View Full Version : running off batteries in the alaska winters
July 7th, 2008, 21:48 PDT
Hey everyone...I recently bought a bus I am currently converting into some sort of house. It seems easy and what not until I come to my power...I live in Alaska and off the grid so I am trying to figure out how to power my bus house...it won't be extravagant but it will have a stove, water pump, and refridgerator. Now, next summer when I can afford a solar panel I'll go that route but our dark winter presents a challenge. Is there anyone out there who has some knowledge regarding deep cell battery power and how to recharge them without a generator or solar power, or alternator from the bus. And if so can ya dumb it down for me. Thanks.
July 7th, 2008, 22:09 PDT
Is there anyone out there who has some knowledge regarding deep cell battery power and how to recharge them without a generator or solar power, or alternator from the bus.
That leaves Wind or Waves/Tidal or Harry Potter books.
Maybe stick up an aerial and try to collect power from HARRP ?
July 7th, 2008, 23:00 PDT
The only way you can charge your batteries is with either fossil fuel or renewable energy...
The stove, pump, and fridge--you can run off of propane... In the dark, unless you have something real special (geothermal or something else), you are pretty much limited to water turbine or wind turbine...
Since you need a water pump--I am guessing you don't have a lake/fast flowing stream around your place (assuming it can even flow in your winter)...
So, your last choice would be a wind turbine.
There are no really reliable small (home sized) wind turbines out there--anything you get will probably need lots of work to keep running. If you can, a tilt tower will save you costs renting a crane.
But, a wind turbine will only work if you have quite a bit of wind... You might check around your area and see what others have done for power (and what brand/models of wind turbines they may be using).
However, before you start designing/building your system, you need to know how much electricity you will want--will it power a small AM radio and a few LED lights--or are you trying to keep a 60 watt laptop computer up and running 24x7... The larger the power requirements, the more costly the system to build and keep running.
You may end up, at least during winter, not finding any really good RE solutions... If so, then you may fall back to using a generator and battery system--sort of like a Hybrid Car... The generator runs at "full load" to charge the battery and run larger appliances (i.e., vacuum cleaner, water pump, coffee maker, microwave, power tools) during the morning/day and use the batteries to power a few lights, TV, radio, etc....
This can end up being much more fuel efficient--Generally the problem with large generators is that they are fuel efficient at 50% or more load, and when power small loads (especially below 25% load), the generator is still consuming the same amount of fuel as if it was powering a 50% load...
I don't live in a cold climate where a simple equipment failure could end up killing you--so I would hesitate telling what will work for you in your climate...
There are others here with a lot of experience in cold climates.
But, if you can swing a small generator like a Honda eu1000i or eu2000i (900 watt or 1,600 watt), they are very fuel efficient at low loads... You can live with the small power output, and set them to ECO (economy) throttle, the engines can slow down when there is not much load (these are electronic inverter generators--so very good for electronics and motors).
Use them to charge your battery and run the larger loads during the day and run a battery/inverter at evening/night.
And as you probably know, lead acid batteries, when fully charged, can withstand very cold temperatures, but as they discharge, the temperature at which the will freeze rises... So--keeping the batteries warm (and vented because of hydrogen gas production) will be important too...
My other concern is your "bus house"--will you be able to make it insulated enough to be livable (and affordable with fuel costs)?
July 7th, 2008, 23:41 PDT
if you can, find the nearest neighbor and ask them if you can plug into their power for the winter. if they aren't too far away and say yes then you can drive your home over there. there are also camp grounds that accomodate rvs that have power available and i'm sure that they aren't crowded in the winter up there if any are near you.
if that's not good for you then the inverter generators are the best to utilize for winter. in that extreme cold i don't how well they will do outside so maybe somebody here can chime in with that info or any suggestions for you.
July 8th, 2008, 9:34 PDT
Read all you can! Avoid the "Ready, fire aim!" syndrome!
July 9th, 2008, 17:31 PDT
You didnt say what part of Alaska, but from my experience from the military up there, you will need a good outdoor shelter for that generator that the snow won't smush. Also don't get monoxide poisoning trying to huddle around
that generator. Have an EPIRB to activate if you feel warm and happy for no aparant reason. ;)
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