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Alternative Residental Power -- little help?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion (Work-safe)' started by Clarity, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. Clarity

    Clarity Will Bryant Staff Member

    First, let me say that JEA (Jacksonville Electric Authority) is far and away the worst utility I've ever had the displeasure of being forced to use. It might just be the area I live in, so maybe some of my fellow Jax Buckeyes haven't suffered the same surges, outages, on/off/on/off/on switching that goes on constantly, etc., but it's awful.

    A perfect example is when, because they don't bother trimming tree limbs, a sagging branch took out a line, which caused a fire, which took out a substation, which took down the entire city of Jacksonville for about 9 hours. (1) The limb shouldn't have touched the line, (2) even if it had, it shouldn't have caused a fire in their substation, (3) a fire in one substation shouldn't have taken the entire grid down. But I digress, the point is that JEA is, in my opinion, obscenely negligent across the board. As I sit here, my power has 'dipped' 4 times in the last 30 minutes. Enough each time to reset every clock and piece of equipment in the house.

    The point of all of this is that I'm fed up, and I want independence from the grid. At least to relegate their energy to my backup.

    I've spent the afternoon Googling, and it looks like there was a ton of chatter about a residential fuel cell product from GE called the HomeGen 7000. But everything online about it is from 1999-2002 or so, all talking about it coming out in 2003, but there's nothing recent. All links to it at GE have been scrubbed clean like it never existed.

    I'm not stuck on residential fuel cells, although that's the first area I started reading on. I'm in Florida, so I suppose something along the lines of solar wouldn't be a horrible proposition -- I just don't know if that's reliable and constant enough to make my situation better. I also don't know what upkeep of something like that is. Do you have to go up and play it Phish and Greatful Dead records to keep it happy? Does it need a constant supply of hemp products and tie dye? I'm just clueless (and joking).

    I could also go in another direction, and buy a residential gas generator. But those only kick in usually after power has gone out, and running an engine in my garage doesn't seem like the best option.

    The goal is uninterrupted power, the cleaner the better, the less maintenance the better, the more efficient the better.

    Surely someone here has looked into it all before, and can share some insight, perspective, or maybe a couple links.

    Or is the dream of NOT being slave to the local power company, their idiocy and incompetance, completely unrealistic?
  2. redskinbucksfan

    redskinbucksfan The brownest of the brown liquors

    As a Cleveland resident, I feel your pain.
  3. DaytonBuck

    DaytonBuck I've always liked them

    anything is happier with a constant supply of hempesque products :biggrin:
  4. BrutuStrength

    BrutuStrength It's time to bring it!


    Clarity, I wish I could be more helpful but I've only recently begun to consider a natural gas generator, and I haven't done any research on them yet. All I know is that the guy on the radio said they can install them for under $2,000. But, as you've already dutifully noted, I don't think that they kick on until the power is completely interrupted.
  5. BuckeyeInTheBoro

    BuckeyeInTheBoro This space left intentionally blank

    THIS tells me it's being done in Florida... although I can't find much useful info either. Basically this says you can wire your SPS (solar) unit into the grid and offset your electric bill. You can even return energy to the electric company if you generate more than you use, but you will not be paid for this... it can only be used as a credit to offset future bills during a 12 month period.
    I didn't find any mention of JEA in this though.
  6. FCollinsBuckeye

    FCollinsBuckeye Senior Former Game Champion

    Some friends of mine live west of Ft. Collins in the mountains, and are completely off the grid. They started up a few web-businesses, one of which may be of interest to you. Check them out at:

    Good luck!
  7. BuckeyeInTheBoro

    BuckeyeInTheBoro This space left intentionally blank

  8. NorthShoreBuck

    NorthShoreBuck True Madness Requires Significant Intelligence


    I would say the entire state of Florida has the same trouble as JEA. I lived in several FLA locations and worked with most of the power companies including JEA. FPC, FPL, Lakeland and all the renamed entities had issues. I lost a TV and VCR before I bought an industrial surge protector.

    In any case if you would like to install some form of supplemental power I suspect JEA will tell you to do it on your own without their support.

