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rogerguzzi

Home Power Generating

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Hello All

               I made a comment in another post about servicing my generator and had a few comments so I thought are there any more nutters like us that live off grid as the Americans say?

We have lived here since 1975 (that makes me feel OLD) 

We have 2 wind turbines(was 3 at one stage!)

2 home made water solar panels(made about 35 years ago) they were thermosyphon but are now pumped by a 24 volt pump and controlled by 2 sensors (no output that day!)

16 PV panels with an output of about 1.5Kw at 24volt (12 used to track the sun but only 4 do now!) with peak power tracking charge controller 

1100 amp/hr batteries at 24 volt storage.

A 3Kw outback inverter/charger at 24 volt 

A control panel that links them all and sets all the parameters and starts the generator when batteries get low etc and for exercise(but not always the B***r !) 

2 Lister generators a 1958 4.5 Kva SOM 8 - 1  and a 1978 3.5 Kva Som ST1

Plus miles of wiring! and fuses etc.

No mains water! we have a well and 2  24 volt water pumps that pump to a tank in the loft(all automatic)

A septic tank(well was a cess pit but I knocked a hole in the side and run it to soak away before it was used!)

2 log burners one with a small back boiler

We also have LPG heating and all sorts of electronic valve heads so it is very controllable

The only connection to the outside world is a buried telephone cable (which cost a whole £25 to have in stalled and took about 2 weeks to do!!!!!)  

Roger

ps plus all the car and motorcycle stuff and lathes, miller, Driller, gas welding,electric welding,etc

 

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Edited by rogerguzzi

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WOW that's a comprehensive of grid installation !
Thanks for sharing this.

Btw, how many years do your batteries last before you need to change them?

I'm thinking of installing solar panels in Africa .... when the house gets finished one day.

 

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Impressive outfit that.  Master of your own power-cuts!  I'm somewhat surprised that there is somewhere in the midlands still off-grid.

That genny should live virtually forever with sympathetic maintenance.  Not sure how they rate efficiency wise but could probably be convinced to run on veg oil?

 

@ JC - you have a house in Africa?  I always thought you lived in Luxembourg?:blink:

 

Nick

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16 hours ago, triumphlux said:

WOW that's a comprehensive of grid installation !
Thanks for sharing this.

Btw, how many years do your batteries last before you need to change them?

I'm thinking of installing solar panels in Africa .... when the house gets finished one day.

 

Hello JC

               Its a bit like how long is a piece of string!

We use industrial stacker truck batteries  12 of them @ 2.1volts which gives you a 24volt system.

These are the cheapest on average just black rubber/plastic casing there are ones sold by the big companies with fancy clear cases and claimed to be for solar use but are more expensive and what there life expectancy is I do not know.

Standard traction batteries should I think from memory be good for 1000 to 1200 cycles which in their standards is discharging to 20%.

So a stacker truck batteries would last about 3 years doing 8 hour shifts and recharged over night.

For off grid use it is recommended to only discharge to 70 to 80%  so you have to work out your needs of power storage between sunny/windy days!

The other thing is you do not want to big a capacity battery bank as they will not get either fully charged or cycled

If they get charged and float at fully charged the acid stratify,s ie water at the top of the cell and acid at the bottom  and the same if not fully charged.

All these things can lead to sulfation of the plates(this what kills most batteries) I run a desulfator  across our bank(look it up)

You also need to equalize the bank(overcharge) which does two things gets all cells to the same voltage and stirs the acid up as it bubbles(check water level before equalizing)

Big battery banks have air feeds to the bottom of the cell to keep the acid mixed.

So as you can see life is difficult to work out but if looked after! depending on your useage probably 10 years+(they just wear out)

I think you are better to have a slightly under sized bank and a back up generator than a large bank you do not cycle properly

If you are off grid like us it is a balancing game we could install more PV panels but in the summer they would be idling as the batteries would charged and can not sell it to the grid.

