Author Topic: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?  (Read 19584 times)

Simtech

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Hello from Tacoma WA.  I'd like to tap your collective knowledge and experience before I plunk down a large bit of my limited cash.

I need an absolutely reliable powerplant for backup power to be used for weeks or even months at a time as our only source of power.  It would have to be left with my extremely non-technicial and somewhat frail wife while I left for work each day.  It would be feeding a 1500AH battery bank via a grid-tied 4000w inverter/charger.

The most important thing is to provide power for my wifes 780 watt home peritoneal dialysis unit (her kidneys dont work) which is used 9 hours every night and MUST have reliable power, the unit will be plugged into the inverter/charger full time - basically turning the battery bank/inverter into a huge UPS for her.

We'll be moving into the outskirts of the Gig Harbor area, from all accounts from my coworkers who live out there power outages are frequent and long (up to 2 weeks).  
My plan is when the power is out I'll use a transfer switch to power the house from the inverter/charger and use the powerplant to charge the batteries.  I want to stay with a 120V charging system to use the pass-through capabilities of the inverter/charger.  I also plan to have a 100amp marine alternator as a backup power source.

Also, I'd like to do cogeneration of domestic hot water - I have a few ideas based around using a old gas-fired hot water heater.

I'm thinking my bet bet is to get a kit engine since I'd be tearing it down to learn/clean/desand it anyway and I'd save a few bucks.  I'm drawn to the heavy-metal engineering of the listeroids, the relatively quiet operation, durability and the ability to burn almost anything.  I'm also a bit of a disaster prepper and a listeriod would fall in perfectly with that.  I'm perfectly willing to drive up into lower British Columbia to pick one up if I have to - I've driven the AlCan highway 5 times now in my various moves to/from Alaska.

I'm a simulator technician at a full motion flight simulator and have been a tinkerer/DIYer all my life so I dont see any problems with the technicial aspects of the project.

So, what do you think ?
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 05:37:31 PM by Simtech »

sailawayrb

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2011, 10:35:53 PM »
Hello from Renton WA,

If you are interested in cogeneration, you should check this site out if you haven't already:

http://www.microcogen.info/

If you like working on engines, the Lister/Listeroids might be an option.  Here's my setup:

http://listerenginegallery.com/main.php?g2_itemId=351

If you go this route, you might want to get George's CD to learn more about the engine:

http://www.utterpower.com/products/utterpower-cd/

Bob B.

Tom

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2011, 02:34:45 AM »
I see a bit of a conflict in priorities here with the need for absolute reliability and the desire to tinker. I live off grid and generate my own power and used to live in an area with frequent long duration power outages.

So first I'd suggest take care of the wife's needs. Get a smaller battery inverter system, say 350 AH at 48 volts. Get a Schneider grid tie inverter and a 4kw LP powered backup generator. This system will be 100% automatic. If the grid fails it will switch to battery, until they get low and then start the generator. When the grid comes back the generator will shut down and batteries will recharge from the grid. If you want later you can add some pv panels to sell power back to the grid.

With the $ you saved buy the listeroid and build the system you'd like and with a transfer switch it can be used as a primary system when you are there to tinker and when you are not your wife is covered. Depending of the load for the dialysis machine a bigger battery bank may be required. I'd size to run for about 4-6 hours, that should get you through most of the outages without running the backup generator.

Welcome to the forum!
Tom
2004 Ashwamegh 6/1 #217 - ST5 just over 3k hours.

ronmar

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2011, 05:04:55 AM »
I would also agree with Tom...  It sounds like you need something turnkey, either diesel or LPG/NG to meet your wife's immediate needs and then something you can build into more efficient use when you are there to keep track of it, or leave running when you leave, with the turnkey plant waiting in the wings if something should cause an automated shutdown.

Sadly, I think you are going to have a rough time finding a "roid"...  they do come up, but it may take you a while to find one.  i passed on a 6/1 and ST-5 already mounted on a base last year, and have been kicking myself ever since...
PS 6/1 - ST-5.

Simtech

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2011, 05:54:44 AM »
Thanks for the welcome and comments. 

In the interim until until the new system is complete I still have the system we brought down from anchorage:  A Honeywell clone 3000 watt inverter/generator, a 400AH 12V bank, and a no-name chinese inverter/charger (which has done remarkably well).  Thats done well for us so far, but its not up to weeks of operation and has only been used for 20 hour outage.  It certainly wont run an entire house though:  maybe enough for the furnace and the fridge.

With a lister clone I'll be the one starting the generator until I get a foot pedal electric start set up, then I'll train her to start it up. 

Buying a natural gas standby genny will double my costs, and I dont think those will run for two weeks straight anyway - at least the ones I can afford.

Sfene

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2011, 01:01:06 AM »
When I was a MK in the Coast Guard we had Lister St3 and Sr2 air cooled gensets on the island lighthouses off of the Maine coast. The only mods these units had was a 50 gallon lube oil tank and a dry sump lube system like in a race car or an aircraft engine. They would run 24/7 for 3 to 4 months straight, we would do a P.M. and then run the other one for the same time. Reliability was amazing, the only casualty I can remember (25 years ago or so..) was an under frequency problem on Mount Desert rock in February. (a sea story in itself!!)

These are dead reliable and LOUD. Not a problem 20 miles off shore but give it some thought if it will be near your house.

I can't think of another engine I would rather have if reliability was the prime thing.

