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Free Power for All

If it wasn’t so sad I’d be laughing. Read up on and watch the video. It’s about ten minutes long – the unfortunate tale of an electrician who on the hunt for near free energy managed to pull a high powered solar panel out of his butt and then fired up a wind generator from two pieces of paper and a magnet. There is a follow up in covering this hoax but nonetheless how ClickBank got involved one can only wonder. I think to set matters straight we need to look first at what you need your power for. Somewhere else in Parts-Ring we covered this, possibly a leader article – I forget now.  First of all if you are planning to run your electric cooker off this home brewed contraption you may want to have a look at your supply outlet first – most house breakers have this set to about 60A or 60 Amperes (240V). With 4 plates on your electric cooker makes a nice heater – possibly around 8kW. With a 240V supply this amounts to about 32A.  Your car alternator delivers about 700W, or 0.7kW at maximum load so it really isn’t going to be of much use. Of course we could use this to charge storage cells which once fully charged could certainly deliver the power but it’s certainly not sustainable unless you install an industrial strength commercial scale wind turbine at about 5 000 U$ per kilowatt. So to run your electric cooker full blast is going to cost about 50 000 U$. Do the maths and let me know how long it will take to pay it off. On the other hand to some people, like Bill Gates and warren Buffet this is pocket change.

Well, as a penniless vagrant I have decided I’d like to see how I can save my welfare cheque and get some near free energy.  Here are some very useful links if you are planning to go the DIY way –

I like tinkering with electronics. Was in the garage just now, had an old 200W amplifier which was given to me in pieces. I bought some components to replace the faulty units, did some soldering around the power supply, boxed the unit up after checking for shorts etc and switched on. The power LED came on. As I was about to measure the voltages on the output transistors the power LED went out. No shorts but the fuse had blown. No smell and no smoke. Of course when I purchased the parts I forgot to get spare fuses. Isn’t it a pity that those DIY hardware shps don’t keep glass fuses? Auto fuses aplenty – but no glass fuses. I’m not going to drive around looking for staore that’s open on a Saturday afternoon.  Put in memo pad – open DIY store which sells glass fuses. For retirement maybe.

Next, the gas versus electrical heater competition. Gas wins handsdown. In heat only. Even with our soaring electricity prices (South Africa) my calculations are that has works out to about three times the price. Of course I compared both with three panels of the gas heater on compared to an oil 2kW electrical heater set to maximum heat.  Personally I don’t care, electrical heaters are great for sunny days – blow heaters are way better but gas is king, next to the tried and trusty coal or wood fire. Good wood costs about U$7.00 a bag in South Africa, consisting of about 20 pieces. The irony is that wood comes from Namibia. I’ll burn four bags over a week-end when it’s storming so gas beats wood in price. So, maximum heat from wood then gas then electric. Cheapest price, electriciy, then gas then wood.  I hope this puts reader query into perspective.  I read somewhere that the three panel gas heaters running on a 9Kg bottle use about 100mg of LPG per hour per panel. Sounds about right. (Ed’s note: Graham does not have a reverse-cycle A/C in case you are wondering).

Last, the solar panel versus wind turbine competition. Per watt wind turbines beat solar energy. That’s about where it ends. Mechanical stress, wear and tear, requiring wind etc just doesn’t cut the mustard. Don’t forget about the noise. Solar of course you may have a problem when the sun sets or very dark days. I’m against wind though – solar power is my favourite after hydroelectric but most people don’t have the space for a hydroelectric installation. Rather then go nuclear – pocket sized. In all seriousness it’s time solar power started dropping in price. Although over the years there has been a substantial drop in pricing per watt I still feel that someone somewhere is raking in big profits. It’s unfortunate to have to spend thousands of dollars to get just enough energy to run a small house.

Interesting forum:

Graham McKay


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