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'[OT]: The 12 Volt Home'
2001\07\14@103952 by Ghetto Scientist

picon face
For sometime I've been thinking about the merits of wiring a house with a
low voltage bus (12 volts).

There are a number of reasons I think this could be beneficial.  First I
really don't like the switching power supplies in PCs.  They are noisy not to
mention the fact that they seem to go bad on a semi-regular basis and when you
put a few of them in one room they generate a nontrivial amount of heat.  If
I wired my house for 12 volts I could run a PCs off a simple voltage
regulator / DC-DC converter.  Another benefit would be small power supplies for
embedded systems (home automation components) are much smaller when the primary is
only 12 volts as apposed to 110 volts.   Once white LEDs come down in price
they could replace the [hot, inefficient] incandescent lights currently in
use.  Also I could build a big UPS for all low voltage items in my house.

Another reason I am interested in low voltage home systems is I have often
though of living "off the [power] grid".  12 volt systems would largely
eliminate the need for expensive power inverters.

What I am wondering is what would be the best (most efficient) method of
stepping down enough power from line voltage to 12 volts?  Would a "simple" wire
wound transformer due?   Maybe a switching power supply.

Sorry for the odd questions, I know next to nothing about power conversion.

--adam

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2001\07\14@130333 by Sean Breheny

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Hi Adam,

Wow, what an interesting and ambitious idea! I think you could make it
work, but there are some problems you would have to contend with.

#1) Inefficiency. A typical 120V circuit in a house can handle 14 amps
and uses 14 AWG wire. If you used 12V instead, you would need to handle
140 amps (assuming you wanted to be able to deliver the same abount of
power). Using the same wire, this would result in 100 times the resistive
losses (because power loss in a wire is equal to I^2*R). You would need
to increase wire size to 10 times the diameter (about an inch thich, REALLY
huge
wire) to get the losses down to the same level as a typical 120V circuit
(on the order of 100 watts loss at full load).
If you have very few appliances which need hundreds of watts, then you
might get away with making only one circuit with such high power, and
keeping that at 120V.

#2) Running standard appliances. How are you going to get a
refridgerator, hair dryer, washing machine, clothes dryer, etc., which
run on 12V? If you use huge inverters to run these, a lot of your
advantages are probably lost already.

#3) Running computers. You mention that it would be easier to run
computers from a 12V supply line. That is not necessarily true. The only
reason why the 120V switchers are rather poor is that they are designed
and built to be cheap. If you are going to use high quality DC-DC
converters, you probably could do just as well with a higher quality 120V
swiching supply.

#4) Converting from 120V to 12V efficiently (unless you generate it all
yourself). It would take a REALLY huge transformer to supply the levels
of 12V we are talking about. A switcher to do this would be bigger than
anything commonly available, AFAIK. You might consider using 12V AC
(probably 12V rms, not peak) for your supply to make it easier to use
transformers at places where higher voltages are needed.

I know I have been very negative in what I said above, but I just wanted
to point out a few problems with doing this in general. I think your idea
has some merit, but I think you should probably still have at least one
120V )or maybe even 240V ) circuit which you can use to run a few
appliances which draw large amounts of power. Then, you could supply the
rest of your house with 12V, to run your low-power LED lighting and small
electronics projects.

Please let us know if you try this!

Sean



On Sat, 14 Jul 2001, Ghetto Scientist wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2001\07\14@133213 by Jeff DeMaagd

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----- Original Message -----
From: Ghetto Scientist <GhettoScientistspamKILLspamGMX.NET>


> For sometime I've been thinking about the merits of wiring a house with a
> low voltage bus (12 volts).
>
> There are a number of reasons I think this could be beneficial.

You would still likely need higher voltage leads for the appliances that use
motors as IIRC motors are more efficient at higher voltages.

> only 12 volts as apposed to 110 volts.   Once white LEDs come down in
price
> they could replace the [hot, inefficient] incandescent lights currently in
> use.  Also I could build a big UPS for all low voltage items in my house.

