What a great topic...
I never assumed that my land would make money only save me expenses and offer a better life. I'm a bit of a doomer so the remoteness and self sufficiency aspects of it are a huge draw. We bought our original 6.5 acres in rural Ontario for $8500 16 years ago and picked up the adjacent 3.5 acres a few years later for another $10000. We built the house ourselves from savings, lines of credit and time... The land is marginal, swampy and treed but it is ours. Over the years I toyed with the idea of making money from it but the difference between money from our land and money from Carpentry work was orders of magnitude different. I love gardening, energy efficient building, heating with wood, chickens, alternative energy and woodgas and the property acted as my testbed for all my crazy ideas. I have no desire or talent at "showing off" online to monetize what I enjoy though which seems to be the most common and lucrative way to monetize your lifestyle these days. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about anyone who does though its another skill set and path. When My wife passed away 2.5 years ago things just stopped. A period of introspection had me reevaluate everything. When I look at the historical record apart from the rich land owners who have always been there, the majority of history involved people tending the land for their own sustenance first and foremost. Whatever tiny surplus was usually devoted to a very few consumable specialty goods. With moderate industrialization you see the emergence of trades people with some land but again mostly for self consumption or as an investment worked by others. The TV analogy to that is the little house on the prairie where the father farms but makes his money doing carpentry. To me that is the model I settled on; Gardens to provide good food that could be ramped up if needed, chickens to fertilize said gardens, inputs limited to grain, Energy made on property with some grid backup, outside work to provide the extras knowing that that work could one day dry up or become much less lucrative, a culture of saving and low impact living. To me commodity based farming is a product of our consumer/specialized society where you do one thing very well for all your income and buy everything else. There is no one answer or model and I try to see the lessons in a persons experiences not their idiosyncracies.
After all this time and a new partner we recently purchased 24 acres with 3 acres of fields, a 2 acre garden clearing, and the rest wooded. It will be a new life with new realities and lessons...
People/things I like:
The nearings first and foremost
The new alchemists
The first 10 years of mother earth news
the first 10 years of HARROWSMITH
The first 10 years of home power magazine
John Seymours book
The book "Your money or your life"
The Money Moustache blog
Boy that is a broad one. I think until you decide what kind of structure and landscape you want to model most of the examples would be much too abstract to provide any reliable evidence. Model a home using conventional techniques and one using a more efficient build technique. Search the internet for comparisons from similar climate zones, there have been a great deal of studies in european countries around passive homes versus standard construction and their energy footprints. That is where I would start...
David Baillie wrote:to refine that explanation when you were paid by ontario hydro it was part of the micro fit program and was created to encourage green energy production. The first contract was 80 cent per kwhr the final systems put in were about 25 cents per kwhr to reflect the dropping cost of solar. You had a meter for paid to you and a second one for billed to you.
The new version is called net metering and although no money changes hands you can build up a bank of kwhr to be used within 13 months of production to help offset your consumption. the system will break even with 7 to 10 years which is a better rate of return then most investments... hydro quite likes net metering as it encourages an all electric home. ..
How they do it varies so much, what you describe used to be the way it was done here, but now you sell to the grid at wholesale prices, so on average you get around 5c per kwh (electric costs 34c/kwh to buy) But sometimes the price even goes negative for example on a windy summers day. Fairly obviously solar is not a popular choice here anymore, although a HUGE system has been put in a few miles from me covering several acres. the payback time on domestic solar systems are between 12 and 15 years.
Denmark is in an enviable position of having a majority of its energy from solar and wind. They probably dont have to offer as much incentive anymore to get people to install hence the lower rates.
r ranson wrote:It used to be, in Ontario if you had a generator (like solar panels) and produced extra electricity, the province would pay you money to feed that power into the grid. It was a way of decentralizing electric production, encouraging alternative energy, and making local communities more sufficient.
Last time I looked, where I live, it's fine if you feed power into the grid, but they won't pay me any money for it. I'm giving it to them as a gift.
Some places, you pay them to store your extra power then pay them again to get it back. This is a way to discourage home production.
It's good to find out what the rules are where you live as they are different everywhere - and in many places like Ontario, change quickly.
