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rogerguzzi

Living Off Grid

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Hello All

                I was asked if I would share my experiences(cock ups!)

So here we are for starters.

We live in a Cottage down a bridle track(moved in 1975!!!!!!!!!!!)

There was just a cottage no mains connections of any sort(still is not unless you count the telephone line? which cost a whole £25 to have installed about 3/4 mile of 5 pair armoured cable buried!)

There was just an old Lister Generator 4.5Kw(still here) and some gas lights and a hand powered water pump in the kitchen!

We had a cess pit built(would not let us have a septic tank!)

We have SLOWLY modernised it? so it is more normal

The water supply is a shallow well and with pump the water up to a header tank with a 24volt pump controlled by a float switch(mercury filled? I worry about that sometimes but it has been ok for 40+ years and is of industrial standard.

I built the 1st tower about  1980/82 (carried the angle iron on the roof of the Moggy Traveller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and put up the first wind turbine( Home made with a 24volt Bus alternator)

The batteries were ex Telecom as I happened to be working at a firm and they were upgrading the internal phone system and I bought 24 single cell batteries for £25(telephones use 48volt or they did then)

To be continued but here a couple of photos as it is now

Roger

ps the last photo shows

A power going out via the inverter (230 Volt)

B Solar going in

C Wind Turbine going in and 24 volt going out(I think)

 

 

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Well, you're all right come the Apocalypse, Roger!    Well done!

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Hello All

               Next part!

The Wind turbine on the tower has been flying for about12/13years (I can hear rough bearings now)I am going to see about a cherry picker in the spring to get it down(to old to scale the tower like I used to!

The guyed tower one about 5/6years.

The Outback inverter system is about  9/10 years old it is a 3Kw constant peak 4.5/5Kw  24volt input

We have had 4 other wind turbines counting the one I built 2 failed and one was grossly overrated as to output!

The Generators are A lister 8-1 Start o matic about 1958 4.5 KW I converted this to thermosyphon to a radiator instead of a 30 gallon tank and fitted a thermostat as it took to long to get warm and I could use antifreeze in the system and fan cooled

A lister ST1 3.5Kw 1978  (we call that the new one!!!) It has run for 47,500 hours!!!!!!!!! 1 rebore 2 pistons 2 sets big ends exchange head and valves exchange pump and injector 2 sets alternator brushes plus gasket and oil and filters etc

And a Chinese Ford one 2 months old as the old one burnt out the part of the alternator that does the starting and the new one was leaking oil like a sieve (repaired now)

All the solar panel one poles used to track the sun but only the nearest one does now(home built gear!)

The first solar panel are about 15 years old

A few photos for you and links

https://www.marlec.co.uk/product/rutland-fm1803/?v=79cba1185463

https://www.leadingedgepower.com/shop/products/wind-turbines/le-600-wind-turbine-12-24-48v-1013011.html

http://www.outbackpower.com/products/integrated-systems/flexpower-one-fxr

Roger

ps I built some solar water panels in about 1980/81 that are still working but with a pumped system now they were thermosyphon.

 

 

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Very impressive !  The electrical engineering is beyond me, but what qualifications does a contractor need to design/install ? Im hoping our cottage will stay in the family and they will approve of me converting the TR6 into the basis of stand-alone power, combining solar pv, wind and pico-hydro. 

Peter

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4 minutes ago, PeterC said:

Very impressive !  The electrical engineering is beyond me, but what qualifications does a contractor need to design/install ? Im hoping our cottage will stay in the family and they will approve of me converting the TR6 into the basis of stand-alone power, combining solar pv, wind and pico-hydro. 

Peter

Hello Peter

                   Most of the wiring is no more difficult than a Triumph all the clever stuff is in the units you buy.

Just a few simple change over switches and meters a couple of timers etc plus the normal fuse boards as fitted in your house.

