Author Topic: Best Off Grid Set Up?  (Read 6467 times)

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FoggyNotion

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Best Off Grid Set Up?
« on: April 10, 2017, 03:10:22 PM »
I'm gonna do it.
Going off grid.
Tired of paying high prices to cover their "smart" meter instalations.
I want recommendations on starter kits which can be added to (expanded)
Best voltage to use, what all I will need.
Best places to aquire such things, etc...

Family of 4 (kids are small)
electric stove.
use computer alot.
TV an hour a day.
live in the North West, heat will be electric (sometimes)
but mostly oil or wood burning stove.

Your time will be rewarded
with the "pay it forward" system.
(Wink)

Mary B

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2017, 03:16:29 PM »
Start by measuring how much energy your appliances use, get a KillaWatt meter from amazon. Ditch the electric stove, using that on solar is a non starter. Go propane or natural gas if available. Teach the kids to turn the lights off and unplug all battery chargers/computer power cords when not in use because they can add up to a significant load. Computers and monitors should be swapped for energy star models, my monitors are LCD and the back lights suck a lot of power(~100 watts each). I need to replace them with LED models when I have the cash. Electric heat is another no go on solar battery, uses to much energy. Get used to hanging your clothes out to dry because the electric dryer is another energy pig...

DamonHD

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2017, 04:43:12 PM »
The usual experience is that being off-grid is expensive: grid power is cheap.

With various efforts, including extensive efficiency measures (do this *first* as it's cheap and some of it is free and instant as Mary suggests) that mean we use about 1/3rd of a typical neighbouring house, and solar PV which more than covers our entire energy usage (grid-tie and a little off-grid), it would cost at my last estimate about 250k, ie maybe a cool 1/3rd million USD, to go completely off-grid with batteries* and eliminate the last 500/year (USD600?) of our utility bills!

A little of our journey:

http://www.earth.org.uk/saving-electricity.html

Rgds

Damon

*A bit of an extreme case, not using generators, instead carrying power from summer through to winter electrically.

Warpspeed

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2017, 05:26:36 PM »
As others have already said.  First step is to monitor the power usage of everything in your home.

Then start to work out alternatives to the very heavy power consumers. Yes I know, its nice to use your electric stove and your electric heater, but doing so will potentially add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building a system powerful enough to support those through a long cold winter.

Building a very large system that costs several  tens of thousands of dollars is not a good way to save on electricity bills, you will never get that back, ever.

So first up, plan to use alternative fuels for anything that requires heat.  That includes cooking, home heating, hot water, and things like tumble driers.
Second step use more energy efficient appliances. LED lighting, a more efficient refrigerator perhaps....
Its a lot cheaper to replace a thirty year old refrigerator with something that uses only a quarter of the power and works better anyway, than to require a massive inverter and battery to run the old inefficient dinosaur refrigerator or washing machine.

You don't have to buy new. E-bay and similar places you can find efficient modern low energy appliances perhaps only one year old for half the new price.

Take your time. I was able to HALVE my electricity consumption by making a few changes that made no real difference to lifestyle.

After about a year of minimizing electrical demand, and monitoring usage patterns, you will have a very good idea of what you need to meet those energy requirements. Only then can you begin to plan on the size of the system you will need.

Its still going to be VERY expensive, and cost a lot more than simply using grid power, you need reasons other than just financial to go off grid.

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2017, 11:22:24 PM »

One way to cover your power use without having to change every appliance you have or turn into some pedantic power watching Miser ( which the kids will never do anyway) is to get yourself a Diesel Generator and run it on waste oil.  This way you can run the electric stove, the clothes dryer, heating etc  AND charge your battery bank when it gets low.

