I prefer a refractometer to a specific gravity meter but yes everything mentioned in the video is spot on. If you purchase a specific gravity meter get the dial type as shown in the video not the floating glass ball type which are more common but not as accurate. I mentioned the load testing because usually the 12 volt batteries have a cap over the cells and are not easy to access the cell liquid. Most of the time the cap does pop off though but might get damaged in the process.
You should do a specific gravity measurement of each cell if you can access the cells individually. That is how we would diagnose once and for all a bad cell. Otherwise disconnect each 12 volt battery from each other, apply a 12 volt load to each of roughly 120 watts for 5 minutes or so and take a voltage reading. the One with a bad cell will immediately drop by 2 volts or more...
Best I can offer
Here is a load calculator for you. https://www.loadcalc.net/load.php there are dozens online. One thing to remember is RMH heaters are good but are not magic. 1lb of wood has about 7000BTU of energy in it if you were able to use 100% of it which you cannot. Any idea how much heating oil you used to heat the structure? Oil has a heating value of about 140000btu per us gallon so for every gallon on oil you burned you would need 20lbs of wood. Its not a one to one comparison of course but its somewhere to start. Personally I would start with insulating the basement from the outside to turn all that concrete into my mass. A large block basement like that in that climate has to have heat load in the tens of thousands of BTU's let alone the house above it.
first thing I would want to do is figure out your heating load so; where abouts is the property?... Next would be how insulated is the building? what is the foundation or basement and is it insulated? what is the quality of the windows what is the general ceiling height?
John, I believe life is full of best choices from imperfect options. Personally I believe with a more affluent life comes electricity and a sedentary lifestyle and richer more processed foods which in turn cause the diseases he talks about. Attributing one cause to all those ills is... problematic at best. You trust his judgement so be it. As far as electricity I believe his main aim is malformed ac waves. Depending on the inverting equipment you choose to use you can produce an ac waveform much cleaner then anything a utility can send you over the wires. You would probably want a low frequency inverter using a higher voltage battery bank to lower the dc amps being converted. You could locate you inverting equipment in a dedicated enclosure a given distance away and use metal shielded wire and metal outlet boxes to deliver it. All that is common in the industrial side of electrical generation and delivery. Those would be easy first steps. Solar is distributed energy under the control of the end user. Well designed and implemented it is a fantastic tool.
Meni, the only criterial for choosing an inverter with your NIFE Batteries will be that you choose one where you can program in the low voltage disconnect, high voltage disconnect, charge voltage and absorb time if it has an internal charger. Most of the less expensive units are programmed for default safe voltages that cannot be altered by the end user. Depending on your budget The Schneider, Magnum, outback and sunny boys are the usual choices. If you do find a less expensive one with programmable values please post a link.
That is a good suggestion. It is a balancing act as you do want to get the job done and an immersion heater works fast. On the other hand, the place I am putting it is inside a glass vacuum tube... ( I don't want to create a sudden temp change and destroy the glass).. But I could put the immersion inside copper tube so it would diffuse the heat...
I was able with time to raise the temp up of the 1/2 cup of water to 144 degrees. with 29 Watts of input. If I get another $5.00 (shipped ) soldering iron that would push the temp up over 160 degrees and I would be cooking.... at the cost of total 60 watts of energy.
I am considering getting two sodering irons, and taking them apart and fitting them deep inside the tube with silicon wire which can take the high temps..
OK, Why not make a separate heating container for cloudy days? You can find a double walled thermos bottle at any thrift store for pennies; Usually stainless but maybe the old school glass ones (for extra coolness points it would have to have that rocking 70's plaid pattern). You know the double walled stainless could take the heat. I fully respect a person's desire to tinker of course.
I converted a few lamps to run on olive oil but found a light vegetable oil burned better. As laid out above the oil won't travel as far up the wick so you have to get the flame close to the oil. The other thing is you need to keep adding oil to keep the level up in the reservoir again because it does not wick well. I eventually discarded the lamp altogether and used a small 6 oz mason jar with two holes. one for the wick one for easy refilling...
Hi Meni, if you have your heart set on running the panels directly to the batteries you might think of going with a 24 volt system. The panels run at about 30 to 32 volts so right now at 16 volts you are only taking advantage of half of your available watts... yes you won't produce amps as early or as long but that will be more then made up for by the extra watts mid day... as a compromise if you added a very inexpensive pwm controller or used your existing controller at 24 volts you would have a safety to prevent over charging and over voltage. A lot of 12 volt equipment will not function properly above 18 volts. It has not been an issue for you so far but as the batteries become broken in it will be.at 24 volts your existing charger would be right in its sweet spot... as to collecting hydrogen at low pressure a bag system would probably work well for you. 2 sealed bags, one for accumulating one for using. Add a series on shutoffs and weigh down the full bag to give it line pressure... Really dangerous of course...