That's why I'm thinking about the charging station. I'm wondering what can I transform into battery power (lighting?) so I don't have to worry about the grid tie-in.
to refine that explanation when you were paid by ontario hydro it was part of the micro fit program and was created to encourage green energy production. The first contract was 80 cent per kwhr the final systems put in were about 25 cents per kwhr to reflect the dropping cost of solar. You had a meter for paid to you and a second one for billed to you.
The new version is called net metering and although no money changes hands you can build up a bank of kwhr to be used within 13 months of production to help offset your consumption. the system will break even with 7 to 10 years which is a better rate of return then most investments... hydro quite likes net metering as it encourages an all electric home. ..
Yes, if you have a one direction meter you will be charged for power going either way. If the meter is more advanced and can detect the direction of current flow you are in even more trouble as it will flag the company. The only way you can do guerilla solar these days is if your utility still has the analog meters or the solar you generate never quite adds up to as much as you are using. If ac is a big user crank it up during sun hours so it does not cycle off and coast during evening time...
Mike Haasl wrote:I hope the birds don't peck at the insulation too much...
I made a heated waterer by getting a simple heated water bucket from Tractor Supply and adding "chicken nipples" to it and a wooden lid. That's worked for me down to -29F. I think you're a bit more remotely located so that may not with with your time crunch. I hope it works, good luck!
Do the chicken nipples freeze? or drip? I tried the cups and the nipples but found the cups froze and the nipples leaked too much so I ended up with ice on the coop floor. The nearest TSC is 90 minutes away. There is no thermostat on this one so I'll have to just see how it does and maybe timer it if it gets too hot. The chickens will always peck the foam so I have to cover it with some plywood. The foil... I don't know I might have to shroud it in aluminum flashing.
Well its that time of year again. -28 degrees celsius this morning and just in time for the christmas traveling time my heated waterer tank cracked from old age...
I had to dig around a bit for things to scrounge. The answer so far is seedling mat taped to a regular waterer and insulated. The mat uses 20 watts/hr so 480 watt/hr per day. I have a second mat on a piece of foam to sit the waterer on in the coop. I won't turn that one on unless the single one is not enough... We shall see.
Alana could you sketch out the setup including where the water exits the tank, enters the stove, and returns to the tank. It would help if you dimensioned it as well. Usually a thermosiphon fail can be traced back to something straight forward. I do agree you get much better transfer with a pump. the 5 watt el sid always worked well for me. A standard ac pump would push it way too fast resulting in large amounts of luke warm water instead of half a tank of hot water, half a tank of cold. Some things to ponder. Another question I would ask is how many hours a day are you firing the stove? Thermosiphons work both ways so if you are doing short burns you would heat some water then it would bleed heat out when the stove cools...
"Normal"is a loaded word. I designed several dozen systems now and no two household loads were ever the same. Where are you is usually the first question as it determines solar availability. Next would be what kind of life do you lead? Are you willing to adjust your life or do you just want to duplicate everything only use solar? Do you have a grid connection already? If so a grid connected system is an option with no lifestyle changes. Generally for off grid solar the main appliances in a house are covered. Heat appliances like hot water and cooking are usually covered by Gas or propane. Home heat can be a gas or propane furnace but many solar homes usually have a wood heat or low energy propane heat source like radiant floor or wall mounts. Air conditioning in the south gets tricky but can be done with a larger solar array. Passive construction helps there. Usually it starts with a lot of questions.
Jeremy Baker wrote:I used to read the solarhomestead.com blog and enjoyed learning about solar in Eastern Canada. It was not as easy as Arizona that’s for sure and he had a engine driven alternator to bulk charge his batteries in Winter. Then he said he was ill. Then the blog stopped. I hope he is ok!?
There’s a electrical engineer in Quebec who has redesigned solar and is doing one of the most carefully designed system I’ve seen anywhere. He wants to go 100% solar and 100% DC and goes by Electrodacus.com. If I had not already invested in other technology I would consider the technology he has developed.
I am running my tinyhouse on an SBMS100.
