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How to / DIY => Everything else => Topic started by: glort on September 29, 2018, 11:42:18 AM

Title: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on September 29, 2018, 11:42:18 AM

Been wasting power boiling an urn for a while now to use some of the excess solar power I have that pushes my line voltage too high.
Today Finally found a couple of worthwhile uses.

The first one as mentioned elsewhere was to set up a Test batch Bio gas digester and use the excess solar to heat that. Probably not going to need enough heating to use much power but a few KWH I guess can be put to some sort of worthwhile use.
I thought I'll do this the clever way and boil the urn then put the hot water in progressively rather than chill the mix that has some warmth with tap water and then try to heat it all up.  That went a LOT faster than I thought.  Was soon using cold water to lower the temp of the partial fill.

The other use for the excess was Boiling the urn..... as usual. Difference was today I finally had a light bulb moment with it.

Being spring here, the garden is growing well.... as are the weeds. Everywhere. Normally I'm not too worried as the main type we get, Dandelion, is my Little Bunny's favourite. Trouble is, where he once went nuts for them, I have been giving him so much lately, he's now obviously sick of them.  It's not all he gets, still loves his Dry Mix and is OK with carrots, but the Fresh greens have definatey lost their appeal.  Maybe the kilogram a day of them that he can easily hide under I have been giving him every day is a bit of over kill?   ::)

Noticing all the weeds in the cracks of the pavers, I was going to boil up the oil burning water heater and give the weeds a scalding bath which takes good care of them roots and all and needs no chemicals. Back in the  suburbs, I would have Sprayed DDT around with no concern but now out here as a man on the land with one whole acre,   ::) I have become more fussy about things.  Well that and Bruce's heads up on the effects of so many things most of us are ignorant to with chemicals, EMF and the like.   Back there my favourite weed Killer was caustic, salt and probably some sump oil mixed in.
There is no truth at all to the malicious and unfounded scurrilous rumor that I laid waste to my Mongrel neighbors entire back yard with 150L of this stuff  couple of weeks before I left and I have NO idea how this mix got in my Diesel Fire pump and hose.   :angel:

Using my faithful urn and a 2 Kw Submersible element meant for impatient people wanting to make tea or coffee, I BOILED about 50 L of water today.
Throwing 4KW of power at 12L of water in the watering can boils it faster than I can drink a cup of coffee... so I found out repeatedly.
And doesn't it work great on the weeds!

There were a few Thistles coming along way too nicely and when I hit them with the hot water, as soon as you take the stream off the leaves, they go from Juicy green to Morbid dark gray. Everything else cooks and wilts before your eye's.
At first I was just taking water from the hot tap and I'd say it was working only because I have my heater maxed out temp wise, but it took a fair bit of water to see a change in the plants. Adding that last 20oC and boiling the water, made a BIG difference. Did this from late morning to early afternoon and walking round just before packing up for the day, I could see the weeds well and truly buggered.


The side effect of all this power consumption heating and Boiling water was really surprising.  I Made more power today than ever before AND still managed to pump more power back than I have achieved previously.  Very surprising when taking into account I bled off over 100L of hot water from the tank which was back up to temp in a couple of hours as well as everything else. Pumped about 2500L of water out the Bio storage tanks as well with the 1.5 Kw Pump which has a reasonable edge pressure wise over my 8HP petrol fire pump. I was running out of ideas of how to burn the power off short of opening all the doors in the house and turning on the AC. 

My total generation today was 75.6 KWH.  It wasn't even the most sunny day we have had in recent weeks.  Just keeping the inverters loaded I suspect kept them from throttling back and although I was burning power, I still managed to supply the house AND put an extra 24Kwh away in credit. Most days latley I can get about 14 KW back in over and above what we use. Thanks to cool nights that have still been around 3-5oC, we have had the air on at night as well.

I was happy to be able to make more power than ever and really put things to the test generation wise, but to get the high game on power back to the grid was not what I was expecting. I have been trying to use the least amount of power on the  Dummy load side but this may have been a mistake. Maybe I should be Boiling a drum of water every day and working the inverters to their max all the time?

Most I have got out my main shed array before was about 3.8 KW. Today I got that a kilo up at 4.8 on the 5.0 inverter.... which probably maxes at 4.8 knowing the way they are rated and the fact single phase systems have a 5Kw limit here.
At one point just after mid day, I had a look at all the inverters and was getting  a smidgin over 11Kw being generated.  Probably get 12kw if 3/4 of the panels were not in winter tilt still! Had half the inverters maxed out so what am I going to do with it anyway?

More to the point, what am I going to do next week? Only so many weeds I can cook and I think I'll be done by monday being a long weekend here.
Only so much dung to be kept warm.
Told the Mrs, If you want to wash in hot water,  just do it mid morning when the sun is out and not a problem. She said I never wash in hot water. I said well now at certain times if you check with me you can!

Reckon I might have to look at buying an outdoor spa. That would give me something useful to sink all this power into.
Maybe a pool.... which I could dig myself with an electric Backhoe!   :laugh:



Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on September 29, 2018, 12:09:57 PM
Hey Glort, sorry you got the blame for poisoning your neighbors garden. Many years ago I was in a private school and fell foul of a particularly malicious teacher. He had a large garden and lawn outside his home, which he kept immaculate. I had a friend who was the son of a farmer, he supplied me with a quantity of Gromoxone (a persistent agricultural weed killer). Several days later the grass on his lawn died exposing the word WANK*R in eight foot characters. I still have no idea how that happened!  :laugh:

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: LowGear on September 29, 2018, 06:06:10 PM
I'm suggesting you take the leadership of your very progressive and intelligent utilities companies and put in a Power Wall system.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on September 30, 2018, 05:52:51 AM
I'm suggesting you take the leadership of your very progressive and intelligent utilities companies and put in a Power Wall system.

Why on earth would I want to do that??
I'm trying to save money on power bills not piss money up the wall!
The last thing I would do would be to buy an actual Tesla power wall. Apart from anything else the reports of problems with the things and the Big brother nature of the brand with everything haveing to be done by them by remote control would be the last thing I would ever consider.

NO battery of any kind makes financial sense for someone on grid. There are 50 Different ways of calculating saving but the simplest and only calculation is real easy. In the best possible case scenario, NONE of them will repay their investment costs in power saving over the life of the unit.
It IS that simple.

If someone wants to go on about the " Environmental" factor, again they are a dead loss.  They cannot repay their energy and emissions investment in making the things which means from that POV the world is better off with them not being built at all.

The only thing that would come near being a worthwhile Investment would be Good old lead acid Batteries int he form of Forklift packs.
They have an AH rating which would kill a powerwall and could be had for around $2500 plus charger and inverter. If you could not Do it for $8K, You'd be getting ripped off.  A power wall here, if you can get one with all Tesla's other problems, is $15K installed.  For a best possible return Of Under $5 a day at Power prices 30% above what I pay now, the numbers do not add up.

I doubt their longevity very much seeing they use the same 18650 batteries favoured by laptops  and cordless tools and Nothing I have ever owned has lasted much past 4 years before the batteries fell over badly so how they expect them to last in a daily Cycled application seems optimistic to me.
Yes they have a 10 Yr  warranty but anyone that thought tesla would still be around then is a far bigger gambling man that I am that's for sure!
Musk won't be CEO By Christmas, I'd bet he'll be gone within weeks and Tesla Surviving without him would be a Miracle. Might be a bigger Miracle to survive WITH him but the end result is the same.

The board need kicking out as well and even with competent management, the chances of the company trading  out of the massive Debt they have with repayments worth over a billion due in the next 6 Months and the market about to be hailed on with new competitive models from long established manufacturers with unlimited marketing clout and well established Brand loyalty, is beyond reality when they are still burning cash at a rate no other manufacturer is.
Tesla is already gone, the date just hasn't been announced yet. Wont be tomorrow but in the next 2-5 years..... See ya!

I have it as good as I or anyone else can ever have it right now  With my power.  I use the grid as my battery and get a 1:1 return on what I feed in.
I DO appreciate the benifit I have right now for as long as it lasts ( which sure as heck won't be that long) and anything else is just being a pedantic bitch.  I would like to have something worthwhile to do with all this excess summer power but I'm also aware I can probably shut that system down or at lest half the arrays on it and still be power positive on my spring and Autumn Consumption.

