Letter Re: Clothes Washing Without Grid Power

Shalom Jim:
Recently my wife and I have started looking to replace our old [clothes] washer and dryer machines with something more energy-efficient. Since we plan on converting to solar photovoltaic panels in the future what do you suggest we do now?

1.) Lehman’s sells an AC +/ DC operated washer. Is this (DC) feature conducive to solar technology?

2.) What are you and your family doing for your clothes washing needs?

B’Shem Yahshua HaMoshiach (In the Name of Yahsua the Messiah) – Dr. Sidney Zweibel


JWR Replies:
1.) With a PV power system, using a DC motor clothes washer is indeed more efficient. Instead of inverting DC power from your battery bank to create AC, you can instead use it directly to run DC appliances. By the way, the same logic applies to most of the devices that use wall socket “power cubes.” (Answering machines, printers, walk-around phones, battery chargers, laptop computers, et cetera.) It is grossly inefficient to invert DC into AC, and then convert it back into DC with umpteen separate transformers scattered around your house. If you have several rooms in your house wired with 12 VDC outlets (and if you have PV power system, you should), then you can simply fabricate a 12 VDC power cord for each device that can run on 12 VDC. The appropriate solder-on plugs are available from your local Radio Shack store.(Just pay close attention to the markings on the power cubes. A very small minority of them are AC to AC adapters!) To avoid confusion, I find that it is best to mark each resistor-adapted plug with its DC output voltage, using a DYMO type adhesive label. If you can handle a soldering iron and a volt-ohm meter, then you can also easily make adapters for each of your lower voltage low current DC devices that are currently run from power cubes.(For low current devices, you can either solder in the proper value resistor(s), or if you are “Ohm’s Law challenged” you can buy off-the shelf DC-DC “buck” adapters.)

2.) During power failures, we can either run our washing machine from an inverter, or we can go totally low tech, and use a hand-powered “James Washer.” If you have any questions about PV power systems or 12 VDC wiring,

As previously mentioned, Bob at Ready Made Resources is available for free consulting (with no purchase obligation) on photovoltaic power system sizing and design, as well as issues like the one that you raised. He is a stocking dealer for both Outback and Xantrex inverters. Bob has the specialized tools needed to calculate current loads, requisite battery bank sizing, charge controller capacity, available solar hours, solar panel array solar exposure and orientation, and so forth. I can attest that Bob really knows his stuff, and unlike some solar system specialists, he has considerable experience building systems that are custom tailored for survival retreats. I recommend that any SurvivalBlog readers that are considering installing an independent home power system take advantage of the free consulting offer from Ready Made Resources.