Author Topic: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option  (Read 527 times)

Tanman

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So I've been on a learning journey of alternative power for a few years now. That is what lead me to this forum. Through my research I have found a theme of "fandom" of alternative energy ie solar, wind ect. however, for a lot of people these types of power producers are not practical. For example, I live in a residential neighborhood with lots of trees so wind and solar on my house would be an absolute joke. Hydro is not an option either (as it is for most people). That left me with one choice a backup generator. I scored a 5kw diesel Yanmar L100 engine about 2 years ago for $400 with 1 hour on it (retails for 4-6k). After the fact I started to do the math of how many gallons of fuel I would go through to keep that sucker running in a power outage, I was quickly discouraged and realized I could only keep it running for a couple days at most with my on hand fuel supply. This lead me to do a lot more research and I discovered an old gem, the Delco-light farm power plant. This has to be one of the oldest commercially sold home power systems. At that time (1920s) there was no PV or wind generators to slap on your roof. But there were good old lead acid batteries and engines with generators/alternators. These systems were solid and gave many years of useful service. This concept seems to be the best option for long term (1 week +) power outages. Pick the fuel efficient generator of your choice coupled with an inverter-charger, batter bank, inverter charger, and a transfer switch and you have a pretty simple and solid backup power system. I figure for $1.5k you can get a fair amount of 6v golf cart batteries, another $1k for a good inverter-charger, hook that to a manual transfer switch ($200) and a generator that needs a little work can be picked up very cheap. You will have a system that will kick the shorts out of just a plain backup generator or a PV/wind system (depending on location). All for the cost of a good new generator at retail price. So I'm planning on selling a few of my generators I have and putting those funds in to a battery bank and inverter-charger. I would love any input, comments, or rebuttals on this style of system so I can improve my plan.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 06:54:33 PM by Tanman »
Yanmar L100-5KW set
Kubota EA300
Chinese 1115-8KW stamford
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broncodriver99

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2020, 09:06:07 PM »
I have been on the lookout for one of those myself. Kohler made them as well in both AC and DC variants. I have come to the same conclusion as you. While I do intend to have enough solar to carry the constant loads and offset some of the evening/night and seasonal loads a good back up generator has always been in my plans. The weather here is just too unpredictable to rely solely on solar. I like that those little light plant sets range from 1-2kw. Seems they would be pretty efficient if one had to run it for a couple of hours a day.

The only drawback I can think of is that one is stuck storing Gasoline. Diesel is much easier to store long term and Propane stores pretty much forever. I plan to have a couple of options as far as a back up generator. I have several diesel gen sets and a couple that are Gasoline/Nat Gas/Propane capable. I don't want to limit myself to one fuel. Plus a back up for a back up is just, well, ......

glort

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2020, 10:29:53 PM »

 I scored a 5kw diesel Yanmar L100 engine about 2 years ago for $400 with 1 hour on it . After the fact I started to do the math of how many gallons of fuel I would go through to keep that sucker running in a power outage,

First comment would be that those engines IMHO are not a good choice for a home generator.  I have 6 or 8 of the knockoffs and they are inefficient for a diesel and noisy enough to wake the dead. On the upside, They are a diesel and can be run on WVO or WMO or a blend so fuel cost can be zero to half at worst case scenario.  Being aircooled you will NEVER shut the things up because it's not the exhaust that makes the noise on those things, it's the Mechanical Clatter. The exhaust is very good at silencing but I also suspect the design is so poor that fuel economy could be improved by  getting rid of the OEM exhaust and Re designing something more free flowing using a small car exhaust.  Be just as quiet or better but allow the engine to breathe far more efficiently.  The exhaust on the Chinese petrol Motors is also a Nightmare flow wise.

The other thing is, How long do you want to be able to run one? Unless you have a set goal for that it makes it hard to know what amount of fuel you will need.

I also find it hard to imagine that a petrol engine is going to be more efficient/ economical than a Diesel.
You have to compare apples to apples though.  If you were comparing the fuel consumption of the 5 Kw yanmar to that of something doing 2KW, then the will be a difference.  If you run the diesel at 2Kw, Then it's apples to apples.  I would also suspect at low outputs like when charging batteries which will take a long time with a generator without the right controller, A diesel would be more efficent by a fair way.