When summer comes and the AC is struggling to keep the place bearable in the 46o C days we get here, then I'll most likley be burning a lot of that power again.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: LowGear on September 30, 2018, 05:34:12 PM
8)
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: Johndoh on September 30, 2018, 05:56:32 PM
Musk is gone glort, are you psychic, an insider trader or VERY perceptive?
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: dax021 on September 30, 2018, 07:36:25 PM
No, he's in Oz, their day starts way earlier than ours, so the news gets there first ;D
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 01, 2018, 12:07:02 AM
I didn't do my normal Tesla news search yesterday but the writing was very much on the wall for musk being pressured to get out one way or the other. 

I don't think he is gone and probably wont be now so I'd say my prediction was in fact very wrong. He's gone as chairman but will hang around as CEO for what I now predict will be a long time. That will still allow him to play god over the company and to remain inseparably attached where as had he kept going and left to his own devices, he would have been out all together.  This deal has probably benefited him by offering an amount of protection he would not have been able to enjoy otherwise. He'll still be seen as the leader and maintain his following and the next FK up he will be able to side shift to the poor patsy who takes on the Chairman role.  Be interesting to see how long they last.  Exec's and heads of the company have been jumping ship before the office furniture they ordered gets delivered lately.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: LowGear on October 01, 2018, 06:42:14 PM
All in all he is still the man person of the 21st century with only 80 years to go before it's ended.  I can hardly wait.

I wonder if he'll be involved in another publicly traded company?  How soon before Tesla is taken back to private ownership?  I haven't heard the full bodied woman sing yet.  I agree with glort - he's not gone from Tesla yet.

Another secondary genius of this guy is the world wide super charger system.  When there are a couple hundred thousand Model 3s out there this is going to be a tidy profit center on it's own.

Oops.  This is glorts thread and I can get into a rant about Elon at the drop of a hat.

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1119088_report-utility-survey-shows-overwhelming-support-for-renewable-power (https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1119088_report-utility-survey-shows-overwhelming-support-for-renewable-power)

Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 02, 2018, 12:18:52 AM

Oops.  This is glorts thread and I can get into a rant about Elon at the drop of a hat

I'd like to Read a rant from you.  We usually have opposing Viewpoints but you often make interesting viewpoints that challenge ones thinking and that is worthwhile in itself.

What does make me cringe is outright hero worship like I was reading on another forum where people think he can do no wrong.  They were repeatedly parroting things as fact when any time spent looking at news of the last week would verify those POV's to be flat out wrong and more than a little stupid given the information widely reported. 

Don't mind anyone having a different position, long as it's based in fact not fantasy.

One thing probably obvious to most I have learned this past 24 Hours watching the stock market, don't matter what you think of the company, whether it will be around forever or not, There is still money to be made.  I was figuring what a small investment of $10K could have yielded in tesla  under perfect  and not so difficult to pin point buy and sell times.  It would be substantial.
One report said you could have turned $1000 into 1.4M but I don't understand that being very ignorant to the ways of stock trading by and large.
None the less, Buying low and selling high even without options could have been very worth while.

With stock that bounces around like Tesla's does, I can certainly see why there is so much interest in it from all sides.
I really think the way this has played out has been a boon to musk not a punishment at all. He's skirting the terms of the settlement already and I don't see where removing him as chairman is one bit of an impediment to him. They will put in a talking head to the position whom will have musks hand firmly his his nether region controlling him like the Puppet he or she will be.  Other than that, business and controversy completely as usual.

I am still highly suspect of the EV hype.  I don't doubt for a second it will be a big market and will be the way vehicles go, that's a gaurantee just from a marketing POV. The car manufacturers have something new and exciting to give to the public whom are always excited to get new gadgetry.
How these things will work in practicality and what they will actually do for the environment as so many talk about remains very much to be seen.

Hopefully you can live to 100+ Casey to get an idea of how it pans out. The one thing I will guarantee, it probably won't be like either of us predict because like the last weeks event with Tesla, it never goes the way anyone thinks! :0)

One thing an electric car would do is solve my excess power issue.... Providing I drove a lot at night. If the Mrs took the car to work, then it wouldn't be here so useless.  Maybe I  could back feed the power back into the house after dark. Bloody expensive way to save a couple of bucks worth of power, if that. Maybe go Uber driving.... with free fuel, might be able to make up to $3 an hour once all the costs were taken into account.

Maybe I could take up pottery and use the power to Fire up an electric Kiln. Other idea was an electric Kiln for charcoal making.
What I really need is about a 100K litre vacuum thermos flask so I can heat  water all summer and use said stored heat in winter.   
OH wait! Of Course! It's obvious... need to start a POT growing operation in the garage!  Now that could be a profitable use of excess solar power!
And lets face it, even if I did get caught, the penalties are so lame I would probably not even have to do time.

Given I live  not too far from a flight path, bit of a wonder I haven't been raided already with the roofs and yard covered in panels!
 
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: LowGear on October 02, 2018, 09:46:34 PM
Hi glort,

I read the whole thing.  And all by myself!  See what playing nice with others can accomplish.

The fourth quarter of the game can be the most telling and challenging.  I've lost 30 pounds in the last two years looking to downsize for the final ending.  Light players can run faster and longer.

I too got excited when Tesla went momentarily down to 260 USD.  But by the time my IRA team was on deck it was back up to 310 and is 301 this morning.

I can't believe you haven't purchased a totaled Leaf for it's batteries and made you're own storage system.  These next two years are going to be fun in the electrically powered world.  So many options.

Emotionally based stuff can be a lot of fun and exciting.  The trick is to know when you're in LaLa land.  I get tired of fake news (on all fronts) being sold as real.  There are only so many photos of the US Inaugurations.

I think the "go PV" for hot water is still being sold.  There are a number of members here on LF that heat and store  water for space heat as well as hot water only most of them use solar direct rather than losing the 10+% efficiency from changing electrical to heat propagation methods.

My fingers need a break.  How do you do it.

Aloha

Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: Johndoh on October 02, 2018, 10:38:43 PM
I'm jealous reading this thread I couldn't generate enough power with solar here to power a digital watch! OK thats not quite true but I have talked to a few people that have solar water heaters and when you need hot water (winter) they are pretty ineffective in Ireland. I don't know if solar PV panels would be any better I somehow doubt they would provide any return on investment in Ireland no matter what the salesmen say.

With a lot of power going spare maybe it's time Glort got an electric vehicle on the road, I bet he could do it too!
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 02, 2018, 10:51:35 PM

I've lost 30 pounds in the last two years looking to downsize for the final ending.  Light players can run faster and longer.

You seem like the type that will last a long time. I have firmly believed for a long time that attitude is by far the biggest determination of health.
Probably explains my own position.  :embarassed:

Quote
I can't believe you haven't purchased a totaled Leaf for it's batteries and made you're own storage system.
Unlike the US, they are VERY thin on the ground here and as such, parts are a fortune.  Did look at the battery pack from a Priarse a while back but again, scarcity even though there are a reasonable number of them around now being used as Taxis as well as private vehicles, also meant the wreckers were scalping on the things.


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These next two years are going to be fun in the electrically powered world.  So many options.
I sure agree with you there!

Quote
Emotionally based stuff can be a lot of fun and exciting.  The trick is to know when you're in LaLa land.

I know allright. I'm permanently in La La land. It's not a good thing.

Quote
I get tired of fake news (on all fronts) being sold as real.  There are only so many photos of the US Inaugurations.

Seems there are limitless lies and fake News about Trump though.  Nothing to do with me who the president of a foreign country is but emotion aside,
The pure and utter garbage and lies written about the man is Criminal. And it's not even about him, it's about these media organisation just manufacturing their endless crap  to garner readership.

Same with Tesla.  Obviously i'm not a fan but I don't want to read crap and lies about them either.  I do believe there is far more flag waving BS than negative but either way, Obviously fake and verifiable wrong information should not be allowed. You can do a google search every hour and just see the endlessly produced garbage churned out when there is actually no news at all, just re hashes and pontification of the same events over and over.

They literally manufacture news when there is none and they do it endlessly.

Quote
"I think the "go PV" for hot water is still being sold.  There are a number of members here on LF that heat and store  water for space heat as well as hot water only most of them use solar direct rather than losing the 10+% efficiency from changing electrical to heat propagation methods.