It sure looks like a case of a badly fastened wire. DC current will arc continually and at approx 100 plus volts on that string quite aggressively if those wires are not properly tightened. The arcing produces heat which melts and chars the insulation and breaker.Situations like these are the exact reason that a combiner is usually used at the array or in your case two separate breakers one for each string. Some breakers are made with two separate indentations to clamp on two wires. That one is not So it would be almost impossible to make sure they were both clamped properly. it looks like its made to clamp onto one 10 gauge homerun cable which is what would normally go to it for 32 amps... If it was me I would change the breakers to match the gauge of the wire and tie them in separately.Same for the positive side. Re reading your post it seems like you came to the same conclusion...
That panel to battery capacity looks good mark. 1kw production to 3 to 4 ish kwhr storages is a good ratio for lead acid. You are a little on the high side but it will allow you to direct drive some heavy loads mid day without taxing the batteries. Think of it that way. Use that instant pot to cook at lunch time, coast morning and evening. I think you are right and There should be a good supply of used tesla lithium in a few years as the packs age and are not quite good enough for the road but plenty good for home use. I imagine the aftermarket will have 24 volt BMS retrofits for tesla packs soon. If not I would suggest l16 size surrettes/rolls for 10 more years...
Hey Frank, how much does a tracer cost? I believe the model we used was in the 200-300 canadian range. They would probably do ok charging a pair of golf cart agm batteries which given their trailer feel makes sense. I dont have the gear to analyze it but it sure as hell acts like a pwm charger not a true mppt.
Having used a few tracers on small trailer systems I'm wondering if they are capable of doing the NiFe properly. They are a bare bones charger and I would not be surprised if they have built in algorithms for how a battery "should" act. I know when we have installed them on flooded lead the voltage never goes quite high enough for a good absorb cycle and would default to float too early. Their default seems to be a conservative agm type of voltage. Their flooded settings are low for surrettes and they would not even do that... NiFe has more internal resistance so you will need to push supplemental voltage into them. I know it's more money for a good controller but you have already made a significant investment in the batteries. An outback fm80 would make those puppies fly. Next would be the array size. Is it a 4 ×225 panel array? The tracer is rated at 560 watts max is it correct you have 900? That could make it do wonky things as well. If you could cut it to within specs so 2 panels and try that to see how it responds... that won't cost you money at all. My gut instinct says the tracer won't cut it no matter what. The buck boost... I've used small ones never one like that. Who knows.
Best regards, David Baillie
Here is a full video walk around of the tractor running at the local fair Saturday. No Narration sorry its just too noisy. The white buckets you see behind it are full of charcoal ground to a size of roughly 3-15 mm with the dust sieved out. The charcoal comes from coals shovelled out of my wood stove over the winter. Each one is 22 litres and represents between 2 and 3 litres of gasoline equivalent.
I've recently realized that I've never really put up anything about my Charcoal powered tractor. Here is a Teaser for now. This video assumes you know a little about charcoal gasification so if you feel a little lost you can follow the build thread from the beginning here: http://forum.driveonwood.com/t/my-charcoal-tractor/1200
Looks like that controller will brake the turbine above the listed voltage So no dump load. That is pretty common for those little turbines. The good thing is it is separate from the turbine. Often they are built into it making it un fixable. Unless you have 300 watts of the older 12 volt solar panels kicking around I'd skip the solar end as its probably one of the older PWM controllers.
Best of luck, David
No the 5 to 8 percent efficiency means of the say 100 watts of heat energy that passes through the teg assembly 5 to 8 watts of electricity is created. If you heat with wood already and have a good passive energy sink like a tank of water or some low wattage pumped radiant floor then it might be a good solution. A passive solution can work but its efficiency will be even worse since the cold side will heat up too fast. I use two teg powered fans on my stove to move air and have thought If I was serious I would channel the cold air intake for the house over the cold side fins to add some wattage to it.
