David Baillie

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since Jan 07, 2016
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Builder, tinkered, gardener, charcoal gasification enthusiast.
North central Ontario
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Recent posts by David Baillie

I believe the theory is sound but the problem you will run into is the inefficiencies of each part leaving no surplus. As mentioned above stirlings can be very efficient as long as they operate at high pressure with highly conductive materials and high temperature differentials between hot and cold. The whispergen from a decade ago was a good attempt at a commercial unit it used a sealed free piston design similar to spacecraft stirlings. It had promise then the cost of solar dropped like a stone. You mentioned a 2 hp engine which with losses will produce at best 1.25hp or roughly 1 kW per hour of electricity at full temperature production. By unpressurized Stirling standards that engine would weight several hundred pounds and require continuous maintenance. For roughly 1000 dollars you can do the same with solar and have no moving parts or maintenance... Not to be discouraging but it might go some way into explaining why you dont see stirlings around much. I would try it with tegs myself. Their efficiency is not great but would be similar to a homebuilt stirling. All opinions of course but I did chase the stirling rabbit down the hole for a while.
Cheers,  NF
4 days ago

C Chasens wrote:Has anybody got experience with silicon dioxide batteries - Soneil is a brand - for off-grid solar? I would really appreciate hearing your experiences.
I expect to replace our FLA battery bank in Fall 2021, and am researching possibilities.
Lithium Iron Phosphate sound good, but I am concerned that, up here in northern Canada, we are too cold for the temperature range.

Lithium iron have trouble charging when it is cold but no trouble discharging when cold. Some companies are incorporating heaters into their assemblies but an insulated sealed box with a small heater works just as well. 5 degrees celcius is fine. It's a little inconvenient but considering there is no absorb stage losses it's worth it. There is no off gassing so no problem with the heater or keeping them in a warm area.
My next bank will most likely be lithium.
3 weeks ago

C. West wrote:Me and my girlfriend have been looking at pre fab and simple design houses and trailers and the one we are most impressed by cost and looks wise is avrame.

As far as we can tell (and I have had some correspondence with the company as well) you buy the plans and they contact a lumber mill near you to cut the pieces needed to build and send to your location. after that we use the plans given and build, if I remember correct it takes only a few weeks, and only needs two people

ill linkto their website s those more experienced than me can take a look.

My main concerns are whether I as an inexperienced builder (have to framing and roofing, as well as helped build some sheds) am biting off more than I can chew, and the other main concern is that its hard to find any reviews, positive or negative. All info and videos of the a-frames come from them.

what do you all think?

ps I plan on heating it with a rocket mass heater, any concerns there with its shape/floor?

Any input welcome.

did anything come of this? Most of ontario townships have square footage minimums that rule out tiny homes. Curious if it went forwards...
Cheers,  David
1 month ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Well it seems I accidentally muddied the waters. Not what I was aiming to do, so that's my bad.

It may be that the hardware is much more tolerant of voltages bouncing around, including brownout as the battery voltage drops and the system crashes. I suspect it's not sustainable, but the only way to really know is to experiment.

I've always liked old laptops for this sort of stuff. An old battery pack provides a buffer for power oddities, even if it only has five minutes' run time left in it.

Hi Douglas I think it was touched on earlier. I use a step down dc to dc voltage transformer to run my ryobi tools directly which is within that 18 to 20 volt window. It was fairly cheap. That was a step down from 24 volts. They also offered  step up from 12 volts... not sure step down from 48 is available but definitely an option...
Cheers,  David
1 month ago

Jeremy Bromwell wrote:Hey all - I'm totally new here but have done some reading and think this would be a great spot to ask for recommendations on a discovery that happened at the land I recently purchased in southeast TN.

As my dirt guy was working on grading out the driveway through what has been hay fields for years he uncovered a nice bubbling spring in a ditch that ran across the field. Unlike some of the other water we've discovered on land very quickly, without going very deep, there were 5 or 6 spots visibly bubbling close to one another.

Knowing that the city is a mess and they don't know where the water line is and that the well option is expensive and the one outfit in town can't get me water for several months he proposed this spring as an option that would get me water really quickly.

His approach is to get a 6 ft tile (culvert) that he would dig down to towards the source of the emerging water. The local place will make a cap for the tile as well with a hole in it for a well pump. He'd then be surrounding the vertical pipe/basin with gravel rock to keep it in place and keep the other water from rains flowing around the system.

This all seems to make sense to me and once he starts digging I can more accurately measure flow and get some water to have it tested to see if it's suitable for drinking as is or what kind of filtration/treatment would be needed.

