Oct. 20, 2006 -- The garage has long been used to assemble birdhouses and bookcases, but one resident in Hopewell, N. J., is using his to build something that just might save the planet.
Mike Strizki has engineered a homemade, pollution-free power plant that runs on only sunlight and water to replace the electricity that ran his home.
He has 56 solar panels that produce 10 kilowatts of power -- as long as the sun is shining. To get through dark days, he has an electrolyzer to pull hydrogen out of water, which is then stored in large tanks and used for power.
With large white tanks in his yard, Strizki admitted some neighbors asked if he was building the Manhattan project, and he assured them the tanks are safe.
He may not use traditional energy, but that doesn't limit his comforts at home, where he has a hot tub, swimming pool and a big-screen TV. "I have all the amenities. I'm living large just like lots of Americans," Strizki said.
And to further prove that he's made no sacrifice in lifestyle, he can show off the horsepower in his hydrogen car. That's right. No more trips to the gas station. He fills up in the backyard.
The system he's using cost $150,000, which he paid for with a utility grant. But he believes the cost will eventually come down, just as it has for computers and other new devices.
"We have to start somewhere, and this is that somewhere," Strizki said, adding that this plan offers freedom from utility companies. "I'm offering that independence," he said. "You know, I feel like the forefathers."