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Using a listeroid engine as an off-grid co-gen plant.

 
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Here are the three engines that I have at my immediate disposal. Just one warning, this is the barn where everyone in our family puts their "junk", so it is a huge mess.



White-D3400-6-Cyl-Diesel-with-hand-clutch.jpg
White D3400 6 Cyl Diesel with hand clutch
White D3400 6 Cyl Diesel with hand clutch
1943-3-KW-1-or-3-phase-Generator-4-cyl-gasoline-or-propane.jpg
1943 3 KW 1 or 3 phase Generator 4 cyl gasoline or propane
1943 3 KW 1 or 3 phase Generator 4 cyl gasoline or propane
Reefer-4-cyl-diesel-engine.jpg
Reefer 4 cyl diesel engine
Reefer 4 cyl diesel engine
 
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Creighton Samuels wrote:Whoa!

I just found a 1928 Lister model A for sale on Craigslist, less than two miles from my house!

https://louisville.craigslist.org/atq/d/la-grange-lister-vertical-engine/7009375961.html

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.
 
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David Baillie wrote: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.



Yes, the Model A has a built-in water pot on the top of the head, that you just pour a quart of water into as an atmostpheric steam radiator.  To use as a co-gen, this little buddy would have to live in my basement, and I'd have to rig up some method of automaticly topping off that little bowl as it ran unattended.  I'm fine with a bit of steam in my house, as otherwise the woodstove can make the air too dry.


Also capture the exhaust which burns quite hot on them since its ejecting a lot of partially burned fuel.



Well, it shouldn't be ejecting unburned fuel, since that's not how hit & miss engines work.  In the case of the Model A specifically, the governor holds open the exhaust port, preventing the engine from developing vacuum.  Since the carb is dependent upon vacuum, it not only does not draw fuel, the open exhaust port prevents the engine from losing power to unnecessary vacuum.  A hit & miss can be very efficient.


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.



I don't know what you mean by inline.  But I had an additional thought; while this little buddy wouldn't really be able to use a thermosiphen (or maybe it could, if I could repalce the water pot with an enclosed vessel in the same fashion, hmmm) the exhaust could be run up from the basement directly into the bottom of a classic cast iron radiator (like this one...https://www.afsupply.com/cast-iron-radiator-19-h-4-tubes-4-sections.html?gclid=CjwKCAiA5JnuBRA-EiwA-0ggPSzR_vqaXuUIyX-qwfcDX7B9ccTkmiTZdmM6mvz3APUweS0p4C8esxoC3KwQAvD_BwE) as if the exhaust were steam, basicly using the cast iron radiator as both a heat bell and a huge muffler, then piped out of the side of that house, I would be able to capture pretty much all the heat and power it could produce.

I could convert the little buddy to run on propane only and, if it proves quiet enough, it could run continuously from November 1st to March 1st of every year without costing me anything extra in fuel, since my forced air furnace uses propane anyway.  The primary purpose of the power would be to drive a normal automotive alternator, that could charge batteries that are intended to run the fridge in an extended outage.
 
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There are probably more people than it seems messing around with cogeneration and hydronic. But I don’t know them. It would be interesting to take a poll on Permies?
I hoped to find a Lister 6/1 or 12/2. I’ve never actually seen one other than pictures and videos. Well I saw a pile of parts once. But sometimes I think it’s just not cold enough here in the Puget Sound for people to take heating and energy seriously. Look at “Snowmaggedon” event in Seattle a few years ago. Chaos because people were not ready.
I recently sold my Kubota 1800rpm DC genset I had plumbed into my Motorhome floor heat. After it sat for two years without running it I realized it was a luxury hobby I cannot afford. I guy with a skiing cabin bought it. Hope it works better for him. Another guy near Anacortes has the same Kubota on a 58 foot liveaboard boat and uses it a routinely for cogeneration. We are just buying more and more solar panels for everything. It does simplify my life lol.
I built a floor heat system once for a Permaculture homestead with a munchkin boiler. Someone cancelled their order at the plumbing house and I got it half price. It was the smallest one they make, 50,000btu, but did nicely for most of the heating season here in mild Puget Sound . We would fire up the woodstove for a few days or weeks if there was a cold snap. I always wanted to build a powershed with a central boiler and lots of cool stuff. Only central boiler I’ve seen was at Findhorn Intentional Community in Scotland. That was a Scandinavian model designed to combust wood chips. I think one hydronic heater makes a lot of sense for a “compound” of buildings.
The Polaris gas water heaters are really nice and really expensive. I’d like to find a miniature version of the Polaris. Or build one.
That was a interesting idea mentioned to run the exhaust backwards through a standard gas water heater lol. I like that thinking. Would that work??? Thanks and happy tinkering.
 
