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Off grid farm- Heavy Gennie dependency - guru's what say ye?  RSS feed

 
John Janssen
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Hi all,

Just signed up for an account but have been lurking for a while, getting ready to drop the hammer on an off grid purchase but would like some feed back. Head is starting to bleed from all the info ut their and trying to correlate that to my plan.

The Location - Small farm in Northern Ontario, NOrth Bay area

The plan.
Get the system in place and running on our farm now and in a year or so moving to the back 40's completely off grid. (sysem in container) This way system can be setup, modified, tweaked with the ability to flip a switch and be back on the grid. While it is in this phase we will rely 100% on the gennie for battery charging - why you say? I make my own diesel (black diesel, W85 - google it) and it costs about $.015/L. When we go to the back 40's I have a beautiful micro hydro site and will be using that for battery charging with gennie available for charging and over peak. I have a farm shop and require the large gennie anyways when welding, new poultry coming in therefore heat lamps 24/7 etc..

Idea is to have a system that carries most of the load say 75% of the time with the gennie kicking in as required.

Diesel: Works great, run it in my truck, tractor, dozer, backhoe and soon gennie - tried and true tech so no worries there

30KW 3Phase Diesel Gennie with 220 transformer (already purchased), old girl that eats my home made diesel and loves it. (I prefer a mechanical diesel vs common rail) will run 24/7 no problem. Serious 6cyl heavy duty non turbo diesel.

Loads: Lots. 220 well pump, 220 8x12 walk in freezer, (freezer will probably be gone on new place), arc welder fridges

Heat in new place wood (masonary stove/rocket mass heater), currently using old oil burner/boiler

Proposed system:

Schneider 6.8 or 5.5 Invertor
-if I go with the 5.5 can always stack later if req.
- understand schneider handles gennies nicer that the outback with what I plan (Thanks Chris Olsen for that - was planning on Outback)
XW power dist panel
xw series conrol panel
AGS

Midnite SOlar 150 MPPT (will accept hydro charging)
xw 100a breaker x2

48v 1000ah used forklift battery - Guaranteed for 1 year - rated at 50% new, will do 150-200 amps for 4 hours ($4000 Can)


Later:
- PMA running via Micro Hydro - prob a overshot water wheel, but will work that out later - numerous options
- dump load of some sort, being cheap/frugal/dutch I want it to "do" something useful


Questions:
- since I have no problem with running the gennie for overloads should I go with a smaller system? Will the invertor seamlessly fire up gennie without faulting?
- OUtback vs Schneider? 8kw vs 6.8 vs 5.5?

Am I missing something? - Better yet WHAT am I missing.

thanks,
JJ


 
Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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Hi John, welcome to permies!

This system is well outa the wattages I'm used to, so I haven't got a lot of specific advice... Interested to see how it evolves though!

While the gennie is happy to run 24/7, the less often it needs to start up the longer it should last, no? In your shoes, if it was feasible financially, I would probably try and size the system to handle everything without the gennie except welding/heavy tool use, or other short-term exceptionally heavy loads... less noise, less fumes, less pollution, less wear on the gennie, less dependence on the WMO source... more up-front money.

The other thing that comes to mind is warmup... I don't put a heavy load on a cold diesel instantly on startup, I let them warm up a bit. Do any of these inverters have some means to handle this? I suppose if it's kicking in several times every day, that will at least minimize cold starts. Hmm...


What sort of filter system do you use for your W85?
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Battery Bank = 48V @ 1000Ah but used so only 48V @500Ah....you don't really want to discharge below 50% so it is really 48V @250Ah, and going from 90% charged to 100% charged is really just wasting energy so it is more like 48V @ 200Ah. But that is still close to 10kWH, given the fact that you have non-stop 24hr hydro power. You are really bank night time energy to use during the awake hours the opposite of solar.

So not counting the farm shop, what is your total daily energy expenditure and that is your projected daily energy production from the microhydro (with and without estimated conversion powerloss)
Now assuming your microhydro covers your household energy usage with some left over for your farmshop. What is your farm shop WEEKLY energy usage and how much biodiesel can you make in a week.

But to answer your question, To prevent your inverter from being overloaded you are going to have to figure out your max concurrent load (microwave+washer+plasma tv+etc) and then size your inverter to thst load.

 
John Janssen
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S Bengi wrote:Battery Bank = 48V @ 1000Ah but used so only 48V @500Ah....you don't really want to discharge below 50% so it is really 48V @250Ah, and going from 90% charged to 100% charged is really just wasting energy so it is more like 48V @ 200Ah. But that is still close to 10kWH, given the fact that you have non-stop 24hr hydro power. You are really bank night time energy to use during the awake hours the opposite of solar.