I must admit I did build the first solar tracker from a design on Tinterweb! the mechanical bit is 4 plummer block bearings a piece of quality all thread a joining nut  2 sprockets and a bit of chain and a small 34volt motor(ex cash point I used to work on!) plus a couple of micro switches to set the end limits.

Roger

 

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20 minutes ago, rogerguzzi said:

Hello Peter

                   Most of the wiring is no more difficult than a Triumph all the clever stuff is in the units you buy.

Just a few simple change over switches and meters a couple of timers etc plus the normal fuse boards as fitted in your house.

I must admit I did build the first solar tracker from a design on Tinterweb! the mechanical bit is 4 plummer block bearings a piece of quality all thread a joining nut  2 sprockets and a bit of chain and a small 34volt motor(ex cash point I used to work on!) plus a couple of micro switches to set the end limits.

Roger

 

Roger, That;s very encouraging, thank you.  Our water supply is a 140 foot deep borehole that fails with the mains. So covering that is important, The lights flicker whein it switches on so I guess I need to measure the starting surge current and look for  inverters that will cover that. Peter

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Hello Peter

                    I would suspect it is a 1 to 1.5 Kw motor so you would probably need a 3Kw inverter?#

I would go for a 24volt or 48volt   12volt would be marginal as the power leads would be big

I have a UPS unit that the late Alan(oldtucker) gave me and  extra battery pack but I can not remember the size of it and what it can peak at.

Roger

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Peter,

I'm confused (normal state) do you mean the borehole pump cuts in when water is needed, even at night (lights flicker)?

Much of a the current drawn by a pump is in the start up and it the motor is cycling frequently it will be wasteful, why not pump to a header tank which may only need  refilling ever couple of days?

 

Alan

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Rob, Alan, It feeds an gas-ballasted ca 30 gall storage tank pressurised to 100psi. So the motor has to pump water up  140 feet then against that pressure. There a disitnct thump from the relay, but its working OK, not cycling, controlled by a pressure switch. The flicker has improved after our local electrician fitted a supplementary mains earth, as we gave up waiting for Scottish Power.  So we can use no more than 30 galls when the power fails.....and put a bucket in the stream for flushing.

Peter

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Roger 

thanks that's really interesting
Do you think you could get by with just solar and wind if you had enough battery storage or are the generators essential?

Mike

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Brilliant, Roger!

Some questions (I'm sure more will occur to me lol).

1) What voltages are you producing at? Are they all the same, and if not how are you adjusting them?

2) Is all your consumption at 230v in the house, or do you run lighting circuits at a lower voltage?

3) How much capacity can you store in the batteries? Does it last you a night, days or weeks?

Cheers,

Phil

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1 hour ago, mpbarrett said:

Roger 

thanks that's really interesting
Do you think you could get by with just solar and wind if you had enough battery storage or are the generators essential?

Mike

Hello Mike

                   Yes it would be possible but you would need a large excess of wind and solar power to make sure you can charge the batteries up as they do not like sitting under charged as they start to sulphate and have a early death and if you do not have a grid connection no one to sell it to so more investment for no return.

It a bit like running your engine to full temperature to drive out condensation etc not just short hops!

So a generator is probably better or wait for the sun or wind to start again

Our generator running time is about 200 hours per year and  charging at about 2Kw output which is about 1lt of red diesel per hour

Roger 

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I too have a 4.5Kw Lister SOM I built from a junker seized solid full of water and leaves. Two BIG frost holes in the block, exhaust seat completely corroded out.

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40 minutes ago, thebrookster said:

Brilliant, Roger!

Some questions (I'm sure more will occur to me lol).

1) What voltages are you producing at? Are they all the same, and if not how are you adjusting them?

2) Is all your consumption at 230v in the house, or do you run lighting circuits at a lower voltage?

3) How much capacity can you store in the batteries? Does it last you a night, days or weeks?

