Lisa Sampson wrote:We typically run around 1kW per day of usage especially with the power tools. I was hoping to learn from you guys what works well, what doesn't work well, and what you would do differently if you had to do it all over again. Since ours will be a new system, maybe we can avoid some mistakes that others have already made. We are looking at some property that has a well but no electrics. The water is potable but we haven't done solar before so we are not sure how this might work.
I have about a million questions and I would love to pick your collective brains about this. I am a tech geek by trade so we have to have power for electronics and interwebz so I can work remotely. Hubby needs a metal and wood shop so between us we pull a lot of power. I am already planning to convert to propane for some of the larger appliances (stove, oven, clothes dryer, water heater, winter heating). That still leaves the AC, fans, fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, hair dryer, lights, TV, and all my techie gear sucking power. If any of the other power pigs can be converted to DC, I am definitely open to suggestions.
For the shop, DHB (Dear Hunny Bunny) needs to be able to run saws, lathes, drill press, press break, air compressor, and possibly some CNC stuff (which we will need to acquire). His welder has its own generator so that at least isn't an issue. Some of his things will run on DC just fine but not everything so some stuff will require an inverter to function.
I know that I need 2 separate systems with one for the house and one for his workshop. When we had a regular grid tied house, I would have to shut things off for him to do work so that we didn't blow breakers and we ended up going to 200 AMP service from the grid. That was the highest amp service we could get without getting a second meter. We were actually looking at getting a 2nd electric meter with separate service for his workshop when life threw us a curve ball and we took an overseas assignment. Anyway, splitting everything into two systems brings down the both the amps and the volts that would be necessary to manage to safer and more reasonable levels. I prefer to keep volts and amps in the "OW" range or maybe the "OW and bad words" range and out of the "Fried" range since DHB isn't always super careful about throwing breakers and testing to be sure things are no longer energized. Hes been better since he discovered that the water heater was still on the hard way but I would rather not have a crispy DHB.
I would love to hear your experiences with solar only vs solar and wind hybrid systems. Texas is pretty flat so hydro is probably not an option. However, when its not sunny, its usually pretty windy. Its generally pretty windy even when it is sunny so our thought was to use wind, particularly overnight when our consumption drops to almost nil, to help make up for cloudy days. I am particularly interested in the Lead Acid vs AGM vs Lithium advice anyone can give. Space and weight aren't that much of an issue for us since we plan use a small shipping container to house the batteries and most of the gear.
Hi Lisa, your situation sound similar to a lot of off grid users who do trades type shop work. Usually in your case you would only do one system but a good one and dear hubby would have to adjust his work somewhat to an off grid life. The heart of your system would probably be up to 5kw of solar, a 48 volts DC inverter system that would do 220 power and a larger than usual generator that can carry hubby's biggest single load with a 2 to 4 kw reserve for battery charging and house loads. If he is doing small power tool work the inverter handles it if he has a heavy draw day planned the genny is on... I'm partial to the outback radian with their fm100 or the stacked magnum 9kw inverters with their pt100 charger. If you can swing the expense you will never regret it. If you try to cobble up a system for large loads you will be saving dollars but buying a lifetime of fiddling around and unmet goals ...
David Huang wrote:I'm not sure what level of interest others might have but as an off-solar person I've never gotten into all that complex data monitoring. I've been tempted sometime to run a line from the barn where all the equipment is to the house so I can see what the battery level is at during long periods of cloudy days, but instead just hike out and look figuring I could use the exercise. I personally have little interest in connecting my system to the internet. I have no idea what virus and stuff could be caught out there! ;) It seems like a more secure system if I keep it isolated.
David, most of the systems mentioned above will either report to a web based platform or to a offline network to your computer. Something else to consider for the system you are designing Nuno; make sure it can work offline also with an on board browser of some sort since many off grid locations either dont have internet or dont want to share their data...
I think it's a great idea for smaller systems using less well known inverter and controller manufacturers. Outback, schneider, magnum, midnite solar, all offer web based tracking free with purchase of equipment So the fee for service angle might be a hard sell. There is a monitoring company whose name escapes me right now who offer a plug and play service. Again they cover their costs through equipment sales with free cloud based monitoring. I'd love to see what you've put together though.
