Instructables
Picture of Home built solar power system
Hi. I've been interested in renewables for a while now. Our society can't continue to work on oil, and with rising gas prices and more frequent power outages, solar energy seems to be the way to go. The main problem that inspired me to make this system comes from my love of technology. When my iPhone and laptop run out of juice, my life becomes very primitive. With the goal of keeping all my electronics up and running no matter what the weather and grid status is the main reason I made this system and instructable. This is my system and how it functions. I'll start with the original setup and show how it has evolved over time.
 
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Step 1: The Original setup

My original setup started off with a 10 watt panel I built myself from some cells I found off of eBay. These were the tougher CIGS cells rather than monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The cell was originally rated at 15 watts but because of all the inefficient soldered connections (I wasn't that great at soldering yet), it made about 10 watts. Each black square is one cell that makes approx. 5 volts. The voltage was combined in series to create around 20 volts, and then the amperage was adjusted with wiring the strings of 20 volts into parallel. I'm not really going to go in a crazy amount of detail because this is explained on hundreds of other instructables. This amount of power is ideal for maybe some DC lights and charging cell phones. It's not nearly enough for even my laptop. The inverter would whine and the adapter on my laptop would begin to buzz. Probably not a good sign!
*Note* The third picture to this step is a quickly drawn schematic of how everythig in this system currently works. It will help with trying to understand the basic function of the system if you are new to solar for simplicity. I'll try to include a schematic after every major change to clarify.
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Make your own solar pannel..

How To Make Your Own Solar Panels

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http://goo.gl/DQGO0Y

rush_elixir4 months ago

Very nicely done. I didn't know at first that this is much simpler to build a solar power system. thank you very much for posting. God bless

jackwp6 months ago

I lived off the grid for 26 years, using a similar setup (just a bit bigger). Now I am on the grid, and I use a small grid-tie inverter rather than voltage controllers, batteries, and inverters. It seems to be a great savings if you are on the grid. Of course, I still use my solar panels !

I like this solar stuff allot. You keep updating your systems and for us novices it would be help if you placed a price tage on the new stuff you add. Doesn't have to be exact just what you paid would give us all a better idea of the cost. Thanks Grandpablabe
john33471 year ago
In your drawing on the last slide, you show two negative wires - or circuits - with a fuse in them. Why is the negative side fused and the positive side only has the one fuse at the battery positive? Shouldn't all these fuses be in the positive run?
Macattacku1 year ago
I seem to be the only one to know this(no one else seems to comment on it). But a 3 stage charger is not good for a loaded system. If you are drawing power from the battery while its in absorbtion it will confuse the charge controller into thinking that the battery isnt charged. Absorbtion hold voltage constant and watchs the amperage until it falls low indicating full charge. If the system is loaded it senses that alot of current is still flowing and its not fully charged. This will lead to boiling and overcharging. In a loaded solar system it should always be a 2 stage charger with just bulk and float. This protects the battery. Although as you stated before a 2 stage charger would waste a little more power when its in float but it will prevent accidental overcharge. In an unloaded system such as for emergencies only a 3 stage system would work best but that is not the case here. By using a 3 stage charger you will have to fill it with water more often and drastically shorten the life of your battery.
wolfgang641 year ago
I have just favorited you. your work is very interesting. Have ever played with gell cell sealed batteries? They have the advantage of being able to be taken down to zero and come back quickly. I have rolled dune buggies with these as back ups and with 30 watts of solar got the winch working well enough to right it and start.
wolfgang641 year ago
This space is really about experimenting ,learning, and having conversations for new possibilties. there may be some waste in the learning curve but it keep others from making the same mistakes over again.
wolfgang641 year ago
Yes let's please put this one to rest once and for all,in the 1910s to the 30s Battery bodies were made out of hardwood. especially Henry Ford's model Ts and tractors. His thinking, It's on rubber tires so who cares it's insulated anyway. Remember electric start was a bonus because these vehicles all had handcrank starters.
Paul Janes1 year ago
Thanks for the post. Home made solar panel is an amazing and important thing.....
I want to make one like that and for that searched over the internet
And then find a Homemade Solar Panels Blog ...
Where an engineer gives tips how to make homemade solar panels..
MacOSJoey (author)  Paul Janes1 year ago
Everyone who is reading this, I just want to say from my own personal experience (which you can see in my instructable) that websites like the homemade solar panels blog mentioned in Paul Janes' post are PURE LIES!!! Being that I made a solar panel myself, I will tell you straight out that it's work. Working every evening in my free time, it took me 2 WEEKS to build a 15 watt panel. This is a minuscule amount of power compared to what an extremely energy efficient home uses. Now imagine building 3000 watts worth of panels? Sure, it is cheaper, but who really has that kind of time?

