Tuesday, November 24, 2009

(7) Energy

     Lighting is easy.  I use kerosene lamps and make my own candles.  Maintenance is easy and cost per hour is cheap.  I also have two Mag flashlights.  One, a small  2 cell AA, I have had for twenty five years and a larger five cell I have had for about fifteen years both work extremely well and use little energy especially since I converted the small one to a LED bulb a couple of years ago, purchased from Walmart at a reasonable cost.  Now, the batteries, (this current set) have been in over a year and it provides very good illumination. 
     I love music and this is a bit of a problem as batteries are expensive.  Recharge-ables are nice but don't last as long.  I have a satellite radio which is perfect.  Operates on eight D cells or ac power.  The sound is phenomenal and I can plug in the IPOD.   Under battery power I get about three hours use for the price of eight batteries.  Using recharge-ables (much more expensive, initial outlay) less operating time plus the fact of needing a place to recharge.  I could run my tiny generator but there is more wear and tear and fuel cost.
     Where I live solar power is not viable nor is wind power.  We get plenty of both but living deep in the woods, most of either never reach me.  The cost would be very high to install enough wind or solar to harness the amount I need.  The answer; don't listen to as much music or listen less often as a real treat.  I don't really like that idea but it is the best cost effective way I can think of.  However, I have a small Grundig multi-band radio that works very well and is very easy on power usage.  Six AA's last for weeks but I lose sound quality and do not have the benefit of plugging in the IPOD.  Simplify.  Get rid of the IPOD!  The multi-band is smaller in size and needs less space.  Guess it is time to sell the satellite radio.  Anybody interested in a good deal? 
     That covers my energy needs inside my tiny cabin.  Outside I rely on my tiny generator to power any tools that need electrical power to operate.  That is not often.
     I brought an old table saw to the woods and plugged it into my tiny generator.  It was sluggish but I managed to saw up two burning days worth of small fallen branches and small dead trees in two hours.  No splitting needed.  The wood is free and the fuel cost was a quart of mixed gas.  I think a smaller electric motor that draws less amps would solve the sluggishness.  A lot easier than a noisy chainsaw and easier on my old back. 
     I have an old gas powered pump.  I think a project will be to remove the pump housing and install a pully to the pto shaft then fix the engine to the tablesaw with a hinged setup to keep the belt tight.  All of this can be fitted to wheels and frame so I can pull the unit around without lifting the heavy mass.  This will provide enough power to the saw blade and again be less strain on my back.  The motor will run severals on a small tank of gas.


  1. I use my 1kW gas generator to charge a couple of 12V deep cycle batteries, and run everything off of the batteries. The idea is similar to a hybrid car. Gas generators are inefficient if you're just drawing a small amount of current. It's more efficient if you draw a lot of power from the generator for a short period of time, store the power in a deep cycle battery, then use the deep cycle battery to charge smaller batteries. The downside is cost, since you'd need a deep cycle battery and a charge controller.

    On the other hand, "simplify" is also a great solution :-)

  2. I gotta agree with Ryo (mr Laptop and a Rifle). A good marine deep cycle battery can be picked up at most major automotive or discount retaiers for about $70, and can easily provide a few days worth of power for such meager needs. Charge at home with a plug in charger for your trips.

    And the north shore of that pond of yours is at least one good place to put some solar. If it's a bit of a hike, you can always just use two batteries and swap them out every day or two.

  3. Thanks for the input. With twenty years living aboard sailboats, I have tried all of the various methods of alternative power, including deep cycle batteries and controlers and inverters and they worked great but cost was intense. My last boat was as basic as one could get and I spent more time enjoying the water than "wrenching" on gear, if you know what I mean. I am still considering solar albeit in the back of my mind. I truly appreciate the comments. Thanks. -Rick