They do make charge controllers for that purpose. Search a 12 volt dc to 12 volt dc charger. Your cheap pwm controller may or may not burn out if you use it as described there are just too many on the market to tell...
As mentioned above change the charge controller to an mppt model preferably a name brand unit. Even on cloudy days you will generate a good portion of your array wattage per hour. A pwm you get nothing without good sun. Looking at the loads I would turn off the cell booster at night for the best bang for my buck. If you do not want to buy a generator I have had good success running a battery charger off of a cheap inverter hooked into a running car's battery. Not the most fuel efficient solution if you have a truck but it's quiet, has a starter and will get you out of a low battery situation, so for occasional charge ups it is fine. I like the iota 12 volt chargers myself.
Top of my head...
Steveabcdefg Anderson wrote:So, did a major fail luckily it is only pvc pipe no pump on the end we had a jet pump but there is a check valve so I'm having to pull up water filled pipe and I did manage to snag it and pull it up a couple of times but something always happened and it slipped back down. After the second time I sent down a probe to see how much further it was and that must have wedged itself between the pipe and now the whole freaking thing is stuck. It's never coming out now, but there is good news I am below the water table it's only 20' however I am surrounded by orange groves and would like to be as deep as humanly possible as I'm sure there is runoff. I sent some more pipe down to try and maybe bang it unstuck but what has happened is I think I am banging the whole thing into the silt and substrate. I ran another 20' of pipe down by just beating the thing, I guess my question is how far down below the water table is normal? It got dark on me but I'm hoping to go out there tomorrow to see how much further down I can go. This is just for a hobby farm but we would like to drink water while we're there. Thanks in advance, it's been a bad day -Steve
So is this a drilled well 4" in diameter? How deep is it any idea? Usually you hang the pump at a lower level then water table to allow you to have a reservoir in the pipe above the pump. Here the recharge rate of the well must be above 3.5 gallons per minute to qualify for insurance or mortgage. How does the pipe enter the well? Often times you just abandon the old, run a whole new line down with a new check line and splice into the old line out of the well... It really depends on your local setup
The heat loss in winter through those skylights will be an order of magnitude higher then any residual heat that might be left from warmer time... skylight aesthetics are nice but they totally mess up heating and cooling...
If you can try to locate some old patio doors. they tend to pe tempered glass which can deal well with the heat the cell put off. Build your own has kind of gone away with dirt cheap panels. Lots of adds online for 230-260 watt panels for anywhere from 15 to 25 cents a watt all done... Lots of the farms have upgraded to the newer panels and flooded the market with 7-10 year old perfectly good panels...
Just a thought. Good luck on your project.
Those are great questions. First, there is no 'burning' of the saltwater electrolyte. They are sealed and never require any maintenance.
As I mentioned in a previous mail, our batteries are 500W each, continuous power, so that particular comment is fairly accurate. 3-4 of our stacks match the capacity of one Discover (~7.2 kWhs). But that one Discover can handle load of 7kW (if your inverter is that large), which will cover a lot of surges! 3-4 of our Saltwater batteries want to see about 1.5-2.0kW continuous charging/discharging. 8 Saltwater will want to see roughly 4kW. Your 2 Discovers will not flinch at loads up to 14kW. Our saltwater (and Aquion) are 48V batteries with a continuous charge / discharge of roughly 10amps (~500W). They can surge up to 20amps for a few seconds.
Love their fast and thorough response. Not sure my hub will love the less fast and less thorough response of the batteries, though...
Do you know -- if we have a backup generator, does this just mean that with power surges (well pump, power tools, etc), if we overtax the batteries, the whole house backup generator will kick in? Or is it going to be a pain in the neck when we get big surges, with shutdowns & reset etc?
that is the most of it. So if you overtax the batteries the voltage will crash and the inverter will reset. Good to know about the electrolyte learn something everyday..
its basically the same technology as the aquion batteries. Bluesky energy tried to buy Aquion but it seems they are now out of bankruptcy protection and making batteries again so you could also research Aquions for reviews. The technology is interesting but the power density is low so your bank will be quite large. The big problem Aquion had was how fast each stack of batteries could give up amps or absorb them. It was really really low like in the 30 or 40 amp range. You had to gang up many strings of quite expensive batteries to get say 100 to 150 amps of draw at 24 volts for a 2.4 to 3.5 kW load not unusual when it comes to starting a deep well pump. Same thing if you wanted to have a larger array you needed too many strings of batteries to get the charge rate you wanted. I never used them just trouble shooted a battery bank for someone. I found that flooded lead acid beat them even factoring in midlife battery change out. That was 3 years ago maybe prices have changed.