There are many benefits to buying panels. The most important is being that they typically have a nice 20 to 25 year warranty that protects just about everything. Home made panels? They can't possibly survive that long because they aren't sealed in a vacuum in 99.9% dust free conditions with zero moisture. Not to say that you can't build a very nice solar panel that will last for a very long time, but for the amount of time and energy it takes to make them, it's just not economical.

Companies like the one mentioned are scams. They get you to invest big bucks into their cells only for you to find out that youll never complete all the panels.

So, to end this ramble, I would suggest to all of you that want to build solar panels (and I'd encourage anyone to build one in order to fully understand how these things work, or if they need a very small amount of power), but be aware that building them yourself is not the way to lower your electric bill.

For some REAL information about building solar panels, take a look at http://mdpub.com/solar/index.html . This was the general template I used to build mine, and its still running after two years in the sun!
batman962 years ago
Good instructable!
I have that same volt meter! Got it for 12 dollars, my favorite tool too.
Where did you get that volt meter? What is the make/model? I really like it. Seems like a simple way to monitor things passively.
I got mine at my local Walmart, in the automotive section.
MacOSJoey (author)  bfarr-gaynor1 year ago
I got it from Northern tool I think. It was only about 10 bucks. It has a nice rubber casing over it (because we all know it's going to be dropped from time to time). I tried looking for it on their website, but I couldn't find it... I wonder if its discontinued...
MacOSJoey (author)  batman962 years ago
Yea, I love that meter. Only thing is the amp meter part just broke. Checked the fuse and it was fine. But for the price, who cares?
Did you test over 10 amps?
The DC 10 amp part is not fused, only the miliamp part is fused.
MacOSJoey (author)  batman962 years ago
Ahhh. Now I see. Guess I shot the amp reading part. Still is very accurate for voltage, though. I'll have to pick up another one from harbor frieght.. I was wondering what gave in it. Now I know. Thanks!
im a beginner but do you think if you put a schlotzsky diode on the positive out put of the solar panel and then connected it to some type of capacitor whos voltage is well over the max out put of the solar panel voltage and then hook a resistor to the capacitor to bring the voltage down to a voltage that the charge controller can handle do you think this would make the voltage completely stable to the controllers without any voltage fluctuation and maybe the controllers wont burn out?
MacOSJoey (author)  jack.spigack2 years ago
The controllers don't burn out. They're designed to handle the 20+ volts from the solar panel. When the entire system is connected, the solar panel can "see" the battery, and it's voltage is limited to slightly above the battery's voltage (That's how all charging sources work. The battery will pull down the voltage until it's slightly above). Since the solar panel is still making the same amount of power, it trades voltage for amperage. For example, open circuit, my 100 watt panel makes 5 amps @ 20 volts, or 100 watts (5*20) or about 8.5 amps @ 12 volts. Either way you put it, the output is exactly the same. The only reason my first controller burned out was due to poor design and over complexity. All my other Xantrex controllers are running fine.

ALL solar panels come with a diode built in. Otherwise, during the night the panel will pull electricity backwards, discharging the battery.