Travis Johnson
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I had a crazy idea today...

What would happen if a person took the coolant lines out of a small diesel engine, then plumbed it to a cavitation pump that is being powered by the engine, and then sent to a home for heating?

It would basically be pre-heating the water for a cavitation pump. I wonder what the end result would be? Could the homeowner operate the engine at a much lower RPM to get super hot water?

I am not sure what the benefit would be exactly versus co-generation, but as I said, it was just a crazy thought.

I wonder too what would happen, if instead of trying to heat my home via the coolant system of a diesel engine, I just took all the electric power it was producing, and operated electric heaters in my home? I could use propane, firewood, coal, or wood pellets on 75% of the days, but when it got really cold, or at night, run my generator to power electric heaters.
 
Jeremy Baker
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I don’t understand. Can you describe or give me a link for a “cavitation pump”? I searched and found many links to “pump cavitation”. Thanks.
For heating i like to have many different options. Preheating a Diesel or Petrol engine by connecting it to a boiler or other heating source can make it easier to start.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:

I wonder too what would happen, if instead of trying to heat my home via the coolant system of a diesel engine, I just took all the electric power it was producing, and operated electric heaters in my home? I could use propane, firewood, coal, or wood pellets on 75% of the days, but when it got really cold, or at night, run my generator to power electric heaters.



That's one of the things that you do with "excess" power anyway, such as on windy days (wind turbine) when the battery bank is already topped-off; or with a run-of-river micro-hydro unit.  What you want is a 'diversion load' that still puts that excess energy to productive use, such as an electric water heater with the proper voltage heating coil; but if you have an electric water heater & your co-gen produces 220 to 240 volts AC, you already have a very effective diversion load.  I don't know that it's worthwhile to run a co-gen past the point that the electricity is useful, but that is an option if you live in a particularly cold area and the heat from the co-gen is important enough to expect to run it all night.  Personally, I think that I would have set up the co-gen to automatically shut down once the battery bank was full, or after a timer finished it's cycle.  I suppose that it would depend upon which form of energy is more important for your situation; electricity to supplement your other power sources, or the steady (and mostly automated) supply of domestic heat.

That said, if you haven't looked already, you should check into the threads related to the "heat bubble" techniques of winter comfort heating.  Start with Paul's old video & article about saving money on electric heat....

https://richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp

I already use some of these techniques to help keep my (cold blooded) wife comfortable during the heating season while still turning down the thermostat as low as 63 degrees.  The heated mattress pads are worth their weight in gold, and consume about a kilowatt hour at most in a single night; typically much less, closer to 250 watt-hours in an 8 hour sleep cycle.  I also have freestanding, directional reading lamps in several key positions in the house; and the area near the wood stove automatically becomes a casual gathering place whenever there's a fire going, for even the pets.  (I have a bright spot light for that area, so that it can be used as a reading spot as well; and our computer is not more than 8 feet away from it also)
 
Travis Johnson
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Jeremy Baker wrote:I don’t understand. Can you describe or give me a link for a “cavitation pump”? I searched and found many links to “pump cavitation”. Thanks.
For heating i like to have many different options. Preheating a Diesel or Petrol engine by connecting it to a boiler or other heating source can make it easier to start.



A cavitation pump is a "pump" that basically is a shaft embedded with dimples that as it turns, produces cavitation of the water within. A the water bubbles collide, they generate tremendous heat. This heat can then be pumped to areas of the home to heat it, whether it be base board heat or radiant floor heating.

I got interested in cavitation pumps when I was welding ships for the US Navy. We happened to be doing a rudder for a new type of ship (Zumwalt Class of Destroyers), and the Navy Inspectors told me how critical the welds were because "in going through the water, you could boil an egg on the rudder because the steel gets that hot". When asked why, it has to do with the prop pushing water against the rudder only a few feet away.

