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Country Discussion Topics
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Self sufficient residences
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JoeK cleaning the dusty corners of the mind    Posted 03-07-2001 at 14:18:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Yrs ago(70s?) in Pop Mech or such there was a write up on some rural apartment bldgs being built (in Germany I believe)Each bldg,though connected to the grid had a low rpm diesel generator plant located in a sub basement.This unit was to run continuously generating electricity for lights/heat/ventilation,coolant heat was recovered and used also.In summer unit also turned air conditioning compressor.The plan was for each of these bldgs to be independant of the grid and put/sell excess power back to the grid.I believe they estimated the power plant life at 10+ yrs.Backup for plant failure was the grid connection,as all systems were electrical.Does anyone else remember this concept or know how it turned out.Seems to me to be a sound idea.Deutz diesel may have been involved in this venture but it is a bit hazy.If I recall right the estimated cost of fuel was roughly equal to the amt of fuel oil it would take to heat the bldgs alone...(just sweepin out the cobwebs of the mind)


IHank    Posted 03-08-2001 at 04:07:34       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Joe & All- Yes, I too remember a write up on this idea in Mother Earth News, back in the 70's.

The system used a small gasoline burning engine to run a 110/220 generator. The engine cooling heat, and the exhaust heat, were captured and used as heat for the home.

Got some CRS here now, but it seems they had a storage battery system to collect electric power while running the system just for heat, then put it back thru a 110 converter system for low load demands when the engine wasn't running.

At the same time there was a bunch of write ups about home methane generator systems. The idea was that one could heat your water and home with the gas produced by your septic tank.

Looping back... That home power engine could be built & tuned to "propane specs" (increased efficiency) and run with the home produced methane, theoretically.

The Rutan bros. in Minnesota put out several good publications on home made methane in the 70's. They were written up in Mother Earth News.

Joe- Keep sweeping them cobwebs, but don't throw away any ideas! Thanks for starting this thread. IHank


Larry    Posted 03-08-2001 at 07:29:33       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Hank,Is that why you wanted to know how to make pickled eggs?


IHank    Posted 03-08-2001 at 09:48:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Larry- I never threw away the knowledge to make pickled eggs, I just never had it in the first place... Grins, IHank


Old Sarge    Posted 03-07-2001 at 16:45:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
The last time I was in Germany shortly after retirement in 1972 I visited with a friend of mine who lives in one of those apts. and it still had the generator down in the basement. Durn thing ran too. Top rpm was about 375 rpm as I recall.

In the 1980's I ran across a fellow in Railroad Valley Nevada who had two of them on his farm, the only source of erlectricity. He told me they burned about 3.5 gals of diesel every 24 hrs.


Larry    Posted 03-07-2001 at 23:32:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]

That reminds me of something I read years ago(70's). It concerned the diesel engines the oil companies used on the pipe line pumping stations,I think in Alaska.These engines would run pretty much unatended for about a year.Then a crew would come out and service it,and fill the feul tank,then leave it to run for another year.If I remember right,they would only use 500gal/year. Does anyone else remember anything about this,or am I just dreaming?


Robert in W. Mi.    Posted 03-08-2001 at 08:40:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
All the pump stations on the pipe line have two huge jet turbine engines in them. One or the other is pumping 24/7/365, and fuel is hauled to each pump station to fuel them. Some of the stations have their own refinerys to make all the fuel for all the other stations.
These stations are maned 24/7/365 and everything is checked several times a day. They are kept in super clean condition! I assure you nothing is left for chance for any length of time, and you know how much fuel a jet turbine eats!!
Robert


Dumb Logger    Posted 03-09-2001 at 16:32:35       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Where is all that oil being pumped to ? I heard tell it was going to Japan, while we buy it from them Islamic nations who hate us.


Robert in W. Mi.    Posted 03-09-2001 at 18:07:37       [Reply]  [Send Email]
When i lived in Alaska it (the crude oil) was going to Mexico (among other places). The problem with Ak. crude, it's low grade, so we buy the good stuff and sell the less than good stuff.
I'm NOT sideing with the oil companys at all, i'm just keeping the record straight where i have knowledge of it. I was in pipe line pump stations many times, so i know first hand what is in one!
Robert


Dumb Logger    Posted 03-10-2001 at 20:04:25       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Yeah, I heard that before also, it just sticks in my craw that we export ours and buy theirs. I don't know who is getting that money either. I think the taxpayers backed some of that pipeline and I have'nt seen a royalty check yet.
I remember the stories about how that pipeline was going to save us all from fuel starvation. My mother and stepfather hauled for that pipeline for 10 years while it was being built.


Robert in W. Mi.    Posted 03-13-2001 at 17:04:07       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You can move to Alaska, and live there one full year. After that, you will start receiveing your royalty checks each and every year, untill you leave!! It's over one thousand $$$ per year these days!
Robert


Larry    Posted 03-08-2001 at 21:14:22       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I must have been dreaming then...