Cheers,

Phil

Hello Phil

  1              The inverter gives 230 volts AC (will kill you stone dead the same as your house) and up to 3Kw continuous with a surge to about 5Kw and overload of 3.5Kw for so long(forgot the numbers would be on the link)

2   Yes we have a 230volt circuit just like any house but also a 24volt DC circuit.

Plus the water pump is 24volt (Jabsco  water puppy)

3  That is a bit like how long is a piece of string as it depend on your usage!

We could take about 1Kw out for 24hours continuous but in the real off grid world the first thing you do is cut down on un necessary usage (no lights left on so the burglar's can see there way in) tv,s etc on stand by.

So in the off grid world probably about 2 to 3 days and that is what all the books recommend as it works the batteries.

obviously if you think you have problems(like when the old generator failed) you go into economy mode like in your car when fuel is low and you are in the middle of nowhere 

Roger

 

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19 minutes ago, Gt6s said:

I too have a 4.5Kw Lister SOM I built from a junker seized solid full of water and leaves. Two BIG frost holes in the block, exhaust seat completely corroded out.

They are nice old machines running at a nice 850RPM 

I may rebuild the alternator but I think the cost may make it not worth it?

Roger

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Roger

Thanks. I like the idea of having your plant room.... 
Are the batteries lead acid? They don't like being deeply discharged unless they are proper 'leisure' batteries that can stand much deeper discharge than a standard battery, but you have to pay much more for them. 
We are so used to having power and water always available we have become very complacent. When we had our river cruiser (gas, water tank and a couple of batteries) and when we used it for a few days cruising, you become very aware of having limited resources available. Always had to make sure engine starting battery was always charged otherwise you were stuck!

Mike

 

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Hello Mike

                  The batteries are lead acid not leisure but stackervtruck type as on the link.

These designed to be deep cycled to 20% and last 1200 to 1500 cycles but we only cycle ours down to 70% under normal conditions this way they last for years and you always have power available on cloudy and still days.

The 20% truck ones would be charged from the mains every day or the pack changed for the next shift.

I did half look at used electric car ones but then thought do I want to start on different types as I do not know the charging process or if our charger would work with them!

Plus I am 75 this year and if this set last 6 years like the last ones! Well need I say more?

Plus I think they are better than the last ones and a bit bigger capacity

Roger

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Hello All

               The next instalment    Solar Water Panels

I built these about 40 years ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They are aluminium frames welded at corners and the back is that dimpled fridge aluminium sheet and the glass is fitted into F shaped aluminium.

The glass is Dutch light greenhouse type(cheap!) that why they are the size they are.

The collector plate is 28mm tube top and bottom with 15mm tubes at 6" centres.

Then soldered thin copper sheet  to which I had pressed a half round into it with a home made press tool in wood  with a bit of tube as the former.

Then I sprayed it all matt black and put foam underneath and fitted the glass.

They originally were thermosyphon which is ok on long sunny days but slow to transfer heat on poor days.

So now they are they are pumped with this unit and a small 12 volt pump and are a lot more efficient.(you do not need fast flow or the water does not have time absorb heat.

The system is filled with boiler type antifreeze.

Plus I can control the gas boiler with it to more accurate temperatures up to 3 times a day at different temperatures and if the water is warm enough in the morning say 105 F the boiler does not heat it as maybe the sun will do it later!

Roger

ps they are halfway up the wall as they were thermosyphon and the end of the Cottage is about 5 to 10deg off due south so an ideal position.

controller panel

Product SP240C & SP12C (12V)

240V  Temperature Differential Controller £98.00

STOP PRESS....NOW ALSO AVAILABLE IN 12VOLT DC VERSION NO MAINS SUPPLY NEEDED

Top quality item, designed to manage the needs of all solar installations. The unit is comprised of a control box, normally located in the region of the pump or Hot Tank, and a separate display panel (shown in photo) which can be sited some distance away as required. This allows the display to be positioned in a convenient spot such as your kitchen for ready access to temperatures and status.