That led to a lot of research on cavitation pumps for heating, and a few places have done just that, heated their buildings via it. Normally they just use electric pumps, but there is no reason they could not be powered by diesel engines. At the time, which was a few years ago, I was interested in using wind to heat water and thought maybe a windmill powering a cavitation pump might work. I like on a huge hill, and the wind always blows here, enough so the big wind mill companies were going to put up several huge wind turbines, but the town forbid them too. But my house has radiant floor heat, so if I could somehow marry wind into heating water, I could have cheap heat. For awhile I though a wind mill powered cavitation pump might work. I dropped the idea when a person came on here and said they had a blog, did extensive cavitation testing, and wind mills would never work. They seemed pretty authoritative on the subject, so I dropped the idea, but still wonder if there would be a way to make it work. Diesel powered cavitation is just a derivative on that heating technology.
 
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Travis, the engine will convert about 1/4 of the energy you put in as fuel into electricity. Everything else turns into heat. That means that not using (especially) exhaust and coolant heat would be a enormous waste.
 
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Sebastian Köln wrote:Travis, the engine will convert about 1/4 of the energy you put in as fuel into electricity. Everything else turns into heat. That means that not using (especially) exhaust and coolant heat would be a enormous waste.



Hey thanks, that is good to know. From that I can do calculations on btu's…that is, say a diesel engine consumes 1 gallon per hour, and a gallon of diesel fuel contains 131,000 BTU's, then I would get 98,000 BTU's which is actually better then a gallon of propane (91,000 btus).

I know the Amish circulate their engine coolant through their homes, and do not even put radiators on their engines. I think that is kind of cool.
 
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Jeremy Baker wrote:I don’t understand. Can you describe or give me a link for a “cavitation pump”? I searched and found many links to “pump cavitation”. Thanks.



Try looking up "cavitation heaters."

I am not convinced that they achieve overunity; I think that might be a stretch, but I would not be surprised if they outdid heat pumps.

What I like about them is, being a welder/machinist by trade, this is something I could easily fabricate.

I am still not 100% convinced that a windmill could not produce heat with one. There are many ways to speed up a device mechanically, and if churned long enough, I cannot see why heat would not eventually build up. If that was the case, and the windmill essentially turning for free, it could help to heat my home. I am not sure they would meet the btu demands of my home 100% at any given time, but when you need 1/2 a million btus per day, any amount of btu's generated is better than none...if the system is cheap enough to build and maintain. Or alternatively, multiple ones could be churning out across my fields to increase btu production.
 
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Thanks for the description. Every article I found previously was about avoiding cavitation. It’s “ the problem is the solution” permaculture thinking that turns it on it’s head as a possible solution. “Cavitation heating”, I love it. If you’re a machinist you have a good position to try it. I’m reducing things with moving parts as I rely too much on other people for welding, machining, etc.
A cavitation pump sounds amazing. The design sounds fun. Ok, how do we design a terrible pump so it cavitates like crazy? Lol
 
Jeremy Baker
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I have my Motorhome plumbed with floor heat PEX tubing. Now how do I heat it with some sort of outdoor stove?. Any suggestions that are not permanent installations. I’m going to need to go mobile again.  Has anyone checked out the Hasty Heat CHP-CS stove?? If you can call it a stove. I nicknamed it a “stove-in-pipe” stove as it’s like the stove itself is missing and they are selling just the pipe and heat exchanger. Does the pellet hopper self feed reliably is one of my first questions? Any observations?
Thanks

https://hastyheat.com/products/chp-wood-pellet-rocket-stove-with-pellet-hopper?gclid=Cj0KCQiA-4nuBRCnARIsAHwyuPrmO37N670b7uFqp4VynDXXUCYT3xIBRAaRSpaqcqK1tNzN8z0REJcaAm6TEALw_wcB
 
Creighton Samuels
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Sebastian Köln wrote:Travis, the engine will convert about 1/4 of the energy you put in as fuel into electricity. Everything else turns into heat. That means that not using (especially) exhaust and coolant heat would be a enormous waste.



