Standby generator for mountain home

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ltlredwagon's picture
ltlredwagon
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Posts: 87
Standby generator for mountain home

I need a propane standby generator for a mountain home. Power out 3 weeks last winter. Need something in the 12 - 14 Kw range. Having some trouble getting real-world data. Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota (and other similar climes) - I'm thinking you folks are going to know what is well made, reliable and lasts. Appreciate any advice.

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 465
Re: Standby generator for mountain home
ltlredwagon wrote:

I need a propane standby generator for a mountain home. Power out 3 weeks last winter. Need something in the 12 - 14 Kw range. Having some trouble getting real-world data. Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota (and other similar climes) - I'm thinking you folks are going to know what is well made, reliable and lasts. Appreciate any advice.

Redwagon,

I recommend you also look for a diesel powered unit. They have a much longer lifespan and in a pinch, you would have an easier time creating a biodiesel than Propane.

Propane in convenient, especially if you already have a storage tank on your property but the reports I receive from those who install them and maintain them is that they would choose diesel over propane FWIW.

Coop

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Re: Standby generator for mountain home
ckessel wrote:
ltlredwagon wrote:

I need a propane standby generator for a mountain home. Power out 3 weeks last winter. Need something in the 12 - 14 Kw range. Having some trouble getting real-world data. Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota (and other similar climes) - I'm thinking you folks are going to know what is well made, reliable and lasts. Appreciate any advice.

Redwagon,

I recommend you also look for a diesel powered unit. They have a much longer lifespan and in a pinch, you would have an easier time creating a biodiesel than Propane.

Propane in convenient, especially if you already have a storage tank on your property but the reports I receive from those who install them and maintain them is that they would choose diesel over propane FWIW.

Coop

ckessel,

 I would concur on the diesel. I got these links on a diesel engine on a tip from Full Moon a while back. It looks useful and interesting. Haven't yet followed up on anything more than reading about it. So much to do so little time.

http://www.utterpower.com/listeroi.htm

http://rbodell.com/listerpower.aspx

BuzzTatom's picture
BuzzTatom
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Posts: 72
Re: Standby generator for mountain home

We bought a Generac propane generator for our Tx ranch about that size. The diesel comparable was going to be much more expensive. Would prefer to have diesel due to type of fuel and they would last longer but we could buy 2 or 3 propanes for one diesel generator. It has only been in for about a year but we like it.

Then have a diesel generator in MT house we just bought out of foreclosure. Very small like 2-3 Kw range. It basically backs up the radiant heat and that is it. Don't have enough experience on it to comment.

I guess it depends on what kind of emergency you are using it for. If it is just short term(days-2 or 3 months) use do the propane and have a dedicated tank for it only. Keep it full. If you are talking end of world type stuff diesel may be the only long term way to go.

 

Good Luck.

 

 

 

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Posts: 465
Re: Standby generator for mountain home

Earthwise,

Wow, I gotta get me one of those!  Thanks for the link!

BTW, are you using a Lister?

Coop

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Posts: 846
Re: Standby generator for mountain home
ckessel wrote:

Earthwise,

Wow, I gotta get me one of those!  Thanks for the link!

BTW, are you using a Lister?

Coop

I wish.  My long term plan is to get one of these and an alcohol still for fuel  a la David Blume (Alcohol can be a Gas) to supplement a smaller photovoltaic system for redundancy. But it hasn't happened. Yet.

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Joined: Aug 10 2009
Posts: 846
Re: Standby generator for mountain home
ckessel wrote:

Earthwise,

Wow, I gotta get me one of those!  Thanks for the link!

BTW, are you using a Lister?

Coop

I wish.  My long term plan is to get one of these and an alcohol still for fuel  a la David Blume (Alcohol can be a Gas) to supplement a smaller photovoltaic system for redundancy. But it hasn't happened. Yet.

TNdancer's picture
TNdancer
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Posts: 127
Re: Standby generator for mountain home

If you're looking at long term, go solar, with a decent battery bank, and a small generator to top off the batteries when the sun doesn't shine.

Propane or diesel may be hard to come by one of these days.

 

 

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Posts: 846
Re: Standby generator for mountain home
TNdancer wrote:

If you're looking at long term, go solar, with a decent battery bank, and a small generator to top off the batteries when the sun doesn't shine.

Propane or diesel may be hard to come by one of these days.

 

 

Propane and/or diesel may become hard to buy in the future, but biodiesel and ethanol is relatively simple to make. This factor, combined with the high cost of PV systems and the long term unreliability of the batteries, makes alternative means of generation worthy of serious consideration.

TNdancer's picture
TNdancer
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Re: Standby generator for mountain home
earthwise wrote:

 

Propane and/or diesel may become hard to buy in the future, but biodiesel and ethanol is relatively simple to make. This factor, combined with the high cost of PV systems and the long term unreliability of the batteries, makes alternative means of generation worthy of serious consideration.