The big problem for me is when I need space heat, there is no spare solar available. I would have to double what I have now to make up for winter fall off. I do actually have the space for that but the waste would be it all sitting there about 8 months of the year deteriorating in the sun doing nothing. 
I'm building an oil burning heater setup for next winter and if I can remove or significantly reduce my reliance on the AC for heating, my winter consumption may be self sustainable.

I have explored the direct heating problems here and come up with some solution's for it. The thing is if you are Direct, you either have an array as a one trick pony that may be underutilized once the water is up to temp or if you then want to divert it back to an inverter, there is more complication and engineering in that than what I would consider it's worth to save the minimal inverter losses and a much more straightforward setup.

I have an on grid inverter that takes care of the water heating on it's own Virtually as it is direct coupled to the heater Circuit and is of  more than sufficent  real time output than what the heater uses. On a good day, it alone can have the water up to temp in 3 hours or less. That leaves a lot of time an array can be sitting there doing nothing if it were direct coupled which when utilised, makes up a lot more than a 10% inefficiency.
Just as a heads up, inverters have for a long time now had a lot better than 90% efficiency.  Newer ones ( 5+ years old)  are well above 95% now.
I learned that when thinking about moving the inverters inside to utilise the heat they give off... which is pretty much useless anyway because they really only warm up in summer.... again when no one needs heat.

Quote
My fingers need a break.  How do you do it.

Easy, I have no life.   :-[
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 02, 2018, 11:42:26 PM
I have talked to a few people that have solar water heaters and when you need hot water (winter) they are pretty ineffective in Ireland.

It's the same here!
I have asked in a number of places and even the manufacturers/ retailers admit with as much positivity as they can they are not able to do much in winter. The best I can see is they would compensate for the incoming water temp drop between summer and winter.  that's not a bad thing, there is a good amount of energy to be saved there however it does not come near justifying the expense and trouble of instalation.

I asked a good friend of mine whom is a very environmentally conscious soul about his Vac tube direct system a few weeks back. I was surprised when he told me he took it down to make way for more PV because he couldn't see it gave him any benifit  for many months of the year. 
I'm just smart enough to recognize people smarter than me and I don't need to invest any time of my own in research, following their position makes me clever enough.

When I look specifically at the amount of hot water we use and it's cost in winter, I'm probably better off just putting it back on the cheaper off peak rate and being satisfied.  I pay .11C Kwh for off peak and .30C Kwh for normal power.  If I have not got the Oil heating up and running next winter which will give me enough self generated power to heat our water  I'll change the water heating back to off peak and be happy that's the best saving I can make.
The other alternative is to plumb in a pre heater and Fire that on oil. It's a less visually appealing and far more labor intensive way to go so pretty unlikely to happen.  I have run my other house for a couple of weeks on veg oil fired hot water though. Was pretty good as it was endless and the hottest water we ever had.  Would be more appealing if I could find a 400L system so I could fire it every 3 days or so and still have some heat in it but gas being quick recovery only seems to be built in smaller systems which mean any I converted would have to be fired daily which isn't always ( often) practical.


 
Quote
I don't know if solar PV panels would be any better I somehow doubt they would provide any return on investment in Ireland no matter what the salesmen say.

Always do your own numbers because the misinformation about solar both in deliberate sales hype and parroted ignorance is huge.  You would need a BIG system to cover your winter hot water AND household use. A 400L water tank requires 30 Kwh to bring the water from 15oC to 80oC.
Most people wouldn't go through 400L of hot water a day but even 200L or less allowing for heat leakage is still going to run 15Kwh which is very significant .  It's 8:15 in the morning here and I will have done more than 15KWH by 10 am  BUT, in summer, I'm often lucky to do 20 KWH on the same system for the whole day.

The thing in summer with direct water heating is much the same. Your HWS can be shut down or steaming easily by 10 am and it sits there the rest of the day doing nothing in effect. At least with PV, if the water is up to speed by 10am which is entirely practical, the rest of the day the power can be utilised for other things like AC in summer as well as other house hold loads or you can be getting some miserly amount in return if you are backfeedng to the grid.

There is also the thing of while I can do it within my skill set, it's far easier and cheaper to run wires for PV than pipes and plumbing for a direct water heating system.  Less to go wrong, less to worry about with weight loading and securing to the roof and so it goes.
You can heat a lot more water with a direct system than you can of a PV system of the same roof area but once the water is up to temp, it all becomes redundant.

Quote
With a lot of power going spare maybe it's time Glort got an electric vehicle on the road, I bet he could do it too!

I don't believe the question is Could I do it, I believe it's more a case if it's worthwhile to do it.
The answer is a resounding NO.

I could go buy a used EV but they are exy here and limited in range, size, usefulness etc.  For now and the foreseeable future, -I- would be much better doing as I have done for so long and just keep burning veg.  The  savings I could make in fueling an EV with excess solar would not return the investment and won't until EV's become a lot more popular on the used market. that's at least 20 years away to be priced with IC cars.

I looked at building an EV quite recently. Not a car exactly but an electric tractor for round here. Same components. Hugely  expensive here and then one has to take into account the certification and inspection process for a road going vehicle.  Also a lot of overhead there.

If I was to build one, I'd put a motor in every corner of the thing and make it look like a tesla  was slow!   :laugh: may still have limited range but it would get there in an impressive time!
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on October 03, 2018, 12:17:36 PM
Hey Glort, I am curious about bio diesel. Does it have the same properties as regular diesel? What I want to know is if it as flammable as regular diesel. Thirty years ago I used to run domestic oil fired boilers on red diesel as it was tax free and cheap. These boilers had spark ignition systems that would ignite heating fuel and diesel, I doubt they would light vegetable oil but they might light Bio diesel. Another possibility would be to thin the veg with another fuel to get it to ignite.

I should point out that these boilers were all wet back systems plumbed to hot water and other heating appliances with circulation pumps. Very effective in winter but very inefficient in summer when you only need hot water.

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 03, 2018, 12:54:01 PM

Hi Bob,

You can use Bio in the spray type oil burners with just a simple tuning of the air fuel ratio.  The other ones like in Oz that had some sort of pool of heating oil ( diesel) I don't know about but I see no reason it wouldn't work.  -Possibly- you may have to blend in some Kero or turps on this type but my experience and information on them is non existent.  The Spray type Gun Burners are not a problem with the simple tuning adjustment.

I always thought making bio to burn in heaters was a waste.  Then again, you can always do low Conversion bio so you get more for a given amount of Chemistry. The only real requirement for the bio in this application would be for it to light so if you had 25% conversion rate and it worked, Who cares?
I don't even think it's all that important to have full conversion Bio for vehicles and people like myself have been running straight oil for a long time.
The guy I consider the most Knowledgeable in the world whom I think lives in your wider area on the coast has also had this position since I got into the game.  It makes perfect sense to me.  The approved mentality however is to make the Bio as pure as can possibly be and of course invest more in achieving that really pointless goal than it's worth.

You can also run oil in the spray / Gun burners. That can either be thinned with Kero/ Diesel / turps or I have read of people just opening the furnace at the clean out door or swinging the gun out, throwing in a heap of lighted newspaper and firing up like that.  Depends if the thing is a Constant firing type or shuts down and fires up on demand.

My Aunt and Uncle at casino have an Aga type stove with a wetback for water heating. Provides cooking, heating and hot water in winter.  In summer they have solar hot water and an electric stove to stop heating the house any more as they cook.

For summer hot water, 2KW of panels connected to a heater or through an inverter back to the mains would take care of all your hot water needs.

The first problem for you with making bio would be sourcing the methanol. You'd probably have to get it from brisvegas to get any sort of a reasonable price on the stuff.  From when I last checked some time back, I'd expect the right price to be around $250 a Drum now.  Bag of KOH will be about $60.
That would give you high conversion bio of around 800L but I'd be stretching it to lower conversion of at least 2000L.

Mate and I built a reactor that was good for 1500L at a time but we only ever ran 1200L batches to give us 1000L of finished bio.
It was quite a setup  and had several sub processes. First was drying and heating the oil, 2nd was the actual mixing and reaction, 3rd was washing and drying. It was anything from a half day to a day depending on the oil we had ( Often a lot of fat as mate liked a challenge) for the cook up and then another maybe 90 min over the following week running the wash and drying process.
 Most people break it down to 200L batches so they can use a regular 44 and it's not on the industrial scale of equipment we had.
We just tended to get a drum of meth, a bag of Koh, Checked the oil titration wasn't too high which it never was as we did a glyc pre was and went from there.