The bolded part is wrong, in the case of the Lister CS 6-1.  This was mostly a matter of luck in design, as so many design parameters turned out to be nearly ideal for diesel fuel; but this engine is famous not only for longevity, but for better than 40% power conversion efficiency in the field.  Still, the majority of energy still ends up as heat; and the co-gen should largely be considered a heating appliance, with the side benefit of producing net electricity.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:

A cavitation pump is a "pump" that basically is a shaft embedded with dimples that as it turns, produces cavitation of the water within. A the water bubbles collide, they generate tremendous heat. This heat can then be pumped to areas of the home to heat it, whether it be base board heat or radiant floor heating.



Wouldn't that be god-awful loud?
 
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Creighton Samuels wrote:

Sebastian Köln wrote:Travis, the engine will convert about 1/4 of the energy you put in as fuel into electricity. Everything else turns into heat. That means that not using (especially) exhaust and coolant heat would be a enormous waste.



The bolded part is wrong, in the case of the Lister CS 6-1.  This was mostly a matter of luck in design, as so many design parameters turned out to be nearly ideal for diesel fuel; but this engine is famous not only for longevity, but for better than 40% power conversion efficiency in the field.  Still, the majority of energy still ends up as heat; and the co-gen should largely be considered a heating appliance, with the side benefit of producing net electricity.



The Lister engines listed on http://www.vidhataindia.com/diesel-engine/lister-type/ have a efficiency of 240 - 250 g/kWh.
Diesel has an energy density of 43MJ/kg = 12kWh/kg. 250g of Diesel fuel thus has an energy contents of 3kWh -> 1/3 efficiency.

Another source listed numbers of 215g/kWh which is corresponds to 38% efficiency

So indeed my numbers were off. (I guess that happens when one works way to much with engine efficiency numbers and then pulls out one out of their head without checking…)
 
Creighton Samuels
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Sebastian Köln wrote:

Creighton Samuels wrote:

Sebastian Köln wrote:Travis, the engine will convert about 1/4 of the energy you put in as fuel into electricity. Everything else turns into heat. That means that not using (especially) exhaust and coolant heat would be a enormous waste.



The bolded part is wrong, in the case of the Lister CS 6-1.  This was mostly a matter of luck in design, as so many design parameters turned out to be nearly ideal for diesel fuel; but this engine is famous not only for longevity, but for better than 40% power conversion efficiency in the field.  Still, the majority of energy still ends up as heat; and the co-gen should largely be considered a heating appliance, with the side benefit of producing net electricity.



The Lister engines listed on http://www.vidhataindia.com/diesel-engine/lister-type/ have a efficiency of 240 - 250 g/kWh.
Diesel has an energy density of 43MJ/kg = 12kWh/kg. 250g of Diesel fuel thus has an energy contents of 3kWh -> 1/3 efficiency.

Another source listed numbers of 215g/kWh which is corresponds to 38% efficiency

So indeed my numbers were off. (I guess that happens when one works way to much with engine efficiency numbers and then pulls out one out of their head without checking…)



Looks like we were both wrong, honestly.
 
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Jeremy Baker wrote: Has anyone checked out the Hasty Heat CHP-CS stove?? If you can call it a stove. I nicknamed it a “stove-in-pipe” stove as it’s like the stove itself is missing and they are selling just the pipe and heat exchanger. Does the pellet hopper self feed reliably is one of my first questions? Any observations?


Thanks

I am not sure about the pellet stove you mentioned, but my pellet stove feeds great and is just a hopper fed unit.

I get grief for having a pellet stove, but having used the stove now for over a year, and in two different homes, I am a convert for sure. I got hundreds of forested acres, but in far less time then I could put up firewood, I can sell TREE LENGTH Firewood to someone else, and take the money and buy wood pellets instead.

Being the shoulder season of the heating season (fall and spring) I am using a pellet stove to heat my 2200 sq ft house just fine.

One other option with pellet stoves is to burn corn. I mix my corn 33% corn to 66% wood pellets, and it burns clean, and a lot hotter. The higher the ratio of corn, the hotter it burns. I have done the math and it seems growing an acre of corn would produce enough corn so I could heat my home with that. To me that is not different than having a few acres of woodlot to gather firewood, and it would be sustainable.
 