You can use flourescents now.  IMO good quality incandescent bulb
replacements can be had for $10 a piece and the light color is a lot more
comparable to incandescents than they used to be.

> Another reason I am interested in low voltage home systems is I have often
> though of living "off the [power] grid".  12 volt systems would largely
> eliminate the need for expensive power inverters.
>
> What I am wondering is what would be the best (most efficient) method of
> stepping down enough power from line voltage to 12 volts?  Would a
"simple" wire
> wound transformer due?   Maybe a switching power supply.

Do you want DC or AC power?  For AC a transformer is all that's needed but
you'd still need switching power supplies at the PC, etc.

Jeff

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2001\07\14@134936 by David VanHorn

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>
>#3) Running computers. You mention that it would be easier to run
>computers from a 12V supply line. That is not necessarily true. The only
>reason why the 120V switchers are rather poor is that they are designed
>and built to be cheap. If you are going to use high quality DC-DC
>converters, you probably could do just as well with a higher quality 120V
>swiching supply.

Computers, and many other similar devices, will run from 120VDC quite nicely.

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2001\07\14@155834 by Herbert Graf

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While in theory this might sound good I strongly suggest you reconsider if
you care at all about energy efficiency. At 12V standard items such as light
bulbs start sucking up substantial amounts of amps. This is bad because the
losses in your wiring is dependant on I squared R, meaning if you double the
current you QUADRUPLE the power loss. Consider a 100W light bulb, at 12V it
draws 10 times the amount of current as it would at 120V, that means you
have 100 times the losses in your wiring alone. Just my opinion. TTYL

> {Original Message removed}

2001\07\14@155842 by Herbert Graf

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I used to think the same about computers but was quickly corrected. It seems
that some computer supplies use diode capacitor multipliers in the first
stage, meaning they would not function with DC, so you do have to be careful
here too. TTYL

> {Original Message removed}

2001\07\14@164516 by Doug Joel

picon face
I was just at a friend's cabin where commercial power isn't available.  He but in 6 solar panels, batteries and an inverter that
produces pure sine wave AC.  The capacity is 2500W and cost almost Cdn$10K.

We're not in the sunniest part of the world but he can run power saws, electronic equipment and all his low wattage lighting without
running the generator.  Probably a different story in the winter time.

If I was in California I would be looking into a system like this...

Doug

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2001\07\15@232805 by David VanHorn

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At 03:59 PM 7/14/01 -0400, Herbert Graf wrote:
>I used to think the same about computers but was quickly corrected. It seems
>that some computer supplies use diode capacitor multipliers in the first
>stage, meaning they would not function with DC, so you do have to be careful
>here too. TTYL

Some do, some don't.
Them what do, won't be harmed.
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2001\07\15@232904 by Jim

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>Consider a 100W light bulb, at 12V it
> draws 10 times the amount of current as it would at 120V, that means you
> have 100 times the losses in your wiring alone.

when you live with 12 volts as a power source, the led or 8 watt
flouresents work well with a dc to ac converter

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2001\07\15@232924 by Dmitry Kiryashov

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Good idea to buy powerful 12V power supplier. ;)
At least you will have all you need locally in
the room you are working on electronic stuff.

Looks unnecessary to rewire all house for that.

WBR Dmitry.


Ghetto Scientist wrote:
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2001\07\15@232940 by Florian Voelzke

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Herbert Graf wrote:
>
> I used to think the same about computers but was quickly corrected. It seems
> that some computer supplies use diode capacitor multipliers in the first
> stage, meaning they would not function with DC, so you do have to be careful
> here too. TTYL

AFAIK this only applies to 120V mains equipment.
The rectified voltage of 230V~ is about 325V, the output of an active
power factor correction at 230V input is about 430V. To double that
would be too high for the used semiconductors.
But they actually double a 120V input voltage to get equal levels to
230V mains. It seems that the necessary current through the primary
semiconductors at 120V is a bit high and a voltage doubler to 240V makes
things easier. And of course you can sell the same power supply in 120V
and 230V countries by adding a simple small switch.