So not counting the farm shop, what is your total daily energy expenditure and that is your projected daily energy production from the microhydro (with and without estimated conversion powerloss)
Now assuming your microhydro covers your household energy usage with some left over for your farmshop. What is your farm shop WEEKLY energy usage and how much biodiesel can you make in a week.

But to answer your question, To prevent your inverter from being overloaded you are going to have to figure out your max concurrent load (microwave+washer+plasma tv+etc) and then size your inverter to thst load.



I under stand the schneider has good overage usage and that I can program when I want it to start up the gennie - say at 75% /90% load to prevent overloading the invertor - genniw will already be up and running and pumping juice.
 
John Janssen
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Hi John, welcome to permies!

This system is well outa the wattages I'm used to, so I haven't got a lot of specific advice... Interested to see how it evolves though!

While the gennie is happy to run 24/7, the less often it needs to start up the longer it should last, no? In your shoes, if it was feasible financially, I would probably try and size the system to handle everything without the gennie except welding/heavy tool use, or other short-term exceptionally heavy loads... less noise, less fumes, less pollution, less wear on the gennie, less dependence on the WMO source... more up-front money.

The other thing that comes to mind is warmup... I don't put a heavy load on a cold diesel instantly on startup, I let them warm up a bit. Do any of these inverters have some means to handle this? I suppose if it's kicking in several times every day, that will at least minimize cold starts. Hmm...


What sort of filter system do you use for your W85?


Thanks for the reponses!

Gennie has a "keep warm" option like the big trucks - will autostart to keep itself toasty if required - also ags is used as gennie will heat gennie room and battery room using gennie heat byproduct (exhasut & rad)

W85 usage is not a problem - mostly because I have too much and can always get more. Making 1800l takes about 20 minutes.

Filtering process - Let sit for month or 2 if you can, drain off bottom for barrel fires , then pump from top into mixing tank using 5 micron whole house water filter, filter again using 20 micron sorb-all spin on filter on pump. After it is mixed you CANNOT use a whole house water filter as they will melt. I use 2 4500l tanks for bulk storage, 1800l tank for mixed. and a bunch of 900l tanks for odds & sods.


Sizing is an issue that I will have to play with I think as time goes on, mostly to try to cut down gennie run time.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Your inverter produces pure sine wave electricity, where as your gennie produces square-wave electricity. A motor can handle either one but electronic have problem with 'dirty boxy' square wave, and they will either not start or malfunction/have a reduce lifespan.
 
John Janssen
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S Bengi wrote:Your inverter produces pure sine wave electricity, where as your gennie produces square-wave electricity. A motor can handle either one but electronic have problem with 'dirty boxy' square wave, and they will either not start or malfunction/have a reduce lifespan.


Doesn't the transformer clean that up?
 
Dillon Nichols
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Your inverter produces pure sine wave electricity, where as your gennie produces square-wave electricity


Huh? I'm not sure what kind of generator would produce a square wave, but it's certainly not usual for any generator to do so, especially not a decent quality one. AC output from a spinning generator should be sine-wave AC, albeit of wildly varying quality depending on the source equipment. (http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/selecting-a-generator). It will also vary depending on the loads attached...

I suppose square wave would be possible from an inverter-generator of pretty terrible quality... never seen one, but I certainly haven't gone looking either.

Certainly you can get dirty power from a generator that would cause problems for sensitive electronics, but that's not the same as square wave. I would expect pretty good power from a quality 30KW generator, but an oscilloscope would let you know what's going on. The transformer should clean it up in some ways to some extent... but I can't remember what sort of impact you'll see from which type of transformer.

Some sort of protection for any particularly sensitive or expensive electronics is always advisable, on grid or off.


I'm not well versed in generator/inverter relations, but on high-end, high-power inverters generator assist is a common feature; I wondered how they would behave once the generator is on, and found this thread of interest: http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/340021/schneider-context-xw6848-5548-4048-inverter-opinions

The models discussed there seem to handle it very intelligently, with the ability to use generator power in excess of load for charging, and to sync with the generator output and supplement it with inverter power if loads exceed generator capacity. Pretty neat.

So, in practice it sounds like the trick will be to set the point at which the generator powers up so that no single load will vault from (pre-generator trigger)watts to (overloaded inverter)watts, in a single bound. Or, if that's not practical for everything(welders?), you could setup some things to only run with the generator on, so that you're not risking an inverter overload.