David Baillie wrote:.make sure you incorporate a BMS for the lithium cells to not over discharge them. Most of the rest has been covered above. If you are building a system using a midnite kid spring for the 2000 watt inverter...
The Electrodacus BMS I have is rated for 12/24 volts not for 48 volts unfortunately. This is one of the biggest complaints about it otherwise it’s a amazing device. Any suggestions on BMS rated for 48 volts? Thanks
No good recommendations for a BMS unfortunately. Why not use the 24 volt configuration if you like the BMS you have? The kid will do 25 amps at 24 volt so it should cover the 460 watt panel...
.make sure you incorporate a BMS for the lithium cells to not over discharge them. Most of the rest has been covered above. If you are building a system using a midnite kid spring for the 2000 watt inverter...
If you want to incorporate solar electric heat it gets easy if you run pex and water. There are 24 volt dc rated heating elements that could take the feed from a 60 cell panel when it was available....
To add perspective 1 lb of wood has roughly 7000btu in it or roughly 2300watts or 2.3kW of heat energy. In the darkest part of the winter in Nova Scotia you could expect an average of 1.5 hrs of sun. So each kW of installed solar 0anels can be expected to produce as much heat as 1lb of firewood.
As mentioned above using solar directly for heating purposes for large areas is usually a non starter. First off you need heat in the winter when the daylight hours are shorter and therefor arrays produce less total watts.
Of the cheaper full sine wave 8nverters I've used the kissae had a voltage cutoff adjustment of either 12 volts or 11.5 volts so 24 or 23 volts. Check its manuals. The problem of course is most of the cheap inverters are expected to run on starting batteries of a vehicle so the voltage cutoff is set so you can still start...
So try Kissae or maybe the more expensive aims models which have some programming functions.
Frank Frederick wrote:In WWII in Europe there were embargo's on gasoline. Germany's citizens found using wood gas to run vehicles worked. The Japanese used wood gas to power certain machinery. During the Great Depression farmers used a combination of corn oil and wood gas to power their equipment.
In Appalachia, folks today still use wood gas vs. gasoline, propane, or diesel to power generators vehicles, and/or even heat their homes.
Should you buy a premade/commercial wood gas generating system? That is up to you if you choose to take the lazy mans way out.
There are many government publications and YouTube vieos on how to make your own system and even how to store wood gas for later use. Although ALL of these ideas do require some work and time to create, they are the most satisfying way to go in my humble opinion.
hi frank do you use woodgas?
I would suggest www.driveonwood.com for a good cross section of the wood gas world. The problem with you tube is you never know if the video maker has 1000 hours on his build or used it twice... The woodgas joke is it's easy to get an engine to run on woodgas... once. There are advantages to using a commercial design or following a user proven design.
https://permies.com/t/106411/Charcoal-gasification-garden-tractor I am a charcoal gasification person myself. Both wood and charcoal units can be called gasifiers as they gasify their fuel. Raw wood gasifiers do use a larger portion of the wood for fuel but come with a much more complicated set of machinery and operate in a much more narrow power range matched to their load. I've run everything from a 6.5HP small genny to my 28HP tractor off the same charcoal unit; charcoal is very forgiving. If you use wood to heat then charcoal is a very easy to do solution. If you would be flaring you wood pyrolysis gas to make charcoal then a raw wood gasifier makes more sense. Both of them should be seen as an add on to a solar based off grid system not a stand alone replacement. How you make charcoal is up to you I have found TLUDs to be easier and better at making it then rockets but I make most of mine in a standard woodstove. Scroll down in the first thread and there is a video...