Other problems of using DC and not AC could be the active power
correction of high quality pc power supplies (it assumes sinusodial
input voltage to control current drawn from mains) and of course any
convential monitor degaussing (like another member of PICLIST mentioned
some time ago).

Florian

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2001\07\15@233641 by Alexandre Domingos F. Souza

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>For sometime I've been thinking about the merits of wiring a house with a
>low voltage bus (12 volts).
>Sorry for the odd questions, I know next to nothing about power conversion.

       I see ;o) It's easy to understand.

       The key here is "Wire Gauge"

       1200 watts of power, can be represented by 120 volts x 10 amperes OR 12 volts x 100 amperes

       Do I need to say more? :o)


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2001\07\16@033822 by Chris Carr

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As the Lifestyle supplements in your Sunday Newspapers would Say

42 volts is the new 12 volts **

Also I am surprised that no-one has pointed out that the reason a computer
generates heat is not because of an inefficient SMPS but because the
majority of electricity it consumes gets converted to heat by the CPU,
Graphics Processor etc. If you wish to reduce heat generation first get rid
of the CRT monitor and replace it with a LCD (it also has the benefit of
releasing bench space for more clutter, sorry..... I mean work in progress
8-)   )

** If the reference to 42 volts is too cryptic, auto manufacturers are now
moving onto 42 volts to reduce vehicle weight and electrical losses

Regards

Chris Carr



>For sometime I've been thinking about the merits of wiring a house with a
>low voltage bus (12 volts).
>Sorry for the odd questions, I know next to nothing about power conversion.

       I see ;o) It's easy to understand.

       The key here is "Wire Gauge"

       1200 watts of power, can be represented by 120 volts x 10 amperes OR
12 volts x 100 amperes

       Do I need to say more? :o)


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2001\07\16@091515 by Roman Black

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Ummm, don't you mean 48 volts??

I see lots of DC homes on the 48v dc standard,
and you can get 48v fridges, lights, etc.
-Roman


Chris Carr wrote:
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2001\07\16@100712 by Gordon Varney (personal)

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No, actually 42V is correct........ The terminology is stupid.

when we speak of 12 volts we really mean 13.8Vdc,
When we speak of 24 volts we really mean 27.6Vdc,
When we speak of 36 volts we really mean 41.4Vdc,
When we speak of 48 volts we really mean 55.2Vdc,
These voltages apply during charging and anything to within 20% less is acceptable.

Please note the 36 volt section is really 41.4V or 42 volts rounded off.  Yes, folks the new electrical systems will be
a 36 volt battery.  However, the auto manufactures did not want to go with anything standard, so they invented there own
batteries, connectors, and converters, and lets call it 42 volts not to be confused with the old 36 volts already out
there.

Solar homes use 48V and 24V systems all the time. They convert to 12V for the appliance or actual application.  Bus the
house at lets say 24 Vdc and use small switching regulators at 90-95% efficiency at each light or fan. There is a slew
of camping gear and solar equipment made for just this application.


Search under solar homes and you will find that there are many homes running off solar or wind with no dependencies on
the mains.

We manufacture a full line of converters for just this application.


Gordon Varney




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2001\07\16@130014 by Peter Tiang

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Would'nt DC voltage cause electrolysis of some kind
to happen ? Especially in some humid tropical country.


{Original Message removed}

2001\07\16@131755 by Douglas Butler

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>Would'nt DC voltage cause electrolysis of some kind
>to happen ? Especially in some humid tropical country.

No more so than in a car.

Sherpa Doug

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2001\07\16@223432 by Peter Tiang

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Well, u always get some kind of oxidation buildup
on the battery terminals in humid tropical countries.

Would'nt want to put grease on your home electrical
socket, would ya ?