When mate gave it away and sold all the gear, the guy that bought it all filled a decent size Rigid truck.  Mate allocated a 3 car garage and everything was in there and we never realised just how much gear we had acquired over the years doing it but out goal was to make the process as " factory like " as we could and we achieved that.

I really miss our Bio cookups.  Was always a great day getting filthy and making big fires etc and just relaxing ( no stress) even though we worked hard... if that makes any sense.

By the time you bought the Chemistry, I'd think you'd be better off to just go to the airport and buy a drum of AvTur and blend the oil.  All you would need would be a 44 and a pump to mix it. Lot less equipment, time and stuffing around than  cooking up bio batches.   ;)
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on October 03, 2018, 01:51:54 PM
Hey Glort, yes these boilers had electronic start stop. As I said earlier they were spark ignition. I also lived in properties with gas boilers, these had a pilot light. Wonder if a gas fed pilot light would ignite vegetable oil sprayed through a fine nozzle. An 8 KG bottle would probably run a pilot light for a year or more.

Think you are right about the addition/blending with something more volatile.

I`m in the same boat as you, I have solar during the day which heats hot water and provides electricity to household appliances. I am buggered if I can find a cheap way to store it for use at night, which is when we usually need it, I export far more to the grid than I import but I still get a heft bill every quarter. Batteries are too expensive and unreliable.

Looking forward to running the CS on WVO to fill this gap, might even be able to export any excess to the grid if I can

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 03, 2018, 03:30:24 PM
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 Wonder if a gas fed pilot light would ignite vegetable oil sprayed through a fine nozzle. An 8 KG bottle would probably run a pilot light for a year or more.

That is a great solution. Veg oil will definitely light from a flame. A spark is a very different thing but a flame would be NO trouble at all.  those Burner guns atomise the fuel really well and would make lighting oil off very easy.


Quote
Batteries are too expensive and unreliable.

They are certainly expensive but that's not really the deal breaker for me, It's  the components and cost of wiring you need to make them work in a system that's the killer.  You need substantial charger(s) and then a more substantial inverter.
No way you are ever going to get your investment back on that when you only need them for Night usage.

I started off my solar proclivity with a small system.  2 large N70 car batteries, a cheap but very good charger and a 2KW inverter I picked up off gum tree for a song that was a very good brand. Probably had a KWH of capacity in that without over taxing the batteries too much.
Couple more batteries and you double that.

Of course if you add up the cost of the 4 N70 batteries alone, you would be paying minimum $600. Then there is the inverter, $300 Min for a half decent one, Charger, allow $70 for an MPPT and wiring, etc. Then you would have probably a lead running into the hose you plugged your bare essentials into,  Light, TV, Fridge.

You are up to $1000 for an inconvenient system to live like misers.
That $1000 is going to buy you a probably several years of night time power use with ALL the convinces.
As much as we often overlook it, grid power is still way cheaper than any equivalent DIY supply.

When you say you get a hefty bill, exactly how much does that add up to?

The " Media" advise is always how to less power but they never acknowledge how quick it adds up on what they charge now.  Still cheaper than DIY but still adds up quick when you have top pay for it.
But that's the way they base their pricing model.  Low enough to keep you on the grid but high enough to maximumise their profits.


Quote
Looking forward to running the CS on WVO to fill this gap, might even be able to export any excess to the grid if I can

I am still not sure about the all round returns on this even with free fuel.
To be specific, if you took the value of the engine, genny and setup at new so it had maximum life and then ran it till it required rebuild and factored in maintence etc, if the power generated would be equal to or better than the  acquisition and running costs of said setup..... allowing for free fuel.

The calculations would be a bit involved. You would have t factor in the value of the power NOT purchased as well as the value of the power fed back.
The best advantage is of course what you don't buy and therefore save the most on not the power you don't need to generate and get tiddly winks for.
If you were aiming for a power credit, then without doubt used solar panels would be your best investment.

I guess the simple calculation would be attributing the cost of your current power charges against running/ maintence costs.   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    IF your bill is $500 a quarter and you reduce it to zero, then that's the income to be played off against any and all running/ repair and maintence.
That would have to include cost of collection of oil, filtering, engine oil changes, and anything at all you spend that is to do with that setup.

Thinking in print....

Engine oil.
Change interval, probably around 100 hours if running veg oil.
Change Volume.  4.5l?
Top up over 100 hours?  2l?
Oil cost.  $35 +

100 Hours @ 3kw = 300 KWH @ .30c Kwh = $90 value.  GP= $55

Fuel prep. 
Fuel for Collection for 200L =$10.
Filters $1
Power to filter dry = inconsequential.

Gp =$44/ 100hr run time

I'm sure there would be other things that would have to be factored in over the long term but if you called the net profit .40c an hour run time, I think that would be in the ball park depending on the cost of the power you were offsetting. Longer term expenses might be Belts, air filter, brushes and more which I might be well under rating at .4c an  hour.

If you have say $1500 invested in the engine, genny, wiring etc, You are going to have to run the thing 375 Hours just to recoup the initial investment and it's longer, Probably 500 hours because you have now had 4 oil changes and other things such as probably a belt or air filter over that accumulated time. 

500/ 12 Hours a day = 42 days.  3 hrs day =166 days.
THEN you go to making .40C an hour -IF_ nothing else has gone wrong and needed a dollar spent on it.

I do NOT include " Your time" because this is not going to take you away from earning money so your leisure time is not an expense.

This is all off the top of my bald head so I'd be interested to hear in what others with plenty of long term running experience such as Ed have to say about these numbers and what they think the costs if different may be.
These numbers seem to confirm what I last worked out years ago, the returns are very thin at best on a purely financial basis but I'd be keen to hear what I have overlooked and forgotten and how those things would affect the equation.

Not trying to put the knockers on the idea Bob, just prevent it costing you money instead of potentially saving it.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 05, 2018, 09:02:41 AM

Problem Temporarily averted.

Last 3 days has been completely overcast with 27MM so far of much needed rain.  Went down the letterbox earlier to collect the latest additions to my electronic boards collection and was looking at the garden.  Kicked the dirt and about 100mm down, hit the dry dust.
Sure is going to take a lot of rain to put anything worthwhile right into the soil rather than just on top.

I made 20.6 Kwh today. More than I would have thought considering it has been looking like rain all day and very dull. 
Quite a bit down from the 70 Kwh a day I was making at the start of the week but not bad.  Had the air on heat again the last 2 days given I have the power to spare and the temp has dropped again, down to 3 and 5o C at night but so far in the last 2 days, only burnt 43KWH in total.
Pretty surprised at that too!

Have a heater on a thermostat on the Bio gas tank probably burning 3-5 Kwh a day and put the hot water heater on which would have been pulling back from the mains almost totally instead of just running off the excess solar that was over volting the circiut.
Rain is predicted for the next week so might put a dent in that banked power yet.  Would be nice if it worked out that way, Finally I really did get to store some  power I could later recoup for a real saving and purpose.

ATM have 129KWH banked in credit.  @ say 25Kwh day useage over and above what I'm still getting from the solar feed, should have 5 days worth of power for the overcast days ahead.  Might fall a little short over the next week of predicted wet weather but once the sun comes out again, will be back in credit inside a week which will work out nicely for the next meter read.

Clearly the power situation is confusing the women folk. I am now getting crap for putting on the air and having things running I whinged at them for. Trying to educate them and get them to understand power is short in winter and Ok from spring to Autumn.
Was thinking maybe I should get a little white board and put it and the fridge showing how much we are ahead or behind.
Then I though, probably too complicated for them.

Maybe do a traffic light thing and put a large coloured circle right on the fridge.

Green means go for it, we are in front, don't care what you do.
Yellow means go steady,  nothing to waste,
Red means put the brakes on and stop, Nothing left in the Kitty.

I messaged Mrs Yesterday and asked her to bring home cash. She brougt it in last night says there you go, what you want it for?  I said I found another inverter I want.  I got a cheery " Ok". last time it was " You are not spending any more money on that solar shit". Maybe now she's realising the benefit when I ask " Have you got the dryer on?"  and she say yes and I say oh righto, thought I could hear something. 
I just knew she was waiting for the lecture she didn't get.