Jeremy Baker
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Travis, sounds good to me. I think pellets and pellet stoves have a useful and legitimate place. But I was referring to a hopper without a auger at the bottom feeding pellets into the burner. Does your stove have no electricity and no auger? If so what model is it. I may want one. Sorry I’m not trying to steal your thread but the subjects of cogeneration, pumps, hydronics, efficiency, engines, Listeroids, Listers, fuels ....are all linked and mixed up. Especially with hydronics connecting many different things.  
I like hydronics because it can be bidirectional and multifunctional. A stove or a solar flat plate collector can preheat a engine or a engine can preheat a stove, etc. And with buffer tanks can preheat and store lots of other things. Such as aquaponics, greenhouses, hot tubs, floor slabs, food, incubators, ...etc. Maybe get into aquaponics as you have so much neat equipment? A greenhouse stays much more stable temperature with a aquaponics tank. A windmill powered Cavitation pump and growing food are a good combination if heat is needed. I don’t think we’re going to be like Inuits just burning seal and whale fat and nothing else any time soon. I like seals and whales too much to burn them anyway.
It seems to me if I was to run a Lister or any other engine I’d try to make electricity, uesable heat, AND some other “useful work” stacking as many functions as possible. A grain threshing machine or pellet making machine for example?.
I read the old Land Rovers had attachments that would do all sorts of things. They had optional PTO for the front, back, and inside. Machine tools were made for them. I’m going to look it up. I thought one could turn a old Land Rover (not the new junk lol) into the greatest all purpose farm vehicle. I would even drag mowers and cultivators and use the little beast as a tractor. Maybe even a small bucket attachment on a exoskeleton frame. Snow plow, wood splitter,.....the list goes on. A Lister on a military style trailer could be moved around with it. Schucks, I should have been a machinist to do all this stuff. I read they were designed to be “field serviceable”. In my next life I’ll have a ranch and Permaculture site and a few awesome Land Rovers and Listers. Backing up to the mountains with tracks going up into the woods. Doesn’t get much better than that.
 
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No, my pellet stove has an auger and needs electricity. For me it is not a big deal because I am never out of electricity as I have a backup PTO generator. For you, I would think a battery bank and an inverter would be cheaper to do then buy an expensive non-powered pellet stove. A small diesel powered liquid cooled generator would give you heat and electricity though without having to do a lot to it to make it work. In the winter, when you run it, just charge up your battery bank and inverter for later. It would depend on how long it takes for your RV to get cold, but you might not have to run it for that long to get warm/power your battery bank.

As for pellet stoves, I used to be the worst critic of them, but now a year later I realize they are probably the best way to heat that there is. It has consistent fuel, so they put out consistent heat. Pellet making equipment just does not work in time-wise means,  or how expensive it is, so that got me to thinking about burning fuel that is already sized for it; sunflower and corn thus makes a lot of sense. Myself, I am gravitating towards sunflowers just because I think the cool factor would be high; 3 acres of beautiful sunflowers growing, telling people they will heat my house in the winter. I figure it will take about 3 acres of sunflowers, or a an are of corn to heat my home for the winter.

As is, I mix 1/3 corn into my wood pellets. It just makes sense because corn burns so much hotter, and the cost is less per btu than wood pellets. That is because whole corn (retail) costs $9 per bag, but it is a 50 pound bag and not 40 pounds, and has about twice the heat in it.

 
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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.
 
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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...
Cheers,  David
 
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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.


 
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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 ).
Cheers,  David
 
Creighton Samuels
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Travis Johnson wrote:

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?



As a professional electrician, I can attest that the "what about 6 phase?" thing comes up in every first year electrical theory class; and it's not either more economical nor more efficient than 3 phase delta, but the equipment would cost a lot more.  Some large automotive alternators have more than 3 phases available inside the unit, but still present a 3 phase output to the rectifier.

