Dear Home Power,

Glad to see your theory articles. As an engineer, I am amazed to see how few people understand their light switches in our totally electric society.

It is my experience that 100% of the people I have seen using gas generators GIVE UP and connect to their public utility.

Donald F. Scott, Goldendale, WA

Editor's Note: I don't know about 100%, Donald. We've seen quite a few folks start out with gas generators who've moved to PVs as prime power source. The generator fades quietly (the only time it's quiet is when it's NOT running) in to the background. It's used only for periods of extended cloudy weather or unusually intense power consumption.


I enjoy; letters to Home Power. Home Power is a useful way to educate the consumer (me). It must be challenging sometimes. But someones got to do it. Uncle Sam would if he could but he can't so he won't. Sometimes I'm ashamed to be related to him. But he may see the LIGHTbulb and have a change of heart soon. Let us pray he does.

Home Power,

Another letter to tell you that Home Power is very informative with lots of valuable information.

I really believe that AE has a future in the US if the energy tax credits are brought back. Everyone should write their legislators urging them to support alternative energy and federal tax credits.

Dave Maugans, Cherryvale, KS

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We try our best to directly answer all your questions. Please remember that we are limited by our own experiences. If we don't have the direct personal experience to answer your question, we won't. We'll print the question anyway and hope that a Home Power Reader will have the experience to answer it. So this column is not only for questions to Home Power, but also for answers and comments from its readers. We try to answer as many questions as we can. Fact of the matter is that for every one we print, there are about 10 we don't. It's a matter of space. Hopefully, we will be larger soon and can deliver all the fine material that forlks have sent in. Thanks for your patience-Rich

In response to the inquiry about financing a Solar Electric Home. As a distributor and designer for the first FHA-HUD accepted design for a Stand-Alone Photovoltaic Passive Solar Home let me take the question Susan Mistico of Camden, NY had on financing.

1) The home you mentioned must first be shown to meet all other standard codes for dwellings and occupancies.

2) The home must have a detailed, architects approved, heating and/or cooling fraction calculation completed with a justification of the heating and cooling plant sizes.

3) The home must then have a detailed set of calculations justifying the entire home electrical system sizing for a standard home occupancy for one of its size. (i.e. a two bedroom, 1200 square foot house would at maximum have two adults and one child.) These calculations, plans and the specifications of all the equipment must be included. Any undersized wiring or connections that would not meet code will toss the system from consideration. These calculations and specifications must be approved by a professional electrical engineer and should also contain a letter from your local electrical inspector stating that if the system is installed according to code that the home will, as designed by the electrical engineer, be approved for the electrical portion.

4) The home must have an appraisal (I am a licensed real estate agent as well and found an appraiser who could make the necessary adjustments in the appraisal process).

5) The whole package, including system and product brochures and warranties, life cycle and Operations and Maintenance Costs should then be submitted to both your local FHA/ HUD office for review and to your local FHA/HUD lender to find out if there are any other requirements either one may have.

Approval process may take you up to a year until more submissions take place since the paperwork will be shuffled to and fro, mostly to Washington D.C.

Of course, be prepared to receive the FHA/HUD acceptance and still have problems receiving a loan. These problems may come from location and the perceived marketability of your home should you default. A higher down payment may be required or additional security. A typical item that may keep you from getting the loan may be the ability to receive hazard insurance (typically fire insurance) on the home or lack of reasonable vehicular access year around.

You may also not be able to qualify if you cannot make up the difference between the FHA approved loan limit for your area and the cost of your home with the system if it exceeds the FHA limit and the mortgage lender is unwilling to assume the additional risk. (Each area of the US has different FHA/HUD limits.)

If this sounds like a lot to do, it is. Expect to spend 2-5% of the value of the home in getting this work done. Of course, if your financial picture is rosy the banker/lender may not require you to get FHA/HUD acceptance for insuring your mortgage. Such was the case with John Murray of Cudjoe Key, Key West, Florida, as I understand. His loan was processed thru Southeast Bank, Judy Peace was his personal banker (305) 2944601.

