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Country Discussion Topics
To add your comments to this topic, click on one of the 'Reply' links below.

+Just wondering about them mini hydro turbine units+
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Mike D.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 09:12:02       [Reply]  [No Email]
Any of you know of one the these small turbines in use near you? Looks like just a small stream can provide some 24/7 energy. Don't require wind, nor sun neither. Reading some about them now. Looks like you need a couple of banks of batteries and a good invertor to convert to house current. Biggest expense seems to be the batteries and the invertor.

If this is at all feasible for a place in the country to produce enough electricity for your own needs that could be quite a savings in the future. Just read that 1/3 of rural household budgets is spent on energy & heating.

I'd be interested in reading what you got to say about this subject.


screaminghollow    Posted 10-21-2002 at 13:10:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I've looked into some of them small pelton wheel brushless jobs, $1,200.00 (approx) just for the unit and then the cost of piping etc. You can generate some electric, but the batteries and sine-waive inverter are expensive. I also looked into a cheaper way to use the electric that's generated. Around this place we can always use hot water, if I channel the electric into a water heater, I can get all the hot water this family needs. That would save us about $25.00 per month. or save all of $300 per year. At that rate it would take about 5 years to pay for the cost of the system. Then there's the damage to the system caused by floods from hurricanes, summer deluges and sudden snow melts. I am still considering it, but it doesn't look all that great. Given the overall cost of keeping the oil flowing, the amount the gov't pays to keep it flowing and defend the supply, it might be a deal in the overall scheme of things. I think the gov't should do more to encourage such systems.


Mike D.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 13:46:27       [Reply]  [No Email]
There is a guy with a small operation in B.C., Can. He sells very well made Peltons for $500.00.
He has had many years of use with his, and has worked out the bugs from a firsthand point of view. He offers tech help with sizing a system.

The real risk with bad weather is flow. Couldn't that be solved with a large gate valve near to the point of contact with the water source. It is my understanding that you don't need a lot of head if you've got fall. The system I've looked at uses 1 1/2" PVC and the drop is over 40 feet from the source with a 200 foot run of pipe. At the turbine there is another valve that will divert water from the turbine if needed. The turbine uses from 1 to 4 adjustable jet nozzles.

I think there is a worth to the system. The battery banks that enable the invertor to do its thing have to be maintained and in near peak mode.
But from what I can see that isn't much differant to energy systems on offshore sailboats. Heck, those rigs have been in place and operational for decades now.


I agree with you on the hot water expense. I run my supply pipe from the pressure tank around our woodstove flue. That way the water get preheated some before it gets into the electric hot water heater. A reservoir tank for water to circulate is my next project on that front, but a ways off.



screaminghollow    Posted 10-22-2002 at 00:05:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I've got a sixty foot fall over a length of 1700 feet. My flow is about 20 gallons per minute in the dryest weather. Thats alot of pipe. In my case, the water flow runs through a ravine and the pipes would necessarily have to run down through the ravine where they'd be subjected to those flash floods in summer storms and hurricanes. What is normally only 4 inches deep and ten feet wide can become five feet deep and sixty feet wide. whole trees can wash down the ravine.
Question, is that just the pelton wheel or does it include a brushless alternator/generator? and what is the max out put. most I've read about are limited to 1200 or 1500 watts. Now that is alot of energy. but a water heater in a four person household takes about 900 watts constantly to maintain hot water. One of my neighbors has wired his old house for 120v but isn't connected to the grid, he uses 12 volt light bulbs for now and has a combination of a solar unit and a small windmill to charge three marine batteries. He's only there on weekends, and it provides him with electric lights and he runs a 12 volt TV.


Mike D.    Posted 10-22-2002 at 06:45:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hello Screaminghollow,
Hot water heaters sure suck up the power. Do you use propane on your place for anything? It is suppossedly cheaper than AC for hot water, but who knows now that heating oil is climbing. Have you seen these on demand hot water heaters? They impress me, but are expensive.
We need power at an old tabacco barn. I hope to be converting it into a machine/hay shed. We'll need power out there for the electric fence. I'm thinking about a solar fence charger and 12 volt lights in the shed. Seperate systems. I'll probably mount a panel on the roof of the barn. The building is 350 yards from the nearest AC so it isn't practical to run a line out to it. The coop would want $ every month for the service,
and there is expense in the meter base and new electrical panel. For about the same $ we can go with 12V lighting and not shoulder an additional bill every month. I'm looking into a pulse generator for maintaining all the batteries on the farm. We have eight in service on various pieces of equipment, and another six just sitting around dead. The pulser is supposedly capable of removing the crystalization that draws down the cells. I'm convinced that electrical storage via batteries is the way to go, regardless of the type of system you elect to use. If it proves out for us, then we'll have 12V lighting in our main hay shed also. Looks like it is more affordable than running underground wire out to these buildings.




