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[Cob] New to cob; particular question re: bringing electricity to a cob structure

Mic Blaha mud at
Sat Nov 22 13:50:04 CST 2008

Hi Andrew, Hi All,
I've been off list for a while myself.

I'm in sunny New Mexico, where solar is plentiful.
I'm in an area where there is no power line to tap and we wanted solar, 
because, well it's solar!
We had our system configured for us by a local solar company and it ran 
around 6000.00 US.
One can create a system for much less, but we invested in some quality 
parts and consultation.

It takes care of my needs. We went with a low wattage pure sine wave 
inverter 1000w - so that does limit things.
The thought was that eventually we could upgrade that part. That said, 
it runs my IMER 'cement' cob mixer.
Ahh the joys of solar mixed cob.
Having electric on site while building is very, very nice.

I've always wanted to find a piece of land where there was a year-round 
Micro-hydro with a year round stream, the power would just keep coming - 
day and night.
Almost sounds like a prescription for electric heat... gasp.

Your situation will play a big part in deciding...
distance from existing power, local RE resources, cash on hand, values etc.

As far as running RE electric in cob, I think it needs to be UF - under 
ground feeder.
The grey stuff that's hard to work with.  Or run within the metal 
sheathing  / tubing.
You may want to plan a few heavy gauge 12, 24 or 48 volt DC lines for 
running things like LED lights
DC fridge etc.  The conversion (or is it inversion) from DC to AC 
creates a loss, so making use of
DC appliances can be more efficient.  Though with added copper costs 
these days alot of the new
houses are being run AC only. Since DC lines need thick gauge wire and 
can't span as far as AC.
( I'm not a electrician ).

It's fun to note how much power you use. I've purchased a gadget called 
the kill-a-watt.
You plug your appliances in and see how much power is consumed by each. 
This is also where you
find your phantom loads. Loads that still suck power when your appliance 
is 'off'.

Modesty in consumption can be managed with smaller systems. 
Conservation is key.
Though it's a different kind of conservation. Living with renewable 
energy means - use it up!
If the sun doesn't come up tomorrow - we've got bigger problems. It's 
not a system that is
fueled by coal, your not charged $5 a kilowatt for use. There's a 
different attitude.

-my 2 cents

Andrew John Martinson wrote:

> Of the myriad questions I have, one has to do with bringing electricity to a cob structure.  

Though we are considering (and trying to learn more about) solar PV, 
wind, microhydro, etc.,

  but could anyone give me A) a rough (or specific) charge for such a 
hookup, and/or B) anecdotal experience of such an effort?  Perhaps if we 
purchased land with a pre-existing structure that was wired (and 
plumbed) we could renovate that electrical system to bring power to the 
cob structure.
> Thank you.
> Andrew
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