Not nearly as much fun as a CS clone though..... ;D ;D

Sfene

Apogee

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2011, 04:04:10 AM »
I was also going to recommend a Lister SR.  They are known to go about 30,000 hours between rebuilds.  With your wife's situation, I'd be looking for something that is rock solid from a reliability standpoint and also is DESIGNED for electric start.  The SR series meets both of these characteristics and is also fuel efficient.  Food for thought...

Short of that, I'd be looking at a new Perkins, CAT, Onan or Lister unit with an 1800 rpm head on it.  Basically something that has parts easily available in case they are needed.

Welcome to the forum!

Steve
« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 04:08:06 AM by Apogee »

SHIPCHIEF

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2011, 04:52:53 AM »
I have an 6.5Kw SR2 US gov't contract unit just like Sfene & Apogee describe. I got it for $800 complete from a craigslist ad.
Turn key electric start. I'd advise that you start with that, then look for a "roid if that's what you want.
Having a twin, I'd suggest you get a single.  :P
I keep an eye out for interesting engines, and Lister(oids) are fun, but not the only ones.
Honda key start gas generator might be the final emergency generator for the wife.
I have electric start Onans that used to reside in motorhomes. Cheap!! These relaible units are a bit smelly, and use a tad more fuel. But I like the relaibility of last resort, and ease of maintenance.
Aw heck!! COLLECT THE WHOLE SET.  :D
Ashwamegh 25/2 & ST12
Lister SR2 10Kw 'Long Edurance' genset on a 10 gallon sump/skid,
Onan 6.5NH in an old Jeager Compressor trailer and a few CCK's

ronmar

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2011, 07:02:56 AM »
When I was a MK in the Coast Guard we had Lister St3 and Sr2 air cooled gensets on the island lighthouses off of the Maine coast. The only mods these units had was a 50 gallon lube oil tank and a dry sump lube system like in a race car or an aircraft engine. They would run 24/7 for 3 to 4 months straight, we would do a P.M. and then run the other one for the same time. Reliability was amazing, the only casualty I can remember (25 years ago or so..) was an under frequency problem on Mount Desert rock in February. (a sea story in itself!!)

These are dead reliable and LOUD. Not a problem 20 miles off shore but give it some thought if it will be near your house.

I can't think of another engine I would rather have if reliability was the prime thing.

Not nearly as much fun as a CS clone though..... ;D ;D

Sfene
Oooh, that brings back memories(retired ETC).  Helped Install two of those here in the northwest back in the 80's. I worked on the ACMS system that controlled those lighthouse packages...  Noisy, but oh my god reliable:)
« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 03:01:37 PM by ronmar »
PS 6/1 - ST-5.

dieselgman

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2011, 02:29:47 PM »
There are a range of 1960s through 1990s Lister air-cooled sets that share the legendary reliablility features mentioned. Choices between them would rest primarily with horsepower and kW required. Do not overlook the HRs, they are large and bulky but have 2, 3, 4, and 6 cylinder versions for a good wide power range. Here is some additional food for thought... The major communications supplier in Alaska uses these as a final fail-safe machinery in their remote mountain-top installations that are mission critical. They have done so for at least the past 35 years and they have the resources and breadth of experience to choose the absolute best in the world. HR2 and HR3 = bulletproof. Alascom replaces all of their primary equipment on a routine basis but keeps the old Listers in those installations for the dead-on reliability factor they provide. If you need small and efficient, then ST1 would be something to look seriously at. In either case mentioned, there are no problems with reliable parts supplies.

dieselgman
« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 02:33:44 PM by dieselgman »
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Simtech

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2011, 02:08:09 AM »
Please forgive me for a stupid question then, but whats the difference between a SR and a ST?  I'm sure its blindingly obvious but I've been doing all my research on listeroids.....

Can they also be run on just about any kind of oil?

Looking at youtube they're both pretty loud

Edit:  Also, where can I find one?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 02:09:40 AM by Simtech »

ronmar

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2011, 04:57:24 AM »
Type "Diesel Generator" into craigslist, and they will start to crawl out of the woodwork:)  There was a twin down in I thing Sandy OR the other day...
PS 6/1 - ST-5.

dieselgman

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 07:06:12 AM »
SR models preceded the ST in production... SRs basically through the 60s, STs From the 70s. The ST is a higher horsepower and more robust overall design on the same basic footprint. Of all the older air-cooled units, the ST has the best reliability and most solid internals.

These smaller air-cooled engines are less forgiving of alternative fuels than the Listeroids - SR and ST are direct injected, combustion chamber is actually in the piston crown, ports are small and more likely to choke with carbon, and yes... the mechanical clatter from these is much louder than the water-cooled varieties.

You can get water-cooled SRs and STs but they are relatively rare except in maritime service.

dieselgman
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mike90045

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 06:45:45 AM »
I'd forget the clones, and hold out for a real Lister. 
For a long run, reliable inverter, the XW6048 can't be beat, AFIK.

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cujet

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Re: If you knew then what you know now, what would you buy for backup power?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 01:18:40 PM »
I feel the listeroid 6/1 is the ideal listeroid. Simple, reliable, easy to maintain.

That said, if I were to do it over again, I'd purchase a name brand, commercially available small diesel genset. I'd certainly consider one of those Isuzu 3 cylinder diesels directly coupled to a very high quality generator head. Similar to this but smaller:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Isuzu-3CE1-Yanmar-3TNV88-12kw-Diesel-Generator-Set-/300567457737?pt=BI_Generators&hash=item45fb376fc9
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