Living on 12 volts

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Richard on Maui, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Okay, a while ago I remember there was a discussion going on in here where the pro's and con's of running an inverter were discussed... I remember Christopher was championing systems without inverters, as an inverter is another piece of electronics to wear out or break down. Now I'm wondering if you Christopher, or anyone else hereabouts these days who has experience of running without an inverter can offer any advice or tips.
    My family and I are thinking about moving out of the big house we currently occupy into a smaller one, which currently doesn't have any power. We might hook it up to the Air X wind genny I have mentioned here before, and maybe a couple of panels. I have a second hand charge controller, so if we go 12 v the only thing extra we would need I think is batteries.
    Basically our main uses for power in this dwelling would be lighting and this laptop computer I am tapping on. I would hate to let my post count fall too far behind Tezza's, but mostly my Mrs would need it for the online degree she is pursuing.
    So, I know that you can get 12v lights, but can you run a computer on 12v?
    Does anyone do stuff like take lights and stereo's out of cars and boats and run them in their 12v homes?
     
  2. dryland dweller

    dryland dweller Junior Member

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    Richard most laptops need more than 12vdc. Mine uses 19vdc and my laptop printer has stuffed battery so I use a 150w modified sinewave inverter(cheapy) and plug the laptop and printer 240v charger/transformer in and no probs saves the hassles too
    Pete
     
  3. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    Could the 12V be connected to an UPS?
     
  4. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    I find it very interesting that after millions of dollors spent and more human hours are used in the invention of 12 volt power..

    Ive heard of people needing their TV radios,Computers,for all sorts of emergancy uses,life threatening stuff in reality.......But never thought some would use their brain power for evil intentions......

    Hey ricky your a sicko.........the things youll stoop to for glory is mind boggling...... 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

    Why dont u just slip Sir Muzza a 10$ tip thats what i do.his rate to me is 50c per post


    Tezza
     
  5. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    I tell you what UNcle Tez, that was a serious question, but you have got me a bit worried how you streaked out from behind me to suddenly be about 15 posts ahead!
     
  6. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Richard,

    Our lights are all 12vdc in our house for simplicity, and my laptop is run off a 12 vdc adapter (for use in cars), which is a third party after market sort of thing. The battery voltage of the laptop is something like 24vdc, but running it through a dc/dc converter is more efficient than stepping 12vdc up to 110 AC and then stepping that down to 24vdc, sonce there are inefficiencies at every step of the way. So you can run a laptop on 12vdc, you just have to find an "automotive" converter and hard wire it into your system (or at least thgat's what works for me).

    The printer, the satellite internet, the kitchen, the power tools and washing machine all run on 110 AC. I like the laptop and lights on low voltage as I can shut down the inverter when the kitchen is not in use, and this kills any small useless load the inverter might draw.

    We are building a new classroom with 4 rooms with 8 beds above it, and this house will be another system like ours. I like 12vdc lighting systems as if/when the inverter fails, you still have lights. This house will have 110 outlets in each room for laptops, and we hope to hook it by wireless LAN to our satellite so that the classroom is where poeple will go to get email (not our house, like now).

    You can use car stereos in your house. My freind Jake has one of those urban glass rattler earth quake "her-they-come" steroes in his house, and it goes >boompresto< you now have a nice cheap 12vdc stereo system.....

    Good luck!

    C
     
  7. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    So, when people charge their laptops with those little folding solar panels, there is an inverter involved? And I thought people had plugs that went straight from the back of the computer to the cigarette lighter hole in their cars? Like a cellphone or whatever? I am pretty ignorant about all this crap I guess.
    I can't really claim that my computer use is essential though. I mean, most of it involves reading Tezza's and the rest of your posts, and down loading "Late Night Live" onto the pod gizmo my Mum gave me for my birthday. Oh, there's another reason I "need" electricity. I know that thing charges on 12v.
     
  8. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hey Richard,

    Living "off the grid" on 12 vdc power is very do-able. For your wife's laptop, consider a dc-to-dc converter (as mentioned by Christopher) such as one of these: https://www.powerstream.com/ADC-p006.htm to get from 12 vdc to your higher laptop voltage.

    Or, you could charge your "house" batteries at 12 vdc in parallel to each other, but draw 24 vdc from two of them in series to power a 24vdc dc-to-dc converter for the laptop. Want to be sure to load the batteries evenly across however many you have in your bank.

    I agree with Christopher that an inverter is less efficient than the dc-to-dc converter.

    I lived for a couple of years in a 12 vdc travel trailer (caravan in Aussie?) off the grid with no problems at all, using lights and 12 vdc supplied heater and refridgerator electronics (lp gas). Good luck!

