Tom's Alternative Energy Micro-systems website

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About This Site

Welcome to my website for those interested in electrical generation from alternative sources on a micro scale. I must tell you up front that I am not quite an expert on the subject, but rather someone who has installed his own tiny "green energy" system and wishes to share what he has learned with others. Like you, I've done a lot of research on the Internet, but found much of the information to be incomplete or downright inaccurate. With alternative energy such a popular topic now, it's no wonder so many individuals and companies are getting involved, either to help spread the word to others or to make some profit for themselves. I am firmly in the former category, and have an advantage over others who are giving advice.

I have been an electronics hobbyist and electronics technician for many years. I got started as a young lad when my dad, feeling it was unsafe to allow me to play with household current (120VAC), set me up with an old car battery, automotive-type light bulbs and a motor, switches, electrical wire and other such things. From this early experimentation with battery-supplied electrical systems I developed a life-long interest in all things electrical and mechanical, finally coming full circle at age 55 when I built my own solar panel to charge a household 12-volt system. I didn't stop at solar, though, and also turned an exercise bicycle and a treadmill into electrical generators to convert human energy into useful power that could help light our home in the evening. I even invested in a micro wind turbine to see what that would do.

For the purposes of this website, a "micro-system" is one that uses one or more sources of alternative energy to supply part of the total electrical demand of a single household. It is not connected to the electrical grid nor robust enough to operate major appliances for any length of time. I am passing along what I know about the subject of harnessing alternative energy sources on this very tiny scale, including the mistakes I've made that hopefully you can avoid. It is all free, but please understand that this is by no means a definitive work on the subject and, like others who are trying to spread knowledge, I am continuing to learn. I live in the USA, so the AC (mains current) I speak about is 120V at 60 cycles. If you live in another country it may be necessary to substitute another voltage and make allowances for other items I speak of.

I should mention that a tiny alternative energy system is not likely to save you any money. The three or four cents a day saved off the utility bill is just not going to pay for the investment, probably even in the long term. However, you'll be helping to do your part to reduce the reliance on electricity generated from non-renewable fuels in addition to giving yourself a good source of backup power. It pays to shop around before purchasing items for your home-generated energy system, whether they be large items like a PV panel or small ones like connectors or fuses. Prices can vary greatly between vendors and it's quite possible to pay double the amount you could have for the exact same item. Don't neglect to search the prices on the large Internet auction site in addition to those at online businesses and your local stores. You'll come closer to recouping the cost of an alternative energy system if you don't overpay. I do advise caution when investing in the equipment to generate and store your own electrical power. It is worthwhile to remember that there is no "magic" in alternative energy, whatever its source. Successful systems are built on sound scientific principles that have stood the test of time. If something sounds too good to be true and/or doesn't stand the test of reason, it may well be a deception. Your best defense against false claims is to become an educated consumer before spending any money. I hope the material presented here will help you in your endeavor.

Each webpage on this site has been created in a rudimentary fashion so that the information can be easily downloaded and saved to even the most obsolete home computer or portable device. Boxed links are provided near the top of each page that you may click on to quickly skip to topics that interest you.

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