FMHA-Farmers Home Administration found that passive solar homes in our area had delinquent rates of 1% or less versus 11-13% for conventional homes. They have an experimental Home program for lower cost housing your readers might want to check out.

Touch the Earth-Lightly, "More Power To You"

Steve Verchinski, Solar Electric Systems, Inc., 2700 Espano-la NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110, 505-888-1370.

A Question and another Answer

Congratulations on your timing: You started your publication just when I needed it. Wish I could help you in some other way than just being an avid reader.

I have a tip and a query or two. The tip: Most major lending institutions know nothing about solar power and don't want to know anything. I recently wasted months trying to educate the people at Great Western. I'm surprised that the PV industry has not mounted an effective campaign in this area. I finally was able to refinance my place through Butte Savings in Chico, CA. They had already had experience with solar power and were willing to learn more about it. My advice: Ask your loan officer whether he/she is willing to lend on solar power before you fill out the applications.

My query: Even when the voltmeter on my battery pack (four Trojan L-16s) reads 27 or 28 volts, the individual cells register in the red (discharge) zone of my hydrometer. How come? And if my batteries are in a discharged state (readings of 1200 on the hydrometer), why does my Trace C30 controller switch on and off (more off than on)? Why doesn't it feed the power from my six ARCO 75s into the batteries continuously until they are fully charged?

If you have any PV readers in the Marysville-Oroville area I'd love to hear from them. Maybe we could have some information-trading sessions.

Charles Johnson, 8038 La Porte Rd, Marysville, CA 95901

The voltage you mentioned is too low for the L-16s to be really full. Our experience with this battery shows us that a voltage of 2.50 volts per cell (under a C/20 charge rate) indicates the cell's being full. If your regulator is adjustable, then turn it up to about 30 VDC for your battery pack. Please remember that temperature as a very great effect on lead-acid cells. Cells that are below 50°F. will have to have their voltage raised to about 2.70 (at C/20 charge rate) per cell in order to be totally refilled. Also check all wiring and connections for voltage loss in the bat-tery/PV/regulator network. It only takes one bad, resistive connection to bring the voltage up and cause the regulator to function prematurely.

Enclosed you will find my form to receive your magazine. I am considering putting in a solar system to replace my present gas-powered water pump. In addition, of course, we hope to get some fluorescent lights to raise plants in our dark springs, three reading lights at night, re-charges on our ni-cad batteries, and depending on relative cost, possibly even refrigeration. However, an important consideration would be whether a solar-driven pump could start and stop Automatically, actuated by the cast-iron weight which indicates water level in the 1,000 gal. tank near the house. As the water source is relatively thin, it would also be important that the pump deliver only a small volume per minute so as not to exceed inflow in our sandpoints.

I am having some difficulty knowing how much to stress certain procedures you recommend as extending battery life. I gather some of my neighbors are not discharging down to 50% all summer long. Does one leave lights on or shut panels off to bring about the 50% discharge? Further, the 7-hour overcharge would represent a greater use of my gas-powered welder-generator than at present. Seven hours listening to it is itself costly, suggesting a spreading out of overcharge times as much as feasible. Lastly, my system would not be in use from October to March. In 6 months in constant "topped-up" state so hard on batteries that I should intentionally discharge them during that period, even though I have no use for the power?

Are you able to recommend someone here locally who might make a site visit and help answer the question whether my ambitions for solar power are realistic? William B. Cook, Waldron, WA

Lead-acid batteries don't require exercise. It is NOT necessary, or desirable, to cycle the batteries any lower than your consumption requires. In fact, the shallower the lead-acid battery's cycle, the longer their lifetime. PV systems left unused to long periods (over 1 month) should have regulators to prevent overcharging the batteries. Equalization charges, using your mechanical generator, may be spaced out as convenient for you. The essence of equalization is to bring all cells within the lead-acid battery pack to the same state of charge. If the individual cell voltages are within 0.05 VDC of each other, then everything is fine. If there is a cell, or cells, that differ from the others by more than 0.05 VDC, then its time to equalize until ALL cell's voltages are within the 0.05 VDC of each other. The equalizing charge is carried out at a C/20 rate (or any rate less than C/20) on an already full battery pack. It can be accomplished over several days, but be sure not to include the time it takes to bring the pack up to 100% state of charge in the equalizing charge. The seven hour time period (at C/20) is strictly ballpark, some packs require more and some less. Use the voltage differences between cells to determine when equalization is necessary and when the equalization charge is completed. At equalization rates less than C/20, the charge takes proportionally more time, i.e. at a C/40 rate it may take 14 hours to do what it took 7 hours to accomplish at the C/20 rate.

