Practical Changes

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  • Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 09:37pm

    #31
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    Re: Wind Power

I would stay away from vertical designs, they are inherrently less efficent than horizontal because the blade that is returning to the wind side to be driven back again must pass through the wind to get to the top of the stroke. You can have a very clever design, but it will never reach the potential of horizontal. You may have seen all kinds of crazy drive designs for the earliest airplanes, there is a reason they settled on the prop.

These guys do a great job with small devices:

http://www.windbluepower.com/

  • Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 10:29pm

    #32
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    Re: Practical Changes

A while back I came across a web site http://greensteamengines.com that featured a simple home built steam engine that I think would complement the Grover Rocket Stove above to produce electricity from  wood waste. The rocket stove would boil the water in a pressure vessel (pressure cooker, or paint pressure pot), generating steam which would power the steam engine which would turn a generator (permanent magnet motor) to produce electricity. Any thoughts on this out there?

  • Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 10:47pm

    #33
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    Green Steam Generators

Earthwise,

I think your link is broken, but I think I know what your referring to:

Great design from what I can tell from the video, but I’m not sure they ever went to market.

Another video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ41rKx8XoM

  • Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 10:56pm

    #34
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    Re: Practical Changes

Sorry ’bout the broken link; I’m a techno neanderthal. Yes that is the site I was referring to.

You are right, the steam engine never went into production. It ‘s only available as a set of plans. Most of the parts are ‘off the shelf’ hardware items and some of the less readily available items can be purchased with the plan set. It’s simplicity seems genius, so I’m tempted to try it. I was just hoping someone else had some feedback that might save me the trouble.

  • Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 11:07pm

    #35
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    Re: Practical Changes .. Just saying “NO”

 I finally found the Almanac for me  !  Blum’s Almanac  1-800-776-2586  http://www.blumsalmanac.com.   they also offer a Calendar  that tells you when to plant by the sign of the moon , when to start the incubator, etc. . 

  We have been so busy with canning and gardening that any hopes to being “off grid,” except for an emergency generator, still nix to nil . In fact I am really thinking on adding another refrigerator to hold produce until I can get to it. .  My honey bee’s were getting to the pears while I was still making tomato juice . The chickens are laying Gaylor, and storing milk  for 14 days saves an extra run to the Amish farm . So I am praying Electricity is the last thing we have to do without .

  Yeah !  We found a neighbor who will sell us white winter wheat for $9 a bushel and even barter if I grind  some  for his personal use .The basement is filling and  the fall garden is coming on fast . SO the PRACTICAL change we have made is  to say No to as much Volunteer as we can without feeling to guilty ,this is huge for us  ,Saying  NO  to the extra fun things that take precious time , money, and energy .  Got busy at home .  We still see so much more to do and some things are a mess around here waiting for when the cold weather comes .  We are also taking on any extra  paying  work( on the side )  that we can physically do … filling nights , Saturdays, and vacation time to be able to buy more prep stuff . Figuring to make money off people while they are still willing and able to pay for it . This is saying a lot because these are the years we had hopes to be having some” Down time “.    Say  No to TV time … that is when we catch up on planning and reading the “how to ” books and articles on the Internet .

We are not Organized by nature .. even a filing system is a big step and many of these things are waiting until the snow flies . … hopefully not waiting until Hell freezes over .     Thus  finding someone journaling a day to day  plan of attack is my hope . Maybe one of you will start a web site like that, so we are not taking up space from  the the 3 E’s.  Somewhere we can share our  oops’ .. because I do so learn much more from my mistakes,  but would like to learn from others so I do not have to make them all myself .  I would also like to hear from others who are prepping for more than 2 people .   Maybe even those who are prepping for 20 +.

  Another practical change  here  is that   the youngest ( boys and girls ) are taking hunter safety and doing some Blue rock shoot practice . The Freezers are filling with fish and dove ,leaving room for deer , elk , pheasant ,and quail .  Again we will be very busy canning the freezers of meat  if we are without electricity to  long .   We have found 4 pressure canners on garage sales ordered cases of flats  for such a time. 

