There’s a little MacGyver in each of us. And if you top this with a need do save some money or a certain eco-friendliness, than you might find yourself tinkering a solar panel or wind generator quite soon. You might need a guide, and this review is trying to find out if Do It Yourself Green Energy eBook (available at diy green energy) is capable of helping you in that way.
After a short introduction presenting you with the reasons why you might want to switch to alternative off-grid sources of electricity and the savings you might gain, the book takes you through the processes of building a solar panel, a wind generator, the power generating system and the basics of Biodiesel production.
But let’s pause on the introduction itself for a few seconds and let me quote the author of this e-book: “Adjust your thermostat. In the winter, set it at 68 – 70ºF when you’re home, and 62ºF when you’re away or in bed. In the summer, set it to 74-76ºF when you are home and 82ºF when you are away.” Now, it might all be about preferences, but that sounds at least a bit odd. Why would I want to over-heat my home in the summer while I’m away? Sources argue about these values, as the best temperature for comfort should be around 78ºF. The author is clearly aiming for that temperature by leveling it with home/away temperature differences. But this mostly depends on your A/C and its properties. You might end up consuming a lot more by trying to obtain the best temperature as an average rather than directly. Please note that setting the temperature in your habitat has also a lot to do with your body’s preferences and your health.
The next chapter deals with the way you can build a solar panel right in your back yard, starting from scratch: how to choose the cells, how to wire them together, and how to frame the entire ensemble. Unfortunately, the author fails to show the real costs of setting a solar panel based energy generator, as he clearly states that home wiring itself should be done by a professional. Depending on your home and the existing wiring system, this part might boost your investments pretty much.
Also, the author simply jumps from building the solar panel to the next chapter, which deals with wind generated energy. He forgets to tell how to set the panels themselves so they can indeed be efficient! He says nothing about the angles, when to change the angles, and how to protect and maintain the solar cells periodically. If not careful, you might find yourself the owner of a solar panel array that barely captures enough solar energy to light a bulb.
Moving on, I’d like to notice that this e-book is mostly dedicated to US customers, as the author uses eBay as the best way of buying parts for the solar or wind energy generating solutions he’s presenting here. If you live in other parts of the world, shipping of the parts might even double the price of your investment, and suddenly things don’t look so good anymore. It all depends on your luck and whether you’ll find a close provider or not.
As an example of how the eBay system might not be the best, let’s analyze the choosing of the DC motor for your wind power generator, as proposed by the author. For this, he recommends buying a 30 VDC Ametek Wind Generator for the price of $107, and uses an eBay page print screen as example. Out of curiosity, I’ve searched the eBay for the same motor with the same properties but unfortunately enough, I couldn’t find it for less than $170, not including shipment taxes. Worse even, the seller of that motor stated that “$15.00 service charge will be applied in addition to the shipping fees to all international shipments. Warranty will be voided on items shipped internationally”, which brings me to a total of at least $240, if I include shipment. That far more than doubles the suggested price in this book. But I’ve calculated this for overseas shipment. Even so, as a resident of the US the motor would cost me double the price the author suggested. Moreover, the very next day, it was sold!
As you can see, it’s a matter of sheer luck when choosing some of the parts. The author might have found a very good deal but someone reading the book might not have the chance, or might have to wait quite some time for it, while checking the offers periodically.
At the end of the chapter regarding wind generators, the author gives an example of an already build system on eBay, that costs $199 as BuyItNow item. I’ve checked it myself, and the product has warranty, it’s already built, and… IT WAS CHEAPER THAN BUILDING IT AT HOME! With a blocking device built in and being weatherproofed, it sounded like a far better solution than its home-built counter-part.
The author estimates the costs for a home-made device at $262 and compares it with commercial prices that start at $899. What he fails to say is that commercial devices with that price come also come with a tower to support the wind generator. And it might not seem so, but the tower might be the hardest part to build. There are a lot of factors to take in consideration, and I would prefer a verified tower instead of being chased by high speed aluminum blades flying all over with the first occasion, as my home build tower couldn’t stand strong winds. Calibrating such a system is a painstaking task, as a small home build device MUST be protected against strong winds, must have a blocking device and a tower that can guarantee its safety. Unfortunately, the author fails to give precise information about this part.
Instead, the book jumps right at how to setup your home generator using solar and/or wind power. Fortunately, it clearly states that it is very important to consult a qualified electrician prior to attempting any work on the home electric system (a warning that is stated repeatedly around this chapter). Actually, this part of the book has at least a few inconsistencies: the parts required are mostly enumerated and presented, without a price range and sometimes with missing links in the descriptions.
A chapter about how to get your state and federal rebates follows, but as the author says, it can be simply skipped, as it’s mainly aimed at US citizens. However, the subject is intriguing, and one should at least consider checking out the local laws, as the savings that a similar governmental program in your country might bring you are substantial.
Last chapter deals with Biodiesel: how to obtain it and how to setup an off grid system using wind, solar and Biodiesel power and it’s more of a well written introduction to Biodiesel production and storage strategies. As with the rest of the book, additional research is required.
And that is how this e-book should be seen: as merely an introductive course to homemade energy solutions. It doesn’t offer the full scale view, and at some parts it’s simply poorly written or incomplete, but if you are curious enough about the subject, Do It Yourself: Green Energy eBook can be a good starting point. I definitely not recommend using the book alone. For most parts, additional and extended research on the subject is required. Check your local weather conditions, solutions providers, prices and regulations before attempting to go head-on and build a self sustained or grid-additional energy production system.