    9anda1f
     
  9. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Hey thanks fellers. Christopher, you must have posted as I was composing my follow up earlier today.
    So, I should be able to find a DC/DC converter pretty easily in a auto parts store or somewhere similar, eh?
    I think the only things that we would require an inverter for would be the coffee grinder, (pretty essential for me, unfortunately) and the blender (very nice when we have the regular glut of bananas come in...
    Once again, thanks. You two are like my virtual alt. energy consultants or something!
     
  10. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Richard,

    We used a corona mill to hand grind our coffee for years... but I like my little electric grinder to make it fine for the espresso pot. Not unfortunate to be addicted to coffee! Think of it as a quality of life issue, a vitamin for thye soul, and, as this NYTimes article shows, coffee is actually good for you:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/15/...ml?ex=1156132800&en=afcf16557c7708cf&ei=5087

    The little solar panels are cute, but.... not really what you need. They also just make DC, no inverter involved. Since you will already have the solar/wind hybrid system, just get the adapter.

    G'luck!

    C
     
  11. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Uh, yeah, right. No, I brought up the little folding panels only because it seemed to me that an earlier response was saying that you needed to make it AC to run the laptop, when now I realise that probably they were just telling me that 12v isn't quite enough.
    Anyway, about the coffee. Yeh, I like the vitamin for the soul way of looking at it. I am pretty sure that the amount that I drink is not healthy for my actual body however, although my family does have a fairly high incidence of diabetes, so maybe on that count I am doing myself a favour... I drink so much that the hand grind thing just wouldn't be a good thing. Like you, I am all about the stovetop espresso thing, so I need it pretty fine... Based on past experience of such devices, at present consumption rates, it would probably take me about 45 minutes of grinding a day... Maybe that is a way I could encourage myself to gradually cut down... Or, maybe my 3 year old daughter is almost old enough, maybe I could train her to grind my coffee... hmmm... :twisted:
     
  12. Ramon

    Ramon Junior Member

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    We were travelling last year in a campervan and although many laptops run fine on the 12V car adaptor, mine has a large screen and needed more power. So I bought a small inverter(55 Euro) and charged through the day and plugged in at night after the laptop battery got a little low. I could get several hours out of a small car battery. If I hooked up the main battery (say when parked on a hill -hard to sleep) then I could run almost overnight. 12V should be no problem for Laptops if you check before buying one. Having also had some experience on a bush block, most other appliances can be managed if you are careful. If you get a small generator just to take the peeks, then anything is possible. Peeks are the problem, my approach would be to size for just above average use then use a generator for peeks. Alternately you could get a windmill and plan to do most of your washing when the wind blows.
     
  13. BlackPacker

    BlackPacker Junior Member

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    I'm like a hog digging roots...

    Keep dredging up old threads.

    I'm looking to do a 12vdc system in the cabin, as the parts are available, and would allow a portable battery bank to be charged at the ranch (with umpteen panels and two huge 48vdc batt banks). It appears that the previous owner had a similar rig set up, just judging from the automobile 8track players still half wired up in the kitchen.

    As for the washing based on wind power, I have always been a bit surpised that so much effort is out into turning kinetic and solar energy into electrical power, to run things like washers and dryers, which could be replaced by kinetic energy or solar.

    As for the coffee grinder, I spent three weeks once using a hammer and wax paper. Definately curbed my consumption and encouraged me to grind it at the market instead of at home.

    https://www.dencities.com/denmall/denmal ... nce11.html

    WOW. Googled it. Scroll to bottom of page, a 12 volt blender and coffee grinder! My guess is that it makes more lumpies than smoothies, but it grinds coffee.

    Uh, this is post 3, I think. Watch out you guys, I'm catching up!
     
  14. Shack Living

    Shack Living Junior Member

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    I have found that most of the appliances made for 12V are of poor quality. I think the best method would be buying 240V, and putting in good quality DC motor.
     
  15. davo

    davo Junior Member

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    Rainbow Power Company

    Check out the Rainbow Power Company at Nimbin, NSW, Australia. They are very much into alternative power and energy there.

    For those of you outside of Australia, Nimbin was a little town that had a rock festival some decades ago, and all the hippies stayed and became residents in the town. Lots of alternative ideas there!

    https://www.rpc.com.au/
     
  16. LittleFish

    LittleFish Junior Member

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    G'day Richard
    I'm in the same boat at the moment where putting in mains power would involve bulldozing 500m of pristine forest next to my block. So I would rather go solar and let the trees stand.
    A laptop can run from 12volt with a pretty standard adaptor. The current setup using an inverter is to go:12v-240v-19v where each conversion is a loss of energy.
    A laptop converter will go 12v-19v bypassing one unneccessary step.
    Stereos can be rewired to take 12v directly. Fridges can have their compressors replaced with a 12v compressors. Only washing machines and vacuum cleaners need 240v.

    looking forward to all posts

    Stephen
     

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