Things ARE looking up.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on October 10, 2018, 10:23:15 AM
Hey Glort, I`ve been thinking about your enormous power generating capability and a good use for it. There has been a lot of talk recently about growing food hydroponically indoors. In the USA there are several companies that grow fruit and vegetables indoors in inner city areas. These farms are usually on a very small plot and produce an enormous amount of top quality food in a very small area, very close to where the customer/consumer lives, reducing delivery costs.

These setups are very high tech with temperature and humidity control, computerized watering and lighting systems. Should be right up your alley.

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 10, 2018, 11:49:05 AM

This is about the most Viable Idea I have been able to come up with so far Bob. I actually have seedlings in atm and have been getting LED floodlights and transformers ready to set something up.
At my old place I had a stack of tomato plants in tubs with LEDS shining on them all night. Some of that was battery solar but I can store power in the grid now as it were.

I bought a heap of Tubs a while back to make a grow wall which i'll put lettuce in. that's going to go near the back verandah with some lights on that.
I had an aeroponics drum at the last place also lit up and there was nothing like walking 6 Ft out the back door and harvesting the produce to take in for Dinner.  We all enjoyed that.

Wonder how the neighbors here are going to take to me having Intense lighting in the back yard all night?  It does tend to radiate more than one would expect but I'll confine it as much as possible.  Might keep the foxes and other wild life out the yard.

My excess power banking has come in very handy.  Today and the last week has been very overcast. I think today was my lowest solar yield ever.
For Comparison, My highest was last Tuesday before  the weather fell over.  I made 70 Kwh. Today I did under 10.

The individual arrays tell the story.....

Last week        Today
21.5 Kwh        2.8
9.2                  0.6
12.4                0.7
26.9                 3.4
My over all consumption on the meter was only 20 Kwh because the hot water heater did not turn on. hopefully there will be more sun ( or rain) tomorrow.  Doesn't really matter, still have plenty of juice in the bank.

I am a little concerned how much one phase has been going backwards however. it's the phase I have put the heater on for my bio gas digester.  It's a 700W heater on a controller but I am wondering how much power that's burning?  I put a logger on it tonight to get an idea of the 24Hr Consumption. Digester would be dead without it here atm.

Still predicting rain here for another week so might get to put all that power to good use afterall.  That's fine, power I can make for nothing, water I can't and it's relatively expensive to buy and I need a LOT of it when it does not rain.  Had about 35mm in the last week and I'd like double that in the next week to put things on the right foot going into summer.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on October 10, 2018, 12:52:08 PM
Hey Buddy, glad you like the idea of growing your own food, never know what you are getting from the supermarkets or if you`ll be able to buy what you need considering the present drought.

Just a heads up on lighting for plants, it might sound strange but they need sleep too. 5 to 6 hours a day of darkness or they will die.

Rainfall here has been OK, not what the weathermen predicted but still good. Sent 8 hours today cutting the bloody grass, not going to complain just going to go to bed early, very tired out.  :laugh:

My solar output has also fallen but I`d rather the rain.

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 10, 2018, 02:23:47 PM
Hey Buddy, glad you like the idea of growing your own food, never know what you are getting from the supermarkets or if you`ll be able to buy what you need considering the present drought.

I'm fussy with what I eat.  No way I am going to put anything from Some asian Country in my mouth for a start where it's legal to grow food in human shit.  I also don't see why we import Things like oranges from OS when there is more than enough local production and a lot gets plouged because there is no market.  Don't care if the fruit is $5 apiece, I'll have local thanks for a range of reasons.

The thing I love about growing your own is the taste.  Store bought Tomatoes are tasteless to me for a start.  Brother in law wouldn't eat lettuce till I made him try mine. then he cleaned up a massive bowl of salad on his own. His wife was amazed. He said I never had anything taste like that before.
I made up his Mrs a BIG pot of growing Salad. Didn't last long I was told.

Quote
Just a heads up on lighting for plants, it might sound strange but they need sleep too. 5 to 6 hours a day of darkness or they will die.

I have heard that before. I gave my plants at the other place all night lighting. They were OK but maybe better if they did get a rest?
They certainly get the treatment with nutrient. I treat soil like a Hydroponic medium and make sure everything they want is in the water they get.  I can get a LOT of tomatoes out of one plant in a 25L Drum! Matter of fact, I couldn't get stakes high enough to support them and had to take the heads out as well as limit the offshoots and foliage.


Quote
Sent 8 hours today cutting the bloody grass, not going to complain just going to go to bed early, very tired out.  :laugh:

Bob, when you spend 8 hours on a ride on, you either are working for the council, have a mowing Business or need a goddam TRACTOR!

Or maybe something like this:

https://youtu.be/46yz09d9ZTc?t=156 (https://youtu.be/46yz09d9ZTc?t=156)

You could do it with push mowers as well. About 4 aside I reckon!  https://youtu.be/4rTczZe6qu8?t=199 (https://youtu.be/4rTczZe6qu8?t=199)
I'd actually like to get a couple of old decks and put oversize engines on them so they would Cut anything with ease.

Wouldn't be hard to get an old 6 or 8 Ft slasher deck, add castor wheels, Put a pulley on the PTO gearbox, mount an engine  and off you go!


Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on October 11, 2018, 11:07:47 AM
Hey Glort, I did do it with a push mower and a whipper snipper!  :laugh: I`m not sure a tractor would be advisable in the house paddock. I always do the first cut of the year with a push mower, it allows me to pick up all the sticks, stones, dog toys and other detritus. It also gives me a good cardio workout, which I`m glad to say I passed. Sore all over today but gave me a good excuse to spend today in the shed servicing Lister injector pumps.

Still got to mow the vegetable garden and then I`m onto the other paddocks where I really do need a tractor.

Bob

 
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 11, 2018, 12:34:41 PM

Well you motivated me today Bob.

Planted a bunch of seedlings out and put in a bunch of corn.
My ideas of being a small farmer keep kicking me in the butt.  All the seedlings I put in under my office window last week were gone today! WTF??

If it's not the Frost it's the heat. If it's not the heat it's the birds, if it's not the birds it's Rabbits and if it's not the rabbits..... It's goddam snails!
I can't win a trick here! Definately going back to my container gardening.  I did really well with that and had none of these problems.
Yeah. I think your idea was spot on. Bugger the veggie patch, i'm going to stick a shed and concrete right over the top of it, cover the roof in solar panels and set up an indoor system where I can control temp, humidity and pests!
Plus, no digging weeds and other crap.

I spoke to my father earlier tonight. Asked him if he still had the old slasher down the back? He Asked why.  Told him, I had this hair brained Idea about putting swivel wheels on it and driving the gearbox with an engine and towing it behind something like his Kubota ute ATV thing. 
Thought I'd be ridiculed but he seemed to think it was a plausible idea.... except why would he want that when he had a tractor?
Told him I wasn't thinking of him specificaly but then again, he could probably get in less trouble with that than the slasher on the tractor and he could go over softer ground without ripping it up.  He seemed to ponder the idea and said he couldn't see why it wouldn't work. Only thing was to put height adjustment on it which would neither be hard nor really necessary I think but anyway.


Maybe at least you should get a slasher Mower Bob. they can do a 34" cut or something similar.  8 hours pushing a mower...... Geez!
I would have rather spent 6.5 hours building something and 90 min to do the job!

BTW, You don't MOW the veggie garden, you till it with your 2 wheel tractor like I did to mine last week. Well not the veggie garden so much as the over grown flower garden.  Mrs wanted me to get on the end of a shovel. Bugger that for a joke. Got out the little toy tractor, took the wheels off, put all the tines on and  off we went.  Turned all those weeds and rubbish into dug in compost.
I was out there today looking at my handy work and despite the rain, not one bit of it has sprouted. I did go over it well and truly and obviously it worked. Wasn't easy wrestling the plough round either but anything with a motor is more fun in doing a job than with something without one.

 Was thinking I'll give it another go over tomorrow  for good measure and do another bit I have cleared of the big rubbish. I did dig a bit of that to see how hard it was and it's nearly all clay. Will be a good test for the machine...... Not that I think anything can stop that little beast!
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on October 12, 2018, 12:02:25 PM
Hey Glort, I don`t mow the veggie patch only the paths in between!  :laugh:

I think that, with the right setup, inner city farmers can make a very good return on minimal investment. There are a few very highly prized vegetables that chefs will kill for. For example fresh horseradish root, fresh wasabi and all herbs. Last time my Wife was at the Sydney markets they offered her $90 a kilo for fresh horseradish root!  :o  I do grow some but it`s difficult in the Australian climate. would be very easy in an environmentally controlled container.