Would your idea work? Yes. It would be a good way to limit voltage. The only problem I could see is when the panel becomes shaded or as the sun sets. That's why the controllers are made and designed to take such a range. My Xantrex C35 is capable of regulating voltage from 12 - 55 volts. WAY more than I would ever really think of putting into a 12v system. And by the time the sun sets, it's not really worth all the effort and losses just to gain a couple more watts.

Thanks for commenting, and good luck!

I really hate to disagree with you about all solar panels coming with blocking diodes. I have a pair here that do not have blocking diodes built into them. How ever all quality charge controllers have blocking diodes built into them.
hassman2 years ago
Solar energy is the infinitely available and easily accessible source of energy that anyone can utilize. Technology development and man's unstoppable desires have made solar energy available for many residential as well as commercial uses.

Electricians Perth.
duggerpato2 years ago
Actually, if solar were the way to go, society would have done it by now. The problem is, to make all these renewable products, you need vast amounts of oil too (to make them) and the batteries are all toxic disposal problems by themselves.

That said, if I weren't renting I'd have built a solar system for my house by now. It's still expensive to do, but as you said, the world can't just keep going the way it is. I think it is more rational to accept that all renewable energy should ben combined with oil products, to definitely converse more energy consumption without having to pay half your salary for it. I'm looking forward to the day that happens in some small degree. Good instructable.
MacOSJoey (author)  duggerpato2 years ago
I agree with you on some points, and disagree on others. The idea with solar panels is that you make enough off of oil to start making more through solar. The future for the renewable energy industry does not rely solely on everyone having an off-grid system and toxic batteries. The entire utility grid needs to adopt this style. If everyone were to have panels on their roof pumping juice directly into the grid, there would be no loss from batteries. It would be much more efficient and probable.

You were very specific about solar, but solar is NOT the 100% solution to our problems. The only way our entire grid system as we know it could function is with a giant hybrid system of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. During the day humans use the most electricity. That is also when solar production is at its highest. During the night, the rapid change in temperature causes more wind, all of which can help compensate the night load. Hydro and geothermal are extremely reliable 24/7 resources. PLUS... in the United States, the east coast has sun before the west, and the west has it longer than the east. If our grid system could go from coast to coast, you could essentially have 8 hours of constant solar input per day around the country. In the end, the only reason we still would need oil is so the fat cats who own oil reserves can make a few million a year.

As you said, it is expensive, but if gas prices can take another hit, we can expect the price per watt to fall to $1. That's something very promising and reasonable.
Don't believe the hype that solar would have been adopted by now it it made financial sense. The original funding of fossil fuel and nuclear far surpasses what "green" power receives now. so basically you have the upstart trying to battle the entrenched establishment. That is always a hard fight. A quick search turned up these numbers(websites included and they have links to where their info came from for further research)
"http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/WebHomeCostOfNuclearPower

Given the history of Nuclear Plant construction in the U.S.A., the financial industry sees the construction of the new generation of reactors as a risky investment and demands a premium on capital lent for the purpose. The Energy Bill recently passed by the US Congress assumes this risk and provides production credits of 1.8 cents per KW-Hr for the first 3 years of operation. This subsidy is equivalent to what is paid to Wind Power companies and is designed to encourage new nuclear reactor construction in the USA.

If the AP1000 lives up to its promises of $1000 per KW construction cost and 3 year construction time, it will provide cheaper electricity than any other Fossil Fuel based generating facility, including Australian Coal power, even with no sequestration charges. This promise appears to have been unfulfilled. The cost of the first AP1000 is expected to be over $3500 per KW.


http://www.edf.org/energy/smart-grid-overview

about one quarter of the electricity we pay for is wasted because our household appliances operate when they’re not needed.


Approximately 10% of electricity generated is lost in the transmission and distribution system, costing consumers roughly $25 billion annually.
Power demand rose nearly 30% between 1990 and 2009, resulting in a rising number of power outages and blackouts, which now cost the nation at least $150 billion per year.