OK...school me.  How much of a crop of what does it take to produce biodiesel or ethanol....I assume you aren't counting on leftover fryer oil......and how much fuel does it take to run the equipment ( tractors, combines, press ( for bio-oil ), fuel for distallation ( ethanol ) .....and if diesel/propane is hard to get, will machine parts/tires/lube/etc be available ?  The best tractor in the world is a big boat anchor if you need a 50 cent "O" ring and can't get it.

 

Yes.....PV isn't cheap, and battery solutions exist ( my AGM batteries are 20 year rated ), but to produce biodiesel or ethanol on a small scale seems like a pretty daunting task.  My 'experiment' will be woodgas.

AND I'm doing the solar now....you doing the biodiesel/ethanol now ?

 

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Posts: 846
Re: Standby generator for mountain home
TNdancer wrote:
earthwise wrote:

 

Propane and/or diesel may become hard to buy in the future, but biodiesel and ethanol is relatively simple to make. This factor, combined with the high cost of PV systems and the long term unreliability of the batteries, makes alternative means of generation worthy of serious consideration.

OK...school me.  How much of a crop of what does it take to produce biodiesel or ethanol....I assume you aren't counting on leftover fryer oil......and how much fuel does it take to run the equipment ( tractors, combines, press ( for bio-oil ), fuel for distallation ( ethanol ) .....and if diesel/propane is hard to get, will machine parts/tires/lube/etc be available ?  The best tractor in the world is a big boat anchor if you need a 50 cent "O" ring and can't get it.

 

Yes.....PV isn't cheap, and battery solutions exist ( my AGM batteries are 20 year rated ), but to produce biodiesel or ethanol on a small scale seems like a pretty daunting task.  My 'experiment' will be woodgas.

AND I'm doing the solar now....you doing the biodiesel/ethanol now ?

 

I'm not qualified to school you. David Blume is. His book is Alcohol Can be a Gas is an exhaustive compendium on ethanol. It convincingly (for me, at least) answers all critique of ethanol on a small or large scale. Is it daunting? Yes, it involves building a still and growing crops. But isn't coughing up $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 for a photvoltaic system even more daunting? For me it is.

How much and what kind of crops? The quantity is determined by the individual. Go big or small, your choice.The particular crop is whatever you choose out of an absolutely amazing array of choices. For example: the most energy productive 'crop' is, surprisingly, cattails grown is effluent. And there are many other surprising choices. And corn, by the way, is not a particularly effective choice..

The objection raised in regards to maintenance items also applies to PV systems. The systems I've discussed with contractors, for instance, give five year warranties on inverters. So, just like a tractor is useless (unless you need a big boat anchor) without spare parts, so is a PV system. By your own words we can see that batteries only last 20 years (wishful thinking; good luck with that); then what? You can't even use it as a boat anchor.

Besides, only a large scale operation needs large equipment. A small scale operation can get by with none, or maybe a small simple machine.

It's great that you're doing PV now. As I noted in my previous post, no I'm not at the point of implementation. Yet. So many preps, so little time (or money).  Also noted in my previous post is that I too will also use a PV system. But a very minimal system that will be used in conjunction with alternatives. This, it is hoped, will provide a redundancy that will be more reliable than having all my eggs in one (PV) basket. Also, a fuel producing set-up will provide (hopefully) more than just electricity. The fuel could be used to power any internal combustion engine.

On a final note, please observe that my response wasn't directed towards the advisability of PV, but towards consideration of alternatives to be used in conjunction. It was in response to the original post which was asking for recommendations about generators, which my responses addressed. It must be presumed that  ltlredwagon,  the original poster, was interested in generators because that's what he asked about, not PV.

 

Jager06's picture
Jager06
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 2 2009
Posts: 395
Re: Standby generator for mountain home

I like internal combustion engines that can run on woodgas. Which means all of them with a little modification.

Any long term supply of energy (1 year +) can be directed at the production of more energy from various sources. A small solar system can allow you to weld the last bits for your water wheel generator. It may take 6 months to finish, but then you have that much more energy to put into your system. With the waterwheel running a small generator you can then work on the gasifier (woodgas) for your internal combustion stuff. While you reuse the parts of your now useless whatever...

In my mind, I dont have the money to get the full blown renewable energy source. I do have enough to get parts and pieces together, that in a pinch can be remanufactured or assembled. So a a 400 watt solar system can evolve into a 2kw combined woodgas, hydro, solar system. It is a matter of planning properly and putting the right pieces together ahead of time.

My .02 worth.

Jager

 

LG's picture
LG
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2009
Posts: 59
Re: Standby generator for mountain home

I have a small solar system with Trojan L-16 batteries. It runs two small pumps for water, some lights, radios and a small freezer. This system has a backup of a small propane generator with a very large propane tank. Propane does not go bad over time. I am afraid of a still, the intended contents may not reach its designated location. At this time I use the grid, at this time.

Best of luck.

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