The slow speed listers and the Chinese Horizontal engines are popular Choices.  Many are now getting on to using small industrial Diesels like Kubota's, Hatz and many others. Thermo king reefer containers have the Kubota's in them and can often be had cheap that way.
They both run well on Waste oil, have low fuel consumption, last forever and are easy to repair when they do need maintenance. Being water cooled they are easy to use in a co gen system as well. I also have a OM617 Mercedes engine I pulled out of my veg car when I realised it was rusted beyond repair I will get around to setting up as a co gen unit.  Ran that for years as a Veg fueled Vehicle and the engine is still in great shape so will provide loots of Veg fueled power and independence yet. Vehicle engines can be easily and cheaply had and there are governors and controllers to convert them into great generator engines.

Waste engine oil is generally easy to get especially from places like truck service centres.  The other green pleasing ( sometimes) fuel to the environmentally concerned is waste vegetable oil from restaurants. Been running that in vehicles engines and burners for coming up to 15 years now and it's a great fuel. Like anything not commercially used and packaged, it does take some learning but once you do, it's fantastic fuel.  Some say they can get plenty of one and not the other so follow the golden rule and secure your supplies and stocks first before you worry about finding a suitable generator. Check with your local authorities  and yada yada if you are the pedantic worrying type.

There is a really great forum on diesel generators, off grid setups and  things in general that has a real friendly, family feel to it at http://listerengine.com/
Several of the guys there sell engines like you would want and plenty of people can tell you all about their years of experience running either engine or Veg oil reliably and with minimal hands on time in processing and how to avoid problems. There is a great and ongoing thread on one guys account of running waste engine oil and his experiences that has been going on a long time now. Loads to learn there alone but he has a couple of Gennys now fueled by "Sump Gunk" as he affectionately calls it and runs his whole property on this fuel source.

The other thing you can easily do with waste oil is heating.
I have made a bunch of Burners  that are suitable from everything from cooking to running an over sized furnace well beyond what anyone would ever have in their backyard.  I have converted  Domestic gas water heaters to run on oil as well as pool heaters that can supply more than enough heat for ANY house.  I'm just starting on another burner ATM that I am going to aim to produce 1200KW output from.  I think I'll actually be able to surpass that easily But I'll probably have to get a 2-stroke blower to provide enough combustion air beyond about 1200KW. No practical use other than for a brick Kiln or installation in the boiler of the heating system for a high rise building or shopping centre but should mak a great YT vid.  Most of my other burners are capeable of  10-300+ Kw with the largest doing more than 600KW. Don't know how much more, at the time that was as much fuel as I could supply but it would do over.
For comparison your average Olympic indoor pool has a 200Kw heater and your average Home wood burner would be under 20-40 Kw. Domestic electric heater is going to be 2 Kw.

Many people whom have no experience with waste oil will go on with all sorts of misinformation about it being overly time consuming, messy, a hazzard to health and life on the planet and other ignorant rubbish.  I'm not saying it's effort free, nothing you do in an off grid scenario will be. There are ways however of setting up systems  so it's minimal hands on time and no mess or problems.

I have been looking into using forklift batteries as an alternative to the more expensive types. Here there are places that do used packs in the 30KW/h range for about $2500. I have no experience with them but based on what I have read, they may be a very under valued alternative.  If you have spent enough time on the net you'll realise everything suggested and recommended is always the Highbrow, Best, most expensive, one way of thinking way to do things which is a lot different to reality.
Sometimes taking the cheaper, not as long lasting path works out better.  Several things I do are like that but if one looks at the longest lasting option Vs the replaced 3 times but 1/5th of the price option, you'll see that best is not always the smartest or long term cheapest option.

A forklift pack maybe ideal for your first off grid battery bank anyway. Being cheaper you can get a few years out of it to figure out what you really need and what is involved and if you need to go to something different or better, you have the least money tied up in it
Also having a waste oil fueled generator, You always have power for those big loads or when your bank gets low.  Some of the guys now are doing auto start systems that monitor their battery banks and kick the generator in as needed.  Back in the '50s they had the Lister Start o matics that only came on when you flicked the switch for an appliance and turned off when you shut the appliance down. Would be easy to modify one of those to kickj in for high load appliances to supplement an inverter system.