Hi Beth, Thanks for clarifying the system. Theoretically of course I think I would change your charge controller out for a MPPT unit and add some panels for earlier charging, later charging, and less stress on the batteries you do have. That alone would add a lot of longevity to the lead acids you already have. The name brand units have relays built in that you can use to turn on diversion loads. Here we use it for water heaters in summer but for you an efficient deep freezer set so cold it would always cycle on when power was applied. The larger array would very quickly saturate your small battery bank then the relay would divert to the freezer but only power it when the batteries were topped up thus avoiding wearing out the battery for running the freezer. So technically you would be running on solar directly with a small back up for lights. You have such awesome sun there so I get why you would want to pursue the peltier route. Solar is so cheap right now as well. You could stack the peltier plates to achieve a much higher temperature differential as well. If you add liquid cooling plates you could be on to something. I played around with them for power generation only but the theory is the same if in reverse.
You asked so: I have 960 watts of solar running through a 60 amp Outback charge controller to a bank of 8 l16 batteries. I use a magnum 4024 inverter... I only run half the house on solar these days as I grew tired of the propane backup generator for our long dark winter. I use grid power to top up the system in winter and run non essential stuff like a dishwasher, sat tv/DVR and the internet router.
could you share how many watts are in your main array, your charge controller model, your inverter model and your battery bank? Older fridges had a huge kick on startup as you discovered. Some inverters handle it better then others. A secondary inverter to handle the computers might work as well. It could be the surge turning off the inverter or voltage drop on the batteries. A new energy start rated chest freezer running on the new R600 refrigerant should have a much smaller start up draw and daily usage. The peltier solution is interesting but their efficiency is not good, using several times the electricity of a compressor to achieve the same amount of cooling. Hope it works out for you whatever route you choose.
All my experience with gasification tells me your desire to use large bulky wood will hurt you. The low efficiency outdoor boilers work on just about anything but they are a smouldering mess. The more efficient the design, such as a gasification boiler, the more attention you will need to the fuel consistency. I think you should consider a large water reservoir and twice a week fire off a well cut well dried load. Fuel prep is everything in gasification. Fuel prep is even more important for running engines. I like charcoal myself so I split the gasification process into heat from the wood stove and high grade fuel charcoal.
Sebastian Köln wrote:Every conversion means losses. They can be anywhere between 90% to 10%.
Here are my guesstimated efficiencies for your proposed setup:
Solar -> electricity: 15% (solar panels)
electrical -> mechanical 80% (motor)
mechanical -> pneumatic 30% (compressor)
pneumatic -> mechanical: 30% (turbine)
mechanical -> electrical: 80% (generator)
That makes a total of 0.15 * 0.8 * 0.3 * 0.3 * 0.8 = 0.00864 (0.8% efficiency). So for every 1000W of solar input, you get 8W out.
This is compared to just hooking up the solar panels to the battery (15% efficiency -> 150W output for 1000W solar input).
hi sebastian you are right except for the efficiency of solar panels. A 1000 watt array would produce 1000 watts of electricity. The 15 percent efficiency number refers to how much of the solar energy hitting the panel is converted to electricityso your true energy harvested would be 57.6 Watt hours of the original 1000 Watt hours using your other efficiency numbers...
Very nice setup Debi. That Trace is a rock solid inverter. In California I wouldn't even bother changing the trace pwm charge controller. In my northern clime the mppt chargers made solar much more viable. Do you have a softstart feature on your pump? Grundfos makes a great ac softstart pump that will do away with that great startup dimming while keeping your costs down by staying ac. Here is Grundfos' video talking about the difference and an install...
It does not seem to have nozzles so its a fema type design but I could be wrong. No radiator or filtering either so you would have to build those for engine use. Fema types are prone to tar making unless run at continuous output like say a fan for heating purposes. If your main purpose is a kiln then fine but I would want to see some longer run times before id hook it up to a generator. Smaller wood units are tricky. Using a processed fuel like pellets does save a lot of the headaches though. I found charcoal gasifiers to be more suitable for small engine use. I consider gasifiers to be biogas since they use biomass break it down with heat and release a flammable gas.
When you do go down the road to a better Battery try to balance out total storage capacity with amount of solar array so that you can spend a good amount of time in a day in absorb. What can happen with an oversized battery is it can spend a great deal of its life in float or on heavy discharge days it will spend several days in bulk trying to catch up. For smaller arrays the amount of amps it can put into the battery at absorb is not ideal for that sized battery. I would choose a smaller battery bank and spend the difference on a larger array. The Surrette/Rolls 1450 size batteries are a nice compromise and one man can lift the damn things!