Over the next 25 years an estimated $1.5 trillion will be spent upgrading and expanding the electric grid. The choice is between building a whole new fleet of wasteful, inexpensive fossil fuel power plants or creating a flexible, efficient and resilient smart grid."

Fossil fuels and nuclear is not so cheap when the cost of environmental damage(which we WILL have to deal with eventually. Also the CDC has estimated that right now 3.1 million people die every year due to the pollution caused by fossil fuels(this is easily looked up) it is is killing that many imagine the health affects and doctor bills associated with those affects. When ALL the costs are factored in "green" energy is much cheaper than fossil fuels. But to make it work we must stop this more society we have developed. Appliances that never really cut off just to save us a few seconds of inconvenience is retarded. For instance I actually watch my TV maybe 5 hours a month but It wants to burn electricity 24/7 just so I don't have to wait 60 seconds for it to reprogram the channels when I do turn it on. Really? We're that spoiled? And I know some of the satellite systems use the exact same amount of energy when turned off as when they are on, meaning the only difference is the red "off" light comes on when you turn it off.

This wasteful spoiled consumption is what we must stop if renewables are to ever work for us. And do we really need to live in houses that are so huge compared to just a few generations ago? It's stupid. No family of four needs 2,000 SQ'FT 1,000 is more than enough and most of the world makes it quite well on less than half that. In fact, in some of the poorer nations a family of 6-7 makes do with well less than 300. What makes us so privileged that we need to waste so many resources on our dwelling and energy to power it?

The price of energy will go up and down, but it will always go up in the long run, guaranteed. We will never have a 20 year period go by where it's cheaper at the end than the beginning.

the total cost of fossil is many times higher than we pay the utility company, we just don't associate it since it's paid in taxes. and not even that covers the true cost we have to pay in extra medical bills, funerals and eventual clean up. Nuclear always gets touted as cheap, but it always seems to cost much more than the original quoted price, and even then you have to pay hundreds of millions at the end to decommission the plant and then there's the cost of disposal of the waste( not chump change by any means)

If the numbers from that second link or accurate we have close to 175 billion a year in wasted electricity. that could be drastically reduced by spending that money to upgrade our houses to use less and making it law that appliances and electronics must turn off when they are turned off. Then after a few years of doing that we could put that 175 billion to work adding solar and wind, not to mention using the billions we would spend building fossil fuel plants to add more solar and wind instead. With the energy savings from the few years of home improvements and stopping the waste of appliances and electronics
I think we would currently have more than enough base load energy production that wind and solar could more than make up the difference, and we could probably shut some fossil plants down(remember we waste about 25% of our electricity by appliances using it when not needed. Imagine the benefits if we just stopped that waste, and it's easy to do)

Sorry for the long rant, But you're doing a good thing with this 'ible and don't let the naysayers discourage you. You're doing more than just saving a few bucks, you're also helping reduce the poisoning of our planet, which is indeed absolutely priceless. I encourage you and others to read those two links there is a wealth of information in them. i also encourage all to Google something like "CDC study 3.1 million deaths per year from fossil fuel" It will help you see there is a cost to fossil fuels well beyond what we pay in our bill. You and all your loved ones are being poisoned.

OK, I'm done. :-)
MacOSJoey (author)  lordgarion5142 years ago
I never really looked at the deaths caused by using fossil fuels and it makes complete sense. I agree with you on nuclear. Look at Germany's progress. Even though they get FAR less sun than the northern U.S. (where I am) they still produces about 40% of their power straight from solar (and here we are wondering why we can't honestly do the same). After the Fukushimi nuclear power plant became unstable in 2011, Germany instantly opted to close its remaining nuclear power plants. If there's ever a leader to look to, Germany is it. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany).

As far as grid ineffeciency goes, there's not a ton we can do about it. The only thing I can think of to reduce those losses is to have areas with specific resources harness those resources. For example, Arizona has the most solar irridance of the United States by far. If they were able to provide all of the state's power through solar, they could essentially lose those transmission costs altogether.