I'm currently Burning Veg oil in my little Kubota I KNOW I put away over 10 years ago.  I know it's over 10 years because I know the drum and how I got it with a mate but I don't remember when it was exactly. I have a feeling it could be over 15. Actually, there is a way I can find out but anyhow. (Seems it was 2007 I put it away)  If you try to store petrol a long time you can run into problems.  You would want to " Rotate" it using the reserve for current needs and replacing it with Fresh. Not hard just takes a system.

Storing Petrol makes me a lot more wary than Diesel or Oil.  I'd happily shower drums of diesel or oil in sparks from a grinder or welder all day long.  Petrol I am far more wary of and not that Fking stupid. Like everything, its fine if done right but there is far less margin for error put it that way.  Drum of diesel leaks and no big deal.  Drum of petrol leaks and you could blow the shed to kingdom come just opening the roller door. Not against petrol but no denying it has an inherently higher risk factor if something goes wrong especially stored in qty.

I would far more recommend a Horizontal single Cylinder Diesel for what you want. They are chalk and Cheese to the vertical Cylinder types. You can get them in water or air-cooled. I have both and they are my favourite single Cyl engines.
Obviously anything water cooled will be infinitely easier to shut up and keep quiet as you can easily enclose them.

The one that really impresses me and I'd bet betting my life on is the little 3 Cyl Kubota.  Just in love with the thing. Don't have a bad word for it.  Very  smooth, quiet, compact, powerful, watercooled, reliable...... Expensive...... But worth every cent.
The other thing with a water-cooled is you could use them for Co-generation in advent of an outage in winter if you have a suitable location close to the dwelling to set them up.

 
Quote
You will have a system that will kick the shorts out of just a plain backup generator or a PV/wind system (depending on location).

Although I recognise you say you have trees, the depth of the shading is the key.  If you can get open sky even if shaded, panels CAN do OK. Yes, they will be down BUT they are so damn cheap to buy used ( literally throwing them away here)  That if you have some space you can set a bunch of them up and still get good power.  Even if you set up 4 Kw worth and only got 1 KW ( and shaded  open sky you will do a LOT better than that in summer)  It's still very worthwhile power especially for topping off batteries.

And that is something you may want to consider. A battery pack will want to be float charged so you'll either be using mains power which will virtually  evaporate through the self discharge or you'll be running the engine..... For a short time from cold every fire up.
To me, some solar panels Make a LOT of sense because for charging/ topping off, you don't need very high output anyway, just a more constant one.

I'm sitting here now looking at the Batteries I set up yesterday on some panels.  It's early so the panels have not see sun yet but it's a clear day and the sky is bright and already I'm making good power and the batteries ( small setup as it is) are all floating . Once the sun gets up I can start pulling decent power off them.  I ran them down a fair bit last night to test things and am very pleased to see how fast they have come up.

I have also done away with charge controllers. Instead I am using Buck converters hooked directly to the batteries.  These things are connected to 37V 250W panels.  I adjusted the max output to 14V and hooked them direct to the batteries. they bring the battery's up to 14V and just float them there.  Working very well.  The beauty is they will do 20A and far cheaper and better than any solar controller even 4X the price.

I wouldn't write solar off completely. If you have somewhere some panels can see clear sky, for your purposes they still hold a lot of advantages.
I also agree with your Idea of lead acid batteries. I find all the time people going on about lipos but in all honesty I think that's more to do with ego and impressing the assembles masses than anything else.  I had an " argument" last week with a guy that laughed lead acid was old technology and that Lipo was so much smaller and lighter.  I asked him to please tell me how small and lighter would be any advantage at all when they were going to sit is his large shed anyway and the lipos were 3x the cost.

If ever I put in a serious battery system I'll be going straight for a ton of forklift batteries.  Cheap, reliable, well understood and worth decent money as scrap when they are finished!

For a back up system I wouldn't go too hard on the batteries.  All you really need is something to get you through the night without going into too much discharge on the pack. Then in the morning your generator can be fired up or the panels do their work and charge it up again.
To me it's pointless these days trying to go for days of storage especially on a backup system.

The other thing is what voltage you going to run your batteries?  I would suggest 24V is ideal for this. Plenty of low cost components available without the price hike and far reduced selection of a 48V system.  12V is too low and creates too many problems with amperage.

Keep us posted on what you come up with.