If you're trying to get power from a micro-hydro unit some distance from your water drop to your battery bank; using 3 phase leading into a 3-phase delta step down transformer, then into a rectifier will work great.  Don't go higher than 480 volts phase-to-phase, as that's the practical limit.  (Commercial grade electrical wire is rated for up to 600 volts, but AC is a finicky beast.  The 480 volt rating isn't actually the maximum voltage, but the equivalent voltage if that single line were rectified individually to DC.)  Also, voltage output of an alternator varies according to both the RPMs and field coil amperage, so since your micro-hydro unit will have a varying RPM, you will need a voltage regulator designed for your alternator.  Probably best to keep it lower and accept the line loses as part of the cost.  208 volts is a common 3 phase delta voltage, and isn't so high as to usually be lethal upon accidental contact.  (480 volts AC is famous for the debilitating effects due to accidental contact, even when survived)

Since you're rectifying the 3-phase anyway, the hertz output of your alternator won't matter to the end result; but it will matter to your choice of transformer.  Normal US power is 60 Hertz AC and just about everywhere else in the world is 50 Hertz AC; but a typical automotive alternator (that is expected to be rectified immediately without a transformer involved) often runs well over 400 Hertz.  (This is why they look so much smaller than a gen-set alternator, BTW.)  Your transformer will be affected by the high and variable Hertz, so you shouldn't expect a 20:1 step-down transformer to output an actual 20-to-one output result.  Keep this effect in mind.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote: Heck I have a 3000 watt generator that switches between single and 3 phase; pretty crazy for such a small generator.
.



I would like more details about what you are talking about here, because this can mean different things.  Are you saying that you have both 208 volt 3-phase power and 120 volt single phase power?  If this is true, then what you have is a 120/208 3-phase Wye alternator.

They aren't uncommon.  Very popular among construction outfits, because 120/208 volt 3-phase power is the #1 form of grid power available in commercial buildings; so pretty much all their construction equipment runs on either 120 volt single phase, 208 volt single phase or 208 volt 3 phase.

In other words, that's the normal grid electric service for any commercial property.
 
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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.




What you want is a Wiseway.  It's basicly a tilted L-rocket with a gravity fed hopper, that leads into a heat exchanger that zig-zags to the flue.

Google found one for me pretty quick...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/US-Stove-Wiseway-2-000-sq-ft-40-000-BTU-Non-Electric-Gravity-Fed-Pellet-Stove-GW1949/206691061?mtc=Shopping-B-F_D28I-G-D28I-28_20_FIREPLACE-MULTI-NA-Feed-PLA-NA-NA-BASE_SHP&cm_mmc=Shopping-B-F_D28I-G-D28I-28_20_FIREPLACE-MULTI-NA-Feed-PLA-NA-NA-BASE_SHP-71700000041073829-58700004389677717-92700036924273686&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwdCkt4bk5QIVdR-tBh2L4wkBEAQYAiABEgKiEvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
 
Travis Johnson
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My understanding was, 6 phase is close to being double the efficiency of 3 phase, but not quite. And so to is 12 phase power, but again not quite double of what 6 phase power would be. That would mean there would be a diminishing return as the number of phases increased. It would still would be worthwhile, IF the number of controls would not have to be increased to meet the increased phases. By that I mean, instead of 3 breakers for a 3 phase line, there would have to be 6 or 12. That is a constant, you would have to spend 4 times more, and yet not get 4 times more efficiency, more like 3,5 times the efficiency, so that is where the diminishing return on investment comes in.

That is a huge problem for the biggest machine ever created which of course is the world wide grid. But not so much of a problem in an off-grid situation. If the efficiency can reach a high enough level, then installing some extra components ONCE to off-set losses over a long period of time, might be worth doing. Over on alternative power forums, they often advocate making a person's own 3 phase generator, so if a person is going to do that, why not make one 6 or 12?

That was my line of thinking on that, that is all.
 
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Creighton Samuels wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote: Heck I have a 3000 watt generator that switches between single and 3 phase; pretty crazy for such a small generator.
.



I would like more details about what you are talking about here, because this can mean different things.  Are you saying that you have both 208 volt 3-phase power and 120 volt single phase power?  If this is true, then what you have is a 120/208 3-phase Wye alternator.

They aren't uncommon.  Very popular among construction outfits, because 120/208 volt 3-phase power is the #1 form of grid power available in commercial buildings; so pretty much all their construction equipment runs on either 120 volt single phase, 208 volt single phase or 208 volt 3 phase.

