David Baillie

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since Jan 07, 2016
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kids dog books chicken earthworks cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
Builder, tinkered, gardener, charcoal gasification enthusiast.
North central Ontario
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Recent posts by David Baillie

Leigh Tate wrote:I don't know a lot about electric vehicles, but I'm curious. Does anyone recharge their EV from their home solar electric system? Or does anyone know enough about EVs to tell me something about what it would take to size and make a system to recharge them?

One of the first things I would want to know is what you consider a home system. If you are grid connected you can charge any car you want. If you are off grid it gets a lot trickier. Most manufactured cat come equiped with an on board charger that plugs into a standard outlet. It will charge at roughly 1200 to 1500 watts hr per hour. Here is a good chart I found listing various vehicles and hour to charge.  
It's someplace to start.
5 days ago

Todd Turner wrote:I've been into biomass gasification for years. I'm also building an office in half of a 40' shipping container. I'm thinking of cannibalizing the factory air conditioning out of a small SUV to cool the space.

Here's my plan, please tell me if it's too far out there or if you have any suggestions:
100 watt Renogy solar panels (suitcase style), golf cart batteries for lighting and small power needs
13hp Honda GX390 engine (estimated 8.5hp on woodgas) fueled by a downdraft gasifier
Belt drive to turn an automotive alternator to recharge the 2 golf cart batteries on cloudy days
Belt drive to also turn AC compressor
Mount the in-dash AC in the exterior wall like a window unit

I read that automotive air conditioners are rated at between two and five tons of cooling. I was shocked at the output but after reading more, it makes sense. They are called on to quickly cool a small greenhouse. My space is 8'x20'x9.5'h (high cube container) = 1,520 cubic feet. No windows.

I used Insofast foam insulation panels on the walls and ceiling. The roof is painted white using a NASA spinoff ceramic coating.

Yes, I know I could use a window unit to cool the space but I always want to learn new things.

Tips? Concerns? Anyone with related personal experience?

Todd, do you have the gasifier up and running?
1 month ago

Jane Stratton wrote:Me too. I...I have also been looking at Avrame the past year and would love to find someone with first-hand experience. The company seems to be in control of social media comments quite well. They have their own FB group, but it is only for people who have purchased. FYI, many Eastern Ontario townships have now dispensed with minimum square footage requirements or are in the process of doing so. Most still require that small and micro houses be placed on foundations though.

Hmm, Jane do you have a list of townships by any chance? I know that some townships were talking about lowering their limits to between 600 and 450 sq ft but not dispensing with the minimums. Again I'd love to know if your information disagrees with that.
Cheers, David
1 month ago
So many great replies.
Having visited and trouble shot a few solar thermal systems I share your desire to see it run. There was a good trouble shooting order above which I would amend a little. First things first isolate and pressure test the tank ; if it's gone the storage heart of the system is dead so it's not worth it. Next would be the collectors; again isolate and pressure test on they are the generation heart.  The parts that usually fail from what I've experienced and read about are
1) some form of vaccum lock or air in the system. Often if something failed the collectors will overheat causing a pressure release of fluid replaced by air somewhere in the system.
2) a failed controller
3) a failed valve or air eliminator
4) a failed pump, or often a worn out pump can't overcome the same level of friction it used to.
5) a failed tank or collector.
It's totally doable to bring it back to life but then comes the fun part. Is it worth it? That is a personal question. My own belief is I would do the tests and see where the fault lays then evaluate. If collectors and tank are good yes if either is the source of the fault no.
Cheers, David
1 month ago
Michael hit all the high points. The idea is to get at all the low hanging fruit before investing in solar. Insulation comes first as a watt not needed is always the cheapest . If the equipment is almost at end of life anyways gas is more efficient and generally cheaper.
1 month ago

bob day wrote:Quick update. The new regular electric fridge is doing fine, looks like it will be viable with the batteries and solar panels dedicated to it.
The batteries are reading at 26 plus all day with occasional ventures into the 27 range, and most of the day it was running, bringing the box down to temperature.

I'm not going to disable the propane fridge right away, but I have started to transfer some of the stuff. Most important will be how well the freezer holds temperature overnight with the fridge switched off. I expect partial sunlight days will also give me vital information about battery status,

These details may not be as relevant to this conversion thread,  but since I broached that topic earlier explaining my lack of work on the conversion I though it good to keep everything up to date. Assuming the tests on this "normal" 110 v ac fridge continue to be good it will be a long time -hopefully- before I have to deal with this again--unless a used fridge falls into my lap, then I might not be able to resist the temptation.

