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Generators & Electric Motors General Discussion

THE engine for prime off grid power


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  #21  
Old 08-31-2016, 11:04:03 PM
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

To be blunt; off-grid, cheap, and air-conditioning just don't mix. Pick two.
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  #22  
Old 08-31-2016, 11:28:42 PM
Deveak Deveak is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McIntyre View Post
To be blunt; off-grid, cheap, and air-conditioning just don't mix. Pick two.
Cheap is a relative term. I'm fine with something over 3000 dollars...if i can build it a piece at a time. I'm not made of money, I have my expenses pretty low but i work a mcjob.

I think it can be done. Really the problem I have run into with air conditioning is the motor surge. The cheap units tend to have massive motor surge. A 5000 btu air conditioner on low takes about 300 watts. Not that bad if you have a larger solar array but you need a hefty 2000 watt inverter to run it or one that can surge to a high amount. A hard start capacitor helps a bit but doesn't eliminate the surge. They make soft start kits for some air conditioners but the cheapest I have seen is 400 dollars. At that price you might as well upgrade the AC to a inverter mini split.

Still looking at steam but wood gas seems to be a real nice turn key solution with a low upfront cost and running cost. Right now I am thinking either an older onan which runs anywhere from 300-900 here or a belt driven generator which can run as slow as i want. That could get a little tricky, not sure how the cheaper small engines handle the low rpm. Worst case scenario the cheap 100-150 engine blows up after 1000 hours and i go searching for a better engine. Somewhat tempted with the geo metro engine idea as well.
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  #23  
Old 09-01-2016, 12:48:43 AM
YellowLister YellowLister is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Find a old onan rv pull out.. can usually get them for 100 to 300 that need a bit of work.. just to run your account unit, could convert it to run in wood gas.. 5.0 cck.. 6.5 nh. 4.0 bfa or bf.. or.. the diesel or gas just series.. the diesel is 6.0 djb or dje and use less then a gallon of diesel at full load.. gas version is 1.3 at full.load and are the 7.5 jb

They even made a 3kw single cylinder diesel.. and the gas version is a 2.5 kw onan lk.. there old but are hard to kill and don't use much fuel..
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  #24  
Old 09-01-2016, 06:40:07 AM
Amax Amax is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

I don't see how you will achieve low rpm with any modern small engine.

Try to get a Predator to even idle at 1,000 rpm. Not happening, much less with enough power available to do purposeful work.

If you want low rpm maybe you need something like a hit or miss engine.*

I am also skeptical that generating wood gas is as easy and hands-off a process as you anticipate. I would love to be proven wrong on that as it would be a worthwhile skill to have. But I don't see it happening and - correct me if I am wrong - no one has ever concocted a wood-gas fired engine that can run for even hundreds of hours without requiring a lot of PM and repairs.

*Or steam or hot air.
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  #25  
Old 09-01-2016, 06:46:42 AM
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Elden DuRand Elden DuRand is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

After reading all of this, my mind runs to a solar/battery/inverter 120VAC system.

I don't think a 12VDC system is efficient in the long run except for very small loads. You'd need a MESS of battery capacity to invert to 120VAC from 12VDC and have any run time.

Think of something along the lines of around 100 volts of battery and matching solar array with a good charger/inverter. You could start out with the charger/inverter you think you want to end-up with, a relatively low wattage of array and batteries and upgrade as necessary.

Once installed, the only maintenance is keeping the panels clean and watering the batteries as required and the only cost is battery replacement ($$$) every ten years or so if you get good ones and take care of them.

If not taken to extreme, you should be able to get close to the cost of grid power in the long run.

Solar panels and charger/inverters are cheaper now than they were 30 years ago when I studied it and could be affordable today. Remember, you are in this for the long haul.