Lots of upsides. Dacien is amazingly responsive. Ie, the customer service puts others to shame. Very innovative designs. Cheap for what they are. The thermal storage aspect offered by his newer gear is very permie IMO.
There are a few gotchas. Being PWM, you get less power than more expensive MPPT with the same array; I agree with his take that it is cheaper and better to buy more panels, but this does not work well if space is tight.
His controllers are designed for a relatively low voltage, so you are looking at a fully parallel array. This means you can end up spending a lot on wiring if you need to get the panels any significant distance away from your dwelling.
24V and 8 cell max.
I am a believer in LiFePO4 batteries, but the up front investment is big, and your options are basically limited to expensive batteries from china with little prospect of warranty support, or very very expensive batteries from a reputable company..
Thank you for the insight on the SBMS100. It is nice to see a startup in the solar world think things out a little differently. I personally would never go back to pwm chargers as I lived through my first 3 winters off grid watching near zero production from the array for weeks at a time due to low panel voltage and off angle radiance. You cannot substitute more panels with a pwm and get equivalent power production on cloudy days period... The MPPT controllers were the game changer for more northern climes and winter generation. Hmmm the other thing that comes to mind is voltage control is critical for lithium so pulse width modulation is not a good idea unless he is choking his voltage which cuts production. I would probably use the BMS functions and bypass the charge controller functions. Hopefully a future version will go MPPT because his design looks solid.
Even assuming that the theoretical underpinnings survive being scrutinized by other researchers then their limited lab experiments will have to be replicated. Then the fun comes; can it be commercially replicated? I remember the first glimmers of lithium technology showing up in the 1980's but it was developed in the lab in the 1970's. It took 30-40 years for it to make the impact it has. All this to say the solid state lithium battery if commercially feasible could be 30-40 years away. I personally think the liquid metal battery will be a large scale storage option eventually. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ambri-is-still-alive-and-chasing-its-liquid-metal-battery-dreams The materials are cheap, easily obtained, evenly distributed throughout the world, and they are starting from the word go with the idea of big... Really big... That kind of tech is really for distributed generation or wide scale renewables for grid connected clients. For off grid storage it is really hard to beat lead. Not old school lead but all the flavours coming to market now like lead calcium, lead carbon etc... Its just really forgiving and cheap to make.
personally in the winter time I want every BTU I can in the house. Having said that You could enclose the radiator in sheetmetal and pipe the cold air through it. You have to have some heat though as a lot of compressors don't like the cold.
If they are Nicad batteries the grouping of 5 make sense as they are usually 1.2 volts. Wet cell Nicads were really popular with airlines and telecoms and railway switching gear but they do self discharge and do develop a memory. They are being replaced by NIMH and lithium.. I would not be surprised if once you put a load on them they will immediately drop to 1.2 volts each. If you cycle them down and fully recharge them they might gain some capacity. Another thing to consider is you have a significant quantity of Cadmium on your hands now which is a pretty toxic metal so stay conservative with the charge voltage. !.5 volts per cell and no more. I would make sure I had an agm charger since some flooded lead chargers can go up to 18 volts...
best of luck. I had a smaller bank of wet cells at one time I recycled them as I did not want that much heavy metal in the garage...
You would not want to pipe the cold air to the fridge just pipe it to the exterior radiator and increase the refrigeration cycle efficiency. The only way you could pipe the cold air to the fridge would be to get an all fridge unit. Back in the expensive PV days I had bent the back radiator away from the fridge to add an air gap and shove an inch of foam to increase efficiency. Newer fridges are way better. If you can find an R600 fridge they are even better still.
One thing that pops to mind with the fridge in winter thing is in the winter you want that waste heat from the fridge to do extra work by slightly heating your space. I think another example are the new heat pump water heaters. They actually act as an air conditioner pulling heat from the room to heat water and as a dehumidifier as well. you can bake on a wood stove already. you put what you want to bake in a pot and raise it above the stove surface a given amount then cover it with a larger pot like a canning pot. You have to experiment to get temperatures right but it works...
There is a user on Driveonwood.com who has a walipini with a charcoal kiln built into a deep bed. Sort of a combination of a rocket mass heater and a gasifier/char producer. He runs his car on charcoal... A very interesting guy.