A waste oil Fueled Diesel will give you all the power you want and ensure the lights are never out when you want them. If you set them up as a co-gen system, you can take the heat from the coolant and exhaust to make sure you are never cold either. This also makes the engines VERY efficent and couple that with a waste oil burner for water heating and home heating, Oil becomes a great energy source and the cheapest you'll aver come across.

It's still not free but its Very close to it and available 24/7.

There is one other aspect to a waste oil fired Genny, particularly if your motivation is saving on your power bill.
You can set the genny up so you stay on the grid for convenience but offset your bills  by making your own power as well.
I have been back feeding for years.  Run the genny and my old fashioned spinny meter runs backwards effectively giving me credit on the power I make for use at another time.... say in the middle of the night.  This will only work if you have the old analouge type meter, smart meters that I am aware of  have to be set to allow back feed and I'll guarantee 99% are not unless they are set that way for use with solar..... which is probably unlikley that they should give you a fair 1:1 return.

If you have a smartarse meter you are still able to produce and use your own power. You can either set it up to sync with the grid ( Very easy and cheap) so say when you run the dryer, water heater or AC, your own power is used first and any extra or supplemental is provided from the grid.
You can go a step further and just have a transfer switch installed where you disconnect from the grid and power everything from your genny.
At night say when you are just running lights and the TV, you switch back to grid power and shut the genny off.

These ways are much cheaper than a total off grid setup but allow you to be independent of the grid ( backup for power outages)  and save on your bills.
I get a $150 a quarter bill and we leave lights on, run the AC, pool pump, security lights, Never shut off out computers, and do whatever we want.  Most people here are paying $700-1000+ a quarter and they are trying to SAVE power.  I'd go nuts running round plugging in and taking out every little power pack and watching every bit of power we used. I have far better and more interesting things to do than preoccupy myself with saving every watt of power and constantly whine to the kids endlessly because they left a light on.   Bugger that for a joke!

I have also set up a solar system to back feed and reduce my power but just a few months into it, I can well and truly see the limitations of that!
We have had rain for about 90% of days over the last 6 weeks and the solar hasn't generated as much power as I could outdo with my genny in one short days run.  I have been very tight with what I have bought in the way of used panels and I had inverters already. I went to buy another system just last weekend which was very cheap for what it was then I thought for the cost of that I could buy yet another little Diesel and a Motor to use as a generator and generate far more power with that over it's lifetime than I could with the solar setup over the rest of my lifetime most likely.

I am looking to buy acreage atm so I may look at the solar thing again with a view to a larger array as a stand alone, make a roof out of it or put it on a roof if I get something that faces the right direction.  With or without, My lister and other little engines will always be the most reliable and straightforward way of making power and keeping my bills low for me.

OperaHouse

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 12:42:23 AM »
Better kiss and make up.  Let's start with what your electric bill is now and what you don't like about it.  I live off grid in the summer and it is a lifestyle change.  I pay for my system with what I would normally pay in monthly basic service charge.  Batteries will cost you 13 cents a KWH so right there the system doesn't pay for itself.  I power things real time, no sun it doesn't operate, and that is where you can save money.  My system works because it is very complex and I make real adjustments to life.  PV supplemental hot water is about the only thing that is cost effective. Grid is a deal.

clockmanFRA

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 12:59:57 AM »
Nice posting 'george65'.   ...... Its good to here real experience.  :)

Hi 'FoggyNotion',

I constantly fall fowl of the retail brigade, who, on other Forums insist that this or that manufacturer is the best equipment to install, and its gonner cost you mega bucks to go off Grid!.

In the end, here in France, I ended up making some of the serious equipment myself.

Batteries are a conundrum, but here we are experimenting, cost effectively of course.
 Certainly a good used forklift battery bank, say 48v, is an excellent start.

Again I have been putting some thought into a "Make your own Battery....." type of info, but keeping each battery at say 50kg/ 100lbs, an individual can manage that.
As polypropylene tanks and polypropylene socks for the plates are readily available, and can be cheaply made to any size and are cost effective. Some thing for my retirement days I think......