I know I'm ranting, too, but you posed a good issue. Phantom loads (things that consume power even when turned off) need to go. A few weeks ago, just as an experiment, I connected a 23 inch LCD monitor to my solar setup. The monitor is extremely efficient and consumes about 30 - 40 watts running. HOWEVER, when the computer is turned off the monitor consumes 10 watts just sitting and waiting to be turned on. That doesn't seem like much, but 10 watts * 24 hours is 240 watt hours per day WASTED. Right now, my system produces approx. 500 watt hours per day ON A GOOD DAY. Then, every night I lose 120 watt hours to the outoor lighting. After all the losses from the latter, I end up with only 140 watt hours left, which is about enough to keep my laptop and cell phone working. It may not seem like much, but you're definetly right about how much is wasted just waiting to be turned on. If this is one monitor, I don't even want to know how much is wasted in the entire house.

Sorry for ranting again, but you definetly brought on some good topics and numbers. Thanks!
Ok. I love where this conversation is going.

The next obvious step is to figure out an effective (and preferably cheap) method to force devices to turn off entirely such as a switch between the outlet and the plug of the device. If possible, this device would be removable, so it can be used in apartments or other areas where a permanent installation isn't possible.

It may also be prudent to have the "control switch" on a few feet of cord, so outlets that are difficult to access can still be switched off.

I know that a relay is likely to use some power even when in the "off" state, but I think its consumption will be small enough to be either negligible, or very close to that (I have no data to back me up, but that is what would seem to make sense to me, at least).
pfred2 im37332 years ago
Why would an off relay use any power? All a relay is is a coil of wire. If you don't supply it with any electricity it certainly can't suck the stuff out of the air. Well, it could, if there was a magnetic field moving near it, but that is a conversation for another day, or my name is Michael Faraday.

Or were you talking about a normally closed relay that you would have to energize its coil in order to open the contacts? That would indeed use some power in order to attain an off state.

Power strips have switches on them, so if you want to stop an appliance from drawing any power when not is use plug into that then simply flip the power strip off.

But first realize that lordgarion514 is completely full of it with their 25% of the electricity figure. Perhaps some appliances use 25% power when off, but don't for a minute think that 25% of power is being wasted overall. First off residential consumption is only 27% of the grid load. So saying there is a 25% waste is like saying we're wasting 98% of power. You don't think it is that bad do you? More likely lordgarion514 is playing fast and loose with some of the statistics.

Those appliances that are drawing such a significant percentage of their load "off" aren't typically big current drawing devices to begin with. I mean how many watts do you think your cable box is sucking back?

Tree huggers are claiming 55 watts but the actual figure is likely closer to 25. On par with leaving one 100 watt equivalent CFL bulb running.
Well we have another one of those people who don't "really" know about electricity but thin their opinions count as fact. Just what we need.

The numbers, and I mean all the numbers I give are not mine, they are listed in either one of the two links I gave. and on those pages they give links to the original source for every number I listed.
And yes 25% of the AVERAGE homes electric bill is wasted due to things using electricity when not being actively used.

Let us jump right to that cable box example you gave with your "opinion fact" number of it actually being25 watts(because you actually have no clue and are apparently too lazy to loo it up.
My info link(again, with a lin to the original source)
http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2011-06/least-electric-bill-murdering-dvrs-every-provider

Did you know that a "typical" (I said typical! so if yours is different don't try and say "mine isn't like that your wrong wrong wrong, there are just a few more people in this country than you) Home cable box setup is 1 HD-DVR and 1HD set top box. Together these 2 "little" boxes together use more energy in a year than an average 21cubic foot Energy Star fridge in a years time? No you didn't but they do.(and you not believing it doesn't really matter. Physics doesn't hold to your whole "my opinion must be fact" mentality.
Typical cable box setup = 446KwH per year. Average 21cubic FT. Energy Star fridge = 415KwH per year.

It has been proven that these HD-DVR's(which actually are nothing but computers, including hard-drives, HD graphics cards, ram memory, and processors. run at near full power even when doing nothing(recording or watching TV).