I hope that give you some idea? it is best if you do lots of research on internet.

Roger

 

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4 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

Impressive outfit that.  Master of your own power-cuts!  I'm somewhat surprised that there is somewhere in the midlands still off-grid.

That genny should live virtually forever with sympathetic maintenance.  Not sure how they rate efficiency wise but could probably be convinced to run on veg oil?

 

@ JC - you have a house in Africa?  I always thought you lived in Luxembourg?:blink:

 

Nick

Hello Nick

                  We inquired  about grid connection years ago and it was about £13,000 basically we would buy all the poles , cable and transformer they would just install it and charge us for the electric but all the hardware we bought would be theirs!!!!

We have spent that much over the years!!!!

Our running costs now are 250lts of gas oil per year @ about 50lt = £125 approximately plus an oil change.

The Generator ran for 160hours over 12 months and produced 400 Kw/hrs of power(it does not run for about 6/7 months only exercise now and then)

The power usage was 870 Kw/hrs of 240volt

So we produced about 500 Kw/hrs from solar/wind it may be a bit more than that a I do not measure the 24volt power useage(water pumps,low volt lighting etc)

The old Lister Generator is probably not that fuel efficient although I now run it with a thermostat fitted to get a quicker warm up time and even temperature(They were just thermosyphon into a 50 gall tank) now it is still thermosyphon but into a smallish radiator mounted high up with 3 electric fans that cut in when needed so she runs a nice steady temperature.

I looked into cooking oil and even bought a filter but is a messy job and you need the old oil for free to make it worth while and they coke up quicker!

The little Lister has run for 48,000 hours in its life (5.5 years!!!!) admittedly with a few decokes,re bore ,piston,valves,injector and pump overhaul and a few sets of brushes.

I do not think Chinese one would do that or the higher revving ones (1500rpm is what she runs at) I used to pile all our wood by the side of it with a piece of plywood deflecting the hot air to the bottom of the pile so it has another use as well.

Roger

ps it was a good energy day earlier about 1 to 1.5 Kw/hrs being produced but the Pv panels and wind turbines(not bad for close to the shortest day?)

 

 

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Yes, they got to keep the poles etc..... but also remain responsible for their maintenance!  How far to the connection point?

Our PV (4kW nominal array, grid connected for FiT) was doing reasonably well today - just not for very long.  We actually produce more than we use overall - just not at the right times.  Waiting for battery bank costs to come down.......  Can make a big difference to power bills once oit's learnt to do washing / dishwashing etc when the sun is out.

Nick

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Wow! And all I do is flick a switch!

But you're right - we all may be doing this in twenty years time, so you're a leader.    

John

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Thank you Roger for the comprehensive explanation about your batteries.
This confirms that batteries are very difficult and need to be treated correctly to survive well.
Lets hope that we get better battery technologie or new technologies to store energy like the 'perpetual batterie' in the near future.

You seem to be a real expert :yes:

@ Nick : Yes I still live in Luxembourg.

But my wife grew up in Africa (Togo) so we have family there and we spend a few weeks there every year :cool:

JC

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14 hours ago, triumphlux said:

Thank you Roger for the comprehensive explanation about your batteries.
This confirms that batteries are very difficult and need to be treated correctly to survive well.
Lets hope that we get better battery technologie or new technologies to store energy like the 'perpetual batterie' in the near future.

You seem to be a real expert :yes:

@ Nick : Yes I still live in Luxembourg.

But my wife grew up in Africa (Togo) so we have family there and we spend a few weeks there every year :cool:

JC

Hello JC

               I forgot to say the batteries need to be kept warm if possible  and not standing on a cold floor(may not be a problem in Africa?)

Mine are in a wooden box with insulation all around then and 4" off the floor.