The easiest way to break up clay is with gypsum, trouble is it`s expensive. Standard plasterboard sheets are made with gypsum, there are probably skips full of the stuff around you. Just lay it on the ground and plough it in with your rotorvator, works just as well and costs nothing.

Bob

Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on October 12, 2018, 02:09:47 PM

Is there a special kind of horse Raddish?
I just looked it up and everything said it's easy to grow in oz.  Doesn't seem like something that would be in big demand.
All the wasabi seeds come from china so would be irradiated as they came though quarantine.

I do have some moringa seeds here I have been going to plant for a while.  That is supposedly highly desired by some cultures.  There are a couple of dead trees up the back I'll have to get out and the moringa would be great in their positions.

Great idea with the Gypsum. I had heard of that as clay breaker and was wondering if it was the same as gyprock.  I have been throwing the cats litter tray on a clay rich part of the garden. That is mainly bentonite which is a clay but I believe also breaks up normal orange clay.  Maybe I should dig the clay out, make something with it and use the excess power to fire it?

Sure hasn't been any excess power lately. Been averaging about 10 KW/ day consumption which isn't bad.  Shown how much flat panels  outdo tilted ones in bad weather. I'd lay all the ground mount panels on the grass except i'm only just getting it to grow back and cover where I did that last time.
Spose they must really generate some heat when the space underneath is closed off and they are sitting in the summer sun.
The ones I have had tilted have the opposite effect.  Everything is growing under them wildly.  I'd surmising that's because the dew gets under them and they can retain a bit of moisture being sheltered from the direct sun through the day.

Supposed to be decent rain tomorrow again.  I live in hope. The ground is moist now so I think anything from here is going to start doing some real good. Might put some reserve back in the tanks as well.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on December 10, 2018, 11:40:49 AM

Summer radiation has hit well and truly and I'm back to making more power than I know what to do with.
Been running the air AND the clothes dryer ( Mrs forgot to hang out work uniforms)  and still making 20-30Kwh a day EXCESS.
Packed up the 5 KW ground array I was running for winter and haven't been using the south side array on the shed much either as there is a conmnection that's been getting water in it from dew and tripping out the RCD. Been too hot to get up and fix it.

Meter read was only 3 weeks ago and I am already up over 200Kwh on what we are using.
Today was heavily overcast all day with a brief shower but I stall came up 5 Kwh positive. made 28 Kwh which is a lot more than I can do on sunny winter days and I didn't have to have the AC on to heat the place. Mrs did put it on a while back as it was getting stuffy in here.

Really is frustrating having this power and not being able to use it.  I could put it to good use in winter but I'll have to shut the systems down again soon as I don't want to get much more ahead than I am.

I'm still wondering what I could do with all this power?  Trying to think of an energy intensive business I could do from home.  Small part electroplating maybe?  I think that uses loads of water more than power.  Maybe buying a kiln and firing ceramics maybe  something?

I was at brother in laws yesterday and noticed their neighbours across the road.  They have a creek that runs beside their property then at the back they have a flat area then the land skyrockets upwards at about a 45o angle with at least a 50M rise and levels out again apparently about 50M from the back fence.  BIL was saying what a useless block it was. I was standing there thinking what potential it had.  Dam at the top, dam at the bottom, 4"  pipe for 150M if that, pump in between.... water battery!

Wish I had a farm next door, could sell them cheap power for their irrigation.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: saba on December 10, 2018, 06:09:18 PM
Hey glort why don't you start mining altcoins with free electricity it's still profitable..

Bernhard
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on December 10, 2018, 09:44:29 PM

Wasn't sure of the terminology but they are another brand(s)  of bit coin essentially.
Seems they too are like what my nephew on the weekend said I had missed the boat on crypto mining.

From what I'm reading, If I spend a grand on a computer, I should make it back in about 2 years. Ummm, pass.
pity though, may have been ideal....2-3 years ago. Always the way with me!
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on December 10, 2018, 10:12:36 PM
Hey Glort, what about a plasma/laser cutter or even a high pressure water cutter, CNC controlled. Would use a lot of power and you have three phase on site so you could continue operations on cloudy days. Got to be a demand for precision cut metal components.

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on December 11, 2018, 04:03:41 AM
Now who is a mind reader?

That had actually occurred Bob!
Trouble is the word precision is never applied to me or anything I do, ever.  i don't think I could get my head around learning it all now either.

Whatever I do has to be simple for me to get my peanut brain around it.

Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: ajaffa1 on December 11, 2018, 04:36:30 AM
Hey Glort, the beauty of CNC is that you don`t have to be a precision engineer or computer programmer to operate it. The designs are emailed to you by an architect, designed or engineer you upload that spec to the CNC cutter and it does all the work. The only thing you need to do is put the correct material onto the cutting machine and tell the client to come and pick it up when it`s done. Most CNC cutters also have the ability to work out the most economical way of cutting sheet material thus reducing cost and scrap.

The brain power of some of the guys operating this sort of equipment is nothing to write home about, I suspect that after the first few weeks you would be bored stupid by it.

Bob
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on December 11, 2018, 04:48:56 AM

I'll start looking the machines up!  :laugh:
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on March 28, 2019, 02:09:02 AM
double post
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on March 28, 2019, 04:06:02 AM

Just put up some more panels on the back roof and have now Combined a couple of orphan setups into one substantial one.
Had 3 arrays previously plus this one. I now re wired it all to have 2 outputs from 4 strings which will mate up with the 2 Trackers on the inverter I'm using.

Still learning about this. The very pushed theroy is you have to be very careful about keeping the same size/ output/ voltage panels all together or there are at least very bad inefficiency's.  I find this " questionable". No doubt it's not ideal but when it comes to utilising used panels as one would be normally doing if there was cause to mismatch, I'd say the inefficiency pales into what you get as to not using them at all or the cost of putting them on different inverters.

I have in this system 240w and 190W panels which are all close in voltage. 32 Panels all up so a decent 6.5kw+.
The thing with panels are they are not fixed in voltage or output so there is a lot of flexability in their ability to work with other different panels.
In testing multiple setups on differing panels, the sum of the mismatched panels is about 1+1 still equals 2 so I'm pretty happy with that. While that may seem obvious, a lot of times due to what ever factors of I surmise efficiency, it is more likley to get 1+1= 2.3.
Panels are a lot like batteries. You can put a 100 ah 12V battery with a 50AH 6V battery and get the calculated output only with panels you don't damage anything or have any dangers.

Right now the 2 arrays are doing 7 and 9a at 20V apart and have the inverter maxed out. the water heater is running and i'm still pumping power back to the grid on 2 phases.  Beautiful!

The inverter I have the house array hooked to is only a 3.6Kw which for the moment is fine.  I have them running through the water heater Circuit atm  which is good for 3600W so not wise to put on a bigger inverter unless I had some switching that would only allow full power ( both strings kicked in) when the water heater was running or when the wattage fell below 3600W.  When I get a HD circuit wired in I can up the inverter to a 5KW or whatever I have at the time.

The other thing with the under rated inverter atm is winter is coming so a lot of the day the thing will still probably not make much more than that as winter fall off is severe and the array is west so won't even to a lot till midday. 

With my excess power problem, the main concern with that is now winter.
Even though last winter I didn't make enough total power, I often made too much peak through the day that went to waste.
I have come up with a solution for that I'm rather embarrassed to admit but pleased I have, so pride will outweigh humiliation....

The big problem has been voltage rise through the regulation but smaller than ideal wiring particularly from the garage where there is 9KW of panels and inverters.  I have 2 Circuits but both tend to go high pushing the power back. I have used dummy loads with the voltage monitoring relays to keep the inverters from tripping on high voltage.  Kicking in the water heater also works but only so much hot water you need before it heats up and kicks out.

My brilliant and cunning ( and blindingly obvious) solution is to take the Voltage monitoring relays from the shed and put them in the house connected to just some cheap fan heaters.  This will help lower the line voltage and put the power to some use as well.  Heating the house will help store the energy in the furniture and walls etc which will mean that the night heating will be reducing it's load by only for the main part trying to heat the air with less heat sink from the furniture etc.

How I didn't think of this before I don't know.  :embarassed: It won't drop the voltage as much as having the load at the inverter but it will certainly help.
The inverter on the house will be fine as I can connect direct to the same junction.

