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Monday, January 31, 2005

Back from the Veggie Trip

It's been an eventful weekend. The starter on the VeggieGen was rebuilt and reinstalled. We have power again. We did a 10 hour, 400 mile trip to pick up 1000 gallons of rough filtered Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO), which gives us about a 3 month supply of fuel for the VeggieGen. I Duct-Taped the mirror back together on the car so it doesn't flop around, and grab the attention of the authorities ......

Picked up a good used electric fridge for $50. It uses about 75ah during the night, which is well within the capabilities of our battery/inverter system, and runs on VeggieGen power during the day. It's also larger than the propane fridge. My health is back to normal, it's pretty warm out (-4F), and other than being a little low on sleep, it's looking like a good Monday. You can participate in the VeggieGen discussion here:

Friday, January 28, 2005

Off Grid, at -28F

It's cold up here, folks, with wind chills in the -40's, and real temps at almost -30F. The new woodstove is doing an admirable job keeping the place warm, but we have no electricity. Toasted another starter trying to turn over the VeggieGen. The starter is at the shop, and we are looking into beefing up it's abilities. The propane fridge is on the fritz, and the vehicles won't start. We have 100 gallons of water in the attic barrels, so we have water for a while. Ordered 12 (face)cord of wood ($35/f-cord), which should last us till spring. Ripped the mirror off the car when it snagged on the garage door. Car slipped sideways on the ice. I turned 40 today, and it's day 2 of the stomache bug. Good time to stay indoors, enjoy the woodstove, and contemplate the meaning of life.......

Saturday, January 22, 2005

TV documentary about off-grid living

I am a TV documentary maker based in London, England.

One recent film I made that some of you might have seen was called SACRED GROUND, shown on PBS Frontline about the battle over what should be built at Ground Zero. It was also shown on Channel 4 in the UK and round the world.

I am now researching a documentary about living off the grid. It will include examples of small scale and large scale wind energy use. It will be about off-grid lifestyles in the 3rd world and the West. Some of it will be about developing countries and their energy solutions; partly it will be about what we in the West can learn from the third world and from the Green movement. Some of it will be about mobile lifestyles - people living in trailers, boats, caravans etc.

Please could anyone reading this send me actual examples of wind energy or other off-grid solutions that are being used currently, anywhere in the world. preferably things you are involved in personally or where people you know are involved personally?

Thanks very much, and please do forward this request on to others who might be interested.

Nick Rosen

Friday, January 21, 2005

New Vestal Classic Woodstove

It's in. The new woodstove was delivered yesterday afternoon. We pulled out the old stove. My fingers went right through the old chimney pipe, which appears to be 26 gauge galvanized. Very rusted and corroded. I put in the new stove, installed the new chimney pipe (22 gauge black), screwed it together, installed the 6" to 8" adaptor at the roof where it meets the triple wall pipe, and fired her up. Lots of heat, easy to run. Put the kettle on the stove and made a pot of tea. Linda put the rocker in front of the stove, and enjoyed some "me" time. The kitten (Cali) curled up on the hearth, and enjoyed it as well. It hit -22F last night and all is good.

More info ...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The old Kalamazoo is re-"tired" ......

Our trusty wood stove, and primary heat source, a Kalamazoo Franklin, finally gave up the ghost. The cast iron chimney elbow decided to part ways with the firebox, leading to smoke, flames, and much angst. The new stove, details to follow, will be installed tomorrow. A portable kerosene heater, belching much black smoke, is trying to keep the house from freezing. It's been -10F to 10F, and indoor temps have plummeted to the low 40's. Whose idea was it to move off-grid, anyway? Oh, yes, it was mine .....

Tomorrow night should be better, stay tuned.

If you would like to help the project along, donations are gratefully accepted .

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Rebelwolf / ESSN back online!

Our Renewable Energy Ezine at Rebelwolf was temporarily offline, as we switched ISP's. The latest issue of ESSN is once again available for download. Thank you to the 7000 or so folks who have done so already.

This past week I read a book called Cottage Water Systems. Everything from digging a well, or setting up rain water harvesting, to storing in cisterns and pressurized tanks, including filtration, to what to do with the grey water for recycling and sanitary black water processing. Composting toilet systems are covered as well. All aimed at both the DIY'r and the Consumer. An excellent book. I love it. You can participate in discussing it here.

I also finished reading a book called Powerboater's Guide to Electrical systems. A great beginners tutorial to electricity, how to use a multimeter, wiring sizing and color coding, etc. A great reference for the boat, RV, or off grid home. A prime reference in 12vdc systems, with a good dose of 120vac, inverters, generators, batteries, and charging. Discuss it here.

The latest on the Geodesic Quonset: The plastic sheeting installed ....

Monday, January 10, 2005

Al Rutan (The Methane Man) has passed on .....

I have some News to pass onto all the friends of Al Rutan, who many of you know as methaneman2002.

Al has been staying with us the past few months while we work out his small scale digestor and while we build our full sized digestor. The Photos that he has posted showing his small scale digestor are taken in our yard and my son "the welder" is in some of them.

The news is that Al has passed away.

Al passed away of natural causes, no accident, no struggle. He seems to have been making a meal and collapsed on the bed and died. He had moved into our house to ride out the cold weather and work his computer and video equipment. His "Kitty" is a bit confused but well cared for and we have a close friend of Al that will gladly give the kitty a new home.

He had many contacts around the world and since we will not be able to contact each of you directly I felt this was about the best way to get the word out all of his "energy friends".

We have been able to reach his family so there is no need for any worry in that respect but there have been no formal arrangements made for any memorial/funeral services at this point. If I learn of any public services I will post them here for all you to see.

This renewable energy was his passion, or at least one of his many passions, so I would ask that we all step up and continue his progress forward in this department, and remember "Home Grown is Best".

Thanks to you all,

Al's family has scheduled a memorial service for Al at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church on Monday, January 24, at 11 a.m. The address for St. Joan's is 4537 Third Ave. S; Minneapolis; 612-823-8205. Fr. George is in charge.

Al and his methane digesters

Discuss Al and his contribution to biofuels and humanity!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Steve's Power Toys

Here are a few of my toys I use in our off grid home.

Starting with the NiMH battery Charger, it holds 4 AA or AAA NiMH batteries, and charges from 120vac or 12vdc native. About $20 from Walmart, and came with 4 AA NiMH batteries.

Next is my Kill-A-Watt, a 120vac, 15amp, monitor for volts, amps, watts, hz, watt hours, power factor, etc. indispensable in an off grid home for determining how much power an item uses and for how long it runs.

The last item in the picture is my new Power Center, $99 from BJ's Wholesale. It contains a battery, a 400 watt inverter, jumper cables, air compressor, flashlight, two 12vdc power receptacles, and two 120vac receptacles. Great for portable, emergency power, or, as we are using it, as a temporary UPS to keep the satellite box from losing sync and the clock radio/stereo from losing programming during inverter/generator/inverter switching. We will plug a 20 watt PV panel into it shortly, and give some real life run time/load numbers.

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