You can loose 50% of the available storage capacity if they get cold(but it is still there and comes back when they warm up)it is why all modern cars have the batteries in jacket/container

I think big battery banks have heaters to try and maintain 20/25c

You also need a good charge controller that adjusts the charging voltage to suit the battery temperature(higher for cold and lower for warm) which means you have a temperature sensor attached to the side of the battery somewhere in the middle of the bank for an average temperature reading. 

Roger

Edited by rogerguzzi

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Hello Roger,

Cold is defenitely not a problem as the temperature rarely drops below 25 C :banana:
I should be possible to store the batteries at the correct temperature that you do not need to heat or cool them.

This also reminds me that I have a jacket for my battery for the Mini that I use during the winter, need to fit it.

JC

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Isn't oxygen exhausted from lead acid batteries as they heat up? Which can be dangerous,. I worked on a battery back up system at a power plant with a bank of 1 cell 1.5v batteries each weighing over 150 kilos each.

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Oxygen and hydrogen...... in a perfect stochiometric ratio.......  Shouldn't be much produced unless overcharged.  Ventilation and secure, non-sparking wiring is essential!

Nick

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2 hours ago, motov8id said:

Isn't oxygen exhausted from lead acid batteries as they heat up? Which can be dangerous,. I worked on a battery back up system at a power plant with a bank of 1 cell 1.5v batteries each weighing over 150 kilos each.

Hello All

              Hydrogen mainly mine are in a closed box with a piece of waste pipe to the outside with a bit of s/steel pan scourer as a flash back arrester! and to stop the spiders!

Ours are about 8" x 3" x 30"  and about F*****ng heavy  in Kgs or lbs and  they are all 2.1Volt well that,s lead acid nicad are different and expensive!.

I buy Distilled water in 5lts and 10 at a time from Eurocarparts  when on offer usually £1.85 each and free delivery(I use the same in Spitty)

Roger

 

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Teslas lithium-ion batteries in S. Australia are now on line. There are a great number of homes in the US with solar panels because of a government tax rebate the further development of these bateries will make homes energy independent.

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Hello Motv8id,

 

The Tesla battery (100 Megawatts) in South Australia state is good publicity but as a total answer to South Ausrtralia's many problems it is not. What is little publicised in the media is that South Australia has also bought 500 Megawatt of diesel generator back up. The battery will discharge completely in little over an hour, the diesels will provide, typically about 90% of capacity forever and a day. My interpratation is that the battery bridges the time lapse between the detection of a power shortfall and the diesels getting started and going online.

Solar plus battery for grid independence, I'm sceptical but it depends on the loction?  It certainly is a total non starter in the U.K, solar output now is pretty dismal. One factor that has upset the  cost equation is the increased cost of grid supplied power simply due to the burden of renewable generation costs.

Alec

 

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Been working in nuclear for quite a while now, there doesn't seem to be a decent all in one solution to power storage.

I worry about having all these mega batteries everywhere, what happens in 20-30 years when they need replaced? 

Ideally you would have hydro dams everywhere, but its not always practical, and they are only good for short periods.

The best solution i have seen so far is liquid oxygen storage, when there is excess power, liquid oxygen is stored in tanks, when power is needed it is fed through a turbine. It has its problems but its quite neat and efficient.

The big industry is getting excited by micro nuclear reactors at the moment, im not convinced, but then you do need something generating a baseload to the grid. In the likes of the UK we would never survive solely on Wind and Hydro (there have been a couple of days recently that got the press excited, but they are few and far between).

Quite an interesting site to watch on the uk situation http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk

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Hello Mattius,

the modular nuclear reactors gain on initial cost, or so it's claimed as they can be mass produced. The longer term down side is the staffing levels of say ten small plants versus one large plant.  I can see their running costs being much higher?

Incidentally, I worked at Trawsfynydd nuclear plant many years ago, long since shut down.

Alec

 

 

 

 

 

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Ahh the current plans are that they will be like your modern petrol stations, remotely managed from one central control centre. The Japanese are planning on putting them in barges (and we know how well the manage well with nuclear and sea water!).

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