In other words, that's the normal grid electric service for any commercial property.



What makes it crazy to me anyway is; it is only 3000 watts, yet single or 3 phase, and has a 4 cylinder liquid cooled gasoline or liquid propane engine. I can see a 10 kw or up unit having all that, but 3000 watts?
 
Creighton Samuels
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Travis Johnson wrote:My understanding was, 6 phase is close to being double the efficiency of 3 phase, but not quite.



There's no generation or transmission efficiency gain from going from 3 phases to 6 or 12.  There might be a slight advantage for industrial synchronous motors, but those are huge and not remotely useful for an off-grid household.  There is a real transmission advantage for 3 phase over single phase across great distances, but any 3 phase service can derive a single phase service with the use of a transformer; which is one reason why there are so many transformers to be found in a suburban neighborhood.  If you think about what the difference is between 3 phase and 6 phase, you'd quickly realize that it doesn't matter that much.  Three phase has each phase sine wave 120 degrees apart, while 6 phase has each sine wave 60 degrees apart; but that means that every third phase is 180 degrees away from it's counterpart.  One line 180 degrees out of phase with another one is the electrical definition of single phase power; so 6 phase isn't electrically different from 3 phase from a generation or distribution perspective, it just requires twice the wires and equipment.

That said, a multi-pole (not multi-phase) generator will allow you to produce single or 3 phase power at a greatly reduced engine RPM.  A single pole alternator needs to be driven at 3600 rpm to produce 60 Hertz AC, but a two-pole alternator only needs 1800 rpm.  A three-pole needs 1200 rpm, and a four-pole 900 rpm.  This effect can be duplicated by multiplying the number of phases, instead of the number of magnetic poles; if the internals are wired for this purpose.  Could this be what you're thinking of?
 
Creighton Samuels
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Travis Johnson wrote:

What makes it crazy to me anyway is; it is only 3000 watts, yet single or 3 phase, and has a 4 cylinder liquid cooled gasoline or liquid propane engine. I can see a 10 kw or up unit having all that, but 3000 watts?



They can be way smaller.  
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:I am pretty fortunate in that the heat side of what I need is already built. For me this is a form of hydronic heating. It basically is the two loop system I have in place, with a metering valve to help draw or temper what I have for heat in the primary loop. In short, all I need is hot water; 100 to 212 degrees, it does not matter how it is heated...solar, wood, pellet, coal, propane, oil, etc...it just has to be 100 degrees or above. As long as it as at the temp, then the main propane boiler will not come on.

My local dealer still has Lister Engines for sale. I would have an interest in them, but my dealer only showed a 6 HP version, but maybe they still have them from pre-ban days??? I am not sure, being in kit form also muddies the importation waters somewhat.

What I like about cogen is that for me, it is so easy to do. About the only real cost is in laying the tubing from barn (where I would house to generator) to my boiler, a distance of about 100 feet. I have the engine, generator and even fuel tank (275 gallons) ready to go. I am a little overpowered at 63 Hp for a 20 KW generator, but that is just excess fuel consumption. The only real complicated part is tying my excess power in with the grid. That is where I would recoup my money (return on investment), but if I did not do that, my cost would be incredibly cheap.



Travis, can you post or PM the name of the dealer near you?  Wanted to get some information if possible from them.

Thanks,

David
 
Travis Johnson
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Central Maine Diesel in Hermon,Maine
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:Central Maine Diesel in Hermon,Maine



Thanks!
 
Creighton Samuels
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Travis Johnson wrote:I am not sure that it is a myth though, because per foot, the voltage is exactly the same allowing for almost twice the efficiency per foot of transmission line. High Phase Order Transmissions Lines have been experimentally built, and worked. At the house I would just use a transformer to get the high order phases back down to three phases as you propose.



The bolded part is a true statement, but the reason that this is true is because the higher phase number setups use more conductors, not because of an inherent efficiency gain from using more phases.  The part that is not widely known about this is that adding additional conductors to a transmission line is more effective than simply doubling the cross sectional area of a single current carrying conductor; and the main reason for this is known as "skin effect current".  When amperage is flowing through a round conductor (as almost all wires are roughly round) the vast majority of the current actually flows at or very near the outer surface of the conductor. (Because every electron is a negatively charged particle, and like charges repeal each other, forcing themselves out of the center of the conductor) This effect is well known among my field, so parallel sets of conductors are common in industrial or large commercial applications.  The same trick is used in high-tension power distribution lines, as if you look, you will likely see a lot more than 3 actual conductors.  What you are most likely to see is three sets of conductors, each set comprised of one or more actual wires, which may or may not be bonded together using small structures on the hanging wires.