Tanman

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2020, 11:53:05 PM »
Thanks glort, I'm sure I could get away with a few panels on the roof. I do have a lot of shade and trees but some used panels are available. I'm defiantly going to do a diesel generator, currently building a Kubota EA300 geny right now. As far as voltage I saw leaning towards 48v but am defiantly open to 24v. I'm not familiar with buck converters at all, if those are really good I'll have to think about using those. As far as charging the battery bank with a generator I liked the idea of an all in one inverter charger, but if you used buck converters you would need a separate 24v inverter and a separate Ac to DC charger to charge the bank with a regular 110v/220v generator.
Yanmar L100-5KW set
Kubota EA300
Chinese 1115-8KW stamford
96 Suburban 6.5 turbo

glort

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2020, 12:05:13 AM »

Sorry If I created Confusion. I was only thinking of the Buck converters for the solar side not the generator.

I guess the bank voltage depends on the price and availability of stuff in your area.  Also would depend on what you want to run.  2-3Kw 24V inverters are cheap, 48V takes a big price hike.

Also you would have to think about your generation. If you get an all in one Might be ok.   If you were going to use solar though then you would have to go to a more expensive MPPT controller.  I -think- I have seen 60V Buck converters ( but might have been pwm controllers ) but pretty sure they were only 8A.  That would do for 2 panels in series though.

Price of petrol has plummeted here.  Normally around $1.30 per litre, Mrs Filled up for .93C yesterday.  Wondering how low it might get to.
Have a couple of clean 200L drums up the back.  Might look at filling them for reserve and cost saving.  They can sit up the yard out of harms way where if anything does happen, the grass will be the only victim.

Will have to check the price of Diesel too.

Tanman

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2020, 03:03:27 PM »
It seems that diesel isn't dropping as fast as gasoline. I wonder why, isn't it all based off the price of crude oil?

Anyways, here is one of the units I was looking at to be the "brain" of the system:

 https://www.ebay.com/itm/110Vac-2400w-24V-Solar-Power-inverter-80a-MPPT-solar-charger-60a-battery-charger/131951259033?hash=item1eb8e86d99%3Ag%3AkWUAAOSwKetbKG%7EE&LH_ItemCondition=3

It will charge that bank with PV and or 110v AC power from a generator or the grid and has 110v output from a built in inverter. This seems to be the most straight forward option, and it would do everything you would need the system to do.
Yanmar L100-5KW set
Kubota EA300
Chinese 1115-8KW stamford
96 Suburban 6.5 turbo

glort

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2020, 04:10:17 AM »

I have seen/ heard of these before. I think they are called Pip controllers here.
I was looking at them the other day for a guy that is trying to go off grid.  I learned that there is the Taiwanese version as you linked to and a Chinese knockoff version of the Taiwanese original... as incredible as that sounds.
The Taiwanese version is supposed to be a LOT better and the Chinese Version problematic.

Looking at the link, the first thing that strikes me is the solar input connectors. They look very small to be carrying up to 80 A. The thing does list an input voltage of up to 145V so by running your array at say 100V, you'd knock that amps at max power output to just 24A which seems much more practical. I'd go one better myself and put on an extra panel  for around 120V.  190/ 250W house panels tend to be about 30V VMP so 4 of them would be spot on and pull the amps down to about 20.  This will also reduce the cable size needed  2.5 Mm will handle 25A easily.   I always run my arrays well up on the voltage for this reason.  Easier on the cable and less losses.  Also easier on inverters to drop voltage than increase it.

That would be 2 arrays to get to 2KW but I'd run 3 if you had the panels.  Inverter does not care about amps, only volts and panels are NEVER going to make rated power so to get the full 2 Kilo output without hitting the batteries, you'd definitely want a minimum of 3kw of panels going in and all of my inverters are Double clocked to allow for winter fall off. Can't see that hurting for winter or bad weather.
Used panels are so damn cheap now but inverters are not so best to get the most out of them in my book.

I would suggest doing some research on YT about these things.  I haven't got around to it yet but that is where you will get the real story, from people that are using them. I know here there are also a few people that do the 18650 DIY power walls that use them as well so might find some reference to them on those forums and other off grid boards.

The auto generator start seems like a real good feature. No doubt they have all sorts of monitoring which so many seem pedantic about now.

