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An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall


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  #1  
Old 08-02-2019, 04:14:36 PM
WaterfallEEHouse WaterfallEEHouse is offline
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Default An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

My wife and I moved into a house in the Carolina mountains that was originally built/owned by an Electrical Engineer.

In addition to a Kohler generator from 1946, an unfinished hydroelectric setup, both of which are posted on here, he had a custom power wall, complete with his own meter. ����

I’ve heard some of the setup was for meter cheating the old-style meters and apparently, the only way they caught him is he accidentally spun it back too far and the power company paid him one month. ����

The house has 5 breaker boxes in 3 locations. One has a dimmer switch built into it.
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  #2  
Old 08-02-2019, 05:05:58 PM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

I do not think he was exactly cheating. I think he was generating power during high water flow periods and back feeding into the grid.

I see some of it is still energized. Shut off anything that is still on. I would make sure all that stuff is de- energized and get approvals before connecting it to the grid. Generating your own power- be it solar or whatever is in now, and viewed differently than 20 years ago.

If you open the circuit breaker covers and we can see what is in there, and how they are labeled, and upload the schematics and manuals- might shed some light.

What do you want to do with it? Emergency back- up, tie to grid or pull it all out and sell what you can?
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Old 08-02-2019, 05:20:04 PM
WaterfallEEHouse WaterfallEEHouse is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

The one in the blue has to be on as apparently all house power goes through it as if turned off nothing works.

At this point I’m just trying to understand what it all is. I’ve heard various things such as parts of it were boosters or just power conditioners. Also wondering how much ties into the current generator setup.
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Old 08-02-2019, 05:51:50 PM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

I would say you need to find someone familiar with renewable electric systems to look at it and figure out what does what, your average home electrician will most likely not understand it. If generating power from water it was either AC or DC, but either way it had to be put into 60hz form to backfeed the grid. And if backfeeding with conventional generator, it still had to sync to grid.

Personally, I'd try to keep it and get it all legit with power co.
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Old 08-03-2019, 01:50:08 AM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterfallEEHouse View Post
The one in the blue has to be on as apparently all house power goes through it as if turned off nothing works.

At this point I’m just trying to understand what it all is. I’ve heard various things such as parts of it were boosters or just power conditioners. Also wondering how much ties into the current generator setup.
Yes, I know. The one in blue is part of the transfer system.
That means your power is going through a home built transfer assembly. Not only is it drawing power all the time, but when something fails, you are stuck. Also, if that stuff has not been inspected and approved (unlikely) and there is a fire or someone gets hurt, insurer is unlikely to cover anything.

I would immediately have power set up traditionally. Utility power goes through meter to main disconnect to house breaker panel, have it inspected and get the green tag on panel. That makes everything legal, and if anything happens, you are covered. If in the future, you decide to install an approved grid tie system, it will be easy to connect it.

I am quite familiar with the components. I designed and built prototypes of complex electrical systems from that era using those parts. I am sure with time, I and others on this site could figure out what the system was designed to do, and how it did it.

The issues will not be electrical. It will not take much to get the electrical components operating. The 2 issues will be getting it approved, and getting the watersides functional at a reasonable cost.

The utility and electrical inspector will expect recognized and approved components. They are unlikely to accept or even understand an unapproved home brew synchronization and transfer system. The hydro side of the system likely needs extensive repairs. Turbine, flow control, valving, etc. probably all need rebuilding or replacement.

It is unlikely you will be able to legally connect the system to the grid without considerable financial expenditure and control revisions using recognized components in approved systems (Approved transfer switch, approved synchronization system, etc. If you have the funds, and want to restore it as a hobby, you might be able to get insurer approval to run the existing system as an independent power system that has no connection to the grid.

Last edited by Power; 08-03-2019 at 02:10:09 AM.
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Old 08-03-2019, 02:41:27 AM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

That last part. That's how I'd run it. You have a hydro electric plant? Tell the thieving monopoly to take a hike lol.
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Old 08-03-2019, 01:08:29 PM
Steve Dawkins Steve Dawkins is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

Hmmm, three load centers (breaker panels),with one of them modified with indicators for "Main", "Gas Gen", and "Diesel Gen". It would be fun to dissect this electrical system to see what the original owner had in mind.
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Old 08-03-2019, 09:07:47 PM
Frank DeWitt Frank DeWitt is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

insurer is unlikely to cover anything.

I have read this many times with regard to wiring, appliances, cars and more. Has anyone actually had insurance denied because something has been altered.
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Old 08-03-2019, 09:11:01 PM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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Originally Posted by Frank DeWitt View Post
insurer is unlikely to cover anything.