  • 3 temperature probes, Illuminated Graphic Display of all three temperatures and system-status:
    -Solar Panel Temp
    -Upper Tank Temp.
    -Lower Tank Temp
  • Large range of functions, Fully User-Programmable to suit all systems **
  • Anti- Freezing control allows 'direct' connection of collector
  • Overheat relay to power dump circuit etc
  • 240V (OR 12V) outputs to pump(s) and motorised valve
  • Remote display unit can be sited anywhere for convenience.
  • **Click here for more detail of the functionality

Full Manuals:Click here for (240V) or here for 12V model

                  Take me to the SHOP

and here for a quick-setup guide of typical basic settings (applicable for both versions)

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On 2/11/2020 at 8:35 PM, PeterC said:

Rob, Alan, It feeds an gas-ballasted ca 30 gall storage tank pressurised to 100psi. So the motor has to pump water up  140 feet then against that pressure. There a disitnct thump from the relay, but its working OK, not cycling, controlled by a pressure switch. The flicker has improved after our local electrician fitted a supplementary mains earth, as we gave up waiting for Scottish Power.  So we can use no more than 30 galls when the power fails.....and put a bucket in the stream for flushing.

Peter

Hello Peter

                    I assume your pressurized tank must be at ground level or what is the point?

But thinking about the start up does the whole line stay at pressure or just the tank?

If the line is not at pressure to start how about fitting a tee  piece with a normally open electric valve and a simple timer so the pump can start under minimum load for a few seconds then it closes and it sends water to the pressure vessel?

Roger

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13 hours ago, rogerguzzi said:

Hello Peter

                    I assume your pressurized tank must be at ground level or what is the point?

But thinking about the start up does the whole line stay at pressure or just the tank?

If the line is not at pressure to start how about fitting a tee  piece with a normally open electric valve and a simple timer so the pump can start under minimum load for a few seconds then it closes and it sends water to the pressure vessel?

Roger

Hi Roger,

Potable water best not taken from a header tank, especially when it is chlorine-free.

The sytstem has worked faultlessly , apart form changing the rope filter, for 30 years, so the flicker may reflect our location as a spur from the grid and less than perfect earthy in the pole transformer 300 yards away.

Peter

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Hello Peter

                   "Potable water best not taken from a header tank, especially when it is chlorine-free"

Well that's me and Memsahib b*****ged then as we have been drinking ours from loft tank since 1976 !!!!

Still as they always said a peck of dirt is good for you! and does that mean I can not eat Apples, Pears, Plums and raspberries straight off the trees or a carrot that has just had a light swill under the tap(sometimes)

What is a rope filter? do you have details?

Roger

 

                  

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1 hour ago, rogerguzzi said:

Hello Peter

                   "Potable water best not taken from a header tank, especially when it is chlorine-free"

Well that's me and Memsahib b*****ged then as we have been drinking ours from loft tank since 1976 !!!!

Still as they always said a peck of dirt is good for you! and does that mean I can not eat Apples, Pears, Plums and raspberries straight off the trees or a carrot that has just had a light swill under the tap(sometimes)

What is a rope filter? do you have details?

Roger

 

                  

Nothing wrong with tanked water being unchlorinated! So long it comes from a clean source and and the tank/pipes are clean, and the tank gets a good throughput it is most likely fine. If you have any cause for concern you can grab a potable water testing kit and test it. The only addition I would consider to such an installation would be a UV filter.

I make water on ships in the region of 30-40 tonnes per day and store between 400 to 800 tonnes at any one time, and I have never had to chlorinate them under normal use/conditions (I qualify that statement, as if we have cleaned a tank we do superchlorinate it initially to sanitise it after personnel entry, and I did have one ship that required to be chlorinated due to the condition of the pipes through the ship!!).

Rope filter - maybe the standard filters with the string cartridges Roger?? Just a guess, hopefully Peter will give some more info.

Phil

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Do you not have to keep the hot water at 60 degrees and above to stave off legionella in hot water tanks? or do these filters protect against it?

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