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THE engine for prime off grid power

gnucklehead

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/13/2019
I would go for a steam engine before woodgas, if you insist on burning wood. But above that, a Lister CS 6/1 or 12/2 is my idea of off-grid heaven :bonk::bonk: Many who start Biodiesel scrap that for straight veggie oil "SVO". Just have to keep it warm in the winter :D You can always trade your cut/split/stacked wood for $$
 

Railroads

Registered
Dude, I think you need to rethink your homestead objectives. AC should be some sort of system other than the standard AC units which suck energy like crazy.

If you really want AC then diesel is the right engine and will burn fuel the most efficiently. But, Why buy by the gallon? When it is cheaper by the barrel.

See the point? The cost of running AC is prohibitive on the type of setup you are proposing.

On the web and in old homestead magazines are talks of natural heating and cooling methods.

They would be your best bet.

WV, Seems like you should have plenty of possibilities for tapping a cool mountain stream or river.

Just consider getting a large AC condensor and running ground water at 55 degrees through it? Mount a 12 volt or 24 volt fan to the condensor unit. You could build a condensor if you are good with tools and steel or copper piping.

If you can? A ram pump would work to fill a water tower that could free fall into your large AC condensor which would eliminate a electric water pump.

Look on youtube for evaporative cooling, DIY AC, Etc.

To run steam engines you need to be a steam nut, machinist, engineer, etc.

Look up tinytech from India. They build the only brand new stationary steam engines that are somewhat cost effective. The boilers would be a bit concerning to me though.

Boilers will need to be state certified and inspected.

http://www.tinytechindia.com/renewableenergy/steampowerplants.php

Robert
 

nolectric

Registered
As someone who is off grid and has built and operated several simple fire's I will say you don't have to worry about what engine is best yet. The best engine is the first one you can get your hands on for little or nothing. Use your lawnmower. The first thing you need to do is build a retort and make some charcoal. then you need to build a grinder and screener. I say do this first because you will find it will take you longer to make and size enough charcoal to fill your simple fire the first time than it will to build it. load up and run an engine. My first one was an old freebee 11 HP B&S riding mower. I cut my grass for 1 whole summer using NO gasoline only charcoal. The gasifire did not cost me a dime and in fact I never left the homestead for anything needed for the build of any of the related equipment. By volume most engines I have run ranging from a 2 1/2 HP Kawasaki to this 11 HP B&S have consumed 1 to 2 gallons of charcoal per 45 minutes 1 hr of run time. I can tell you try it it is the greatest feeling to run an engine on fuel you made from wood yourself. People will think you are some kind of genius. I think you stated you have some kind of job? You will probably find out soon that you can make enough money to buy fuel in much less time than you can make and size charcoal, but try it any way. It is a great learning experience and a great feeling to know you already have the experience and the infrastructure on hand should the need arise. Knowledge and experience are about the only two things that can not be taken from you. You will feel foolish wasting all that heat making the charcoal. I am sure you use hot water so you might as well design your retort to make it. I make some in containers in the wood stove in the winter. I make some in my maple syurp boiler in the spring. I think you will find until you find uses for all of the waist heat you will no find it worth while. It is not until you get to burn the same wood twice for two needs that that it will be nothing more than a novelty or fad that will soon pass. It is a lot of work. It can be worth while if you take the time to build all the supporting equipment to minimize the labor and use the wasted heats. this will include engine and generator heats. I hope you are a good welder and fabricator. If not you have to learn this as well. A quality gasifire requires some air tight welding. once you get some run time on whatever engine you have step up to a newer OHV engine. The guys over on DOW say they work the best as do multi cylinders. I have not tried either yet. I don't have either or the time I wash I had to make it all worth while to do it daily. Being only 6 months in to off grid living I am still find refrigeration costly enough to not even think about air conditioning. Living off grid is full of sacrifices. I am not trying to discourage you just enlighten you. Just do it, you will learn much fast.
 