The info on this site  has helped me know when to order the propane tank to be filled ,before the price goes up  and such !  As for any hopes of having extra to buy gold  or store up treasures , I do not see it in my life time .

  • Tue, Sep 15, 2009 - 01:35am

    #36
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    electricity/solar/energy videos

3 videos for your enjoyment that  I think will both entertain and provide insight.

http://tedbits.blogspot.com/2009/09/connecting-dots-on-electricity.html

  • Tue, Sep 15, 2009 - 11:51pm

    #37
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    Re: Off-Grid Refrigeration

[quote=JAG]

I have been looking for a simple solution for off-grid refrigeration. Last year I found a simple solution, but I can’t find anyone who sells it. The solution involves a Sundanzer Solar-Powered/Battery-Free Refrigerator and a 120 watt PV panel. The refrigerator is really a great design. It only requires intermittent power, so it can be connected directly to a PV panel, with no battery bank, inverter, or charge controller needed.

Has anyone seen this particular model for sale? Thanks in advanced….Jeff

[/quote]

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/category_6970_770399+811193

  • Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - 01:13am

    #38
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    Re: Off-Grid Refrigeration

Jeff,

Neat idea.  I backed up the url you had and found

http://www.sundanzer.com/Where_to_Buy.html

Found one of them near me.  May check them out.

Googling on Sundanzer I found (among others)

http://www.solarpanelstore.com/solar-power.appliances.sundanzer.html

– Jim

  • Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - 01:24am

    #39
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    Off-Grid Refrigeration

Ready and JRB,

Thanks for your help, but I still don’t see the specific PV direct (battery free) model for sale on your links. Perhaps it was too good to be true and was pulled from production. The specific model number is the Sundanzer BFR105. Thanks again…Jeff


  • Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - 02:57am

    #40
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    Re: Practical Changes

Although I follow the Martenson website carefully and review it daily, I post sparingly for my own reasons. Since I had promised months ago to share my experience with woodgas generation as an energy source, this thread seems an appropriate forum.

Having done some research on alternative energy sources over the past couple of years, I became intrigued by wood gasification. I found a number of informative articles on the web that fascinated me.  

A very brief bit of history: During WWI and WWII conventional fuels were scarce due to the war effort. In some European countries the civilian population met part of their transportation and farm fuel needs with wood gasification. This was also done to a limited extent in the USA. If you research this you will find photos of taxicabs, buses and farm tractors operating on wood gas.

In a nutshell, it is practical to run an internal combustion engine – whether it be a spark ignition (gasoline) or compression ignition (diesel) type on wood gas. Gasifier designs vary, but the Imbert downdraft system seems to be the most prevalent and practical system. I’m generalizing to keep this post as short as possible. You can easily do your own research on this if you are interested.

Anyway, earlier this year I took a deep breath and ordered a wood gasifier experimenter’s kit from All Power Labs in California. All Power Labs offers the kit in several states of completeness and the price varies accordingly. I have a “handy” friend who is good with a Mig welder, so I elected to purchase the Level III gasifier experiementer’s kit for about $1,400 plus shipping. The fully welded Level IV kit ran about $1,000 more at the time. The (cheap) Level I and (less cheap) Level II kits are only for really, really handy folks who are expert metal fabricators and welders. We found the Level III kit to be quite challenging enough.

It took several months of part time effort for my handy friend to weld up the kit, because of health problems in his family and time constraints. But he did get it assembled and fired it up recently. It produces high quality gas that is sufficient to power a 20 hp spark ignition gas engine. This is sufficient to run a 7.5 kW generator set.

Wood gasification is entirely feasible, but there are practical constraints. First, you must be handy enough to build a gasifier yourself or at least handy enough to put together a kit ordered from a third party. Second, you must have a source of high quality wood chips that contain less than 20% moisture content. This is crucial. If your wood chips are too wet you will end up with a gummy goo in your gasifier that you will regret.

While a properly designed and constructed gasifier will indeed power an internal combustion engine, you can expect some reduction in efficiency compared to using gasoline or diesel as the fuel. Based on everything I have read, it seems reasonable to figure on a 20% to 25% efficiency loss. In other words, a 20 hp engine might only produce 15 hp when run on wood gas.