JoeK    Posted 03-07-2001 at 22:18:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thx for the confirmation/info.Friend is building log home about $12000 from the grid,according to the power co,and we were discussing alternatives when that old article came to mind.Currently he is using tractor and Ag generator but has not decided on final plan.Only needs power part time at present.Kerosene lamps and wood heat handle most of his needs during construction.


Larry    Posted 03-08-2001 at 07:48:15       [Reply]  [Send Email]

I have a freind who did the same thing over twenty years ago.He couldn't get power over to his place either.Well,he could,but it had a lot to do with easements and such. He ended up wireing his cabin up to twelve volt DC.All this didn't happen over night though.It started with a radio from a car for a in home stereo system. Then he found a TV that came out of a RV that ran on twelve volt.He also got a refrigerator/freezer from a RV that ran off of propane.At first he just used car batterys to power these things.When they would run down he would take them to town to be recharged.The last time I was back there he had some small solar panels that he used to keep the batterys charged.He was also planning on wireing the whole cabin to use some type of hologen bulbs that ran on twelve volt.That way he could get away from the kerosene lights.I'm not sure how this all worked out,because I haven't been back to his place for a long time. I should walk back there and see how he is doing.


JAMES AND PA T GARRITY    Posted 07-14-2002 at 18:53:48       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We have a small cabin in the UP of michigan. Power from the grid was over $6000. We went to 12 volt, l battery, l solar cell. we run a pump, some lights, tv, and this computer. we have lots of sun in the summer so we have never run out of power. we do not stay here in the winter. We are using a car battery because we got it free, seems to work ok. Jim


IHank    Posted 03-08-2001 at 23:35:17       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Larry & All- Your comment about going with a 12 volt DC system makes a pile of sense for me. I've pondered and schemed on it for a long time now.

Lots of 12 volt DC equipment is available. Snoop out a big truck stop, or a camper & RV sales place, or a sporting goods section of a big store.

Also, affordable PV units are available that'll feed a 12 volt DC system. In parallel with them one can easy make up a power plant with a lawn mower engine and a car alternator, both from junk yard parts.

Apparently the secret to success is to use "deep cycle" storage batteries.

I'd sure like to hear from others with actual experience in all this, and hopefully save running up/down some blind alleys on my own project. Thanks in advance, IHank


Dave M    Posted 03-09-2001 at 07:24:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
I built a small wind power system for a friend. It was very simple, and used deep cycle batteries for storage, and a low-cost inverter to increase the voltage for transmission of about 150'. My friend tried to run lights off 12VDC, but this didn't work due to IR losses in the wire.

12 volts DC is great for very short distances or very small loads only. You need big wire even to do that. Power losses in wire can be calculated as the square of the current times the resistance (P=IIR). You need 10 times the current to get the same power at 12 volts as you would need at 120 volts. This means that the power losses at 12 volts are about 100 times as great as at 120 volts if you use the same size wire and loads. To reduce these losses to the same level as with 120 volts you would need to cut the wire resistance by a factor of 100, e.g. use 2/0 wire where 18 awg would work. This is insane.

Inverter prices have fallen over the last few years. For example, Northern Tool http://www.northerntool.com is now selling an inverter that can provide 500 watts continuous, 800 surge, for a little over $100.


IHank    Posted 03-09-2001 at 10:54:19       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Dave- Thank you for this good post and the excellent technical discussion and information. Stuff like we're doing here is bound to do some good and help some people somewhere...

I'm into 12 volt DC power because it is the prevailing system that is available to individuals for low bucks DIY activities.

If the auto industry will "get with it" and produce a rumored 120 volt DC system, the design copied from Ford's Model T (1908 - 1927 RIP) "magneto", a high frequency AC system, but now run thru rectifyers to operate an automotive 120 volt DC system, mebbie some upscale junkyard stuff will become available.

Sadly, my guess is that automotive designers and product managers are stuck, because of all the "prior art" as to patenting matters. The basic design is almost 100 years old and that really screws things up as to patenting efforts.

Old Henry Ford put 16 V shaped permenant magnets on the front of the Model T flywheel, spinning a few thousandths of an inch away from a plate with 16 stator coils that used heavy copper windings. My Model T would put out 28 volts AC with the engine revved way up. It was high frequency AC and only used to run lights and the ignition coils. In those days cheap, reliable, and high efficient diode rectifyers were not yet invented.

What you say is the reason the auto industry made the jump from 6 to 12 volt systems in the fifties. Upscale from there and you find the military standard has been 24 volts since ??? Truckers and farm equipment have for a long time been up there at the 24 volts standard too.

Again, thanks for the post and the good info., and please keep 'em coming! IHank


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