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Mark Tudor

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since Oct 04, 2012
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Recent posts by Mark Tudor

If you are good with sitting in the room to tend the fire and the batch box adds extra complexity then a J tube will work well. I see a couple different space numbers there, 1000sq ft, then 1400sq ft and 800sq ft insulated. Will the RMH be located in the 800sq ft space, or one of the other spaces? The RMH delivers a lot of radiant heat and conductive heat, so the best results are being on/near the RMH.

The original J tube design can be made for very low cost using recycled/used parts and cob. You can (and should) lay everything out outside to make sure you have all the bricks you need and even test fire outside, and when happy with sizing you can move it all inside piece by piece and use clay slip to mortar the bricks together.

Are you planning to replace the existing stove, and recycle the chimney opening? Cooking on the barrel of the RMH is possible but a bypass might be needed if cooking without a desire for heating. Combining chimneys to 1 point is not advisable.
3 hours ago
The depth of discharge (DoD?) and estimated/"promised" cycles of various batteries is a bit confusing to me, including the 12/24/48v to inverter conversion of amp hours when sizing a system.

For example, https://www.altestore.com/blog/2017/02/simpliphi-lithium-batteries/ shows 10,000 cycles at 80% DoD (with "that's 27 years!" next to it). So I read that to mean I can use up to 20% of the available power on a given night or cloudy day, and the next sunny day when it recharges to full, I have used up one of those cycles? I see other batteries like https://www.wholesalesolar.com/1898601/fullriver/battery-banks/fullriver-agm-415-ah-48-vdc-19-920-wh-8-battery-bank which promise "hundreds" of deep cycles and a 7 year warranty.

The property I bought is at 48 degrees latitude, and averages 1.2 sun hours a day around the winter solstice. Tying into the grid will start at $25,000 plus permits and monthly bills, so I'm not going down that road if I can avoid it! But I will need to plan a system size for having a cloudy winter week. I am buying a kill-a-watt to see what my current power use is, and have a chest freezer that will be converted to fridge temps to save some power. I currently average 3kwh a day when the window AC is off (12/23/17 it was 12kwh, as it was 102 degrees F that day! It was 95F on Christmas day, I miss regular seasons of the midwest USA!).

So let's say 3kwh per day is the norm in the future even though I doubt I will have a big screen TV and inefficient fridge in a Wofati/Oehler-planned home, but I will have a well pump for example. The assumed 30% conversion losses are added in to say I would need 3900 watt-hours of generation. Hopefully panels that can still partially charge on cloudy days can save me, since some solar calculators say I need 13 panels at 300 watts each for those 1.2 sun hours...

So here's the battery portion that has been a bit confusing to me in the past: the battery linked above offers 415AH at 48v which becomes (A*V=W) 19,920 watt hours? On a cloudy winter day, using panels which still generate a charge, I'm getting that 1.2 sun hours on average over the 10 hours that the sun is out(barring obstructions like trees or 3 feet of snow drift)? If that battery should not be drained below 80% of capacity to extend it's lifespan, then that's about 4000 watt hours in a given day, and I'm at 3900 watt hours of generation including system loss. So I need to have enough panels to charge that 3900/4000 watt hours back each day, say 13 panels at 300 watts each? This is what is getting me confused, as some folks on here talk about having 440AH, 24v off grid systems with no backup generator in northern areas with cloudy winter days and they have 1000 watts in panels or less.

Is 3kwh of consumption the issue here? I expect the converted chest freezer will lower my power use, and downsizing the space with fewer gadgets like the TV will help as well. I typically use 1-2 LED lights @ 12watts/120v, the fridge, and my laptop regularly. The latter will likely be just a tablet down the road, or Linux-converted Chromebook for something a little more secure. Finally a cell phone that's kept charging as I would tether it for WiFi internet access. Converted chest fridges typically take less than 0.25kwh a day, so unless I add in a toaster oven to compensate for poor iron skillet/rocket stove cooking, I would expect my electrical use would be about as low as it can be without giving up all electronics. So the size of system recommended seems massive, despite it being in a northern climate.

Am I missing something obvious?

Edit: and is there a time when wiring the panels and batteries as 12v is better than 24v or 48v? Isn't there less line loss at higher voltage, and smaller gage wires can be used? I don't expect a long run with a house-mount being possible, maybe 30-50 feet to reach the batteries inside.
1 day ago
If a county extension office can perform an affordable test, it would be interesting to first test your soil for harmful contaminants like heavy metals, then extensively use accumulators in that area and compost all those plants in their own pile that can't leach into the ground, and then take the finished compost and have it tested as well.

With some plants having really deep roots, I would wonder if leached contaminants could be pulled up from subsoils and get concentrated in our garden beds and we wouldn't realize it.
2 days ago

Josh Wall wrote:I only have a 97% survival rate from year to year.



That's an outstanding survival rate, if only 3% are dying each year. I've heard the average survival rate is 67%, or 10 times greater loss than you.
3 days ago
Thank you for that info Peter, I had thought those turbines with more blades would be an option for a site with lower winds (mine average is reported at 7.6mph on the xzeres.com tool). Since my size has no micro hydro option and is at 48 degrees latitude for those short winter days, I was hoping a wind turbine could be another option for winter power production that would cost less than a bigger battery bank and more solar panels.
3 days ago
It's good to know that black walnut fodder would also cause allelopathic conditions, as I was wondering if I could cheat the system by using black locust rootstock and grafting black walnut and other fruit/nut varieties to the well-established roots after coppicing.
4 days ago
Cob Cottage Company has a big veggie garden and deer that are quite comfortable around people (I was less than 10 feet from them at times) and always trying to get into the fenced area. In some spots there is fence 8-10 feet tall, and in others this wall works, at 6 feet tall and 1-2 feet thick:



The deer can certainly see through the windows to the other side, but the irregular shapes must be enough to deter them.
1 week ago
I'm curious if this has (or doesn't need) a cleanout in the bottom of the bell to remove ash? I couldn't really tell if there's one seen in the third picture of Matt's last post or not. Should there be cleanout access to each bell in such a system where mortared bricks are being used?
1 week ago
I wonder if some motion sensor that could play a recording of barking dogs or Quiet Riot or anything that would spook deer could be an option?
1 week ago
If you can purchase fruit trees in 5 gallon pots that are a few years old, they usually start producing fruit within 2-3 years after planting at home. Some nuts also produce soon after planting like chestnuts.

Combined with perennial and annual plantings you can grow plenty of food right away. Don't let the idea of a perfect setup prevent you from starting a good setup, it can be very productive for you.