I offer my usual caveat: I could be wrong and probably am.
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  #26  
Old 09-01-2016, 07:03:16 AM
armandh armandh is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deveak View Post

Still looking at steam but wood gas seems to be a real nice turn key solution with a low upfront cost and running cost. Right now I am thinking either an older onan which runs anywhere from 300-900 here or a belt driven generator which can run as slow as i want. That could get a little tricky, not sure how the cheaper small engines handle the low rpm. Worst case scenario the cheap 100-150 engine blows up after 1000 hours and i go searching for a better engine. Somewhat tempted with the geo metro engine idea as well.
no matter what engine/generator combination you mix & match;
the basic problem is power in vs power out.


consider other sources of power such as windmill.
rather than the inverter route consider DC motor belt driven compressor.

but when considering a generator to drive a smaller AC unit
there is no free lunch when it comes to carbon based fuel
sun, wind, and hydro where available have capital costs

when it comes to efficiency you wont beat a known unit
some of gen sets are known for their efficiency
some for their reliability, and some for their low cost.
no one for all three [pick two again]

those Onan NH RV pull outs are as close to all three as you will see
also other similar 1800 RPM, either acquired in a non working state
and easily put right will be as close at one gets to a low cost goal
to go with a history of service and efficiency
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  #27  
Old 09-01-2016, 08:33:42 AM
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deveak View Post
...Still looking at steam but wood gas seems to be a real nice turn key solution with a low upfront cost and running cost. ...
Steam? Wood Gas ? To run an A/C unit? Show me the numbers. How much fuel is this going to consume?
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  #28  
Old 09-01-2016, 10:45:55 AM
Deveak Deveak is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Its around 12-13 lbs of charcoal to make a gallon equivalent of gas. You do get 60% of the engine power on wood gas but you can do some things to get it back like higher compression, advance timing or adding a water or oil dripper to the gasifier, the high temps turn it into hydrogen. The charcoal gasifiers are basically "dummy" proof. you consume more wood because you have to make charcoal but you are removing all the tar and moisture when you do. I look it as refining the fuel. When your done all thats left to remove is the dust and to cool it down for denser gas which adds a bit of power. Look up the simple fire gasifier. The original design can do a 20 hp engine but you might need to modify it a bit with a larger barrel for run times. Its called the simple fire by gary gilmore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by armandh View Post
no matter what engine/generator combination you mix & match;
the basic problem is power in vs power out.


consider other sources of power such as windmill.
rather than the inverter route consider DC motor belt driven compressor.

but when considering a generator to drive a smaller AC unit
there is no free lunch when it comes to carbon based fuel
sun, wind, and hydro where available have capital costs

when it comes to efficiency you wont beat a known unit
some of gen sets are known for their efficiency
some for their reliability, and some for their low cost.
no one for all three [pick two again]

those Onan NH RV pull outs are as close to all three as you will see
also other similar 1800 RPM, either acquired in a non working state
and easily put right will be as close at one gets to a low cost goal
to go with a history of service and efficiency
Panels are cheap these days, batteries are not. Actually most of the equipment is expensive once you go 24 volts and up. I can get a decent 12 volt 1500 watt pure sine inverter for 200 dollars. At 24 volts that gets around 400-500 and 48 volts even higher. Charge controllers can do 12/24 for most of them. MPPT is nice but expensive, a cheap pwm thats still decent can be had for 150. I've seen bulk used panels for 25 cents a watt. Running averages is 90 cents to a dollar a watt. 12 volt panels tend to cost more.

I like solar because its universal, pretty easy to set up but as someone who has had to rely on it for 4 years now, it can't be relied upon.

Windmills are a money pit. To get a windmill to play nice and charge a battery properly takes 1500 dollars of charge controllers and resistive banks. The wrong cheap way is 200 dollars but it will mess with the battery really bad when it dumps the excess power and can mess with a solar array charging the battery if you have one. The battery will never enter the float stage. Also at lower voltages since its directly connected you might have a 40-100 feet of wire thats 12 volt and 30-100 amps. The wire thickness needed would be insane. Even at 30 feet the cost would be more than the windmill. I don't see it as a viable option.

Hydro would be absolutely king. In my state its legal but the books say one thing and the DNR officer says another. I live near logging land. Not to far away is a good sized stream but its not on my property. Very tempting but a bad idea. Hydro can be done low key and cheap. Especially a water wheel. They are pretty rpm stable so you can use permanent magnet alternators without any expensive protection circuits and hook it up to a mppt controller for longer runs. You could probably build the wheel and alternator for less than 1000. Somewhere in the ballpark of 300-500 watts which is nothing to sneeze at because its 24/7.