Video of greenhouse:
The problem is scale. They sound like a wonderful older farm couple and I feel for them but they are trying to do conventional commodities agribusiness at one tenth the scale of their competitors and it does not work. 15 30 acre farms could probably create niches for themselves with some added outside income. There is no way in hell an aspiring farmer can make a beast like that work and provide them with a decent retirement.
So I did a little playing tonight with my Kill a Watt
500 ml of water on my hotplate took 6 minutes to come to a boil Peak watts 1000 total power consumed: 100 WHr or 0.1 kW Hr
500 ml of water in my kettle took 3 minutes to come to a boil Peak watts 1400, total power consumed 50 or 0.05kW Hr
Skandi Rogers wrote:I think some of the posters have missed that the OP is in Australia so a "mains" induction plate would be rated to work on 230v not 120v which would mean it can easily draw 2000W.
I would suggest a small electric kettle, you might have to look at a travel kettle, because I see checking our kettle it is rated at 2200W.
con west wrote:I was hoping to get insight from people who live in michigan, ontario, quebec, new york, ohio, illinois area, who use solar as their main electricity source find it. Are you happy with power production? Is it worth the cost? Do you produce enough energy to run your house?
I plan on heating the house with a rocket mass heater and investing in led lighting. Its just me and my girlfriend and we dont use much power, but if we get a incinolet toilet im guessing 4000 kwh per year. My original plan was to use a gas generator and a battery for power but that need much more research. I was hoping to get some insight on others on if solar is worth it for them. Right now my only realistic options are honda generator, solar, grid or a combination.
Any insight is helpful as I read tons of conflicting information.
Off grid is completely viable in our part of the world. You can expect about 1.5 hours of array production per day as an average at this time of the year so plan accordingly. Invest in an inverter with a charger because there will be times you will need the generator for a top up. Solar panels are relatively cheap right now so get all the array you can afford...Why the incinerator toilet? Is there some reason it is a must? They usually start at several thousand dollars... They do come in propane models not just electric; more efficient then running a genny to heat an element. A composting toilet or a humanure sawdust toilet will do the same functions for a fraction of the cost so those are worth looking into.
It should work. the trick would be finding out how many watts it puts out at how many rpm... Next would be you will have to rectify that as the output is usually ac. next would be regulate the voltage. you can feed it into an mppt controller and get all the watts possible or a simple voltage regulator which will chop the voltage down to a battery bank level for you. What voltage battery bank will you be using?
an induction hotplate is probably overkill for a cup of tea. A smaller electric kettle usually would pull between 700 and 1100 watts and would be a better bet for tea. Heating up food a lower setting on the induction would work fine just take longer. Unless designed for 20 amp plugs an induction hotplate could not draw 2000 watts. A 15 amp standard plug can only put out 1800 watts without blowing the breaker. A conventional hotplate usually ranges from 700-1200 watts maybe a better place to start. As long as your inverter can take it and the batteries are fairly charged short duration electric heating tasks are no problem.
I would heat a large reservoir of water much hotter then the bath and pour myself a bath when I wanted one with water that absorbs heat from it but does not come in contact with it. Heat exchange instead of heating the tub itself. Drain the water to water a garden or flush a toilet... Hold on tight to a mountain loving lady they are hard to come by.
David Huang wrote:I decided to post this in the rocket mass heaters section since it is my rocket mass heater that brought this to my attention. I think everyone who heats with wood knows already that a "cord" of wood is a fuzzy term as far as just how many BTUs of heat it contains. It's really more about the dry weight of the wood. I do know this. Still we tend to think and talk about firewood in cords, and our efficiency gains in reduction of cords we are burning.