All these numbers can be looked up by yourself by simply going to the website of the cable box manufacturers if you choose not to believe the numbers I have quoted(and provided links to back up, UNLIKE your numbers which you pulled from which orifice exactly?) Don't let your opinion(which is wrong actually) keep you from seeing the truth. Such as I never said 25% of ALL electricity is wasted(how did you even get that from what I wrote anyway?)
I plainly said about 25% of the electricity we pay for, meaning that 25% of MY electric bill is to pay for electricity that MY appliances and electronics use while not actively used by me. every TV, Computer, electronic microwave, stove with a clock, alarm clock that stays lit up when no one is there to look at it, router, cable modem(router and cable modems also run at near full power when not actively in use also, for obvious reasons) DC converters that stay plugged in when not charging their device, even digital dishwashers, and a myriad other electric devices all burn electricity 24 hours a day when not used.

Now think how long it actually takes to charge a dead cell phone. Mine from totally dead takes less than 3 hours, but that converter burns juice the other 21 hours in the day. and yes even a computer that is turned completely off uses electricity, even if it's a laptop, which actually has 2 batteries(all computers have batteries)

So if you choose to not believe the numbers, too bad, that doesn't change the facts one iota. If you want to debate how their wrong/lying then go to the manufacturers site and find the numbers yourself(but get a bunch of different ones since no one said that "every" one used that much, just the typical(you know as in "averages") one does. If it isn't listed on their site then get un-lazy and send them an email and do the work to prove others wrong. Otherwise shut up and just agree with those who aren't lazy that do care and HAVE researched this stuff.

And just because most of these phantom loads aren't that big(unlike the HD-DVR boxes which use more than an average fridge) means what exactly? So what if it was "ONLY" half what the tree huggers say? You do realize there are over 160 MILLION of those things right? Why don't YOU do the math on that and figure out how many coal power plants it would take just to run those boxes if they only used half. (answer: about 3 average coal fired power plants) Just because each one might be small doesn't mean much when you have to multiply it out by the tens and hundreds of millions that are out there. This is America, well over 300 million people, all of whom think they should be free to use, consume and waste as much as they want without paying consequences like health problems and financial costs to build, maintain and upgrade the system because of their waste.

I'm sorry, but you and the numbers you "believe in" without any real research to verify are wrong.
well done !
MacOSJoey (author)  pfred22 years ago
I think there's a flat out misunderstanding about lordgarion514's comment. He's saying that for a given appliance (your home DVR), it consumes at least 25% of its full power when shut off. Average that with all the fancy gadgets one has in a house, and you come to the conclusion that overall 25% of the electricity is used just keeping items powered on IN A SINGLE HOUSE. The grid is only about 1/3 efficient in moving electricity from production to final consumption (between transformers, long distances, etc). However, in the home there is another whole level of energy being wasted because of the American lifestyle which prohibits waiting a minute for an appliance to turn fully on from fully off instead of a sleep mode.

I guess I don't understand how leaving a 25 watt device on is the equivelent of leaving a 100 watt device on. 100 watts is 100 watts, which is 4 times as much as even you claim. I can't even see 100 watts even if the device uses 55 watts fully running. That just doesn't make any sense.
Is it so difficult to simply unplug...well, yes in some cases then how about organizing what is plugged in onto a panel that plugs into the wall plug and simply pulling out the panel from the wall to disconnect appliances, cable box, have to leave the phone alone I guess......but in our "instant satisfaction" society, who would actually do this to save a few cents per day?
im3733 im37332 years ago
Btw, voted, 5 starred, and favorited.
MacOSJoey (author)  im37332 years ago
Thanks for the 5 stars! I've personally used the switch on 5 plug dividers to immidiately shut off all power, but I find that it doesn't completely work. At night, I'll click the plug to my desk, which includes my laptop, fishtank (led lights) and cell phone charger. HOWEVER (and I just noticed it recently) the fishtank lights would still give off an eerie moonlight-like glow even with the switch turned off. I unplugged it to see if it was just some capacitor thing, and immidiately the light turned fully off. I don't know if electricity is allowed to arc in these dividers and if they really do their job.