I dont need to run a generator all the time, just 20-30 hours a week.
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  #29  
Old 09-01-2016, 11:32:23 AM
DustyBar DustyBar is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Wow! If you have to buy charcoal you would be paying nearly $10 a gallon for equivalent gasoline. Lowes sells an 18# bag for about $10.
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  #30  
Old 09-01-2016, 11:35:03 AM
Deveak Deveak is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

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Wow! If you have to buy charcoal you would be paying nearly $10 a gallon for equivalent gasoline. Lowes sells an 18# bag for about $10.
You don't buy it. Store bought charcoal is full of crap and not very dry.
You make your own out of sticks or from wood logs you put in a chunker.
Its a skill but making a retort is pretty cheap and once you have it set up the running cost is very low. Next to zero for people like me. Lots of wood.
Only thing you need to stockpile is oil and maintenance items like filters etc.
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  #31  
Old 09-01-2016, 12:20:48 PM
ChipTosser ChipTosser is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

Have you looked at permes.com . Under the energy fourm?
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  #32  
Old 09-01-2016, 12:21:19 PM
DustyBar DustyBar is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

I guess I don't exactly know what wood gas is. Isn't that the gas you get from making charcoal, or is it something made from charcoal as the heat source?
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  #33  
Old 09-01-2016, 05:25:42 PM
Newoldstock Newoldstock is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

I don't know where West Virginia is, but it sounds warm ( if that's possible ).
if you do get winter there and its substatial enough to cut ice then you might be able to build an ice house and fill it to use in the summer as a natural AC unit.

A couple of ways to do this would be Ice blocks cut from a lake or you could set up some ventilation on cold enough days and spray water into it to make ice.
In a mine where I worked we use the Water sprays to make ice ( and by default warm the air ).
A sort of natural AC in the summer when we turn the sprays off to cool air and a sort of natural air warmer when we used it to make ice.
Never the less it was 120F down there 7800 feet below sea level.
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  #34  
Old 09-01-2016, 06:17:31 PM
Bill Hazzard Bill Hazzard is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

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Originally Posted by DustyBar View Post
I guess I don't exactly know what wood gas is. Isn't that the gas you get from making charcoal, or is it something made from charcoal as the heat source?
Wood gas is what used to be called producer gas. It is made by burning the charcoal in a low oxygen environment. The fuel that you are producing is mostly carbon monoxide.
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  #35  
Old 09-02-2016, 08:37:08 AM
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

What's the cost to get utility power for you, OP?
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  #36  
Old 09-02-2016, 10:14:12 AM
Deveak Deveak is offline
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What's the cost to get utility power for you, OP?
11 cents a kw.
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  #37  
Old 09-02-2016, 01:43:27 PM
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

No - I meant the installation cost to get you on the grid..
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  #38  
Old 09-02-2016, 11:01:41 PM
Deveak Deveak is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

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No - I meant the installation cost to get you on the grid..
Oh not much, I think 120 bucks. I know its cheaper to buy electricity but I still want this for down the road just in case. Feel uneasy about the future and the elections so i want something i can rely on and I have yet to find it. I'm having a hard time sourcing anything that isn't aluminum and air cooled in my area.
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  #39  
Old 09-03-2016, 09:41:44 AM
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

I see - You're not really planning to go off-grid. You're planning for the zombie apocalypse...

After that, I'm thinking that air conditioning will be pretty low on the list of priorities, having been displaced by, say ammo, water and food...
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:38:38 AM
Newoldstock Newoldstock is offline
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Default Re: THE engine for prime off grid power

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I see - You're planning for the zombie apocalypse...
Its already happened.
The zombies are out there among us walking around.
But rather than stumbling around trying eat brains, they stumble around dragging cheap broken consumer goods saying " replace me ".... "must consume more Chinese crap".... "shop on credit".... "Cheese burger"....

Yes the zombies are real and we should all run in terror because they were once like you and me with common sense and realistic expectations.
Now they are mindless slaves to zombie capitalism and mass consumption

No treatment is known for them.
It could be contagious if we get too lazy to fix things ourselves, unable to balance a check book and willing to get hooked on debt.

Now I am going to use some funny emoji things so everyone knows I am make a joke.....
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