Anyway, this is my second year heating with my RMH. Last year I wasn't fully prepared for it. I kinda made my heater late. The heating season had already started and my firewood wasn't ideal. I was splitting up the larger sized split logs I had been using with my old wood stove a bit more to make the fit in the feed tube. However, I hadn't yet made my kindling cracker to much more easily and safely split the wood up into nice small pieces with lots of surface area, allowing them to really burn hot. This year I did that putting away something a bit shy of 2 cords of finely split wood in advance. Last winter I was burning one full wood hod each day to heat my place. This was down from 2 full hods, plus a couple more logs I'd grab with the wood stove. Not the most efficient RMH out there but not bad considering I'm limited on space and can't make the heat exchange tube run as long as I'd like. This year when the cold days finally kicked in I started burning that single full hod of wood each day expecting it would heat the house just as well as it did last year. However, this didn't seem to be the case. It wasn't bad, but it just didn't seem to keep the place as warm. It's like my RMH became less efficient? I had fully cleaned it out. It seemed to be burning just as well. The temps at the top of the barrel were a bit hotter even with the more finely split wood. What could the issue be? I scratched my head for a bit and recalled something I seemed to notice this summer as I was splitting all that kindling. The kindling pile seemed to grow in size quicker than the log pile that I was splitting shrunk. So I had a theory. When the logs were larger in size I could fit more of them by weight into a "full" hod than I could when they were split into smaller kindling pieces.
One of of these warm days here recently I went out and filled my hod with the large split pieces from my wood pile. Then I got out my kindling cracker and split those logs up to the size I was now using in the RMH and tried to shove them all back into the hod. Sure enough they wouldn't all fit, not by a long shot. I probably had 1/3 to 1/2 more wood by volume it took up. I did go and write a blog post about it on my blog site since I haven't read anyone really talking about this issue elsewhere. I thought I'd bring it up here too as this crowd might be interested to know it.
Last year when I was using wood that was split only a little smaller than what I used with my wood stove I was burning more wood in a full hod than I have been with that same hod full of much more finely split wood this year. This is why my house wasn't getting as warm. In reality this year I have been burning significantly less wood by weight. My estimate last year of the RMH using 50% to 55% less wood than the wood stove was probably off too since I was splitting that wood smaller, though not as small. I probably had more like a 55% to 60% reduction in wood.
This makes me wonder if the 50% to 90% improvements others report might even be skewed to the low side if they too have been measuring it by volume instead of weight while also going from larger split logs to more finely split logs and smaller sticks?
When I was splitting wood for the winter I thought I had enough put away to easily cover this year and hopefully most of next year. Now though I suspect I really just have this year covered with a bit left over for next year, unless that is I can make my RMH more efficient yet. I'm playing with that and think I have something that's working which I'll post about at another time after a bit more testing.
Let me see if I can add a couple images from my blog post.
This is the hod full of large size split wood that I then used to split into smaller pieces. I should note that most of this also had pretty straight grains and split easily into clean pieces that weren't all twisty.
This is that same wood after it was split finer, showing how much of it didn't fit back into a "full" hod.
could you do me a favour and tell me what kind of wood stove did you use before the RMH and roughly how old was it? The reason I ask is not to cause trouble just the consumption numbers given by RMH enthusiasts for conventional wood stoves alway seem incredibly high to me based on my own consumption making me wonder what kind of stoves they were. By the way that is an awesome amount of kindling you have stacked there!
Brandon Gutierrez wrote:Wow. The feed back is amazing and there are some great ideas. Let give a little more info: I am not working off grid just looking to add supplemental heat to my home. Currently the baseboard heater is a cast iron propane unit. I quit using it because it became to expensive and replaced the heat source with 2 5-ton heating and cooling units (all electric). I live in New Mexico and where my house is the elevation is 6,900 ft.
I like the idea of using direct heating of the water but would like to have the use of the energy storage (batteries) for other uses during non winter months. I am a complete virgin to solar use and thought this would be a good way to start without to large of an upfront cost.
so the least expensive solar option since you have the heat pumps is to use them more and add a net metered solar array. Heated solar hot water produces about 3 times the HEAT kWs as the same area of solar electric panels but the heat pumps give you about a 3 to 1 advantage over using electricity to heat things directly. All that to say there would be no advantage to using solar hot water. If you did not have any of that infrastructure already solar hot water would make sense.
Can you source a whole replacement controller? I know Alt E still carries the Wattsun... Not much volume on trackers anymore due to panel prices. The board and switch do not seem powerful enough to run the motor but I can't make out any relays on it. You could probably wire in a series of single switches to replace the rotary making sure only one is ever flipped provided the board is not fried. Have you tried the motor just powered directly? Is it seized which could have caused the controller to die? I'm looking forward to watching the fix...