Its interesting to get feedback from an aquion owner. My understanding is after they declared bankruptcy the whole production facility was bought and transferred to China. They have advantages as mentioned, but some drawbacks. They do take up a lot of floorspace for the amount of energy they store and have a low rate of charge and discharge so maybe not great for large solar arrays or high draw situation unless you have many strings to pull from. Total lifespan in the real world is still unknown.
Interesting replies. The average I have used in the past is 150w Hr for a cyclist over a 1 hour period. I have numbers for a 6cu ft chest freezer converted to a fridge that says 175W Hr and my 12 volt shurflo pump uses 96W/hr pumping 2 Gallons per minute. If you were to go this route a battery thrown into the mix would be the way to do it so you could store whatever you were not using that instant and allow for compressors starting up and down time.
Nicole I can't tell you about the total environmental cost of making solar panels but I can tell you that when people talk about solar only lasting a few years generally they mean consumer products not power equipment. I have a 20 year old inverter still chugging along and come across 25 year old panels still outputting 80 percent of their sticker ratings.If you gave me a corner that gets 2 hrs of sun in the winter you would have the equivalent of 4 hours of cycling for less than $800. The battery would wear out in 7 to 10 years but it is fully recyclable, the panels at least 25 and the charge controller 10-20. The trick to shady areas is name brand gear and good design. 10 years ago partial shade was trickier but with higher voltage panels and better charge controllers its gotten easier.
usually a sandpoint is driven into the ground so you really do not want more then a two inch pipe due to increasing friction and difficulty to hammer it in. I do find people misunderstand what it is. Some people think of it as an unpressurised reservoir of water like a drilled well when it is more like a straw in that it uses a vacuum to suck the water out of the ground. If flow is a problem install two 10 ft apart.
Cat Hargreaves wrote:We are looking to build in Island County. They have very strict regulations and building off grid is basically not allowed for an actual house. Septic is required and as far as I know, a self-install is not permitted. Septic is so expensive! Would it be cheaper to develop an alternative greywater/blackwater system? And possible to technically pass inspection?
Where about is Island county?
I don't have problems with the septic requirements as I understand where the municipality is coming from. Every homeowner will swear up and down that they are there forever so what they choose to install should be their decision. The reality in my area is average ownership is close to 7 years. Add in proximity to water and growing populations and it can be a slow moving train wreck down the road which then falls back on them. If I was trying to save money on septic and was building myself I would take the install course and DIY a compliant system... That is allowed here. They sell the ribbed plastic tanks and you can get the engineered bed parts cheaply enough. Aggregate is always a problem on islands depending on soil type. Probably not an easier or much cheaper route but it would be fun. Option two would be to see exactly what they require, ontario has very strict rules but they do make allowances for composting toilet options with grey water treatment. That is a cheaper option and easier to self install... I might also try to shrink the house footprint to shrink the septic requirements and cut costs. As to off grid being impossible you would have to let me know the area. Usually they have guidelines you must meet such as inspections, certified components, and minimum service capacity not illegal just lots of hoops...
K Eilander wrote:Okay, so we've all heard of (and probably own) a kill-a-watt for monitoring power-hungry loads.
But how to detect drains that:
a) Aren't connected to a 110 power outlet
b) Change over time -- is your fridge going out?
c) connected to that one outlet that you never thought about (did you remember to turn that one light bulb in the attic off? ... are you sure?)
What I envision is a little circuit that can sit next to my breaker box and attach to all outgoing hot lines to tell me if, say, breaker #3 is pulling a load even at night.
Should be possible. I'm vaguely picturing something like arduno+some kind of sensor+analog mux
(+being careful not to electrocute myself)
Hmm well I have used the Ted monitors: look at this link here: http://www.theenergydetective.com/prohomestore.html You choose either a clamp on the mains or separate clamps on each load. We've used them for monitoring a whole house to figure out load profiles. They start reasonable and get pricey depending on the level of detail you want. There are cheaper meters on amazon as well but you get much less detail.
I'd say you are loosing too much heat to the sides of the pot. usually you would choose a larger more shallow pot to maximize your footprint on the stove and minimize your heat losses. You could also cut a hole and inset the pot, seal any gaps with a quick plaster seal. If that is you only pot try filling it half way or less and dripping it in to make up losses. As the concentration of sugar increases it becomes easier to keep a boil. Have fun, it is very addictive both the syrup and the process...
Hi Daniel. What size batches are you expecting to process, what is your material makeup and how often would you fire the system? I like open retort systems versus closed retort for simplicity sake and for flexibility of heat loads. I usually use a tlud system or burn down in a wood stove myself. Im aiming for char for running engines so usually my raw feedstock is wood not debris though.