Railroads

Registered
Easier to use diesel engines and make fuel from veggie oil in my opinion. How many mexican resturants are there now? Or deep fried chicken places. Heck, Even Micky Dee's uses oil by the gallons for french fries.

Wood is fuel for steam engines. Now, Don't get me wrong. I have an interest in coal gas to some extent for turbine engine fuel. But, For generating electric I would be looking real hard at diesel or steam reciprocating engines.

Robert
 

Deveak

Registered
As someone who is off grid and has built and operated several simple fire's I will say you don't have to worry about what engine is best yet. The best engine is the first one you can get your hands on for little or nothing. Use your lawnmower. The first thing you need to do is build a retort and make some charcoal. then you need to build a grinder and screener. I say do this first because you will find it will take you longer to make and size enough charcoal to fill your simple fire the first time than it will to build it. load up and run an engine. My first one was an old freebee 11 HP B&S riding mower. I cut my grass for 1 whole summer using NO gasoline only charcoal. The gasifire did not cost me a dime and in fact I never left the homestead for anything needed for the build of any of the related equipment. By volume most engines I have run ranging from a 2 1/2 HP Kawasaki to this 11 HP B&S have consumed 1 to 2 gallons of charcoal per 45 minutes 1 hr of run time. I can tell you try it it is the greatest feeling to run an engine on fuel you made from wood yourself. People will think you are some kind of genius. I think you stated you have some kind of job? You will probably find out soon that you can make enough money to buy fuel in much less time than you can make and size charcoal, but try it any way. It is a great learning experience and a great feeling to know you already have the experience and the infrastructure on hand should the need arise. Knowledge and experience are about the only two things that can not be taken from you. You will feel foolish wasting all that heat making the charcoal. I am sure you use hot water so you might as well design your retort to make it. I make some in containers in the wood stove in the winter. I make some in my maple syurp boiler in the spring. I think you will find until you find uses for all of the waist heat you will no find it worth while. It is not until you get to burn the same wood twice for two needs that that it will be nothing more than a novelty or fad that will soon pass. It is a lot of work. It can be worth while if you take the time to build all the supporting equipment to minimize the labor and use the wasted heats. this will include engine and generator heats. I hope you are a good welder and fabricator. If not you have to learn this as well. A quality gasifire requires some air tight welding. once you get some run time on whatever engine you have step up to a newer OHV engine. The guys over on DOW say they work the best as do multi cylinders. I have not tried either yet. I don't have either or the time I wash I had to make it all worth while to do it daily. Being only 6 months in to off grid living I am still find refrigeration costly enough to not even think about air conditioning. Living off grid is full of sacrifices. I am not trying to discourage you just enlighten you. Just do it, you will learn much fast.
For me the appeal is at the end of the day its a resource that can be sourced, anytime and on site. I don't have to buy chemicals or farm large amounts of land. My time is free, my money is not. What good is a longer lasting diesel engine if i can't use it if things fall apart?
Most likely will use it on a cheapo genset or a harbor freight 99 dollar engine.
I've sen a few champion generators that go for under 200 and they have a decent reputation among the cheap chinese gensets. Long run I think a car engine would be superior to a air cooled screamer. Easily sourced parts and repair methods and knowledge is more common and available. I don't think steam is a very good long term solution. Chances are when it breakers, it would stay broken.

If you want refrigeration off grid, you pretty much have to go DC compressor refrigeration, like a sundanzer. It wont be cheap, but it will use a lot less power than anything else and after you end up over sizing the inverter just to start the motor on the AC version, plus the extra panels, your pretty close to what a dc model would cost anyhow.
 