Jeremy Baker wrote:Travis. Best wishes for your adventure into a new livelihood.
If the gravity feed pellet hopper experiment flops I’ll probably look at electric feed again. I saw one that is 120 VAC or 12VDC but it’s for a pellet smoker. I thought the feed mechanism might be adapted to a burn tube however.
David. Have you done 3 phase power supply with coupled inverters before? I’ve seen the diagrams in the manuals. I have two Victron Multiplus inverters. If I got a third Multiplus I could try it but what are the advantages? In reality I think Travis has a lot more need for 3 phase than I do. Due to my semi Nomadic life I’m forced to keep things simple. So I only have 3 solar energy systems currently lol. But working on a 4th system again after trading a van with one for a motorcycle.
Nope. Its doable but still quite rare for off gridders. Outback VFX inverters can do it. That is where I tap out on that. I think Travis and I were mostly talking 3 phase in terms of power generation from an ac micro hydro setup... Travis, you should really start a separate thread this is interesting but so very far from the original topic (I take a good part of the blame there ).
do you have an hrv in the house? it can be really expensive with the exchanger core or as simple as a long tube with a smaller corrugated aluminum duct inside it with muffin fans pushing opposite ways for incoming and outgoing air.
Travis Johnson wrote:One thing I have wondered is what efficiencies would be like if I ran on 3 phase power instead of single phase? Or if you want to get really radical, going with 6 or 12 phase power. There is a diminishing rate of return on that to some degree, BUT the reason they do not have 6 or 12 phase power is because of high transmission line costs, not because it is not possible.
What got me to thinking about 3, 6 or even 12 phase power is because I have a hydro dam location that is ideal, but about 1/2 mile from my house. I know I could generate power there, but the question is, how could I get the power back to my house with less losses? 3 phase is great, but what if I jumped up to a 12 phase generator and transmission line? But they also make a lot of generators that are 3 phase. Heck I have a 3000 watt generator that switches between single and 3 phase; pretty crazy for such a small generator.
I have a keen interest in this stuff because my life is drastically changing. Due to health reasons I can no longer farm, so I am going back into the work force. The US Dept of Ag is helping me in that in a program for displaced farmers, and I THINK, but not 100% sure yet, that I am going to be a Lineman/Tower Climber for a local company. But the displaced farmers program is multifaceted, so I am also going to college to get a degree in alternative power while working as a Lineman/Tower Climber. They wanted me to take a 12 week HVAC course, but I really want my Solid Fuel License because I have no interest in cleaning propane and oil furnaces. The Alternative Energy Degree would allow me to build rocket mass heaters and install other solid fuel appliances LEGALLY. I could even install cavitation heaters under the license. So at 45 years old I convinced the program directo that a college degree would be a better fit for me. It is a lot of change from farming full time that is for sure, but exciting too.
Having played and worked with alt power for more then 20 years I can tell you without a doubt that there is a marked difference between what is possible and what is deployable. Although 3 phase is not perfect it has stood the darwinian test of time as the best compromise between efficiency and practicality. You absolutely do not want to deploy something that will be requiring your tinkering energy into perpetuity it will drain you dry. The upkeep cost in terms of time and brainpower of added on makeshift projects takes its toll on you. Unfortunately I know this first hand... I did some rough calculations based on your half mile distance. Using a standard 3 phase hydro system set up for 240 volts wild ac assuming 5 amps per leg, using #10 tech 90 cabling (4 conductor wire weather proof in an armoured cable cable) costs here would be roughly $2000 and line losses about 8 percent link here: http://www.csgnetwork.com/voltagedropcalc.html ... Not perfect but not the worst ever either you can double that loss using 12 gauge or triple it using 14 saving you cabling costs. You bring it in and rectify it close to the batteries rectifying has its own problems if you have the funds a midnite solar classic mppt charger works great for squeezing every watt out of your setup. I would suggest a battery bank and an inverter set to grid sell myself as the buffer a battery provides makes a whole lot of things easier. Cavitation heaters are interesting but I'm not a believer in over unity so I limit my thinking to power in equals power out minus losses. Losses in systems like that are usually vibration and noise which are not small values with wind turbines. Calculating power from small wind is hard since its so localized but here is a max power calculator: https://rechneronline.de/wind-power/ I wish you well in your reinventing yourself. I've done it a few times and although scary at first reinvigorates the mind...
