to worry about power outages in storms or other disasters.  The price for solar panels and installation varies.  Again, the package you choose would be based on your home usage of energy to decide what you would need.  It can be rather expensive, but like many other sources, in the long run it is well worth it.
Well folks, I hope this gets you interested in generators and different types of off-the-grid power.  I know it has me.  We will be looking into a few of these sources for our home soon.  AS always, feel free to leave comments or suggestions for all of us to learn from. Your input is always welcome. :)

Keepin It Spicy,
Jalapeño Gal


  1. These are all some fantastic ideas for generators. Great article on how to put other resources to use to stay off the grid.