Diesel has come down here a bit but not as much as petrol. I guess the majority of industry is still using it here and the reduction in buying hasn't hit full effect yet. I'm keeping an eye on everything.  I discovered I have a bunch of Drums up the back I had forgotten about.
They may come in real useful. I have plenty of oil so a 60L of Diesel would be fine and a couple of 200L drums of petrol would be good from a supply and future savings POV.  I was saying to the mrs about watching the price and stocking up last night. I said once this is over, I can see the price well doubling especially if refinery's are closed down or shipping interrupted.

If it gets to the .8X c L mark here, I'll be stocking up on it as a future investment for sure. 


Tanman

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2020, 04:47:31 AM »
Thatís a good idea to stock up. There is actually a business where my family is from where you can buy as much fuel as you want at todays price and use it over time. You basically pay for it in advance and come get it with a card as you need it.

There are also more expensive and better built ďpipísĒ/inverter chargers available from companies like Magnum. But they are typically $1700 US for the unit. 2-3kw of solar would not be possible in my location, small suburban lot, not a ton of good roof space, my roof has 4 planes, so only one small section faces south. Iíll do some research on the Taiwanese units and maybe pick up a big drum and fill it up with fuel!
Yanmar L100-5KW set
Kubota EA300
Chinese 1115-8KW stamford
96 Suburban 6.5 turbo

glort

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2020, 12:42:10 PM »

Are you wanting to do this to go off grid or as backup in case of outages?

If it's to go off grid to save money, you'll NEVER do it.  Expensive as grid power is, it's still considerably cheaper than DIY....  Especially if You are solar limited.

If you want to offset some of your power consumption, still going t be hard to do it cheaper than grid especially if you have limitations on your land and resources.

Yes some of those controllers are Crazy priced.
The formula I look at with knockoffs is , will buying cheaper but more often save me over the price of the better unit.
If the Quuality" Unit is 4 times the price but only last twice as long as the cheaper version, then cheaper is.

The old adage of getting what you pay for is complete and utterly redundant these days.  I OWN equipment that is far better than the OEM and 1/3rd the price.  The reality is that the OEM should be cheaper, not the knockoffs.
I can also say I really can't remember anything half decent in equipment or machinery I have bought that hasn't been reliable or long lived.
I'm sure there are exceptions and maybe I have been lucky but THAT is MY experience.

I consider something like even a knockoff inverter a substantial purchase so I would research it. They may be great or they may be crap.  Best to find out before you put your money down. Might well be that the most expensive option IS the cheapest after all.

Not likely but you never know!  :0)


mike90045

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2020, 04:28:39 AM »
Battery bank voltage is determined by the AC system load.
1kw = 12V
2kw = 24V
+2kw = 48V.
 
This is because of the DC amps thru cables to power the inverter.  12v into a 3KW load needs massive cables to carry 250amps, and if you really believe the inverter has heavy enough cables inside to not burn up in 10 minutes, have fun with it.  (only 62A at 48V battery)

If your loads are only a couple hundred watts, 12V and a small 500w inverter would be fine.

glort

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Re: Slow speed alternative fuel engine + battery bank = powerful option
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2020, 11:55:33 AM »

and if you really believe the inverter has heavy enough cables inside to not burn up in 10 minutes, have fun with it.  (only 62A at 48V battery)

I would have to agree with that. I have seen many and different devices that applies to.

I repaired a number of car amplifiers in my younger days for friends whom blew them up.  The things would have warnings of Using massive gauge wires to them but you would take off the lid and the wires on the inside , both input and output were like  human hairs.
No matter how short the run they weren't going to carry half the power stated.

Seen that on straight inverters and other power controlling devises as well.
Another give away on fleabag inverters and the inevitable over rating is Fuses... for the ones that still have them.
The rough conversion for inverters when it all works out is 10% conservatively  IE, 1KW output @ 240V is about 100A.
You then see 2Kw or more inverters advertised and they have a total of 60A of fuses on the input side.  Ahhh, NO! That isn't going to allow for 2KW from 12V at all.

The other thing is they will rate an inverter for 3000W. in the fine print it will say surge, 300w Continuous. Physical size would give that game away.


I did look into the PIPS a bit more and so far what I have seen including reviews from people that have had them 3 years is they seem to work well and reliably.  The Taiwanese over Chinese manufacture is clear but the ones from Taiwan seem seem like decent units.