It's a 2.5 horsepower @600 rpm hit & miss engine. Not a diesel, but still a wonderful choice for a co-gen.
Hit and miss engines would work well on woodgas or chargas as long as the motor stayed loaded. Efficiency wise those old engines don't do well. I have seen one with a modern plug and magneto setup that performed quite well. Not much heat exchange though. there is usually an open tank of water on top of them so you would have to enclose and pump that. Also capture the exhaust which burns quite hot on them since its ejecting a lot of partially burned fuel. If it was really cheap I would be tempted but if its inline with a modern water cooled which so much old iron is... no contest.
Betcha there is a market for the white... Sell it to finance the co gen project... Its hard though I know. I'm a natural pack rat for machinery who is trying to go minimalist...I currently have enough solar parts for 3 smaller systems all taken from tear outs for upgrading.
If you read the details of the article it does not say that each individual panel it would produce " up to 20 times more power" which is technically impossible but that a stack of panels at various angles would produce that much sitting on the same spot... Each individual panel would be actually much less efficient since it would spend most of its day out of the direct angle of the sun.Never mind the panel cost, racking cost, engineering challenge, heat buildup, etc... So its technically true as long as you squint and look at it a certain way but not very practical. Once upon a time we used trackers when panels were expensive they used to accomplish what the paper states was the researches main goal. We stopped using them because the answer ended up being cheaper panel on fixed arrays sometimes angled for morning and night.
I don't think you could have a runaway with the water tank. Runaway is usually something you worry about with on demand boilers fuelled by solid fuel. The idea is that a boiler especially a wood fired one works at its best efficiency when its firing hot. So in this case Jo fires a full load at max efficiency and uses the tank to float. The tank is highly insulated so any losses to the air is counter balanced by the increased boiler efficiency. So the theory goes...
Love people like things... That is as far down that road as ill go. AS far as the boiler goes you would want a large tank of hot water so you could fire it hard once or twice a day and coat on the heated water as opposed to let it simmer. Also you could feed that genny coolant into the loop.
Here is a video of a wood gasser in Sweeden who contributes a lot on www.driveonwood.com this would be my goal...
Mart Hale wrote:I was doing research into these engines when there was a Lister engine group on yahoo groups.
This gent runs off veg oil gives him power and heat.
There was a guy who was able to get them to run off wood gas and used a micro controller to regulate the timing of when it fired.
Diesel and woodgas is a hard one... You will always need a certain percentage of diesel to get the engine to fire then you need to control the woodgas. For woodgas and chargas stick with spark ignition engines and save yourself a boatload of frustration...
Travis Johnson wrote:Yes, you are right, now that I read their advertisement, it says "Lister Like Engine Kits"...so they are knock-offs. Still, it is nice to know that you can still get them. And you are right, they have both a 6 HP and 12 HP engine. The 6 HP was $1600 though, without many add on attachments.
I also noticed that there is a lot of ways to get off the shelf slow speed generators. They have a Kohler 5000 watt 1000 rpm Generator that consumes 19 gallons of fuel every 79 hours for instance. Still a little small, but there are others too like Kubota and Ford...really depending on what you want to get.