So glad you are in business, Love your "Home Power".

We need some information & help. We have a 1957, large size, Servel gas refrigerator. It works beautifully, but when we have high heat (over 85°) and high humidity it defrosts in the refrigerator, the freezer works OK. We are mature adults and don't open the refrigerator very much. We also keep the refrigerator and freezer fairly full. Keep up the good work. We are interested in everything. Gloria Baublit, Almond, WI

Consider the ventilation around the refrigerator/freezer. Is hot air collecting around the unit? If so, then provide the ventilation necessary for the unit to work properly. Also consider applying additional insulation (the foil backed, foam boards work well) to the sides and top of the unit. When it gets hot, refrigerators have to work much harder to keep the box cool. What were small inefficiencies in the system become big ones. So do all you can to provide your reefer with a cool place to work and to keep the heat pumped from the box from getting back in.

I have PV panels and 6 -2016 AH cells - surplus telephone equipment. I would like very much to utilize the DMM method of determining the state of charge, but there are some drawbacks. First of all, in a PV, or any AE system, it is a rare day when one can allow the batteries to rest for 24 hours with no charging. Secondly, since the charge rate is not constant, there is no fixed C-rate, so the rate of charge is variable. QUESTION #1: How can I, or any AE user, determine the state of charge, under these circumstances? QUESTION #2: You stated 2 or three times in the Battery Book that the charger should be capable of C/20, but I don't think you said why. Since fast charging can damage plates, how would ultra-slow charge rates affect batteries? In my case, with the 2000 AH cells, I would have to use a 100 Amp charger. I currently have a 40 Amp charger that I use on "High", so I can obtain as much as 60 Amps, but this is still only a C/30 rate, which mostly represents the beginning charge, quickly reducing to about 50 Amps - a C/40 rate. QUESTION #3: I'm not certain if I should equalize each month, REGARDLESS of the cell voltages. My cells run within 0.02V of each other. The manufacturers label on the cells say to equalize at 2.33V for 8-24 hours, but they don't say how often. What is your advice on this? Thanks, Orin Bridges, Sandpoint, ID

Question 1: While under charge the voltage on a lead-acid system is elevated. Letting the pack rest for 24 hours before using the voltage measurement to determine state of charge represents an ideal situation. Letting the pack rest for as little as 2 hours can be effective, however the voltage will indicate a little high and cause the corresponding state of charge determination to also be a little high. Also not every battery has the same voltage to state of charge (SOC) relationship. The best information can be obtained by watching the voltmeter in your system; eventually you will know the relationship between voltage and SOC for your particular system.

Question2: A charge rate of C/20 is ideal for equalization and is NOT a fast recharge rate for lead-acid cells. At room temperature and in the middle of their cycle (between 20% and 80% SOC), lead-acid batteries happily accept charge rates as high as C/5 without damage. There is no problem with recharge rates less than C/20, other than it takes more time to complete the recharging process or equalizing charge. In general, slower recharge rates are more efficient and give longer battery life. However, if a generator is used for recharging there are other economic considerations. The C/20 rate is a compromise between what the battery wants and the cost of running the generator for extended periods.

Question3: Equalization is only necessary when there are cells within the battery whose voltage differs by more than 0.05 VDC for the other cells. If all cells' voltages measures within 0.05 VDC of each other, then everything is OK and equalization is not necessary. See the previous question in this column for more info on equalization of lead-acid cells.

the Wizard Speaks.

the Wizard Speaks.