My personal solution to this problem with my inverter is to get a remote starter on the inverter, which turns it on and off conveniently from any location (up to 50 feet).

I've seen someone use your relay idea to control his living room lighting (Link to his page http://2manytoyz.com/gridless.html), and it could probably work with AC outlets, too.

I've also seen these new 5 way dividers that "sense" when the main device (such as your TV) is turned on. When the TV is turned on, it will supply power to other items such as your Blu-ray player, DVD player, speaker system, etc. THEN, when the TV is turned off, the divider senses that and cuts all the power to the peripherals except the tv. It's a simple way to reduce phantom loads.

A good place to look for those is here: https://www.google.com/search?q=Reduce+phantom+loads&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&rlz=#hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&tbm=shop&sclient=psy-ab&q=Tripp+Lite+phantom+load&oq=Tripp+Lite+phantom+load&gs_l=serp.3...7261.7424.1.7679.2.2.0.0.0.1.239.455.2-2.2.0...0.0.j32D_WBFEU8&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=c34cc57b569ee8e9&biw=1440&bih=815

Thanks again for the 5 stars, and please vote for me in the green tech contest!
Great Ible...

I've pondered the phantom energy load problem for a while and have wondered if on-board, re-chargeable batteries might be a partial solution.

Say, for instance, a TV or cable/sat box requires some energy to maintain its memory (i.e. all those programmed channels) as well as sitting quietly waiting for a signal from the remote to turn the system on.

An on-board re-chargeable battery might provide sufficient energy to maintain the memory as well as a low-power receiver/sensor to pick-up the signal from the remote. Once that signal is received, the system can then power up. It wouldn't be "instant on," but what's the problem with waiting a minute or so?

Just thinking out-loud.

Again, great Ible...
I thought the same thing as you about using batteries that could be recharged while the TV is on(as in active use). It too a while(looong while actually) for me to realize that batteries would actually cause the appliance in question to use even MORE electricity than not having batteries.
Reason being is that it takes more energy to charge a battery than the battery provides. Meaning that it would take enough electricity to run appliance for say 1 hour to charge the battery enough to run it for 45 minutes(a made up example the times are not accurate, but it gets the point across to people).

A solution to this would be to install a small thermo-electric charger on the side of the appliances transformer or in the heat exhaust stream. That way you would be using the waste heat given off to produce the electricity needed to charge the batteries. Small thermo-electric generators are pretty cheap, as are small AA sized chargers and batteries.

And to be honest with the amount of energy wasted by these types of devices I could get behind a government made private company(like Fanny Mae and Freddy Ma are in the finance sector) with very limited profits written in the charter, and before anyone says anything about allowing government to control profits/prices remember I said a gov. made company, that means the U.S. citizens paid to make the company and gave it to another company to run, I see no reason not to be able to control the profit. They could build and sell a cheap thermo-electric charger that could be mounted on top of the TV(and anything else that generates enough heat to need cooling vents to let it escape)All you need is to give it a low profile by stacking everything side by side instead of "bundling" the components, and to include vents so the heat from the appliance can continue on out of the system). Include a small power cord that can be plugged into the wall and the appliance plugged piggyback into that plug(like some Christmas lights) and a switch that can detect when the appliance is trying to draw more power(meaning it was turned on) With a total profit of say 5% and no taxes charged by the government(This is for our benefit, that benefit(not to mention goes way down if they have to charge us enough to pay taxes as well. Right now set top HD-DVR boxes and the like consume about 6 average coal power plants total output per year, about 500MW each when they are not being used). If America can start this company and sell these things for TV's, set top boxes etc., we could stop the need to build more power plants, more and bigger power transmission lines, saving the country literally Billions of dollars. Might even be able to shut down a few power plants, helping the environment, and our health even more.