So if you functionally double the real ampacity of a transmission line (by doubling the number of current carrying conductors, or by any other method) you will cut your transmission loses by roughly in half, regardless of whether you choose to use 3, 6 or 12 phases.  In the case of a small power production systems such as micro-hydro, you'd get exactly the same result by doubling your voltage; because with the same power output, doubling your voltage would cut your amperage in half, so your existing transmission line would effectively double in ampacity as compared to your average need.  I wouldn't want to discourage you from using 6 or 12 conductors in your transmission line, so long as that doesn't cost you more; as that would grant you flexibility without impacting your real ampacity at any phase level.  Rather than a purpose made underground cable, which are expensive, I'd recommend a 3/4" or 1" pvc pipe, perhaps with an in-ground pull box every couple hundred feet.  #12 gauge THHN wire on 500' reels is about as cheap for this purpose as you're likely to find, and while parralleling anything smaller than #8 is against code, it should still work very well for your purpose.  Just make sure that you have enough colors, or a wire marking sticker book so that you can keep the individual conductors identified on both ends.
 
Creighton Samuels
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The standard color sets are...

Black, red & blue for voltages up to 250.

Brown, orange and yellow for voltages above 250.

Green is ALWAYS an earth bonded ground wire, at least according to the code.

Any version of white or grey is a 'neutral' conductor, which doesn't mean that it doesn't have voltage or current, only that it's not a consistent sine wave because it's the 'common' among a set of phases conducting to each other.

Purple,  and Pink are usually reserved for 'traveler' wires in 3-way or 4-way light switching, or for other unusual purposes.  Two color conductors are also available, but tend to cost more.

But for your multi-phase and/or multi-conductor transmission setup, I'd recommend Black, Red, blue for 3 phases; adding brown, orange and yellow for 6 phases; and adding white, grey, purple, pink, green with a yellow tracer, and finally blue with a red tracer for 12 phases.

The 6 conductor setup, for either 3 or 6 phases seems reasonable to me; but I'd have to advise against the 12 conductor setup, at least using wire colors.  Once you're above 6 current carrying conductors, a sticker book of numbers seems prudent, in which case every wire could just be standard black.  BTW, 12 current carrying #12 conductors (adding 2 more, one for a white neutral just in case it proves useful, and a green wire for a ground bond) will fit inside a 3/4" PVC pipe with no problems.  #10 wire would fit too, but will increase your problems pulling them into the PVC pipe at such a long distance; so 1" would be better here.  Alternatively, 6 conductors (plus two) using #10 THHN will fit inside a 3/4" PVC pipe just fine.

And this is what the in-ground junction boxes look like...

https://www.graybar.com/store/en/gb/11-x-18-x-12-quazite-pc-style-polymer-concrete-base-89005018?cm_mmc=pla:google-_-googleshopping-_-89005018&dfw_tracker=45928-89005018&utm_source=[publisher]&utm_term=&utm_campaign=&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=%7cpcrid%7c342027086125%7cpkw%7c%7cpmt%7c&gclid=CjwKCAiA8K7uBRBBEiwACOm4d2tnHcdB-Oy2thjptW7gmaAXZKYJK7kN6B9aenitkTIfl4wLGBGK9xoC63IQAvD_BwE#{Nominal%20Opening%20Dimensions%20(Inches):11%20x%2018%20in.}&{Additional%20Features:Box%20Only}&{Depth:12%20in.}&{Brand%20or%20Series:Quazite®}&{Material:Polymer%20Concrete}

The bottoms are open, so that the PVC pipes just 90 up into them and the water drains away.  Basically, it's a hole in the ground with a top.  Special waterproof wire connectors are available, but likely not necessary if your chosen voltage is under 250 and the box isn't located in a spot that rain constantly pools towards.
 
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