Horizon Promises: Entrepreneurial Edge Inventors & Tinkerers

John Bedini of Bedini Electronics Inc., POB 769, San Fernando, CA 91341 has developed a few devices in in the field of Free Energy. One of these is a battery, DC motor & control system which, it is claimed, produces useable power during the off times of the motor's duty cycle while keeping the battery fully charged. Another, called the G-Field Generator, is alleged to produce its power by using electromagnetic energy in a pseudo antigravity manner. Further information can be obtained from Mr. Bedini or from the Telsa Book Co., 1580 Magnolia St., Milbrae, CA 94030. Also available from the bookstore are works by T. K. Beardon which explain some of the principles involved.

Another example is provided by Mr. Joseph Newman, Route 1 Box 52, Lucedale, Ms 39457. By using advanced materials processing techniques Mr. Newman claims to have created a quasi superconducting material. When this material is used in his Energy machine, the resulting output power is professed to be greater than the input power. Contact Mr. Newman for further details.

The third example comes from Howard Johnson of Blacksburg, VA. Using only permanent magnets Mr. Johnson says he has developed a mechanism which might be used to drive alternators or generators. If it works, first there is a circular arrangement of bar magnets like the stones at STONEHENGE. Each segment consists of bar magnets, back to back, separated by a magnetically permeable material. The inner magnet has the north pole at the top while the outer has the south. Each segment is anchored to a base which can spin. Another magnet, elliptical in shape and about 3 1/8 inches long is placed within the circle about 3/8 of an inch from the perimeter. The outer circle of bar magnets then begins to turn. A patent (US Patent #4,151,431) has been issued to Mr. Johnson. Contact the patent office for more info.

With new processes, topologies and geometries, the Free Lunch may become more than a dream.

The Old Windmill

Daniel K. Statnekov

Home Power #6 is dedicated to Dave Winslett.

Dave was part of the StartUp Crew here at Home Power. We miss his sage advice, humor, and encyclopedic knowledge of everything under the Sun. Dave died suddenly of a heart attack on 25 June 1988. He was our friend and we miss him. Time will allow the void to be filled and fond memories to remain... Thanks, Dave.

I never see a windmill That I don't stop to think About my early days of youth That flew by in just a blink

We had an old mill standing 'Tween the house and the barn Set high up on a wooden frame The sentinel of our farm

Like an old-fashioned rocker Keepin' time to bended knee That windmill turned its circle While the breeze was blown' free

You could hear its rusty creak When the wind turned around Sort of made a punctuation To its normal spinnin' sound

I can hear 'em yet those wind-songs Played on fan blades made of steel Accompanied to the clatter of Those turnin' gears and wheels

Set a rhythm to my childhood Gave me notice of the breeze Whether gusts before a summer storm Or silent winter freeze

So in lookin' back with hindsight On the mem'ry of that mill I'd say it gave a pulse beat To the place that's with me still.

Daniel K. Statnekov has a book "Animated Earth" published in 1987 by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.

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SOLAR WATER HEATER. Closed loop, PV option. You install and save. Illustrated instructions, 96 page manual, $10.95. Save On Solar, Inc., Dept. HP, 6905 White Rabbit Road, Battle Creek, MI 49017.

JACOBS WIND ELECTRIC replacement parts, new blades, and blade-actuated governors. We make replacement parts, and have new blades, for most all wind generators, pre-REA to present models. Many used parts, too. Lots of used equipment available: wind generators, towers, both synchronous and stand alone inverters, batteries, Aermotor waterpumpers, and some PV's. Best prices on Trace inverters and Sovonics modules. Information: $1; specify interest. Lake Michigan Wind & Sun, 3971 E Bluebird Rd., Forestville, WI 54213 Phone: 414-837-2267. THIS MONTH'S SPECIAL: Rebuilt 3kW Jacobs with blade-actuated governor. Used only 1 1/2 years. $3000 + shipping.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY EQUIPMENT CATALOG. Everything for stand alone power generation, PV's, Hydro-Electric, Wind Generators, Inverters, Water Pumps, Regulators, Refrigeration, Tools, Books, and much more. 92 pages with design guides. $3. US, $6. foreign: WESCO, Box 936-HP, REDWAY, CA 95560

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Jacobs, Bergey, Whirlwind, and Winco Wind Generators, Kyocera Solar Systems, Trace Inverters, Towers, Batteries, Portable Generators, 12 Volt Converters, Pumps, and Light Fixtures. *We Build Custom-Built Wind and Solar Powered Homes. Built-Rite Construction, R.R. #3 Box 48, Ligonier, IN 46767.

