Solar {or other} conversions of bed side lamps and fans

Is there anyone who can help me to convert our bed side lamps and fans {ceiling or floor standing} to work with anything other than electricity? Solar, maybe? Any ideas welcome!
  13 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 20, 2013
    Fans with out electricity would be possible if you had some type of kinetic energy source and harnessed it with a belt a pulley system. I have seen some multi head ceiling fans set up with pulleys but these were all feed from a common electric motor. a backyard water wheel, wind mill or animal tread mill are some possibilities for a kinetic energy sources. engineering them would be tough though. If your looking to conserve more energy LED lighting is the curent best method. I set up my off grid cabin with LED's and can light the whole place for 38 watts.
  • Linda@With A Blast Linda@With A Blast on Feb 20, 2013
    @KMS Woodworks thank you for your advice, we unfortunately have no type of kinetic energy and absolutely no electricity - we only use the petrol generator for the most important stuff during the day {on for 2 hours - off for 4 hours etc}
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 20, 2013
    You could set up an off grid solar system to provide some electricity. Costs and sizing would depend on what all needs to be "powered". My cabin system cost about $1000 with battery, charge controller, solar panel, wiring, breakers etc. I have picked up some more solar panels and another battery to increase the overall power of my system. I hope to get these installed when spring break come round. I hope to run a small DC powered cooler there this summer instead of having to keep buying more ice. I know of lots of folks who runn entire homes with refrigerators, washers, computers lights....and everything on solar. You just need to size it properly. a whole house system could run from $5 to 20K
  • Linda B Linda B on Feb 20, 2013
    I hope you find something, Linda
  • Linda@With A Blast Linda@With A Blast on Feb 21, 2013
    @KMS Woodworks I was hoping someone would mention the system you did above - we looked at it and in SA we will pay around R 7500.00 - that is included with an extra battery. As we are only getting into this now, I did not want to go for the first available, or I should say "what the salesman is trying to sell" system. Could you perhaps give me just the sizes {+ strengths} of your solar panels and what you run on them? That would be of great help, as I see there are a lot of different sizes. Unfortunately, due to a lot of burglaries {and poisoning of our dogs} last year, we spent so much money on extra security, that we now have to work on a very tight budget.
  • Linda@With A Blast Linda@With A Blast on Feb 21, 2013
    @linda b I hope so too as we are nearing Autumn ;-)
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 21, 2013
    @Linda@With A Blast my "starter" system was set up with a single 80 watt panel (12 volt) , and 30 amp charge controller and a 110 ahr gel battery. I will soon be adding 2 more 80 watt panels for a total of 240 watts. I will also be adding another 110 ahr battery there by doubling my storage. Each panel produces about 4 to 5 amps, so my current charge controller is good for up to about 5 or 6 80 watt panels or 500 watts or so. I started with a 1200 watt inverter which allowed me to use some mid sized power tools. ( my cabin is still under construction but the bulk of the work is done, that big work was done using a generator and air compressor). I found that my power miter saw was just a bit too big for the 1200 watt inverter so I bumped that up to 2500 watts. so far so good it has not cut out when using the saw. But a bit of heavy use will pull the battery down. aside from some minor tool use we run all of our electric lights (leds for a total of 38 watts) a 12 volt DC sound system ( ipod connected to computer speakers) and the coffee bean grinder ( I love my good coffee) When I get the extra panels installed and battery I hope to be able to run the small 12 dc "electric cooler". If I were to set up something bigger I would start with about 1000 watts worth in 200 watt panels (you can find them here in the neighbor hood of about $1 per watt. Starting with a good sized charge controller that can handle future panels will be wise. The best bang for your buck in storage is with a FLA (Flooded Lead Acid) battery Here in the states the Trojan T-105re is a great workhorse/ starter battery. You would wire this in sets to meet your voltage needs ( 4 batteries in series for a 24 volt system) then these "sets" can be wired in parallel for more storage. This is a typical "golf cart" type battery with a 3 to 5 year lifespan. I went with Gel as I am not there enough to ensure it is properly "watered". a better battery would be the Trojan is a bit more robust A lot of this is confusing for some, getting a "ready made system" will cost more but is typically a "plug and play" install. If you guys are "off grid" what do you use for refrigeration? propane?
  • Linda@With A Blast Linda@With A Blast on Feb 21, 2013
    Thank you so much for all this information! You are right, though, it is very confusing to me, but I will show this to my husband who will definitely know what this means. We are not "off grid" - have always had electricity, but lately it has become very expensive and we also have "load-shedding" in SA, which is suppose to happen at certain times and only 2 hours at a time. Unfortunately, there are no schedules and you might find yourself without electricity all day long, which normally happens at dinner time or even worse ... when there is an important rugby game on TV ! We stopped using electricity last year September and only have the generator as I mentioned earlier. Since then, we have not bought large quantities of goods needed to be refrigerated {this is something else we will look into, maybe something smaller like your electric cooler} - but with the generator on and off, the refrigerator stays cold enough for the basics, so we just buy the necessary stuff every day. I get your meaning of "ready made systems" being more expensive, but I am sure if we follow your guide lines and a little common sense, we will be all right. Thanks again for all your information. {ps; we are thinking of getting the gas heater geyser, instead of the solar panel type, as we live in the Highveld, with many and sudden thunder and hail storms}
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 22, 2013
    Wondering what you are paying per KWH...mine runs about 11 cents. ( $0.11) my average use for a month is about 500 kwh. and costs about 50 to 60 dollars. on grid is the cheapest way to go, if it is available. For our cabin the nearest utility pole is almost a mile away. The cost to run the "power" to the cabin site would cost about 3/4 of the cost of a decent sized system...then you still need to pay each month and are subject to rate increases and outages. You might be best served with a "back up system" that can cover your outages. I have also looked into prices of operating generators ( small units to full home systems) the larger units can cost 10 to 20 dollars per day in fuel cost. while my per day cost for on grid power is 1.50 to 2 dollars. This is in addition to the huge upfront cost of installing a gen system.
  • Linda@With A Blast Linda@With A Blast on Feb 22, 2013
    Our area works on the pre-paid system, where you buy a voucher, read it into your box and use [almost as a cellular phone], starting off by getting around 75 units [KWH] per R100 spend, but the more you buy the lesser units you receive, which we were unhappy about as well - I think the government sees it as "wasting" and sort of penalize one for doing that. The two main things however, are that they put you on load-shedding as they wish and secondly, we have a huge problem with cable thieves, which basically means that if a cable is stolen, you can be without electricity for anything from a day to a week. At the moment we use the generator around 40 hours per week and pay R 2000 for fuel.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 23, 2013
    I just crunched some of the numbers using conversion rates and cost. And your cost per kwh is pretty close to mine. But it would appear that your fuel cost are quite a bit higher. If you can get a solar system installed for R 7500 that would meet your needs then that seems like a great deal as that is less than 1 months worth of fuel cost. Here is the US most folks look at a "pay back" time frame of 10 to 15 years. One added bonus is the solar system is quiet and does not contribute to climate change. Check out this is a couple of years old but puts theses costs into perspective.
  • Linda@With A Blast Linda@With A Blast on Feb 23, 2013
    Electricity is without a doubt still the cheapest way right now, unless one has a solar system to cover a full household {it's just getting to that point..}. Thank you for the chart - although SA is the cheapest ,2010, it seems we are chasing at a ridiculous percentage rate to catch up with Italy! With all the fuel we are using, we can only put away a smallish amount every month to get to the R 7500 or at least the start-up which would only be around R 4000 - hope to get there soon, as Winter is approaching.
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