I am also going to look at bringing in a plastic Drum and putting a water heater element in it. Heating the water through the day will allow it to be a passive radiator at night. Found a place to put it in the middle of the house, now just have to think of a way to dress it up to make it look aesthetically pleasing.
I suppose a small fan on that and something like a fish tank pump to stir the water would help to retrieve the heat at night.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: mike90045 on March 28, 2019, 04:19:05 AM
I like the idea of making hot water in a plastic drum :)

re panel mix & match

In series, the amps will be limited to the lowest amp rated panel, so if you stick a 5A panel into a series string of 12A panels, the whole string gets throttled down to 5A.

In parallel, panels will be limited to the lowest voltage panel in the batch.   mixing 19 & 20v panels is fine, but mixing  27 & 36V panels will limit the group to 27V

The wattage lost depends on how far the data is offset, one 12A panel on a big string of 5A panels is not a huge loss, but put that 5A panel on a 12A string and you loose a lot
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on March 28, 2019, 05:04:22 AM
I like the idea of making hot water in a plastic drum :)

Do I detect a Note of Sarcasm??  :laugh:

I have heard this before. I remember a veg oil forum lighting up when I showed pictures that I was using plastic fittings on the coolant side of the heat exchanger.( before I woke up to the fact they weren't at all needed.)
 
All the safety sissys and ignorants went into a lot more meltdown than the plastic ever would have and didn't believe it had a far higher melting point than any water could ever get to. I did a Vid with a pipe nipple in a pot of boiling water and pulled it out and showed it wasn't even at all soft but of course never let facts stand in the way of ignorance and fearmongering on the net. Used those Fittings for 3 years and never had a problem with any of them.
Pity few of the other guys conversions ever proved as reliable.  ::)


The drums I would use would have a melting point of around 1500C and probably higher.
As the energy input I would be putting in of around 2KW  for less than 6 Hours, I'm going to be lucky to get 200L of water to remotely near half of that melting point. Of course there is always the minor point that water will never get over 100......

Spose no reason I couldn't use a metal Drum. Going to hide the thing anyway and the metal would probably transfer the heat quicker.  Having the standard 2" Bung may also be an advantage depending on what element I go for.
OToh, I did have some elements that seemed to have a voltage leakage so a plastic drum would be safer in the event of cheap arse elements going haywire.

Better go have a look at elements and see what I have and if I need to order any more.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: mike90045 on March 28, 2019, 06:51:00 AM
>  Do I detect a Note of Sarcasm??  :laugh:

Irony, as opposed to plasticity !

Many plastics won't melt, but at high heat, they get really soft.    Boiling water will "sit" in a 5 gallon bucket, but don't try to lift the bucket, the bottom falls out.

And if a hot heat exchanger or element touches the plastic, it's likely to melt through.  I doubt a full IBC would hold hot water without a base and sides
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on March 28, 2019, 07:18:19 AM
I doubt a full IBC would hold hot water without a base and sides

I Filled an IBC tank without the cage the other day with cold water and I noticed it's leaked half the water out already.
They are much thinner plastic than the drums I had in mind.

Getting a heater element that will fit in the bung hole looks to be a challenge but maybe I just won't worry.  Cut a hole in the center of the drum, get a bit of plate and put a hole in to hold the cord and screw that over the hole in the drum with a bit of Silicone.

A removable lid metal drum would be ideal but they are hard to come across now.

I also notice they make metal drums much lighter now. My father has one on his farm he reckons is 40 years old.  Thing is so thick and heavy it's like it would stop bullets.  The ones of today literally wouldn't stop air gun pellets.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on May 16, 2019, 11:11:38 AM

Playing around a bit last couple of days with some solar heating of my toy greenhouse.
Temps have been down to 1 oC here already ( Converted for the American readers, thats' ahhh, 1o C !)  and I want to keep some plants alive and growing.
I put in some hedge cuttings I wanted to propagate as I will need about 100 plants that they have been doing fine as well as some tomato plants, Rocket, parsley, passion fruit, a bamboo and Moringa plant.

The little plastic tent can easy hit 40+  during the day but I believe because I have most of the plants sitting in trays and have been keeping a few MM of water in the bottom, the humidity is 101% and the plants never show signs of wilting or any kind of stress.  Quite the opposite in fact. The growth rate has been outstanding and I am pleased that not one of the hedge clippings has faltered and all of them have taken well.

The trick is going to be keeping the plants at a decent temp when we get to the sub freezing temps here as we got too much of last winter.
I could go about this a bunch of ways, the first one was to put a 150W incandescent spotlight in the thing. It was keeping things about 3-5o above ambient but that's not going to be enough. I tried a stove element in a bucket of pebbles but I think that made the element over heat and it burned out. In fact it burned away no doubt due to the arcing of the DC power.  I knew that was never going to be enough thermal mass but something to play with till I got some water heater elements.

Water has far and away teh best thermal retention of any non exotic thermal mass but a long way.  At one stage I had the bright idea of just placing an element in a vessel and pouring 50 Kg of aluminium over it but crunching the numbers found that ally has about 1/4 the thermal mass of water.
Only one way to go with this clearly.


A few pics to add interest to my ramblings.....

(http://dare2bedifferent.com.au/Misc/IMG_0001_resize.JPG)

My first little greenhouse outside my office window. It is tied to the 400L water heater ( For the US readers, that's a big mutha!)  because a stiff breeze came up here which anywhere else would probably be called a gale and I could see the writing on the wall when the wind did come up here proper.  Might look at re-enforcing that some more.
Structure is about 1.5m Wide, 90cm deep and 1.8 H.


(http://dare2bedifferent.com.au/Misc/g2.JPG)

Opened up  the little greenhouse is quite full and the water tank doesen't take up that much useable space really.
The element I screwed and siliconed into the side can be seen. It's a 3.6 Kw, 240V rated element I measured at about 15 ohms. Picked up 2 of these and 2 4.8 Kw units from the local friendly scrap yard.

The tank is 110l Capacity and I have 100L  in it to make the heat calcs simple.  The 150W lamp can be seen at the top. I'll probably use that in a month or so to extend the light the plants get.  I did take Bruce's idea on board and get some LED strip but it is disappointingly dull  so I'll have to do some research for some better type. I have a couple of small LED Ligh bars up the back so I might put them on the sides facing in and across.  The 150 Light throws quite a glow in teh yard at night, I can Imagine what these light bars will do. The sheep next door that happily came back today won't know what's going on!

I have a bit of styrofoam over the top of the drum to stop too much moisture loss and avoid cooking the tray of plants sitting on the top.

(http://dare2bedifferent.com.au/Misc/IMG_0006_resize.JPG)

This is the panel array across about 3M from the greenhouse.  The panels are set up 5 in the string with the 2 strings paralleled to get the right ohms for the heater element.  The panels are 250W so 2.5Kw in total. Matching the Ohms is very important when using panels and mains rated elements.  It's not a matter of half input equals half power. One needs to match the resistance reasonably closely to get decent output.  If this is not done it would not be unusual to have say 1 Kw of panels and an actual heat output from the element of 150W.

My panels work out at about 10.8 ohms and the element is 15 Ohms. From what I read having a 40% over rating on the element aids in the power levels during ramp up and fall off in solar production.  It seems to work

Today I took some measurements of temp and power input.

The position of the panels although facing north ( Being down under as we are is correct)  is such they don't get complete sun till about 10 am being shaded by the house till about then.
At that time and after putting about 25L of water in the tank I had heated somewhat yesterday, the water temp was 30.5oC.
Electrical input to the element was 11.4A @ 132V into the 140V element for a heating input of 1508 W which I was really happy with.

By 11 am the water was up to 42oc and the element was getting 13.7a @141V for a total of 1931W.

Unfortunately I didn't get to check the 12 Pm time as the mrs summoned me to come hold her hand at the dentist. So much for appreciating my putting my day aside to be with her. Not my fault If I laughed at the way she jumped when he put the cold spray on her cracked tooh and then tried to curl up in a little bally in the chair, it was funny as fk and even the dentist and the nurse were laughing. As the dentist pointed out, with hat he had done to me over the last couple of years, I had well earned the right to laugh at anyone in that chair.

Returning home at 2:30 ( no, you can never go just one place with my wife once you are out the house)  The tank temp had risen to 69oC and was getting 12.3A @ 105V for a total of 1291W

By 3 PM the panels were back in shade and producing next to nothing.  I hooked in an array of 16 Panels on the roof but probably due to the ohm Mismatch and the failing light, I was only getting about 800W input  from 3.8 Kw of panels.  These are wired in series so the open voltage is a bit over 300 but it fell to around 60 when the element was connected.