John, thanks for the filtering info. I doubt I'll be burning W85 any time soon as I don't have a source beyond my own oil-changes, but it does interest me if I do find a supply. What a fantastic resource for fuel, at that price, and definitely less time investment than with well filtered WVO, which is what I'm working on setting up currently.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Some generators can produce dirty sinewave, that pretty much looks like a square wave. esp the cheaper ones. But yes most of the newer ones are okay-ish. You will just find your electronics dieing alot earlier.



I could be wrong but if you have a 5kw inverter and you have a load of 7kw. You can't just connect a generator to make up the difference. You would have to connect two inverter to get 10kW and then you can connect the generator
 
Dillon Nichols
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Yuck, that is some nasty power in your pic! I can see why one would call it square wave, even though technically it's just very dirty sine.


S Bengi wrote:I could be wrong but if you have a 5kw inverter and you have a load of 7kw. You can't just connect a generator to make up the difference. You would have to connect two inverter to get 10kW and then you can connect the generator


You're correct in that you can't expect the generator to make up the difference; rather, it's a matter of the generator taking over and providing all the power(via passthrough on the inverter), and charging the batteries with any extra. Then, if the load exceeds generator capacity, the charging will stop, and some inverters can kick in to assist the generator.

It has to happen this way around, because the inverter/s can sense the frequency of the generator output and sync their output to match, while the generator is not capable of doing this for power from the inverter. (Yet, at least; some inverter-generators can sync up to share a load between 2 generators, so I see no reason these couldn't sync to a regular inverters output, if someone wanted to implement such a feature.)

You *could* do a pair of synced inverters to provide the power, then feed them with a generator directly charging the batteries, either with DC output or through a dedicated current source... but this would be something of a cludge in comparison. In theory a nice DC battery charger would eliminate the need for both the inverter and the generator to make AC, and in some cases the need for the inverter/charger to make DC; just feed the batteries right from the DC generator, and provide all AC through the inverter. In practice, DC generators are rare birds, and either damned expensive, or backyard cludges using alternators and giving notably bad efficiency.
 
Rob Bouchard
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Location: BC, Canada
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Hey John I'd love to hear more about your w85 setup!
 
John Janssen
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Yuck, that is some nasty power in your pic! I can see why one would call it square wave, even though technically it's just very dirty sine.


S Bengi wrote:I could be wrong but if you have a 5kw inverter and you have a load of 7kw. You can't just connect a generator to make up the difference. You would have to connect two inverter to get 10kW and then you can connect the generator


You're correct in that you can't expect the generator to make up the difference; rather, it's a matter of the generator taking over and providing all the power(via passthrough on the inverter), and charging the batteries with any extra. Then, if the load exceeds generator capacity, the charging will stop, and some inverters can kick in to assist the generator.

It has to happen this way around, because the inverter/s can sense the frequency of the generator output and sync their output to match, while the generator is not capable of doing this for power from the inverter. (Yet, at least; some inverter-generators can sync up to share a load between 2 generators, so I see no reason these couldn't sync to a regular inverters output, if someone wanted to implement such a feature.)

You *could* do a pair of synced inverters to provide the power, then feed them with a generator directly charging the batteries, either with DC output or through a dedicated current source... but this would be something of a cludge in comparison. In theory a nice DC battery charger would eliminate the need for both the inverter and the generator to make AC, and in some cases the need for the inverter/charger to make DC; just feed the batteries right from the DC generator, and provide all AC through the inverter. In practice, DC generators are rare birds, and either damned expensive, or backyard cludges using alternators and giving notably bad efficiency.
 
John Janssen
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Yuck, that is some nasty power in your pic! I can see why one would call it square wave, even though technically it's just very dirty sine.


S Bengi wrote:I could be wrong but if you have a 5kw inverter and you have a load of 7kw. You can't just connect a generator to make up the difference. You would have to connect two inverter to get 10kW and then you can connect the generator


You're correct in that you can't expect the generator to make up the difference; rather, it's a matter of the generator taking over and providing all the power(via passthrough on the inverter), and charging the batteries with any extra. Then, if the load exceeds generator capacity, the charging will stop, and some inverters can kick in to assist the generator.

It has to happen this way around, because the inverter/s can sense the frequency of the generator output and sync their output to match, while the generator is not capable of doing this for power from the inverter. (Yet, at least; some inverter-generators can sync up to share a load between 2 generators, so I see no reason these couldn't sync to a regular inverters output, if someone wanted to implement such a feature.)