Deveak

Registered
Reviving the thread if I can, a lot has changed in the last few years. I bought a house even farther out in the sticks with FREE NATURAL GAS. Deeded and unlimited. Two Wells on the property, one is abandoned but uncapped, the other is leased but occasionally needs salt water pumped. The property came with three generators but none of them are ideal. A portable 5kw with a Subaru engine. No idea how many hours but it runs. A guardian 13kw general standby unit. No idea how many hours. I hate it, 58 hz at all time. A known issue with the model, according to the manual it doesn't need adjusting so you can't. Supposedly designed for 3000 hours. The third is the Mac Daddy. A 40 kw industrial Generac with I think a Chevy 350 engine. I haven't run it yet. I think the head gasket has been replaced. 17000 hours. The generator head on it is massive. At least 300-500 lbs. So I'm looking for a gas/natural gas engine/generator to abuse the crap out of. Fuel efficiency is no longer a factor. Just something that will last the longest and doesn't require an oil change every 20 hours.
 

Birken Vogt

Registered
Perhaps if you can find an Onan or Kohler with the Ford 2.3 or 2.5 engine.

If you get really lucky maybe an old Kohler with the Ford 1.1/1.3 engine, but those are very rare these days.

The lower size gaseous fuel market is pretty dismal these days. The good old 12/14 kw 3600 RPM Kohler is a pretty good choice but lifespan is comparatively not that long.
 

Bill Hazzard

Registered
Last Subscription Date
08/28/2008
Look for a Leroi - Westinghouse 25 kw generator. They were designated PE-145 for 120 V single phase and PE-84 for 220 V three phase. They were built in the 40's for the signal corps. The generator runs at 900 rpm and uses a 4 cylinder Leroi engine that will last for many more decades. They were originally gasoline but they can easily be converted to run on gas. There re not many out there but when they do come up they are not very expensive because they use a lot of fuel and weigh 5000 pounds.
 

Deveak

Registered
I've found a few references on industrial sites about custom built ford generators. They mentioned 1.1/1.2 engines but the site looked pretty dated. I might give them a call.mthey mentioned how most of the industrial engines differ from the gas counter parts. Heavy duty bearings, shafts and other bits. Might just be marketing speak though. Other than Craigslist where should I look? Local is a no go. They want full price for blown out lawn mower engines, my state is poor and full of meth heads. It's infuriating dealing with them and the second hand market for anything.
 

Wayne 440

Registered
My recommendation- any set that is powered by a 240 or 300 Ford. They are durable and relatively easy to work on.
 

Deveak

Registered
I poked around the 40 kw unit. It's a generac g22. Older unit, looks like a mechanical governor. Maybe a hood. I can't seem to find any info on it. Anyone know generacs?
 

Birken Vogt

Registered
I don't understand the last question. The old V8 Generac? If you own it then why not run it? I would not put any stock in it lasting too long. But you have it for now. It is not getting more valuable with age.

Also as for the 58 Hz Generac, you could replace the circuit board with a 60 Hz version. If the rest of the generator is worth a hoot which is doubtful at this point.
 

Rich Mc

Registered
The WW2 military M5 120 VAC 3KW 3 phase generating units are 1200 RPM 4 cylinder Hercules ZX series engines are often available for low money.
 

nblack

Registered
What Rich Mc said. AND!! they have been seen with propane/ NG spuds and regulators. 3kW CONSERVATIVELY rated..... just sayin' Only drawback is they are 3phase, only. Find an M6... now we're talkin'! same engine, 240V single phase, 1200rpm. approx 3kw (rated 2.5?) Will it to your kids/ grandkids. just like an old Kohler L600 unit. And like the aforementioned L600, you can capture the waste heat from the unit, and put it where you want it. Hot water heater, Absorptive AC....
 

CharlieB

Registered
@ Deveak
I think you're doing this the hard way. Compressor type A/C units consume a ridiculous amount of electricity. Evaporative type A/C's are way more efficient. Buy one factory-made, or build from obtanium. They're simple. You only need enough electricity to run a very small water pump and a fan.
Another option is to go all gas. Natural gas stove, refrigerator, A/C unit, heater(s) and water heater. True, there's an up-front cost, but the gas is FREE. By maximizing your use of the free gas, you would have a minimal electrical requirement that could be covered by a very small (again gas) generator or by a very small solar array.
 

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