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Alternative Energy Discussion Groups

Where do you go to ask questions, and talk with others about renewable energy topics? We have a series of discussion groups on a variety of topics related to living off grid, solar energy, rain water harvesting, and more:

12VDC_Power – We’re here to discuss 12VDC alternative power systems for off-grid homes, whether off-grid by choice or necessity. We’ll talk about any type of generation — wind, solar, hydro or whatever. And, we’ll also discuss storage and distribution systems for 12 VDC. And, not to eliminate anyone, we’ll gladly talk about 24 and 48 volt DC systems too. Our planet is rapidly running out of fossil fuels, and the pollution from those is destroying our environment. It’s time to utilize renewable energy and that’s why our group is here.

AlRutanMethane – This is a working group dedicated to developing methane digesters. This work was started by Al Rutan, The Methane Man.

AxialFlux – This group is dedicated to the Axial Flux Permanent Magnet Alternator, as designed by Hugh Piggott, with additional development by Dan Fink and Dan Bartmann of Otherpower, Steve Spence of Green-Trust and Jim Juczak of Woodhenge. This alternator uses rotating magnets and a fixed stator with handwound 3 phase coils. This design is applicable to wind, water, engine, even human and animal power.

DIYSolar – Home of the DIY Solar Install Guide This is a support group for those who want to install their own solar power system. There is an ebook, “DIY Solar Install Guide”, found at The eBook tells how to install your own solar power system. Includes tips on siting the panels, battery maintenance, and sizing a system.

DIY_Propane_Gen – Discuss convert your gasoline generator to multifuel, propane, methane and gasoline. There is an ebook, “DIY Propane Conversion eBook”, found at

DIY_Generator – This is a working group for home built generators and battery chargers for off-grid applications. We discuss instrumentation, smart charging, inverters and battery banks, and other off-grid components. The results of this group has been distilled into an eBook.

DIYVeggieDiesel – This is a support group for those who want to convert their diesels to run on vegetable oil.

DIYElectricVehicles – Building and modifying vehicles for human power, electric assist, and solar power.

HPWD – The discussion of any type of equipment or transportation using human muscles, usually leg muscles with cranks and chains. This includes generators, mills, drills, presses, boats, planes, and land vehicles. If a human muscle powers it, it’s on topic.

LogHomeTalk – Over time we have become a small log home community, separated only by distance we have become friends. We share a common goal of wanting to live in a log home. We also share the joy and pain of reaching that goal.

RainWater – A group dedicated to harvesting rain water as our source of water for household and garden needs. Water collection, purification, and storage will be discussed. Cistern construction, water conservation, system sizing and other topics are welcomed. Photo, Diagrams, and instructional material can be found in the files and photo’s section. Members may list photo’s of their installations. Links to other helpful sites are found in the links section. Grey water recycling is most pertinent, as are any topics that promote water conservation and non-aquifer depletion water sources like distillation of dew or sea water.

Resource_Conservation – Discuss tips for conserving energy and resources, and using it more efficiently. Download the guide from the files section.

SimplyOffGrid – This is for people who want to live off grid, at the same time, want to keep it simple as possible. If you are like minded, then you are welcome to join! We are all here to help each other out and to learn from common experience and research. Please post your links and research here so we can all glean from it. Book reviews are great too! Please share your experience, links, research and any tried and true ideas with us!! We share ours!


The DIY Berkey Water Purifier

The NEW Green Trust DIY Berkey Water Purifier is available, with a new video, new documentation, and in a less expensive kit form. Watch the video to see how easy it is to build a water purifier that will guarantee clean drinking and cooking water from a variety of contaminated sources. See for more info including the contaminant list.

The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water

DIY Berkey Kit $125 (two filters and a faucet):

Replacement filters $99 (twinpack):

Arsenic/Fluoride option (twin pack) $60 (screws into above filters):

See your purchase, and checkout:

DIY Berkey Water PurifiierMore DIY How To Projects


Building Your Own Generator and Alternative Fuels

diygenOff grid power systems commonly include a generator for backup when the sun and wind are not enough to keep your batteries charged. We have built our own inexpensive gensets using small engines (lawn mower) and car alternators. Gasoline is expensive, and refilling a generator every few hours can be dangerous and messy, along with high carbon monoxide output, so we show how to convert small engines to run on propane, methane (natural gas which includes biogas), and gasoline. Home made charge controllers and battery maintenance is also covered.

Check out the free resources at:


Free DIY Solar Install Guide

Our Methane Digester and Wind Turbine Tutorial give away was so popular (over 5000 requests so far), we have decided to do the same with our DIY Solar Install Guide. Learn the basics of installing your own solar panel (PV), charge controller, battery, and inverter. We even show a dc water pump accessory. This is an actual install we did in Anguilla for an offgrid cottage. Go to to download your free Guide, and tell your friends!

You can learn how to build your own solar panels at We have tested and approve this resource!