I disagree on the highlighted point. With regard to off-grid co-generation, smaller is generally better. You want the smallest co-gen setup that can run your single largest running load; and depend upon your battery bank & inverter to take up any slack, including the additional start-up amperage of that largest load. This is a departure from traditional backup generator calculations, because you'd generally want 150% to 200% of your largest load, so that the gen-set can start & run your largest load as well as lights and other smaller operations during an outage. But an off-grid co-gen setup isn't intended to carry you through the dark times of a grid outage, but as a regular contributor to your normal energy use pattern during the heating season. This line of thinking forces you to coordinate your electricity usage so as not to outrun your co-gen plus solar array plus battery storage; but the longer period of time that the co-gen can be run at a productive cruising speed, the more efficient it is at doing all it's functions; in part because start-up from cold to warm running is a large portion of your "lost" energy (although you can still recapture most of that heat by drawing heat off the warm engine following shutdown). For example, you might get 4 hours of insolence (energy equivalent of full-sun) during a typical winter day; so you don't want your co-gen running while the solar panels are doing a decent job keeping the lights on and the battery bank over 80%; but once the sun drops below the horizon, you need more heat and more power for lighting, etc. So you might wait for an hour or so after sundown, then start the co-gen while the washing machine or dishwasher is running, leave it running while showers are taking place (peak domestic hot water demand) and shut it down once all the demanding housework is done and the kids are ready for bed. So the co-gen runs at productive speed for about 3 hours each winter evening, providing only a portion of the heat and power demand while running, but is fully utilized while running (even the power produced between wash cycles is stored in the battery bank, to be used by the refrigerator overnight). Thinking along these lines, with the co-gen as a part of your total energy system intended primarily for winter, allows you to design your solar array ideally for summer. So your solar array can be smaller, as compared to an array intended to do the full job either year round or as a '3 seasons' design. Also, your battery storage can be smaller; because you're no longer constrained by the 3-days of storage rule, since if the battery storage that you can afford ever gets too low to safely run the refrigerator overnight, you can start up the co-gen for a few hours anyway. Yes, this means that long term storage of at least some diesel or bio-diesel fuel would be a necessary part of your household planning; and you might never be completely independent of society for your energy sources this side of TEOTWAWKI; but you'd still have the freedom to expand your solar array as events permit, slowly reducing the need to run your co-gen; until ultimately you can sell it to another, less established, off-grid household in your area.
I am not sure on this though.
IF I am using an engine to co-gen both electricity and heat, I would think the heat would be the harder of the two demands to meet.
My home takes about 5 gallons per day of propane to heat in the heart of the heating season which is about 455,000 btu's per day based off 91,000 btu's per gallon of propane.
Assuming some losses, it will take at least 10 gallons of diesel fuel consumption per day to get that with engine heat. So while it would seem fuel economy is of great importance, in this case it really is not because I am going to need at least 1 million btu's per day, and probably closer to 1.5 million btu's. I could drastically change my lifestyle so that the small gen-set listed meets my electrical needs, but I am not sure it will provide enough heat. My calculations show that 5000 watt engine will provide around 3/4 of a million BTU's per day. I am not sure that would be enough.
I really like how the full story can get teased out as we go back and forth like this. I know what I would do in your situation Your final setup will for sure differ:
1) set up a centralized outdoor wood boiler with a large water reserve to feed all the heating loads including domestic hot water and the new apartment. Working wide open they are quite efficient its when they idle during the shoulder seasons that they suffer so you maintain your electric boiler for then.
2) plumb your diesel backup genny into the central boiler's water reserve not the house to avoid heat transfer mashups and redundant infrastructure trying to feed the house directly with several systems. feeding the grid at maximum efficiency the generator would have a bottomless sink in the water reservoir to pour all that heat.
3)maintain an all electric home with the exception of the oven which will limit peak loads. On the Stove propane consumption is minor and would avoid the huge draw down on the generator.
4) investigate Net metering. My understanding is Maine just reversed their punitive measures on it: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/maine-enacts-new-law-to-encourage-net-metering-and-long-term-contracts-distributed As the bigger solar farms are upgrading to more efficient panels the used market is being flooded with 60 cell 225-250 watt panels that are less then 10 years old often for 15-20 cents per watt. I would choose systems with battery backup myself but that is a preference and straight economics does not support it at this time so a direct to grid system will be cheaper...
That is the weirdest stove I've ever seen... Do you have a fireplace now and wanted it to be an insert? it looks like its meant to freestone and vent through a wall. no reason I can see that it could not go up a chimney from a fireplace. you would want to line the chimney usually with flexible stainless or your insulated wall would work great as well. you would want to seal the rest of the opening so you don't vent too much heat. Distance to combustibles on older stoves is usually 24"