Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Living off the grid
. . . .

Living off the grid

Harley L. Sachs - April 19th, 2010
Living off the Grid: How one couple took the alternative route to home power
By Harley L. Sachs
What would you do if the power company demanded $37,000 to set up a
one-mile line to your house in the woods? Not only that, but the
specifications required cutting a 20-foot wide swath so that overhanging
branches wouldn’t hit the wires, creating an ugly gap in the woods.
That was the problem faced by Sandy and Jerry Mitchell when they bought a
4,200-square-foot home at Cedar Bay, five miles from Calumet, Michigan in
the UP. Their three-story house is complete with a sauna and hot tub.
For the Mitchells, living “off the grid” provided the best alternative to
the power company’s plan.
Their electric power solution was multifold: solar panels, a windmill, and
a diesel generator to charge up a bank of 12 hefty 6-volt batteries when
the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. On a full charge, the
batteries can keep their home running for 20 hours.

BACK-UP PLAN
If the wind is blowing and the sun shining, there’s no need for the
Mitchells to start their generator. But when the batteries are running low
their equipment sends a signal to automatically start the generator, which
can charge the system in four hours and runs on an economical one quart of
fuel an hour.
A Xantrax conversion center is used to convert their 6-volt battery
current to 120 and 240 volts, with the latter voltage used to power the
pump in their well.
The windmill, made by Southwest, sits on top of two 20-foot sections of
steel well casing and is about 60 feet high to clear the tree tops.
At first the Mitchells had a 12-bladed windmill, but one dark and stormy
night, as the saying goes, a 70 mph wind howled so strongly that the
gyrating windmill lost three of its blades and popped two of the four guy
wires out of the ground. Jerry rushed out into the storm in a panic and
tied the wires to trees. A permanent fix came later when he bored holes
in the solid rock, set in anchors of rebar, and reattached the guys. Now
the original setup has been replaced with a 3-bladed propeller that can be
tilted to provide less wind resistance when those storms return. Their
power cost is about $2.60 a day. Compare that to your electric bill.

WOOD HEAT
For heat the Mitchells burn wood in an outdoor furnace, using 12 to 14
cords of wood a year, costing between $80 and $95 a cord. The couple
expect to halve their heating bill with the installation of a Hardrock
masonry oven. Like the historic porcelain ovens of Europe, the masonry
oven warms up the rock which then radiates an even heat for hours. The
heat is distributed by a hot water system laid in the floor using a grid
of flexible Pextubing.
An advantage of the outdoor central boiler is it can be fed with logs, not
small sections of firewood. Another is that the chimney is separate from
the house, reducing the danger of chimney fires.
Of course, being off the grid the Mitchells are also not on a county road,
so they must plow a 1,500-foot driveway using their truck with its 360
horsepower engine.
It’s an economical way to live, once the equipment is installed. Jerry
paid for the 40-square-foot solar panel, which is mounted on their deck,
with some 1919 commemorative gold coins.
Sandy and Jerry Mitchell own two Carmelita’s Mexican restaurants, one in
Calumet and the other close to Michigan Technological University in
Houghton. The Mitchells spent many years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but also
lived for a time in Alaska. They also publish a local newspaper, The
Pilgrim. Look for it at www.thePilgrim.com. If in Houghton or Calumet be
sure to stop in at Carmelita’s.

Visit the web site www.hu.mtu.edu/~hlsachs where you can listen to two
stories, read a third, read reviews, and find links to the publishers of
my books.

 
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