Stmar    Posted 10-21-2002 at 12:35:20       [Reply]  [No Email]
Mike you can get a lot of info at poweriseverything.com
Hope this helps. We have wind, solar and line power. Get the good batteries up front, you will be glad you did. We are upgrading now after a lightning strike took out some of our equipment and I am going with the no-maintenance batteries.


Mike D.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 14:16:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks for the site info. I'll check it out. Are you using a pulse generator to maintain your batteries? I'd be very interested in the results you get. Mike D.


stmar    Posted 10-21-2002 at 14:42:03       [Reply]  [No Email]
Mike, We have a Trace SW4024 sine wave inverter. It is a top of the line 4 Megawatt unit that does everything except feed the horses. It maintains the batteries by monitoring the solar and wind input and if that falls below a set point it has a built in charger that uses the grid power.


Mike D.    Posted 10-22-2002 at 06:50:33       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks STMAR,
I will check out your inverter. I like what you have told me about it. Wonder if it can herd up these wild boys of mine. Who was your battery supplier and are you using 12V? I would like to know more about the system you use. Mike


Stmar    Posted 10-22-2002 at 14:16:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
Right now I have 8 6V industrial batteries but am going to 4 12V low maintenance Concorde Batteries. There is some good info on these at the web site. You don't have to vent the Concordes they are sealed but unlike gels they can take more abuse as far as charge rates. More expensive but worth it in the long run. I buy everything through them, including batteries, because of their service and their pricing is very competitive. I saw where they had hydros like you were asking about, that would be nice but we don't have any water here!!! Good luck and if you e-mail AESCO at the website tell them a guy from Wyoming told you about them and they will treat you right.


Ludwig    Posted 10-21-2002 at 12:24:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Bob's right, but microhydro and wind are cheaper sources of power than batteries.
Its been said on here and I'll say it again, you'll never make any money with alternative power unless theres some overriding difficulty keeping you from grid power, like being miles from the nearest powerline. Grid power is WAY too cheap to ever make it worth it.

Now, that said if you like the idea of having your own power and not being subject to the whim of the grid, go for it. If you predict that power prices will continue to climb and you don't want to watch it, go for it.

Another kind of cool thing thats more practical than batteries is to just feed your power back into the grid. Its called utility intertie and must be done carefully so that grid workers don't get hurt if the grid is down and they're trying to restore it.
Basically when you produce more power than you use you spin the utility meter backwards. In some states the utility is then required to BUY the power from you. Of course you'd only get wholesale rates. Remember what I said about not making money...


Mike D.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 14:14:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
The batteries are just a source of storage I thought. Never intended to do anything but convert 12V to 220 AC. Seems to me that has been proven to be an effecient application in all 3 types of alternative energy sources. The Sine wave invertor is key to how effecient the use of 12V becomes, no? The Pelton wheel turbine is to keep the batteries in charge, right? Seems like it ain't re-inventing the wheel here. Speaking of batteries, did you get your plusing desuphater built yet? We are going to put one to work this weekend on two batteries. Takes about 14 days to break down the crystals.

You mention that it will never make money, but for me there a whole lot more to it than that. I'm not too crazy about being dependant upon a grid that may or may not be there when you need it. We have about a dozen power outages a year. Last long one was 72 hrs. We didn't rough it because we have a Kubota genset (leftover from my onsite const. days) that allows us to keep from losing of refrigerated foodstuffs, and runs the pump.

I think there will be a way for energy to be produced on the homestead in the future. There are people doing it now, and they are not all on some perch in the Rockies, or in the middle of the desert. It is coming, as grid power gets more expensive you can bet that alternatives will become more attainable.

Thanks for your 2 cents worth. Let me know about your pulse generator.



Bob /Ont.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 09:25:38       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I think you need a stream with a good flow and lots of drop to get much out of them Mike.
Later Bob


Mike D.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 14:21:48       [Reply]  [No Email]
I've heard that too Bob, but the guy in B.C. says that a minimum flow will still keep a secondary bank of batteries in charge while you use off of the first bank, reversing the banks when you get to 50% drawdown or so. I really think the way to go is with falling water vs solar, or wind. I don't intend to spend a fortune on this (don't have it to spend, lol) but I do want to investigate this more in depth. We've got water just behind the house and buildings.

Thanks for your reply, and I hope all is well up there- Mike D.


Bob /Ont.    Posted 10-21-2002 at 16:03:48       [Reply]  [Send Email]
The flow will dictate the number of KW you can generate Mike but the storage batterys help out by saveing the capacity when you are not using it, and the water is more reliable than wind unless you are in Alberta, I think I would go with a 10KW wind mill out there and maybe a 10KW natural gas gen set if I could get a gas line in. You can mount the rad into a heat duct and scoop the heat from the engine too. With natural gas you could also get some heat from the exhaust with out worrying about it clogging up with carbon.
Later Bob


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