Backstory: I dream everyday of running from society, setting up a little farm with my husband, and being free to enjoy nature. However, I love the internet and don't want to lose access. It's much better than owning 100+ books.

My only obstacle is generating electricity to run the computer. I don't want a power line going to my future home. I don't even want people be able to find my house from the highway.

The region I live in is not very windy, and has winter conditions basically 4-5 months of the year. I've been doing tons of research and both solar panels and those wind fan things won't do that well here. The area I'm interested in has several rivers that I'm not sure how to harness.

Question: Is there any way to generate energy that would do well in a wind-free valley setting with long winters?

2 Answers 2


Why did you rule out Solar? Solar is effective even in the state of Alaska.

According to this article a 16 panel 2.5KW system in Fairbanks Alaska can provide you with around 500KWh/month of power during the summer, and 10KWh/month during the dark winter months (when daylight only lasts 3 or 4 hours).

A laptop that consumes 40W of power would use around 7.5KWh/month if used for 6 hours/day.

You say that there are several rivers in the area, if you can purchase property with one of those rivers (and can get a permit from whatever agency (or agencies) are in charge of it), you may be able to use a waterwheel to extract power. However, those 6 months of winter conditions may get in the way when the ice and snow come (even if the river itself doesn't freeze, freezing may still inhibit the free operation of the waterwheel), so you may find that solar is still a better solution.

If you can provide information about your location and more details about the kind of waterway you might want to extract power from, someone may be able to give you more details on the feasibility of using water power.

  • 10KWh/month isn't much! It wouldn't be sufficient for a reasonably normal lifestyle. Oct 11, 2014 at 22:08
  • 3
    That is true, but the original poster didn't ask for power for daily living: "My only obstacle is generating electricity to run the computer". She didn't say where she'll be located, so I used Fairbanks as a fairly extreme example since it gets only around 3 an d a half hours of daylight in the winter. Someplace a bit farther south like Anchorage would get around 5 and a half hours of daylight in the winter, so it would give her more power. Of course, she could add more solar panels to get more power.
    – Johnny
    Oct 11, 2014 at 23:33
  • someone told me solar is only good in non-snowy areas. I guess they were liars. Regardless, you've answered my question.
    – Julia
    Oct 18, 2014 at 20:56
  • @Julia - The solar panels in the linked to article are close to vertical to track the sun (as it's low in the horizon in the winter), so snow is less of an issue than you might think. The biggest problem for collecting solar energy in northern latitudes is lack of sunlight, especially in the winter when days are short. Ironically, in less northern areas where panels are closer to horizontal to maximize collected energy, snow can be more of an issue. So you still might find yourself sweeping snow off the solar panels.
    – Johnny
    Oct 19, 2014 at 4:00
  • Solar power is drastically advancing, if you read science news. It'll probably be a whole lot better in a few years. Nov 7, 2014 at 22:13

2 best ways are *Photovoltaic (solar electric) *Small, home-sized, wind turbines Use a solar charger to green your MP3 player, laptop, PDA, cell phone, and camera. The typical electronic device takes less than 10 watts of power when off or in standby.

  • The OP mentioned she is in a wind-free valley, so how would wind turbines be useful?
    – THelper
    Nov 6, 2014 at 8:31

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