FOR SALE: LARGE HYDRO TURBINE, Pelton type, in excellent condition. 16 inch intake, 29 inch turbine diameter. Also 32 VDC generator for turbine. $600. each or best offer. Ward 8000 Copco Rd., Ashland, OR 97520 or 503-482-0074.

COMPLETE 120V USED WIND POWER SYSTEM FOR SALE - includes: 4KW Dakota generator, 100' Rohn tower, 3KW Dynamote inverter, 120VDC house breaker panel, control panel, dynamic loading switch, 600' #2 aluminum cable, 300 amp/hr battery bank, 7hpDC backup gas generator - $6900 or best offer -call (206)378-5444"

18 ARCO M52s SOLAR MODULES-each panel contains 36 high efficiency square cells: 45 watt, 6 volts, 7.2 amps -NEW- $290 each or $4950 for 18, ppd in cont. US, CALL 804-440-1064 John Luker, POB 5295, Norman, OK 73070

BATTERIES, 98 used C&D deepcycle 8V industrial quality type 4lcfy-7 435 amp/10 min. to 1.7 V, about 350 lbs. ea. Excellent condition. $225 ea. OBO fob. Ray Kopaska 1303 Ott, Olathe, KS 66061 913-764 7959

SUPEREFFCIENCY™! Supere fuelless 120/240 V.A.C. 60 cycle power production device. No radiation, sun, wind, water or fuel required. Send $5 for information about book revealing this technology and the unveiling of this device. HYDRO STOCK, INC., 10335 Old 44 Dr., Millville, CA 96062. Phone 916-547-4304 or 916-221-1859.

15 KW KATO generator powered by 4 cylinder Wisconsin engine. Major backup, remote industrial application, etc? $1800.00. Harry Rakfeldt, 1211 Colestin, Ashland, OR 97520 (503) 488-2532.

OLD WINDGENERATORS. 6, 32, 110 VDC. Complete & parts, old unrestored, some new. Zenith, Hebco, Wincharger, Jacobs, Winpower. Motors, towers, Edison Batteries. W. Brawner 913 334 4486, 6420 Sloan, Kansas City, KS 66104

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THE ALTERNATIVE LAND ACQUISITION HANDBOOK provides you with 6 Ways to get land FREE or ALMOST FREE! Land Reclamation^Alaskan Homesteading^The Indian Homestead^Mining Claims^Tax Delinquent Land-Lost and^Forgotten Land! Send $20 to Ridgehaven POB 862 Glen Ellen, CA 95442

DOES ANYONE HAVE an Electrical Construction Schematic for a 1kW or larger, Sine Wave Inverter for 12 or 24 volts to 115 vac or know where to find this information? Write L. E. Spicer, RR2 Box 262, Lineville, Iowa 50147

COMPUTER. GRID 1101 Laptop. nicads, S/W, 256K RAM, 512K Bubble, 360K Drive, Modem. $400 or trade for inverter, PV, or? (415) 683-9684

COMPLETE SOLAR ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEMS. We offer the EchoLite photovoltaic power package: designed to provide modular components for easy installation, secure mounting and quick access. Perfect for remote sites, homes, RV's & marine applications. 408/423-2429

LEARN ABOUT YOUR BATTERIES! The Complete Battery Book by R. Perez tells all about 15 different types of batteries. Extensive details on lead-acid and nicad systems. Many details on how to use batteries in your home power system. Information on using motor/alternators to recharge batteries, insturmentation, and battery maintenance. 187 pages with over 100 illustrations. This book was wirtten from over 18 years of direct experience in batteries for home power use. $19.45 postpaid from Electron Connection Ltd., POB 442, Medford, OR 97501.

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