The input transformer is likely to be the most expensive part of the entire project. As an alternative, a couple of 12 Volt car batteries could be used. The input voltage to the regulator must be at least several volts higher than the output voltage (12V) so that the regulator can maintain its output. If a transformer is used, then the rectifier diodes must be capable of passing a very high peak forward current, typically 100amps or more. The 7812 IC will only pass 1 amp or less of the output current, the remainder being supplied by the outboard pass transistors.