It is crucial to protect your internal combustion engine against tar. So you must ensure that your wood gas is properly filtered. We use crushed charcoal as the filter medium, and in our experience it produces good wood gas with very low tar. The filter element will need to be replenished periodically, of course.

My original intent was to use a wood gas unit to power a standby generator for my country home. But as I learned more about the process and the technology, the limitations became apparent. For example, you don’t just flip a switch and power up a wood gas generator. It is a multi-step process that takes a bit of time to complete. If the power goes off, you will have to fuel up the wood hopper and fire up the unit. Then you will have to wait a bit for it to warm up and begin producing wood gas. Then you can run the generator set and get electric power. It works just fine, but it reminds me a bit of the old Stanley Steamer auto, which also worked well but which had some limitations that eventually led to its demise. The difference today is that, in a real pinch in which you desperately need electric power or transportation, a wood gas powered unit will work, even though it has limitations.

You would definitely not want a wood gasifier inside your house unless you have a death wish. It generates carbon monoxide, which is deadly. So the unit would have to be located outdoors in a sheltered but well ventilated area. For that matter, I doubt that any right minded person would want a steam generator inside the house. Steam is an alternative to wood gas, but steam has its own set of problems and limitations, high pressure being one of them. Personally, I fear steam more than I do wood gas. You might feel differently.

In a major energy crisis, it is entirely possible to retrofit an older pickup truck or other vehicle to run on wood gas. A pickup is a good choice because the generator and wood supply can go in the pickup bed. If you Google woodgas generators and related topics you will find a number of interesting posts that contain lots of useful information. I think of a wood gas powered auto or truck as having similar limitations as the old Stanley Steamer: it takes a bit of time to fire it up. A trip to the grocery store, for example, involves a shutdown at the store while you shop, followed by a start-up procedure before you head back home. You definitely need to be mechanically-minded but that said, it’s do-able. You don’t just climb into the vehicle, twist the ignition switch and put it in gear. It’s more complex than that. But again, if the brown, viscous substance hits the fan (which seems to be happening in stages), having a wood gas powered vehicle or generator set could be very useful indeed.

This is not intended as an advertisement for All Power Labs, but it is a non-profit organization so I feel comfortable in recommending them. My experience with them has been good. Check out their website carefully if you are interested in this technology. They are scaling up their product designs and presently offer several devices that allow a gasifier to run more or less continuously. This is a good time to point out that someone whose electricity needs are fairly modest and who has a good sized woodlot, could probably operate independent of the electric grid using a carefully set up gasifier generator set. Since I live on a ranch and have a big woodlot, it attracted me to wood gasification in the first place. But please keep in mind once again that your wood chips must be very dry indeed before you dump them into the hopper.

I have lots of pecan wood on my place. Pecan wood makes good fuel for a gasifier but must be chipped up first. So I purchased a large, robust, Chinese made chipper for a ridiculously small sum of money. The chipper fits on the back of my farm tractor and cost me about the same as the gasifier kit. It produces perfect sized chips for the gasifier. So if you decide to get serious about this, figure on spending several thousand dollars before you are fully operational. It’s not for everyone.

Before I sign off, I will address a related topic on this thread, which is alternative sources of refrigeration. I’ve done some research on this and suggest looking into propane refrigerators and freezers. These are not particularly cheap but they work very well, I could easily visualize a scenario in which, during an extended power outage, a family transfers food from an electric refrigerator in the house to a propane refrigerator in the garage and is good for several days. You can run a propane refrigerator on smaller cylinders or larger cylinders, as circumstances and needs require. This is a standby scenario, of course, and somewhat less practical for 24/7 usage.

I hope this post is helpful. If you are resourceful and handy – and have a reliable source of dry wood chips – consider wood gas as a power source! But if you have trouble screwing the lid on a jar without crossing the threads, then, um, perhaps you might want to consider another power source. For the record, although I have handy and resourceful friends, I confess that I am in the latter category. We all have differing skills and aptitudes. Good luck if you decide to proceed, and please send me a PM if you have any questions.

 

BSV

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