Dan Tilman wrote:Hi Lesley,
Thanks for your reply. In the meantime I have built a solar system similar to the one in the book. 4 x 100 watt panels, 4x 100aH batteries, 4x 20v charge controllers and a 2200 watt inverter.
It powers our tiny house with lights, outlets for phones, computers, printer, and even the washer.
I’m really happy about the system. But I have one question:
How to you tell what percentage the batteries have?
Maybe somebody can help.
state of charge monitors for small 12 volt systems are notoriously inaccurate. Voltage at rest is your best easiest indicator.
This chart is pretty good depending on what type of batteries you have. This is for a flooded deep cycle
Out of curiosity why 4 charge controllers? Each will have a standby loss so usually you get one that can take the input from all 4 to minimize losses...
That is interesting... Did you allow the freezer to run for 24 hours so it stabilizes before taking your duty cycle reading? I think the phone relay idea might work not sure on that too many variables. Those cheap inverters are horribly innefficient at low draw. Does the freezer have an always on light on the switch? I find that is a huge dead draw over 24 hours. Next I would suggest you let the freezer coast by setting it to its lowest temperature setting, adding some water jugs to add mass run it off the generator all day and figure out how much it rises overnight. In that way you stay well within the freezing temperature and are in effect using the freezer as a thermal battery thus preserving your battery for other things... Add on a 125 watt panel and you could probably do just that and always have a charged battery and run it straight off the sun in daytime with no genny and no nighttime load at all. Just some ideas to play with...
Yes the Schneider, the radian, or the sol ark would be my choices.
I would want to know who had problems and with what kind of loads. In terms of pricing dont forget to add in the legally required breakers and disconnects you have to add on with the radian and Schneider built into the sol ark. Then add on the solar charge controller you have to add and the inverter controller all those items are seperate add ons from radian and schneider... the skybox is a different kind of unit also high frequency like the solark so if the 8k had problems starting loads the skybox would as well...
Brian Church wrote:I called Sol-Ark, and they also said I should use a separate charge controller.
Although I'm having trouble finding an example at the moment, I've come across inverters which have multiple DC inputs for solar. Presuming I had a 48V generator, couldn't I the 2nd input for the generator?
what solark probably meant is their charge controllers are not made for taking the input from a pma. Now we know...
That is going to be a lot of resistance... I would try one of the grundfos pumps with the strength selector switch and definitely push the water into the coils through the pump not try to pull it. I would force pump water into the coils either with household hose pressure or using a wobble pump to draw it in like this one: https://youtu.be/fWg-AKPcYRk You will need to make sure you have air bleed valves so no air gets trapped which is an ongoing process as entrapped air bleeds out of the water as it heats and cools... some things to consider...
Jeremy Baker wrote:I think it’s a full 1” wide serpentine belt. Yes, I’ve been adjusting the amperage. I started at 40 amps, it didn’t like that, then 20, 30, now 35 amps on and off all day today. It doesn’t squeal terribly but enough to be irritating. It’s worse when it’s cold engine.
any idea how old the belt is? Tensioner and new belt as mentioned above. There is a belt resin they sell for squeaky belts. Might be good for a try to see if you can get more amps with more friction then judge if it's worth changing belts.
If it is a 1/2 inch serpentine belt you will be limited to transferring roughly 1 ro 1.5hp or 750 to 1000 watts hp total to all the accessories. So roughly 1kw or you will get squealing. That is why they went to thicker belts eventually. Can you adjust the charge rate? If I'm not mistaken you will get more amps at idle and less when everything else is using power... power steering, ac, water pump etc ...
Yes two charge inputs. You would have to talk to solark to see if one of the mppt inputs can be used for the pma. Maybe... that would save on gear and it's already wired in and comes with the unit... missouri solar could probably tweak a charge controller just for your application I've found them very helpful.
I think the simpliphi batteries are overkill for this application just a small agm bank woud be more affordable. I don't think the C40 charge controller would not do it since the heat engine is going to fluctuate in output so an mppt option would be better. The classic is affordable if you pair it with the agms instead of the lithium I believe...