I have read this many times with regard to wiring, appliances, cars and more. Has anyone actually had insurance denied because something has been altered.
When I was working in the trade, I can recall 2 instances.
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:53:26 PM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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Originally Posted by WaterfallEEHouse View Post

At this point I’m just trying to understand what it all is. I’ve heard various things such as parts of it were boosters or just power conditioners. Also wondering how much ties into the current generator setup.
When you get a chance, be interesting to find out if he ever connected a gas or diesel generator. If there is a diesel tank on your property, you should know about it, as with any taps off your gas main to perhaps a slab or outbuilding.
Pictures would help us figure out what you have.
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Old 08-06-2019, 04:25:51 PM
WaterfallEEHouse WaterfallEEHouse is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

There is one above ground tank on property. Was told by previous owner it’s the old diesel tank. There’s also an outdoor electrical panel near it.
The gas one is supposedly buried in the front yard.
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:48:38 PM
Frank DeWitt Frank DeWitt is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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Originally Posted by Power View Post
When I was working in the trade, I can recall 2 instances.
Interesting, thanks. It would be good to know the limits. The last time this came up was on a vehicle forum in a discussion about altering the suspension with non stock components. My question was, does this apply to non stock tires?
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Old 08-06-2019, 08:08:22 PM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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Originally Posted by Frank DeWitt View Post
Interesting, thanks. It would be good to know the limits. The last time this came up was on a vehicle forum in a discussion about altering the suspension with non stock components. My question was, does this apply to non stock tires?
No idea. I occasionally see pickups jacked up or with extra wide tires. That is interesting, especially if the modification caused the accident.

The reason I know about electrical is because our crew had several volunteer firemen. They would talk about calls they went on and unusual fires, like a structure fire caused by someone running extension cord wire inside the walls to add outlets. Later, someone plugged a space heater into one of those outlets, and the thin extension cord wire overheated, causing a fire. The fire dept wrote up the reason for the fire, insurance inspector verified and company denied claim.
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Old 08-06-2019, 11:49:51 PM
Steve Dawkins Steve Dawkins is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

The subject of insurance claim denial came up a few years ago on this forum. IIRC, Billy posted that someone in his area had incorrectly connected a generator to their house. The house burned down, and even caused damage to a neighbor's property. The damage amounted to over $1 million dollars, and the insurance company denied the claim.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:37:50 PM
WaterfallEEHouse WaterfallEEHouse is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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Originally Posted by Steve Dawkins View Post
The subject of insurance claim denial came up a few years ago on this forum. IIRC, Billy posted that someone in his area had incorrectly connected a generator to their house. The house burned down, and even caused damage to a neighbor's property. The damage amounted to over $1 million dollars, and the insurance company denied the claim.
Thankfully the bank owns most of the house so the insurance company would mostly have to deal with them and don’t think they’d tolerate that. 😄😄😄
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:16:35 PM
Frank DeWitt Frank DeWitt is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

By non stock tires I mean replacing the brand that was on the car when new with the same size and a higher speed rating but a different (better brand). Logic says it shouldn’t matter but we are talking insurance companies. I had a auto accident and the value of the payment to me was cut because the car needed washing and the floor mats were dirty.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:47:32 AM
NDmeterman NDmeterman is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

What are those LEDs on that meter? Some homebrew pulse initiator for metering?

And based on the S/N of that D5 meter - tell me if the disk shaft is silver (plain aluminum) or if it has a golden (anodized) finish.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:58:40 PM
WaterfallEEHouse WaterfallEEHouse is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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And based on the S/N of that D5 meter - tell me if the disk shaft is silver (plain aluminum) or if it has a golden (anodized) finish.
Disk shaft mean the spinny thing? That’s silver.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:44:29 PM
dkamp dkamp is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

That system is NOT for 'cheating' any meter. That meter shown above is a PRIVATE meter, not a utility company meter, and not for assessing power purchased or sold... it is only being used to indicate to the owner what power load is being carried at some point in the system... i.e. how much generator load he's developing, or how much one portion of his system is using, vs., others.

The way one can tell, from the photos, is obvious:

There is no seal on the meter tab.

The two holes in the front, with MAIN pushbuttons... goes to some ancillary selection or indicator device underneath. Open the cover and look, you'll see what that device is... he's probably got it wired to a selector for toroidal current transformers on various circuits so he can pick which one he's reading.

Notice the 'servo amp' located to the right- he's using that, probably to read some signal here, and translate that to either a remote indicator elsewhere, or modulate some device (a throttling system) elsewhere. You say this has a hydroelectric microgen somewhere? it's probably controlling the feed valve. Look to the right- it's got indicators for HEAT PUMP and HOT WATER. If the house uses a heat pump, and they're on emergency power, he's probably using the servo amp to throw a water valve, and cut off power to the heat pump, to save electricity. See my note below about hydronic heat.

The reason for "diesel" and "gas" is so he can select from whichever fuel was most economical for the circumstances. In the northeast, fuel-oil heating is prevalent, he could probably purchase fuel oil for home heating in bulk, and use it for his backup generator when it suited circumstances best, and switch to spark-ignition for gasoline or gaseous (propane/NG) as he felt necessary.

I would expect that if this house had hydronic heating (either primary, or supplemental) that the engines' cooling systems are tapped to recover waste heat for domestic heating whenever they're forced to run on backup power. Remember- only 20-25% of the fuel burned results in electric power, the rest is waste heat and noise.

This guy was no dummy... wish he'd posted his notes here prior to taking off to the next world, he probably had some excellent lessons to teach us.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:31:10 PM
Wayne 440 Wayne 440 is offline
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Default Re: An Electrical Engineer’s Powerwall

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Originally Posted by dkamp View Post
... wish he'd posted his notes here prior to taking off to the next world, he probably had some excellent lessons to teach us.
The loss of the "knowledge of elders" is an unfortunate and common event in many societies, our own included.

I could happily spend a couple of weeks trying to figure that installation out. It is the kind of thing I would like to, but never will have.
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