*Alt Energy, Where to Start?*
The VERY Basics
By: Warlord
10 April 2005

One of the most common questions I get on Alternate energy is "Where should I start"?

Alt Energy isn't cheap. But it's not expensive to START. So where DO you start?

Start with Batteries. As a Standard we use "Group 27" DeepCycle Marine batteries mainly because they are inexpensive and easy to come by. Wal-Mart carries the Rubicon Standard 27DC-6 DeepCycle battery for right around 60 bux. Buy two if you can, but one is fine.

Please remember that we want DEEP CYCLE batteries.. Not normal "Car Batteries"... Deep Cycle Batteries are designed to be deeply discharged and then quickly recharged.. a Normal Car battery will die fast if treated in this manner. Wheel Chair Batteries, Boating Batteries (Deep Cycle Marine Batteries), RV Batteries, etc.. Most all of these will work.

If you buy just one Battery, Skip the rest of this Paragraph.. if you Buy Two batteries then read on. Using good wire, Connect these two Batteries in Parallel (As shown directly above)... meaning connect the Positive terminal from one battery to the Positive Terminal of the other battery with a good gauge of Wire (Jumper cables will do in a pinch)

Now Connect the Negative terminal of One battery to the Negative Terminal of the other battery as shown in the picture above... you now have two batteries connected in "Parallel" and about 300 amps to play with.

Next get an Inverter. The biggest wattage you can afford is fine, but something above 300 watts is good and cheap (And again, Wal-Mart has them).. Most of us seem to end up with many inverters ranging in the 1000Watt to 2000 watt range, but you don't need anything that big to start off, especially if you just need to power a few small items at first during an emergency.

What size inverter you buy is up to you. If you plan to expand your system later, and can afford a better inverter now, buy the better/bigger inverter and that's something you won't have to replace later as you upgrade your system. Most Inverters have Alligator clamps on them. Connect these clamps to ONE of your batteries. The Red clamp should go to the POSITIVE terminal of your chosen battery (Marked with a PLUS Sign (+). The Black Clamp should go to your Negative terminal of your chosen Battery (Marked with a NEGATIVE Sign (-)..

Plug Your Appliance into your inverter, turn on the inverter and then turn on the appliance... CONGRATULATIONS You are now making and using Alt power!

Next you need a charger to keep the batteries charged. A car Battery charger, or automotive trickle charger, will work fine and can be bought at Wal-Mart Cheap.

You many want to put all this stuff in a Rubbermaid container because batteries have acid in them that can ruin your clothing and carpets... and it's a good idea to keep the battery box in a well ventilated area since batteries give off small amounts of dangerous gases when they charge or discharge. Putting the stuff in a box of some sort also makes the heavy thing a lot more portable.

"But War! The Power has gone off for a long time and I don't have a way to recharge these batteries!"

Sure ya do.. Sitting right out in your driveway... Pull your vehicle up VERY near your house (Watch those exhaust fumes though), and run jumper cables from the positive terminal of your vehicle's battery (RED) to the positive terminal of your Alternate power Battery(s). Crank the Vehicle, And then run the negative jumper cable from the negative terminal on your vehicle's battery to the negative terminal of your Alternate power Battery(s). Now you are recharging your alternate power batteries, AND you can still use the inverter for running lights and stuff... Here's some more info on this in THIS ARTICLE

Your Charging methods will eventually be replaced by solar panels or wind generators, and Charge controllers, etc.... and there are SCORES of articles on that subject here in many sections of the Alpha/Rubicon site... the Alternate Energy Area of the Public Alpha Site, the Alternate Energy section of the Rubicon's restricted area, and the Alpha Way Section in the Rubicon's restricted area... All have MANY articles in great detail on MANY types of alt power systems and setups and even step-by-step "How to's".

THINK SMALL for right now.. you are NO WHERE NEAR being at a point where you can start running a lot of appliances, but you can run a TV set, or radio or a light or two (Especially if you use compact Fluorescent bulbs in a lamp)

But all you really need to get you started is a battery or two, an inverter and a way to charge your batteries... Where you go from there is up to you, But with Planning, some basic research and reading and UNDERSTANDING the Articles here, you'll have a nice Alt Power set up in no time!


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