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The 12 Volt Doctor’s Practical Handbook

12vdoctorOne of our favorite recommends for learning, building, and troubleshooting low voltage dc power systems is “The 12 Volt Doctor’s Practical Handbook“. This 200+ page booklet, though focused on the marine industry, explains everything you need to know about low voltage dc, switches, wiring, batteries, alternators, and more. Clear diagrams, schematics, and an easy to read dialogue completes the package.

Order this book from Amazon, email us the order confirmation, and we will email you the link to our DIY Solar and DIY Generator package for free.

Read more on this subject ….


Sizing a Micro Hydro Project

There is some simple math needed to figure out the potential for power at a particular site. Getting the numbers for the simple math can be a bit more complicated, But I will attempt to simplify that as well.

First the math:

P = the power output in kW
Q = the flow, in gallons per minute
H = Head, the vertical drop in Feet, from source to tail (affected by piping losses, more on that in a bit)
E = Efficiency of turbine (can be 40-90%)
K = Conversion factor (5302 for GPM)

So, P = (Q * H * E) / k


Q = 100 gpm
H = 30 ft.
E = 80%

Then 100 * 30 * .80 = 1200 / 5302 = .45 kW (450w)

This seems like very little output, but multiplied by 24 hours = 10.86 kWh daily.

Now, we mentioned piping losses. This affects your head (H) number. We are using 4″ PVC for the above example, so head loss is .17 feet. We would subtract this number from H in the above formula. You can calculate this number using the calculator at

How to determine your gallons per minute requires building a weir, and measuring the flow. We discuss that process (and the above) and much more in our ebook collection at

More info:


American made Nickel Iron (NiFe) Forever Batteries

We do not sell these batteries, or gain any monetary value from promoting this technology, other than the satisfaction of seeing folks get a superior off grid storage system.

Tonight we had a nice chat with Stephen Ellis, of Zappworks. They take original Edison NiFe batteries, and re-manufacture them with improvements, and make a battery superior to anything else on the market. Why is it superior?

Well, for one, it’s the last set of batteries you’ll ever need to buy. Your grandkids will still be using them. Unlike lead acid batteries, the electrodes do not decay during use. Only the electrolyte (KOH) needs changing every decade or so, and there’s no lead to pollute the environment, not like you’d ever need to throw these away.

Ok, so what else makes them superior? Well, when you buy pack of lead acid batteries, and you need 1000 ah of storage, you actually have to buy nearly 2000 ah, as about 50% of the battery capacity can’t be used without severely degrading battery life. Not so with the Edison battery, you can discharge it down to 95%, and the voltage stays stable!

You want more? Ok. If you over charge, under charge, or leave a lead acid battery stagnate (no charging, no discharging), you damage the battery. You can take a battery bank that should last 7+ years, and kill it in less than 3. You can’t damage a NiFe pack by over charging, under charging, or leaving them unused for long periods of time. In fact, in one year they will have only lost 30% of their charge if left unconnected.

“Ok, but I heard they are very inefficient, and you have to put a lot more power into them than you get back”. Not so with these batteries. For every 100ah you want out, you need to put 130 ah in, making them 70% efficient at converting chemical to electrical energy. Normal lead acids beat that by only 10%.

Like lead acids, you need to add distilled water every month or so, and the battery box needs to be vented to the outdoors. They produce hydrogen when charging over 80%, but not the sulfur that lead acids produce, so no corrosion issues. Auto watering systems are available.

They have similar temperature requirements, 60F – 100F is optimum.

They do have different charge voltages, so you will need a programmable charge controller and inverter, like the Outback units.

Unlike lead acid batteries, you can add new batteries to expand the pack at will. You can’t mix old and new lead acid batteries together, as the old ones will bring the new ones down to their level.

NiFe’s are a bit more expensive than lead acid batteries (about 25%), but you only need to pay it once. It’s the last battery pack you will ever need to buy, and it’s American made! Do we like these batteries? You Bet!


Todays podcast: All about wind turbines

We have finished the weekly podcast, and the topic is wind turbines. We cover siting, types of wind turbines, free tutorials, and DIY vs. commercial. We believe we have provided a lot of quality information, so don’t miss it at

Homebrew Wind Power


Building your own wind turbine (and solar panel)

Did you know you can make a inexpensive wind turbine by modifying an existing 1.5 kw ac motor by replacing the rotor coils with magnets, and making blades out of pvc pipe? Have you ever wanted to learn how to build a solar panel from scratch? Alex Hughes makes it easy with these very descriptive and easy to follow (and reproduce) video’s. These instructions are the real deal, no fluff.

DIY Wind Turbine and Solar Panels


What are we eating? Hungry for Change!

Do you know where your food comes from, and how it’s prepared?

Read more at and


Shell, and others, sponsoring Fuel Efficiency Technology

Shell is investing heavily into fuel efficiency and alternative energy solutions. Please comment on how you perceive the traditional oil companies are moving towards efficiency and environmentally friendly solutions. Read more about Shell’s Alternative Energy Projects.


Making Steam from Solar Energy – redux

A while back, Robert Saunders sent us an article on a steam turbine he was working on. Then he sent another on solar energy steam electric. Well, here is his third chapter in this continuing quest. Hope you enjoy:


Our vegetable oil burner has arrived

babington_1We drove to Massachusetts yesterday to visit Tom Leue from, and brought back one of his Recycled Vegetable Oil (RVO) burners. This is designed to replace a standard 4″ Beckett burner in a boiler or furnace, can be installed in a drum for a shop heater, used to heat water, or even create steam for a steam engine powered heat and electric application (Combined heat and power, or CHP). We talked a bit a few days ago about this burner in a previous blog article, which gives more info on the burner itself. This design is based on a Babington burner that injects air through a tiny jet in a ball, and pumps oil over the ball, forming a ignitable vapor when the oil covers the jet of air, similar to a whale’s blowhole. Discussions of the Babington principle are commonly held at


Windy Days at Green Trust

We finally got the AIR-X (400 watt) wind turbine raised today, just in time for a windy mini blizzard. It sits on 30′ of 3″ galvanised pipe, bolted to the side of the house. We used a backhoe to pull a rope, connected to the tower at the 20′ mark, over the top of the house, as we didn’t have the manpower to pull it ourselves. We put two other ropes on either side of the turbine to keep it from sliding perpendicular to the direction we wanted to to go.

I don’t have my anemometer up to check wind speeds, but the turbine is peaking at 300 watts and singing like a stool pigeon. I have the output of the turbine (the negative) running through a shunt connected to my FLEXnetDC battery monitor, so my Outback Mate tracks the power the turbine collects. My solar panels connect to another shunt, and my inverter to the third shunt. This gives me detailed information on my production and usage.

I have some of pictures of the process posted at and more coming shortly.

The Whisper (500 watt) is the next unit to go up, followed by the rebuilt 24 volt (was 12v) 1000 watt Axial Flux Turbine.