Due to so much civil unrest and a world of social distancing, people are moving off-grid and working remotely. If you’re considering hitting the road or starting a remote homestead, you need to know how to generate electricity. If you want to have wifi to order your CBD edibles, or stream a movie, and in order to have wifi, you need electricity.
There are some easy ways to harness the energy of the natural world and convert it to usable electricity. By combining some of these techniques, or scaling a single technique, you can easily generate enough electricity for all of your daily needs.
In this article we will discuss different ways to capture energy, but there are some materials that you need to store the electricity and convert it to usable energy.
WARNING: This article is in no way a comprehensive guide to any form of electrical work. If you try anything listed in this article without the supervision of a professional you could be seriously injured or killed. Electricity is no joke, and a single misstep could kill you instantly.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.
All of the following techniques capture energy from nature, but what happens after the energy is captured?
Once energy has been captured by a solar panel or turbine, it needs to be converted to 12v electricity through a series of capacitors or resistors. The techniques we will cover in this article will use easily accessible recycled materials that are already set-up to generate 12v electricity. You will, however, need a charge controller to make sure you don’t overcharge your batteries.
After being converted to the desired voltage (12v, 24v, 48v etc.), the electricity needs to go to a storage bank. This allows the electricity to accumulate and be saved for later use. For all of the following techniques, you’ll need a 12v battery of your choice. The best batteries are made of lithium and have a high number of Ah (Amp Hours).
You’ll also need a fuse panel and if you plan on using appliances that use more than 12v, then you’ll need an inverter as well. A power inverter will convert the 12v electricity to 120v or more. Most household appliances in the U.S require 120v. The fuse panel will prevent accidents and help you distribute power to different sockets or lights.
Once you’ve gathered your charge controller, batteries, inverter, and fuse panel, it’s time to decide how you’re actually going to get some electricity flowing.
Solar panels are the easiest and most obvious choice. They are incredibly reliable and can generate quite a bit of electricity. Clouds are their achilles heel. If you have a week of cloudy weather, it can leave you without power to charge crucial things like your phone or computer. If you’re living off-grid, you need to be able to contact people in an emergency. If the power goes out, you need a back up.That being said, if you have a big battery bank, you can store enough electricity for a month or more.
You can easily buy solar panels online, and there are countless tutorials on how to wire them properly. Essentially, the positive wires from the solar panels run to the charge controller. You simply connect the positive wire to the positive input and do the same with the negative wire. Then you run positive and negative wires form the charge controller to their corresponding terminals on your battery bank.
DIY Wind Turbine
You’ve undoubtedly seen a huge field of wind-turbines at some point in your life. They often exist in the middle-of-nowhere places you pass on a road-trip, but are being seen more and more frequently near towns and cities.
Turbines are one of the most material-efficient ways to generate electricity. The only down-fall is that you need to live in a very windy place if this is going to be your only method of generating electricity. You can easily combine wind turbines and solar-panel systems. You just need an extra charge controller for the wind turbine, and run positive and negative from the controller to the same battery bank the solar is connected to.
DIY Water Turbine
Water turbines and wind turbines can be made from a recycled alternator from a car or truck. Alternators work by spinning a magnet inside a bundle of copper wire. The resistance from the magnet generates energy in the copper wire and that energy is then sent to a battery bank.
To make a wind or water turbine, you connect an alternator to a turbine in a way that allows the turbine to spin the alternators magnet. For a wind turbine, you need a fan-style turbine. For a water turbine, you will need your blades to sit in a way that the water spins them.
Water turbines generate electricity in the same way wind turbines do; they spin a magnet in a coil of copper wire. The difference is that water turbines sit on top of streams or rivers, and utilize the natural energy generated by the current to spin the turbine.
Those who build water turbines need to be especially careful to to let the alternator or any wires get wet.
In a worst-case-scenario, you can always generate electricity with your legs. If you have a bike and a recycled alternator, you can simply connect the alternator to the bike and spin the magnet with pedaling.
The best way to connect an alternator to a bicycle is with a large fan-belt from a car. One way to doit is to take the back tire off its rim, and run the fan belt over it. Then connect the fan belt from the rim of the back tire to the drive shaft on the alternator.
Generating electricity is easy, but make sure to seek professional guidance, because any of the aforementioned techniques can easily kill you if you make even a single mistake.