We have a DIY Solar discussion group at


How to obtain clean drinking water

Our recent trip to Anguilla reinforced upon me how we take clean drinking water for granted. On a fairly arid Island surrounded by salt water, drinking water is a scarce commodity, dependent upon imported fuel to run desalinators. I was able to examine some great examples of rain water harvesting (which most everyone there does), but no one drinks it, they buy water, either in 5 gallon jugs, or pay the water truck to fill a tank. I was able to demonstrate our DIY Berkey Water purifier, and explain how atmospheric water generators work. First the Berkey:

This non-electric (gravity) water purification system will purify up to 6000 gallons in the basic kit, 12000 gallons in the advanced kit, or 18000 gallons in the deluxe kit. It will purify rain water, ground water, or even greywater. All you have to provide is two food grade buckets (4-6 gallons) with lids. The square 4 gallon units can accommodate up to 4 filters, the round 5 & 6 gallon buckets can accommodate up to 8 in a pinch. The more filters you have the more GPH output you can supply.

See your purchase, and checkout:

All kits below include our DIY rainwater, solar water heating, and greywater recycling edocumentation set. Shipping is Free in the USA lower 48.

Basic DIY Berkey Kit $125 (two filters, faucet, and instructions):

Advanced DIY Berkey Kit $220 (four filters, faucet, and instructions):

Deluxe DIY Berkey Kit $299 (six filters, faucet, and instructions):

Replacement filters $99 (twinpack):

Arsenic/Fluoride option $60 (comes in sets of 2, screws onto above filters, need 1 for each filter in bucket. If six filters, need 3 sets):

Another option is a Atmospheric Water Generator. Although this option requires electricity, it uses a dehumidifier to pull moisture out of humid air, and runs it through a filter. We have run these units on solar power.


Build your own Berkey Water Filter

We are sending Berkey water purification units to areas of the world without clean drinking water, and want to show you how we build them. The Berkey strips out almost all known contaminants (specifications). You can build your own version of the venerable Berkey purifier.

We have adopted the Bornman’s who are ministering to the Tarahumara people of Mexico. They are getting the first batch of Berkey water purifiers. Help us send more filters by purchasing your own kits below, or donating at the left of this article.

DIY Berkey Kit $125 (two filters, faucet, and instructions):

Replacement filters $99 (twinpack):

Arsenic/Fluoride option (set of 2) $60 (screws into above filters):

See your purchase, and checkout:


The DIY Berkefeld (Berkey) Water Purifier Is Back!

diyberkeyAfter many issues with a supplier, and their quality control, we are re-introducing The DIY Berkefeld (Berkey) Water Purifier with the original white ceramic / carbon / silver impregnated purifier cartridges. Ceramic cartridges have been proven in third world countries for over 100 years. We are also including our eBook package on rain water harvesting, water purification and solar water heating. Get the details (and construction video) at

The Sterasyl grade ceramic is designed to remove suspended solids and pathogenic bacteria (>99.99%). The filter elements are produced using the latest ceramic techniques to provide a hollow porous ceramic, which is fired at a temperature in excess of 1,000º C. They are designed to operate with water flow going from the outside to the inside of the element. The ceramic shell exhibits a strictly controlled pore structure, so as to provide efficient sub-micron filtration, a proven defense against hard-shelled parasites such as Cryptosporidium as well as pathogenic bacteria. The ceramic also removes other less harmful, but equally unpleasant particulate debris such as rust and dirt. Composition of the SterasylTM ceramic contains pure silver. This silver is a material designed to significantly inhibit bacteriological mitosis or grow through. The result is that bacterial growth is inhibited from occurring within the SterasylTM ceramic element (which is possible with the other ceramic filter elements). This silver content insures that filtered water contains levels well below those required by international standards. Because of the silver, SterasylTM filter elements do not require sterilization after cleaning. Additionally, the bore of the ceramic shell is filled with granular activated carbon, which enables the filter to reduce chlorine and organic chemicals while improving the color, taste, and odor of the source water. The re-cleanable Super SterasylTM filter elements remove suspended solids, parasites, cysts and pathogenic bacteria (>99.99%) and reduce organic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, trihalomethanes, SOCs, VOCs and foul tastes and odors. The top of the Super SterasylTM element is closed with a unique ceramic dome. This prevents the possibility of breeching (leakage), which can occur with filtration elements that are closed with a plastic cap.


Build your own Solar Oven

Eric Smith has written a book full of practical projects that you can build to utilize the power of the sun. He has authorized us to provide one chapter of that book, that will teach you how to build a Solar Oven, for your education and enjoyment.

For the full book, DIY Solar Projects, see:


DIY Water Filtration

Making rain or surface water potable requires extensive filtration and biological action. Two ways of providing a biologically active area to clean the water is with a slow sand filter, or a fluidized bed filter. Slow sand filters are often used in third world nations to purify water. The top of the sand layer builds up a biologically active layer that traps and metabolizes organic matter.

The fluidized bed filter is also known as a quicksand filter. It pumps water through a bed of sand, turning the sand liquid. This captures foreign matter, and has a lot of surface area for bacteria to work on organic matter. Mostly used in aquarium systems, I don’t believe it’s as good as a slow sand filter for potable water production. It also requires energy to operate, unlike the slow sand filter.


DIY Generator Finished

Engine Alternator ProjectThe DIY Generator Project is finished. The engine and alternator are assembled, and ready for battery charging. Some improvements still to do:

  • 3 stage charger circuit
  • Propane / methane conversion
  • Garden cart for portability
  • Solar Panel Upgrade
  • Battery Bank / Inverter Upgrade

See more on this project and others at and kits are available at

Special thanks to:

US Carburetion

The Epicenter

Harbor Freight

Ample Power

Bogart Engineering