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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 ….


Survival for the Medically Dependent

Power outages are bad for those with medicines that need refrigeration. An extended outage for folks with Type 1 diabetes and other conditions requires a good generator, a long term fuel source, or other option. Here is one we recommend. A Stirling powered cooler (4 amps @ 12v) can run well off 300 watts of solar (PV) and two Trojan T-105 batteries. No inverter required. Low parts count means little to breakdown, little need for service, increasing reliability, and lowering operating expenses. These units perform better, and use less power than the common Peltier thermo electric models. These are ideal for third world no-grid applications as well. A simple solar power setup to drive this is How to make your own Emergency Power System with appropriate pv and battery upgrades.


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.


Electric Lawn Tractors

A reader on our 12v group brought up this topic, and it started the idea engine. There were a few models available in the past, of lawn and garden tractors, that used electric motors instead of fuel driven engines. Quieter, easier on the environment and your lungs, and arguably, on your wallet, it’s apparent that they are attempting a comeback. Appropriate on a off-grid homestead like ours, we are researching the availability, and possibility of converting our Sears mower to electric. See the following resources:

Please let me know if you find more of these units available or even DIY conversions.


New Environmentally Focused Videos

We have a new feature on our website. A series of environmentally focused videos can be found on the lower right side of this post and other articles on this website. Also check out the discussion topics to the right of this post. Hope you enjoy.


DIY Solar Install Guide – Now Available

Our guide to installing your own power system is finished, and available on our eBook page at

Covering Sizing, siting, installation, and battery maintenance, it’s a good guide to putting together your own inexpensive system. Includes private discussion group and free updates.


Anguilla Solar

We just got back from our trip to Anguilla. We helped Francoise set up her new solar power system. Two Kyocera 130 watt PV panels, a Xantrex C35 charge controller, a Trimetric Battery Meter, a Morningstar Microsine 300 sine wave inverter, and a 70 ah AGM battery, power up 3 Compact Fluorescent Lights, A LG WP-680N Washing Machine (260 Watts) and a Shurflo 12v pump. Two weeks of testing, and we were never able to pull the battery below 12.4 volts. The system consistently output 1.5 kWh’s daily. More pics at Solar/.


Solar Install in Anguilla

We are off on our trip to Anguilla to do a solar install. Be back in 2 weeks, and expect to have a tan. Will post pics when we return. The install consists of two 130 watt panels, 35 amp charge controller, 1 AGM 70ah battery, a 300 watt sine wave inverter, and a 12 volt shurflo cistern pump. See pics of last weeks solar install at


All About Batteries

Off grid homes, RV’s, and boats use a house bank, a bank of batteries used to store the energy from solar, wind, and backup generators for times of no sun or no wind. These are not car batteries, these are specially designed deep cycle batteries that can handle repeated deep discharge and charge cycles. Learn about the following and more from Living With 12vdc and Wiring For 12vdc, on the Ample Power CD at

  • What happens inside a battery when it discharges and
  • How much energy can be stored?
  • How is storage capacity measured?
  • How can capacity remaining be determined?
  • When is the best time to recharge?
  • What charging techniques yield optimum performance?
  • How fast can a battery be charged?
  • How should a battery be discharged?
  • What kind of regular maintenance is required?
  • What pitfalls must be avoided?

Watermotor – Simple Mechanical Drive

Most of the common machines used in workshops, industry, and farms are driven by motors of only .5 – 5 horsepower. The Watermotor will produce this amount of power at an extremely low cost and with a minimum of ecological disruption.

High energy efficiency means that the quantity of water necessary for operation and cost of installation is greatly reduced, while on the other hand the number of actual locations where waterpower on this scale is available increases exponentially. In effect, every small fast-flowing stream becomes an important local energy resource, perhaps in many cases the only practical one available. In the world’s hilly and mountainous areas there are often few roads and even fewer electric power-lines. While frequently rich in small scale water-power resources, the people are poor.

The Watermotor is a practical means of utilizing one of the easiest to use and most efficient sources of natural energy.