I looked over the heat engine specs. Am I correct that it comes with a pma head from Missouri solar? If that is the case you would have to run it into it's own charge controller. Missouri solar has an interesting one but probably not code compliant. If you want a charge controller that is code compliant the midnite solar classic is a good choice. Usually you pair it with a dump load but since you can feed the grid you dont need to as the grid is your dump load.
If your heat engine is putting out dc from that pma head you will need to use a battery based grid tie inverter like the radian listed above. You could also go for the solarc which is a newer unit and has all the function you would need and all the components are built into one unit making it more cost effective.
You are going to get a lot of diy advice on grid connecting but the regulations are quite strict so you need code compliant gear with all the utility approved disconnects and safeties. The digital utility meters can detect current flow direction and any unauthorized flow can land you in a load of trouble. Forget options like induction engines or plug in grid tie inverters those guerrilla solar days are gone. Please let me know if I'm wrong about the heat engine power head...
nice setup... Does the kissae have a programmable charge setting for lithium? Im sure you've read up on it but for clarity for others they have a very different charge profile then the agms typically used with that type of kissae charger... no absorb time and a slightly lower bulk voltage.
looks like your fields are sideways. those cylinder neo magnets the poles are usually top and bottom. Generators rely on the poles going in and out of the coil then when the magnet comes back around the voltage reverses so you will have to add some diodes so you get voltage in one direction... Here is what you made...
Diane Maldonado wrote:Ok I took some videos of my set up. Hopefully its more clear what is happening with the inverter. We tested the load (input) going into the inverter and it worked fine but the voltage output on inverter is not converting. Thanks in advance.
I can't up load movies so I posted them on youtube.
diane, in the ac breaker box disconnect the ground wire from where it is touching the black wire that is acting as your common wire. I believe you have a floating neutral inverter they cannot be hooked up that way. Neutral and ground wire must be seperate in the ac breaker box.
There have been several instances in the past where accidental hydrogen releases have ignited
spontaneously. Whilst these have been investigated, no satisfactory explanation has been produced,
but there have been suggestions that some form of electrostatic charging has been present, resulting in
an ignition. In view of the very low ignition energy of hydrogen, such ignitions are a distinct
possibility. Astbury and Hawksworth (2005) have undertaken a critical review of several incidents
with their postulated mechanisms, and has concluded that there is a distinct possibility that releases
which ignite spontaneously may be of an electrostatic origin.
If you can keep the oxygen out, hydrogen itself can be handled fairly safe – at least compared to a hydrogen-oxygen mixture!
A balloon filled with hydrogen, floating above the shed with the batteries via a tube would be relatively safe, even in the event that it burns.
Assuming your battery bank produces 20% hydrogen and you normally charge … 200W… so 40W in hydrogen. For a decent burn you want something like 2000W, ideally more like 4000W. That means 100h of charging for every hour of cooking.
These are the kinds of numbers I like to see!
Thinking about the watts needed for cooking, and size of the storage tank needed (even if I could separate the oxygen), it would be something like..... (
33kwh in a kilogram of hydrogen, so 4kw would be about 125 Grams .... At 11L/gram of gas... ) 350 gallons??? That sounds like a pretty big tank to store, a massive explosion... alright already, I'm convinced. I will say that eventually there might be a way... Stored hho would be smaller I think? And as for the efficiency of conversion:
But I am left with a dangling question. Will 400W through an induction cooker adequately steam up my veggies, and slow cook some bacon?
depends on the induction cooker. The induction hotplate I tested with my kill a watt meter was using 325 watts at low. If you used a small pan you could get that to work. But if you were prepared to shell out money for a electrolysis machine why not invest in a bigger inverter? As to that link for a revolutionary hydrogen machine well... "12 years of lab experiments" pops out, "eastern europe" pops out and no ability to purchase one all ring the familiar alarms. So, with incredible claims must come formidable proof or else it's just smoke and mirrors.
If you can get away with it I would try for a simple footing that you insulated horizontally at a 45 degrees buried 1ft outwards for each foot of frost you receive. I would then put 2 inches of foam inside the footing and build a pressure treated floor system then stick frame. Not perfect but it's a poor man's slab and does not use a lot of concrete so you could pour it... you would want well drained soil and no chance of critters getting underneath it...