My question for those with way more experience than me is - does this sound like a good approach? What should I be looking out for as we move forward? The site where I'll be building the home is a couple hundred feet away and about 50' higher than the top of this tank so I'm thinking I'll want some other elevated tank near the home site to actually create the right pressure inside but does that depend on the flow at the holding tank and type pump I get there?

I have talked to the gentleman that has been cutting hay on and next to this land for decades to ask him if that little section of the ditch ever went dry and he has said not that he knows of, which jives with the vegetation.

I'll keep digging through the other posts but also thought I would ask you guys (and gals) for advice about the situation that has recently become pressing! Thanks so much!

it sounds like a great option Jeremy. At 200 ft away and 50ft drop You would want a submersible pump min of 1/2 hp preferably 3/4 if you have a stable source of power. Those pumps could easily do the job directly to the house. I would want to have it tested though and maybe install a UV system at the house in case of seasonal contamination...
Cheers,  David
1 month ago

It depends how much water will you be drawing using the hand pump. A human in good shape can realistically only generate 150 to 200 watts of power per hour so roughly 1/4 hp. A 1/2 hp pump can draw roughly 6 to 10gpm depending on depth so assume you might get half that... if that is ok then I would install a hand pump. Next comes what depth the static pressure is since even if they hit water at 200ft might come up to 30 ft from the surface. Next I would consider the cost of the hand pump setup. If it is more expensive then a generator to run the electric pump you will be installing eventually I would just buy a generator and store it in a shed to run the pump whenever I was there and have a power source to boot...
That is how I would proceed..
Cheers,  David
1 month ago

Nicole From Maui wrote:Hi there, we've been recommended Blue Ion batteries for our solar setup. Anyone using them? If so, any feedback would be great.

they are in your neck of the woods so local is good. They use a lithium iron cel similar to the ones used in most of the better lithium systems. You are buying a pretty high end battery with cool case, mounting system, power rails etc. For a comparison simpliphi is a less high end product with near identical cels but less packaging... price per watt is a fair bit lower...

Cheers,  David
1 month ago

Joe Krein wrote:Hi, everyone! Thanks for letting me pick your collective Brain!

I recently purchased a deep cycle battery, a pure sine wave inverter, and a battery re-conditioner/trickle charger. I intend to build a small solar array in the spring. In the mean time, I am experimenting with charging the battery with my 1250 watt generator => trickle charger => battery. I know that this is a terribly inefficient way to go about things, but it's just a temporary way to begin the learning process about battery power and a way to avoid having to transport the battery back and forth to charge it from house power, so please forgive the transgression!

In any case, all that I typically power with the battery is a 50' run of LED rope lights out at my yurt. They are 110V plug-in type lights, plugged right into the outlet on the inverter. I believe the draw is pretty low (approx 33W) but even once the battery is fully charged to 12.5 or 13V, I can not run the lights very long (approx 45 minutes) before the inverter begins to alarm, indicating that the voltage of the battery has dropped below some critical threshold. (I think at that point the battery is down to about 11 - 11.5V).

Does this make sense to anyone with more than my very rudimentary electrical understanding (i.e. me)? I had hoped that the lights would just keep running until the battery was fully drained... what gives?

Looking forward to where this leads,


hi joe how big is the inverter? Next would be what is its standby by power consumption. Finally at what voltage does the low voltage alarm go off? A lot of cheap inverters have an alarm set to go off at a high voltage to avoid you not being able to start your car. My solution would be to find a small inverter say 75 to 150 watts to run the lights. Much more efficient and cheap... see if that works. Next would be is the trickle charger doing its job, finally, possible battery problems...
Cheers,  David
1 month ago
Upon closer inspection of the pictures it looks like the draw pipe is corroded and has holes in it. The pipe would need to be changed so the existing pitcher pipe is probably toast. The above still applies. Pitcher pumps are still around fairly cheap probably even a boat hand bilge pump could do the job for that depth...
Cheers,  David
1 month ago

Mountain Light wrote:Hey all,

I recently purchased an older home (early 1900s) with a pitcher pump well that has fallen into some decay. I tried running a 35 ft. measuring tape down the shaft and it came back fairly wet at the end, though I'm not certain if that indicates the well itself is still usable. Local well drillers I've talked to are either unresponsive or only interested in projects involving a new well entirely being drilled.

I had thought that perhaps something like the Legacy Food emergency hand pump might work to extract water without fixing the entire pump shaft, but having never used it before I'm uncertain.

Any thoughts?

any pump submersible or jet should work in that well. I would leave the pitcher pump in place and install something new alongside it.
Does the pitcher pump have a shaft all the way to the bottom? There is not much to go wrong with them usually their leather gasket is just worn out or so drie is cant seal...
1 month ago