All input would hae stopped by about 4:15 and I measured the tank temp at 5 at 64o. This may have been because the temp of the pots inside when I checked at 2:30 was up around 40oc so I left the door open to give the plants some air and cool them off a bit.
I'll go out about midnight and shoot the temps now the tent is sealed up again and see how it's going.
I noticed last night I had a tank temp of over 50oC and the temp of the pots was around 18-20 . The heat loss through the plastic would be huge but if I can keep the soil temp of the plants no lower than 15 I'll be a happy camper. I suppose I could also throw a blanket over the thing at night to slow the heat loss and I'd also probably have to partially wrap the tank as well as I wouldn't want the soil temp getting too high.

I am on the lookout for some large sheets of styrofoam to put on teh bottom of the tent to stop the cold radiating up from the pavers.  If i could put some styro on the back of the structure  where it goes up against the house and on the south side opposite the direction of the sun, that would be helpful in slowing heat loss and probably reflect the light around a lot better as well. I think If I start insulating I'm also going to need to put in a small fan ducted to the outside attached to a thermo to start cooling things when the temps go up during the day. Better air Circ wouldn't hurt the plant development Either.

(http://dare2bedifferent.com.au/Misc/IMG_0012_resize.JPG)

This is the south end of the rear of the house which faces west. There is a clear 7x4.5M clear, square area there not counting the diagonals on the ends where I can put more panels. easy enough for another 5Kw+. Being west facing, I'd probably need that much at least to get the same daily total generation as I have from half of that which now faces north.  The west panels did pretty poorly last winter but brute force of adding a load more since is yeilding some good numbers on the other end of the house and there is still room for another 2.5 K up there at least and another 5 KW on the north roof.
In several minds about putting them on the north end.  Dor the moment I think I'll hold off.

If they change my meters to smart arse meters I'll look at getting a " legit" system put there and see if it's possible to get certified for 10Kw and only install 3 or so and then hook my current system back in.  Save on the costs of having a certified system installed but allow me to feed back from my present setup without causing too many problems.  From what I read repeatedly, They don't even bother with the amount you have installed, power co is only interested in what you are approved for and aren't going over that.  Don't want to loose any more profits than they have to.

For this winter and untill I finish the outdoor tropical bathroom I'm putting down that end of the house the panels can stay in their present temporary position.  Next winter I'd like to have a bigger greenhouse or even a shed would do me.   Easy to put in clear panels in teh roof or insulate it and just light it with LED's and have better winter heat retention.

This setup is interesting but I am mindful at the end of the day, I'm probably better off all round just hooking the panels to a GTI, feeding them back to the mains and powering a heater, be that a thermostatically controlled fan heater or a storage setup like I have than having a dedicated array.

It's SOOO much easier and cheaper to control things with AC than DC. I could use a thermostat or 2, a PWM controller to regulate the input to the heater element and incorporate an earth leakage detector as a life preserving measure to run it all and it would all be cheap, off the shelf stuff.
Dc is fun but one is limited with power control above 100V, there are no earth leakage devices I am aware of to stop one getting a heart stopping belt in case of brain fade and DC thermostats become more complicated as the whole lot is far more exy than AC. One thing to have your house on DC where the cost and setup is worthwhile but the perspective is this is a cheap arse Greenhouse with highly questionable Longevity.
Expenses need to be looked at accordingly and I already have EVERYTHING i'd need made up in AC.

The other thing with this is where does the point come where I don't have the solar to spare and it's more valuable in the home?  In a larger and more permanent setup it would be easy to install a water heater with a draft oil burner and run the whole thing off 12V which is easy to work with.

For the meantime though this is proving to be a lot of fun and an interesting learning curve.
be interesting to see what the temp inside in the morning is.  only going to get down to about 7 tonight so not really cold but i will get an idea what to expect in about 6 weeks when there is frost every morning.

I think I might do well to find some styro to insulate the little structure with by then.  :0)


Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on May 16, 2019, 11:42:55 PM

7 Am Observations.

Ambient temp outside was 6 oC.  Water tank was 30oC ( again!)  Temp of various pots in the greenhouse was  12o C.

My conclusions are I simply need more heat or less heat loss to keep the temps where I want them when the weather get cooler as it is set to do.
I'm reluctant to increase the temp of the water any higher because the initial temps will make the GH too hot.   I'm limited in the amount of thermal mass I can store, could add another 10L of water which will hold about a KW of energy but probably not enough and then one is limited by the input from the panels anyway.

Insulating the structure seems the best way but depends on materials.  Seems styro is very hit and miss to find and surprisingly and over the top expensive here.  I did see a place giving away  thin corflute, wonder if that would be any good at all?
I might try an old blanket over the top tonight and see how that goes but would be of limited help in wind and if it rains.

Other options are simply more power.  Adding panels is a very Limited option as I need to stay in the resistance rage of the panels and the element.  I could go to a 6 panel array but that's not going to do a lot and the effect would be merely to heat the water hotter. The panels stop producing much earlier in the day than i'd like so even a limited intput to maintain temps longer would also help.

I could go back to turning the light on which would negate some heat loss and I could put a 2nd element in the tank with a thermo that kicked in when the water got down to say 40o C to maintain the inside temps.

As usual, extra insulation would be the best solution but not necessarily the most economical or easiest to implement.
Not sure where I would look to find it as a waste product and whom might have sheets of it they wanted to get rid of.

 I'm also wondering about just a tarp or a second cover over the top. I have seen replacement covers available and they seem generous enough sized.  the one on there is quite loose so I may well be able to put another over the top. If I put some " Spacers" in the form of small foam blocks between the covers on the top particularly, I could trap some air which would act as insulation. If I found some foam would work nicely to keep that in place.

In the mean time I'll see how much difference the light and a blanket would make.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: BruceM on May 17, 2019, 12:00:56 AM
Mike was right about plastics- HDPE is often used for barrels, and it's going to very slowly start to deform at boiling, just give it time, it's strength is greatly reduced at higher temps. It will just ooze. You will see that buried rotomolded HDPE tanks will rarely be rated for over 130F.   

Polypropylene is much stronger, especially at higher temperatures, the buried tanks are often rated to 150F or better.

So if you're bargain shopping for tanks for hot water, look for a PP stamp, though even that isn't going to take 100C for extended periods without some deformation unless it was overbuilt.

Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: mike90045 on May 17, 2019, 12:14:14 AM
Do you get any stratification in the water tank ?  I ask because my Listeroid barrel can be scalding on top and cold at the bottom.
Title: Re: Finally, some use for excess solar power.
Post by: glort on May 17, 2019, 04:37:56 AM
Do you get any stratification in the water tank ?  I ask because my Listeroid barrel can be scalding on top and cold at the bottom.

I did get huge stratification but not any more.

At first during the initial mucking around, I suspended the element in the top of the drum with a bit of wire. Covered the element but had the electrical terminals above.
 Seemed the top of the drum was near boiling and the bottom had no detectable heat increase. I was really amazed the difference was so great.

The element is now is probably about 10 Cm off the bottom of the drum. The element steps down a fair way so is much closer to the bottom on the inside than it appears on the outside. I noticed that the element is marked one direction for solar, another rotation for mains. The solar  orientation is as I have it, with the element down. The AC direction has it basically flat.  I surmise this is so one gets more water heated from the solar input.  Not sure why you wouldn't want it the same way for AC but that what's on all the elements I recovered.

Shooting the temps now the whole drum is even temp to within the error margin of the temp gun I am using which is about 1o . I think having the offset to one side works as well as it rolls the water slightly with the convection current. I was thinking and could have easily Centred the element in the bottom of the drum as the red ring stops it contacting the ground but I thought it would be good to have as much of the element as lot as possible and having it to one side to create a rolling turbulence would also be beneficial.

 It also seems the water at the top is NOT the hottest if there is any variation. Maybe it's evaporating a bit and bleeding energy through that.

I was thinking to put an air bubbler in the tank to stir it if need  be but seems there isn't.
I think the hot water rises easy enough but it is VERY reluctant to go down.  From an engine cooling POV, this is probably a good thing in most circumstances. A small airpump or electric motor with a prop might be good to activate on a timer if you wanted to even out the drum temps.