You *could* do a pair of synced inverters to provide the power, then feed them with a generator directly charging the batteries, either with DC output or through a dedicated current source... but this would be something of a cludge in comparison. In theory a nice DC battery charger would eliminate the need for both the inverter and the generator to make AC, and in some cases the need for the inverter/charger to make DC; just feed the batteries right from the DC generator, and provide all AC through the inverter. In practice, DC generators are rare birds, and either damned expensive, or backyard cludges using alternators and giving notably bad efficiency.


Sorry about double post - bratty kids of mine

THanks for the input - I am going to contact schneider and see if their zantrex line works that way.

appreciate all the help & input

John
 
John Janssen
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Rob Bouchard wrote:Hey John I'd love to hear more about your w85 setup!


My w85 setup is very simple, once you try this you will never even dream of using veggie oil. No contest.
1. Pick up oil from small shops - they have lots and with oil prices in the toilet most are now PAYING to get rid of it - so if you take it for free they are happy and become a regular donor. I use a gear pump from home hardware ($150ish) this pump with a screen is indestructible, doesn't suck good dry so set up a "primer" line to get it wet when starting to pump - very important at -40, oil is thick.
2. let oil sit as long as possible - min a week, then drain off water/antifreeze and some chunkies
3. take empty barrel that you want final product in and put fill it 15% full with gas, if you can get bad gas from a somewhere that is great - octane is NOT our friend. Gas can be substituted with anything light that burns, kerosene, diesel, old gas, etc.. it is being used as a THINNER nothing about the boom
3. pump oil from the top of settled storage tank through through a "whole house water filter" once again home hardware. micron setting of your choice - I generally use 5mic. - tip nice to have larger storage tank than final product tank - that way you leave the heavier junk behind and it regularly gets drained out into 5 gallon pail - this is where being a pyro and having lots of bonfires comes in handy.
4. pump from final tank into your vehicle, I have another spin on inline spin on filter called a "sorb all" it filters at 5mic and removes any water acumulated as well - is huge.

Downsides:
Carbons up your cylinder heads, this can be fixed 2 ways:
1. every 5th tank run reg diesel through with a can of ocean stuff (ocean spray? can't remember name - buy on sight)
2. best way - setup a simple water injection system on your vehicle, mists water into the intake and steam cleans your engine constantly. (google water/meth injection systems)
3. buy lots of fuel filters. old oil has a detergent in it to keep your motor clean. well it does that to your fuel system too. it cleans all the varnish, gum and crap from your tank and lines and deposits everything into your fuel filter. Expect to change it out 4-5 time in the first 500kms. after that just normal schedule
4more smoke at idle in my cummins 4bt but my toyota landcruiser didn't smoke at all - why don't know.

Upsides:
Cheap.
SAving te environment, oil burn is complete, exhaust is not nasty, leaves more in the ground
Sourced locally and disposed of locally - carbon footprint savings or whatever
Doesn't gel at cold temps - no preheater on my system works at -40 in northern ontario no prob
For the prepper in you it doesn't go bad
much easier to source & pump than veggie oil
Remember this tuff has been going through a filter all its life, stuff is actually pretty clean.

Disclaimer: I run through mechanical diesels - not common rail, lots of people do but I haven't yet.

Ignore the "That will neverwork/trash your motor etc.." Doomsayers - lots of people are doing it.

Some links to get you started.

http://www.thedieselstop.com/forums/f22/w85-274606/
http://www.powerstrokenation.com/forums/72-alternative-fuels-svo-bio-disel-wmo/102715-drmiller100s-simple-w85-thread.html

As always YMMV
jj




 
Rob Bouchard
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Location: BC, Canada
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Thanks for the detailed reply! I was looking at centrifuges for filtering, but your system sounds a lot cheaper and simpler. I have a dt360 in my truck and a mechanical Kubota generator.... That's why I love this plan.
 
John Janssen
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Rob Bouchard wrote:Thanks for the detailed reply! I was looking at centrifuges for filtering, but your system sounds a lot cheaper and simpler. I have a dt360 in my truck and a mechanical Kubota generator.... That's why I love this plan.


Don't overthink - just do it. I sweated over it before trying it and now look back and think - man what was I thinking?

I have thought about setting up a upflow filter but can't be bothered - settling is the most important. Some of my stuff has settled for a year. Benifits of 100/acres of storage space.

 
Rob Bouchard
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Amen! I've got 80 acres... Going to start oil "shopping" asap.
 
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