The Basics of Homemade Electricity
Every day, we all consume electric energy, whether through the use of handy MP3 players, laptops, stereo systems, televisions or massive home heating and air conditioning systems. We all need and consume power, yet most of us have never considered making “homemade electricity.”
Can you build your own electric generator? Is that even possible? Yes. But before we look into the “hows” and “whys”, let’s talk about electricity.
Electricity is a form of energy just like heat and light. Naturally occurring electric sources, however, are hard to find, and most only produce very little power. Take for example the static electricity that makes your arm hair stand up in an air-conditioned room. Fortunately, one basic law about energy is that it can be converted from one form to another. Therefore, our electric energy is just a product of converting any energy source to electricity. And because of that, we can miniaturize electric power generation.
The most common way to produce homemade electricity is through the use of a solar panel. Solar panels consist of photovoltaic cells, or in simple terms, light energy to electricity converters. Light rays from the sun activate the photovoltaic cells which produce voltage. The voltage produced from each cell is relatively small. Because of this, cells are either connected in series or parallel in order to produce the desired voltage level. Of course, solar panels have drawbacks. First is that they are very expensive to buy. Secondly, they have a low efficiency rating compared to other electric generators. So if you plan to produce your homemade electricity using solar panels, just prepare your wallet.
Another common way to produce homemade electricity is to convert wind to electricity. A wind generator is used for this method. Basically, a wind generator is a dynamo (the general name for any motor or generator) connected to a turbine that is rotated by the force of the wind. The turbine collects the wind energy, while the dynamo converts the mechanical force of the wind to electricity. As stated above, a dynamo is a general term for a motor. If a dynamo converts electrical energy to mechanical energy, it is a motor. If it converts mechanical energy to electricity, it is a generator. Compared to solar panels, wind generators provide a relatively higher efficiency. However, the wind turbine must be oriented where the wind is strongest for better electric production.
Both solar panels and wind generators will not produce electricity if there is no sunlight and wind respectively. Storing their generated energy in a battery is one solution to this problem. Care must be properly observed when using batteries, especially those with high “mAh” ratings. When short-circuited, they can produce fatal levels of current.
There are several viable options for creating your own homemade electricity. It is just a matter of a little research, a little trial-and-error, and of course a little patience before you can generate practical amounts of electric energy. Just remember to take safety precautions when dealing with electricity. You don’t want to fry your Ipod, or worse – fry yourself!
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