I could see a "master" battery backup set like his including many batteries that is run off the considerable heat from the TV's transformer(especially the older CRT TV's, which millions of homes still have.and will have for many many years) with a "power strip" to plug in the TV, DVD, DVR, surround sound system with a couple of extra plugs for whatever..

With the above mentioned stipulations for profit and taxes i can see the power strip model going for under 20 bucks.(hey, i bought a VCR/DVD combo for under $40 ten years ago, and this year i bought a universal remote at the dollar store for well, a dollar so $20 for a product from a company that was built and paid for by taxpayers that pays no taxes should be a piece of cake)

Making it law that starting in a year all electronic devices have one built in(negating the need for the external box and extra power cord) shouldn't add more than just a few dollars to the device. for what's already out there regulations could easily get them installed on a wide scale rapidly. such as making able companies by and install them with all new hookups at cost(their one of the ones that chose to use such an inefficient device, we have no real options if we want the features, but they could have designed a more efficient system and chose not to.) Tax rebates like for wind and solar now, making them basically free.and charging higher electric rates for those who do not get them(If all Americans must pay for a multi-billion dollar power plant and power line expansion I see nothing wrong with making those who don't even try to stop the need for it to pay more. If you can't afford $20 or even $60(for more than one room) Then you probably can't really afford a luxury like able TV to begin with.

Sorry about another long rant. But the subject of electricity and health environment problems caused by the need to use, and waste it due to how lazy we have become disturbs me greatly. Especially considering just how little the inconvenience is compared to the benefits.
Already voted. It won't let me vote for you twice :(

You can get the "smart strips", i think they're called, at Best Buy. Unfortunately, they are kind of pricey.

Unfortunately, I think you are correct, power strips tend to let power "leak" through, meaning they never fully disconnect, what I would like to do is essentially force it to disconnect, using a relay or similar. Won't be perfect, but it will probably work better than a power strip, and 100x better than not using anything at all.
GREAT instuctable. I agree with you for the most part on everything but one thing. Solar is not the way to go, TESLA is the way to go :). Solar is expensive, wasteful and doesnt generate nearly enough electricity, especially for my needs!
MacOSJoey (author)  Stefhan Albayaty2 years ago
I'm not familiar with TESLA. A quick google search and I can't find much on it besides a few cars. Could you elaborate?

Solar is pretty wasteful. Out of all the light energy that strikes the panel, 88% becomes heat, and between 12 and 19% becomes electricity. There's definetly room for improvement which I believe we'll be seeing in the next few years as solar becomes a strong market in the world.

Thanks for commenting! Please vote 5 stars and vote for me in the green tech contest!
I think he was calling good old fashioned (and modern) AC electricity by the term "Tesla". Nikola Tesla to be exact. Google that, and be amazed. He is basically the reason so many live how we do today. He is the "father" of alternating current. Among his patents and inventions: the tesla coil, fluorescent lights, the induction electric motor (ac powered electric motor) -- not to mention wireless energy transmission back in 1891. Those new cordless chargers for your controllers, toothbrushes, etc. had their technology originate from him. He invented the x-ray technology about 12 years before the actual invention of the xray machine. The first radio patent, including radio controlled boats and cars -- Tesla too.

When he lived in Colorado Springs, he did all kinds of work too. So basically he laid the groundwork for entire AC driven world, with well over 100 patents, etc. Check his bio out on wikipedia, it's pretty impressive. The tesla cars you found are in honor of Nikola Tesla.

All that said, he also stated that the use of fossil fuels (this was over 100 years ago) for energy was barbaric, and could not be sustainable in the long-term. In one of his patents, he actually invented a rudimentary type of photovoltaic solar cell. He ultimately claimed that the universe was full of infinite energy, and it would only be a matter of time until man would learn how to tap into it. I guess he needed to live 100 more years for us, and we'd all have free energy and be driving antigravity cars (theorized only), and living a bit differently. There's my soapbox, I'm off it now :)

Summary: Nikola Tesla = genius.
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