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  • Alternative Energy

    I've been wondering about some alternative energy for my home. Photovoltaic panels, solar water heat, wind, you name it. Anyone had any luck with anything? I'd obviously like to do it DIY if at all possible. I live in town in Grand Rapids, MI so I'm sure my options will be limited.

  • #2
    Energy issues.....

    Hi, musicteacher. I'm not far from you in south Jackson County. About 5 or 6 years ago I did a bit of research on this. Contacted several of our state reps and senators. Did not get even one reply to my request for help in garnering information. There's a LOT of info on the net. I eventually settled on an outside wood burner. Although it does a fantastic job in keeping this large old home warm, it does have the down side in that I'm a slave to it. No matter if the back hurts, it's raining, lots of snow, whatever, I have to feed that baby! It costs about an hour of cutting, splitting and stacking to equal a week's worth of heat. I'd do geothermal if I had to do it again. Also looked into the wing generator. I like the newer vertical bladed units that are coming together. They take much less room, and are far friendlier to the feathered friends. A great resource site is Alternative Renewable Energy. lots of good info there.


    • #3
      Site info...

      Forget about using that info site. It's ot worth beans. Used to be good, but no more. Sorry,.


      • #4
        I've been researching solar a lot and have always wanted to do geo thermal when we get our home but be prepared to put up a lot of money up front. The best places for solar are the western states especially AZ. When you get up to the eastern area's you have to have much larger solar systems. I think for a grid-tie system that would cover like 75-90% of my electrical needs it would probably end up costing 50k or so in panels and installation. I have to do more research and see if there is anything I can do my self to cut back costs. I think after I get done remodeling I may take out an equity loan to install a solar system though. I'd love to do geothermal at the same time but that's another 30-40k dollars to install not to mention digging up your entire yard if you have the space or are allowed to even do it in your area.


        • #5
          Just research a bit on net and I am sure you will be able to get many examples where people have done such kind of work by themselves only and also spending very less amount on that.

          So just research and you will come to know about this.


          • #6
            You may want to search a bit for "home wind turbines" and "rooftop wind turbines" if you'd like to go this route instead of solar.


            • #7
              Check out this product, made entirely in the USA. New technology requires a 20' pole which aleviates the problems of many currect solutions.

              check out



              • #8
                Sorry to bring up such an old post, but I am also looking for alternatives. Have a 5500 sq ft building with 22' high ceilings (hangar). The morons that built it installed twin electric furnaces; when it is cold (gets below zero here) the electric bill is enormous. I've had to set the thermostats to 40 just to survive financially (I'd turn it off but the building has a wet sprinkler system).

                I'm thinking the best solution is solar hot water. I have plenty of area around the building or even on the roof for the collectors and plenty of room inside for a storage tank. We have lots of sun; NW New Mexico.

                Anyone got a good source for this stuff or any idea what the cost might be?

                Any other good ideas? Anyone know about green grants that might be available? This is for a non-profit orginization.



                • #9
                  Heat sources....

                  I've found water left in a regular green garden hose, when left in the sun, comes out VERY hot until the spigot water takes it's turn. My plan is to use the thick wall PE tubing that's often used for domestic supply from well to house to heat the domestic water system through the summer. I live in south central Michigan, by the way. The plan is to make four spirals on four 4' x 4' sections that run in series. The water entering the first spiral would pass to the second and so on. This sends it through about 600 linear feet of black PE and would come out VERY hot at the end. Running it through a heat exchanger at the domestic heaters would provide all the hot water we need during the summer. I have an outside wood burner that's used throughout the year. It's dialed to minimum for the summer, but is dialed to max in the winter to provided house heat and the domestic hot water. I'd like to eliminate the wood burning during spring and summer months. A small water pump on that system would keep the water flowing providing a super supply of heat. Although it gets cold where you are, do you have much snow, too?


                  • #10
                    Solar to heat 5,000 odd feet is going to be expensive to set up, current grants from both state and federal add up to about 30% depending on state and sometimes power company grant amounts.
                    Is the hanger insulated in any way ?
                    Have you considered slow combustion stoves, wood or pellet burning.
                    Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
                    Every day is a learning day.