Renewable Energy Options for Your Homestead

Whether your property is off-the-grid or grid-tied, you can downsize your dependence on fossil fuels with these innovative renewable energy options for your farm or homestead.


| June/July 2014



Pole Mounted Solar

A pole-mounted solar array sited in a sunny spot provides off-grid power to this homestead in Amery, Wisconsin.


Photo courtesy Resilient Northern Habitats

Running a small farm or homestead takes a lot of effort, but a world of labor-saving devices out there can make life simpler without consuming fossil fuels. One of the reasons many homesteaders decide to go off-grid is to become independent of a vastly inefficient energy system, and to take greater control of their carbon footprints. Solar, wind, microhydro, biofuels and even human power offer the means to use clean, renewable sources of energy to complete your tasks without having to sacrifice convenience.

You don’t have to be an off-gridder to share in the good fortune, either — most everything compiled in the categories here can be used without a commitment to off-grid living. You just may be surprised by how many tools, devices, utensils and implements exist as alternatives to the mainstream, fossil-fuel-powered choices we’re all so accustomed to.

Solar Power on the Farm

Solar photovoltaic prices are dropping by about 10 percent per year, and as the economic and environmental costs of conventional power rise, so, too, does the lure of solar energy. At a current installed cost of less than $3 per watt with a 50-year life span, electricity powered by the sun offers electricity without poles, wires or monthly bills.

Portable solar generators. Perfect as a source of emergency electricity and made in sizes from several hundred watts to more than 3,000, portable power stations can provide 120-volt alternating current (AC) and 12-volt direct current (DC) electricity on remote locations in one compact package. Portable solar generators come with one or more PV modules, an inverter and built-in battery storage. For the DIY-inclined, Well WaterBoy Products offers a plan to build your own 160-watt solar cart.

Sources: Earthtech Products; Silicon Solar; Well WaterBoy Products

Solar gate openers. Often radio-controlled, heavy-duty solar-powered gate openers can operate more than 200 cycles per day, and some are sold as do-it-yourself kits. The Mighty Mule E-Z Gate Opener by GTO Access Systems controls gates up to 850 pounds and 18 feet long. The opener draws a maximum of 5 amps from a 12-volt, 7-amp-hour gel-cell battery, rechargeable from a 5-watt solar module or an AC outlet.

jason
4/12/2015 1:20:25 PM

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mark goldes
10/27/2014 2:01:59 PM

POWER - OPPORTUNITY (Potentially Independent of Utilities) AESOP is prototyping alternative power – Fuel-Free Engines able to run 24/7 on atmospheric heat (an unrecognized, huge, solar energy resource). Substantial information about this hard-to-believe technology is available at www.aesopinstitute.org AESOP pursues cutting edge, breakthrough technology. As such, we are viewed with skepticism by conventional science. So much so, that we are being viciously attacked by a Troll ranting fraud and dishonesty. However, the AESOP website presents our science. My bio is also on the website. We are seeking $100,000 to complete engine prototypes. These engines have the potential for 24/7 power independent of utilities. Loans to the non-profit AESOP Institute can be converted (if desired) into equity in a new Company, AESOP Energy LLC. Anyone lending $5,000 or more will get a Limited Edition Desktop Engine as a bonus. The world’s first Fuel-Free Engines could become very valuable. An APPLE-1 recently sold for $905,000 in an auction. 1,000 watt Fuel-Free generators that run 24/7 could be in production as soon as next year. These engines are a potential insurance policy for folks who wish to operate independent of utilities. Questions? Give me a call. Thanks, Mark Goldes CEO, AESOP Institute 707 861-9070


audreyl
6/17/2014 2:04:16 PM

Installing a residential wind turbine has been a great option for us, and one of the factors that was important for us was the ability to link it to a solar array. We picked the Pika wind turbine (http://www.pika-energy.com/products/home-wind-turbine/) in part because of its microgrid technology that lets us run a hybrid of wind and solar on one system. Since we installed the system in our field 9 months ago, the mix of wind and sun has produced 400 kWh of energy per month on average.


audreyl
6/17/2014 2:03:53 PM

Installing a residential wind turbine has been a great option for us, and one of the factors that was important for us was the ability to link it to a solar array. We picked the Pika wind turbine (http://www.pika-energy.com/products/home-wind-turbine/) in part because of its microgrid technology that lets us run a hybrid of wind and solar on one system. Since we installed the system in our field 9 months ago, the mix of wind and sun has produced 400 kWh of energy per month on average.


upnorthmn
5/20/2014 8:33:40 AM

Don't buy battery operated tools and equipment unless you really have to. You'll find that in a few years they are going to be worthless as not to be able to find replacement batteries.






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