{Original Message removed}

2001\07\17@180531 by DFansler

picon face
I have had a lot of time and reason to think of a "12 volt home", as I own a
41 foot sailboat that I plan to head out on a world cruise in about 2 years.
The typical power source on a sailboat is its 12 volt batteries.  The
batteries with the most A/Hr rating available for such use are AGM (gel
batteries with glass mat inside).  These are closed cell batteries that can
operate in any position (good idea for when you turn the boat upside down).
I have installed two such batteries, each rated at 215 amp hrs. Batteries
are typically charged by the primary engine alternator (in my case the stock
alternator is rated at 45 amps, but I have a new 125 amp alternator for the
engine).  Alternate sources of energy include wind, solar and water (via an
alternator that is drug behind a boat while sailing).  I am including wind
and solar sources and also an auxiliary diesel engine with a 175 Amp
alternator.  The primary engine uses a little over a gallon of diesel an
hour, the auxiliary uses a little over a pint an hour.  My diesel tank holds
125 gallons.  I have an inverter on board that develops a true sine wave.
It is capable of sustaining 1800 watts, with surges to 3000 watts.

When I set out to power my boat, I decided that 12 volts was the answer and
the most practical and efficient way to go.  All lights are 12 volts, my
laptop has a 12 volt adapter, I can buy typical kitchen appliances that run
off 12 volts (microwave, blender, mixer).  My refrigeration is all 12 volt,
as is the instrumentation on the boat.  I think what one has to realize is
that by living off 12 volts there are certain restrictions and fluff that
one has to give up.  While I can run my small heat pump (7000 btu) off the
inverter, it takes 102 amps at 12 volts.  Not very practical.  We,
especially in the US, have grown accustomed to a very energy intense life -
and I am no exception - the electric bill for my house is $200/month, plus
about the same for natural gas.  Living otherwise will take a real
challenge.  I think that trying to power a home designed for 120 vac,
complete with appliances designed 120 vac by using 12 volts via in inverter
is possible, but not practical without an enormous numbers of batteries, and
they are expensive - my AGM batteries were ~$400 apiece.  In that you should
not run a battery below 1/2 charge, that means I could run my 7000 btu heat
pump for 2 hours.

NPR radio's Science Friday program covered this topic a couple of years ago,
and spoke with people that were living off 12 vdc via inverters to provide
120 vac, so it can be done.  While the rest of the US is not yet reached the
level of power crisis that California has, the world supply of fuel is
limited, and we all are going to be lacking if new methods of generating
power are not developed.

Just so this does not wander to far away from PIC's, there will be a couple
on board my sailboat - to monitor the amount of chain that is out on my
anchor.  As a single person sailor, I installed an electric winch to raise
and lower my anchor.  In order to be able to play out an appropriate amount
of chain for the water depth (4:1 ratio), I have modified my windlass to
have a pair of hall effect sensors and a pair of magnets so that every
rotation of the final gear gives me a pair of pulses indicating another 6"
of chain and the direction of the chain movement.  This will be displayed in
the cockpit where the windlass control is located.

David V. Fansler
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2001\07\17@202641 by John Mullan

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I have toyed with the idea of a self-sufficient home for energy.
Notwithstanding the cost, almost everything I use can be replaced with
12volt equivelents.  TV, refridgerator, stereos/radios, incandescent lamps,
flourescent lamps, LED lamps, etc, etc, etc.  If you were not too fussy on
the cooking thing, a couple of inverters could provide you with the AC
needed for a microwave, toaster, PC.

HVAC and hot water are a different story.  I suppose a house could be built
into the ground for constant temperature and use an "on-demand" electric hot
water heater (don't some campers use this?).

A nice efficient windmill (or two or three) and/or solar array could keep a
sizeable bank of batteries charged.

I don't think the wiring would have to be changed but a person might want to
change the standard receptacles to a different type.

I have lived comfortably with my family in campers running on 12volt
systems.  However, there were no windmills or solar arrays used here, but a
small gas generator (weed eater motor and car alternator) to recharge every
other day.  And oh yes, the cooking was by campfire or propane (but I only
used 2 car batteries in the camper).