    I haven't seen much on a fuel cells for awhile. The generator option is viable but you would want to have the generator outside of any building as I imagine code would require. In another thread I mentioned I looked at all these alternative options when I built my house 8? years ago. It was costly and maintenance was an unknown back then. The solar panels were able to produce enough to significantly reduce but not eliminate your need for electricty.

    My wife does get the magazines that show the impossibly expensive homes and they had an issue addressing this subject. Again these are self contained units with starting prices of $5000 for limited run time on up. I think it was Home or House magazine that recently did an issue. Maybe you can search for that.

    I live in Louisiana and many people have the small generators for hurricane emergencies. This is a manual process where once the power is out they start the units up. Most just run the refrigerator and TV's, no A/C or major systems.
  9. BuckeyeInTheBoro

    BuckeyeInTheBoro This space left intentionally blank


    I'm picturing Clarity building this:
    in Jacksonville!

    I don't know Clarity, but I've always pictured him in a middle-class subdivision. Not trying to poke fun at your friends FCollins... I think it's cool they're off the grid, but picturing that cabin in a subdivision near Jacksonville is still funny! Somebody photoshop that here:

  10. BIATCHabutuka

    BIATCHabutuka out of chaos comes playoffs

    if it is mainly your computer or just a few select devices perhaps a simple back up power supply or two will work. they don't last long but they will get you through the hiccups and they aren't a huge out of pocket cost.
  11. FCollinsBuckeye

    FCollinsBuckeye Senior Former Game Champion

    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    BuckeyeintheBoro - I havn't laughed that hard in a long time. That's an absolutely hilareous 'juxtaposition'. hehe

    Seriously, these guys are definately doing some 'rustic' looking things, but their work is truly ingenious.

    Perhaps the power-generating hampster is more up your alley, Clarity? :lol: See the 'experiments' link on their website to check that one out :wink:
  12. RugbyBuck

    RugbyBuck Our church has no bells.

    Great picture. I'm seriously considering buying an old diesel Mercedes b/c there's a guy here who produces biodiesel from left-over restaurant oil. I'm all for getting "off of the grid" and I'm pretty white collar.
  13. Clarity

    Clarity Will Bryant Staff Member

    Hey all,

    First, thanks for the responses. A ton of good info (I've already started making some calls and asking around), and a few laughs to boot.

    Most of my concern is actually related to my health. When it gets up around 90 here, if the power goes out for more than, say, 10-15 minutes or so, I'm in trouble. I'm entirely dependent on a fixed atmosphere. A specific range of humidity, a specific range of temperatures. Sounds stupid, but even a 5 degree shift can lay me out hard. Severe swings can do worse. So while I want an alternative (or supplement) to the grid for convenience (staying online, not losing tv, etc.), I mostly want it for comfort, and literally safety.

    I guess we're still years away from fuel cells being a viable option residentially, but I'm warming (no pun intended) to the prospect of solar panels, and perhaps some sort of battery storage system to store a surplus? I don't know, I'll have to talk to some electricians around here that do such things.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2004
  14. luckobucko

    luckobucko Robust T


    I have some off-topic questions for you relating to Jacksonville. I live in Tampa and have visited JAX many times (my wife's best friend lives there.) We go to the BW-3 on Baymeadows every time we go up to JAX, BW's always reminds me of good times at OSU when we go there. Anyway, I was wondering if you were part of the Buckeye contingent that goes there every Saturday. I was there for the Northwestern game two years ago and the Penn State game last year, that BW-3 is the best buckeye crowd at a bar that I've been able to find down here in FLA. If you are a BW's regular there, do you know what happened to the banner that said, "welcome to the Ohio State University Jacksonville campus."
  15. Clarity

    Clarity Will Bryant Staff Member

    Hey Lucko,

    I'm entirely familiar with that BW3, and the throng of OSU fans that head there on game days. Jacksonville as a whole seems to have a ton of OSU fans. But no, I'm not one of the regulars there. You might try and track down JaxBuck, or Kippy1040. I think they've both been there a number of times.

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