By the way, even though the maximum load spelled out 6.5 amps, it looks like most of the run time was working at about 1.6 amps @ 120 v, closer to 200 watts, which was what I expected.

Always good to hear the follow up on these threads. Have you put a kill a watt on the fridge yet? Measuring it once it reaches temperature over a few days is always good to do. Over a week even better as that will work in the short defrost cycles. 200 watts with roughly a 10 percent duty cycle is about right ..
Cheers, enjoy. David
2 months ago

bob day wrote:Wow David, sounds like you know your way around these complicated modern appliances.

That tragic mistake I spoke of that caused this beautiful refrigerator (whirlpool) to stop working was plugging it into a 220 volt inverter- yes, it's a 110 volt -I'll skip the song and dance that led to this tragic error, but I believe it fried the start relay So I have been focusing on replacing that and the capacitor associated with it. That's all I really know to do, so if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them

Nice! The relay would be a good place to start. Hopefully it ended there.
Good luck on your winter project.
2 months ago

bob day wrote:I never did the conversion--yet-- At this point I don't feel like tearing apart a brand new refrigerator.  Yes, it was energy star rated, which is why the tremendous energy draw surprised me so much. The salesman had talked about it drawing 300 watts and I didn't double check him so I'm still trying to figure the whole thing out-the label says 6.5 amps at full load- more like7- 800 watts, about three times what I was told it would be.

I'm hoping the new batteries will carry the full load better and the actual running load will drop after the box cools down, but i have to get it running first so I can try this new electrical system. If everything  works ok then I won't fix what isn't broken. if not, the conversion may still be on the table. but likely not for a while.

This is really a project for the winter, so I will run my tests with this refrigerator through the summer and any alterations will have to wait.


hmm .. sounds like the defrost cycle is kicking in. It generally lasts for about 2 minutes at start up then shuts down and you just have compressor draw which is lower. I have seen where the sleep mode on the inverter can do weird things to the fridge circuit board. Modern fridges have a small transformer on them which powers up, brings the inverter out of sleep mode,  then the transformer cycles down causing a loop with the inverter, eventually the board or the inverter fry  If your inverter has the option turn off the sleep mode function.
Cheers, David
2 months ago

bob day wrote:I finally gave up on finding a used refrigerator to convert. I know there are likely a million of them somewhere, and I had asked to be notified when an installer/sales guy might find one with a bad compressor, but otherwise in good shape, but after a year of waiting nothing. Anyway, long story short I bought 8 -100 AH batteries, a 6000 watt inverter and a regular ac refrigerator relatively small-14 cu ft-. with the plan of running it mostly during the day while the solar panels were producing  and turning it off or down overnight without opening doors so it used as little battery power as possible.  One thing and another and a stupid mistake blew a protection circuit in the brand new fridge and I have yet to repair it. New fridges don't just have a reset button, rather a complicated relay with computer chips so the supplemental system and operation has yet to be fully vetted.  My 3000 watt inverter on my 12v  house system could run it (before the stupid mistake), but the batteries dropped to 10v while it was on, so whether this will work is still a big question (I think this one is about 600w also) . and the conversion idea is still in my mind if this system fails.

When I was contacting dealers for the alternate refrigerant compressors I was told they needed to know the details/ model of the refrigerator I was converting and got the idea that it wasn't  so much limited by size or wattage, just a question of matching them up.

I found the original dc -isopropene compressors on ebay, but likely there are many other sources

Bob what fridge did you use was it new and was it energy star rated? 600 running watts is huge is that aeasured value? my current fridge runs about 140 watts. I've had the least issues with bare bones models with good energy ratings. Finally the inverter was full sine? I'm always interested to know who has problems and with what models...
Cheers,. David
2 months ago

mc Kravits wrote:

David Baillie wrote:
No magic there ; it is a syphon. The trick is having the outlet pipe of greater diameter then the inlet pipe and having it flow downhill enough to overcome the resistance of the inlet side.
The reducer on the outlet is so he cannot drain faster then the barrel can fill up. The section of vertical pipe on the outlet is a buffer in case there are air pockets in the system which would break the siphon action. It is interesting. Is he charging money for it? I do wish people would demonstrate how it works instead of pretending it's some sort of hidden secret. In this case gravity is the energy input. There are losses to friction in the tubing. All the tubing and the barrel have embedded energy costs as well that are not accounted for in the description either. So energy laws have not been violated here
Cheers, David

The sad fact is that this guy might not even know it's syphoning.

Yup. It's why I stopped tilting at windmills on YouTube. My grandfather would say:  stop wrestling with a pig; you end up covered in mud and the pig enjoys it...
2 months ago