I would like to see this thread continue for a little while.  The
practicality of 12volt system independant of the mains intrigues me.

John

{Original Message removed}

2001\07\17@203719 by John Mullan

picon face
OK.  While not in reference to MY previous email, I'd even consider 48volt
instead of 12.

John


-----Original Message-----
From: pic microcontroller discussion list
[RemoveMEPICLISTTakeThisOuTspamspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU]On Behalf Of Roman Black
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 9:15 AM
To: EraseMEPICLISTspamspamspamBeGoneMITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: [OT]: The 12 Volt Home


Ummm, don't you mean 48 volts??

I see lots of DC homes on the 48v dc standard,
and you can get 48v fridges, lights, etc.
-Roman


Chris Carr wrote:
>
> As the Lifestyle supplements in your Sunday Newspapers would Say
>
> 42 volts is the new 12 volts **
>
> Also I am surprised that no-one has pointed out that the reason a computer
> generates heat is not because of an inefficient SMPS but because the
> majority of electricity it consumes gets converted to heat by the CPU,
> Graphics Processor etc. If you wish to reduce heat generation first get
rid
> of the CRT monitor and replace it with a LCD (it also has the benefit of
> releasing bench space for more clutter, sorry..... I mean work in progress
> 8-)   )
>
> ** If the reference to 42 volts is too cryptic, auto manufacturers are now
> moving onto 42 volts to reduce vehicle weight and electrical losses

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2001\07\17@211748 by John Mullan

picon face
Now that's what I'm talkin' bout....

John


-----Original Message-----
From: pic microcontroller discussion list
[RemoveMEPICLISTKILLspamspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU]On Behalf Of Gordon Varney (personal)
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 10:06 AM
To: PICLISTSTOPspamspamspam_OUTMITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: [OT]: The 12 Volt Home


No, actually 42V is correct........ The terminology is stupid.

when we speak of 12 volts we really mean 13.8Vdc,
When we speak of 24 volts we really mean 27.6Vdc,
When we speak of 36 volts we really mean 41.4Vdc,
When we speak of 48 volts we really mean 55.2Vdc,
These voltages apply during charging and anything to within 20% less is
acceptable.

Please note the 36 volt section is really 41.4V or 42 volts rounded off.
Yes, folks the new electrical systems will be
a 36 volt battery.  However, the auto manufactures did not want to go with
anything standard, so they invented there own
batteries, connectors, and converters, and lets call it 42 volts not to be
confused with the old 36 volts already out
there.

Solar homes use 48V and 24V systems all the time. They convert to 12V for
the appliance or actual application.  Bus the
house at lets say 24 Vdc and use small switching regulators at 90-95%
efficiency at each light or fan. There is a slew
of camping gear and solar equipment made for just this application.


Search under solar homes and you will find that there are many homes running
off solar or wind with no dependencies on
the mains.

We manufacture a full line of converters for just this application.


Gordon Varney




{Quote hidden}

computer
> > generates heat is not because of an inefficient SMPS but because the
> > majority of electricity it consumes gets converted to heat by the CPU,
> > Graphics Processor etc. If you wish to reduce heat generation first get
rid
> > of the CRT monitor and replace it with a LCD (it also has the benefit of
> > releasing bench space for more clutter, sorry..... I mean work in
progress
> > 8-)   )
> >
> > ** If the reference to 42 volts is too cryptic, auto manufacturers are
now
> > moving onto 42 volts to reduce vehicle weight and electrical losses
>
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2001\07\18@041824 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
Those wanting to deal in renewable energy might like to look at the Home
Power magazine
(web site at http://www.homepower.com/ for further info). They deal in
everything from solar power in the home to electric vehicles.

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2001\07\24@121337 by Montaigne, Mike - NRC

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check out http://www.homepower.com/

buy a trailer - some have 12V lights, water pump, furnace, fridge, radio,
etc.

{Quote hidden}

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