Everything is possible, just give me time.

OzInverter man. Normandy France.

3off Hugh P's 3.7m Wind T's (9 years).  .. 5kW PV on 3 Trackers, (5 yrs) .. 9kW PV AC coupled Used/SH GTI's, on my OzInverter created Grid, and back charging with AC Coupling to the OzInverter to my 48v 1300ah batteries.

Warpspeed

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 08:29:37 AM »
Diesels are dirty noisy smelly high maintenance things that need refueling every day. 
Good luck with that idea.

Bruce S

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2017, 08:54:31 AM »
george65;
That write up should have it's own posting!!  :)
I have had people try to tell me all sorts of  similar information about waste oil. While I owned my wonderful '84 5-cyl 300TD; I read a ton of stuff then went about teaching myself how to clean up the oil and use it in the car. Even in the ice-filled winters.

Warpspeed ;
I can prove you wrong all day long.. 8)
A kind word often goes unsaid BUT never goes unheard

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2017, 09:53:01 AM »
Diesels are dirty noisy smelly high maintenance things that need refueling every day. 
Good luck with that idea.

You make it sound like it's doomed to failure rather than the mainstay of countless homes and properties for the last 100 years.

Let me take a stab at this.....

1. You lived on a farm as a boy and part of your chores were to start the generator, refuel it every day and look after it. 
Maybe you lived off grid and had to do this as an adult and didn't like it?

2. You are not mechanically inclined and hate petrol lawnmowers as well.

3. You have no experience with diesel generators at all but have heard/ read bad things about them.

Diesels need to be none of these things if set up right and given a bit of care.
A quick wipe down now and then will stop them being dirty. If you are talking about emissions, completely untrue if run on veg oil, if run on diesel or anything else, no worse than any other engine in a whole range of applications.

Noisy? Have you ever been round a lister? Mine is probably 3m from the lounge room and you can't hear the thing. It's not even enclosed.  It's muffled properly on the inlet and exhaust and sounds like a grandfather clock.  Yes, the china diesel is louder being aircooled but when run in the garage it's quite enough that neither I nor the neighbors can hear hear the thing over the traffic out the front. We aren't talking some 500KW Deutz screaming away here, just a little 3-10KW unit. 

Smelly, I like the smell of diesel fuel not that you should have any if you have a proper setup without leaks. As for the exhaust, petrol has a smell also and  on my veg fueled engines, it smells like Donuts or Chips. Of course the chances of you getting a wiff of exhaust on a properly set up system are very small indeed. You pipe it such that you don't catch any exhaust.

Refuel every day is completely subjective. I can run my Lister or china diesels for days out of a 25L drum. If I had something decent like a 60L tank, I could run it close to 3 days 24/7 at 3KW output without refueling.  If you have some little portable diesel generator, yes, you would have to refill it every day but then again, if I drive my car for 6-7 hours all the time, I'd have to refill it every day too. Even if I had to pour some fuel in a genny every day, I don't see it as such a terrible chore. But again, I'd just have a decent size tank to eliminate that in the first place.
The idea is to set up to minimise the work required.

 I guess in fairness one could also say Solar is dangerous with its high voltages/ currents,  expensive, needs a lot of support equipment and very non dependable.
Wind would be the same only more expensive, laborious to setup, also very unpredictable and requires a lot of support equipment.
Hydro, much the same except would be more predictable and dependable as to output. 

High maintenance...? You don't have a lot of experience with diesels do you? The reason they are so popular in critical applications is because they are LOW maintenance.  Compare the maintenance  of a diesel engine to a petrol engine in the same application. Well, you probably can't because no one uses a petrol engine to do a diesels job. What would be your weekly Maintenance? Check the oil and water? Theres 60 second if you are slow. Monthly, maybe an hour changing filters/ oil. What else are you going to do?

I can't even think what you could base the high maintenance comment on. Diesel require nothing extra than a petrol engine and the service times are always longer as is the longevity of a diesel over a petrol engine between rebuilds. If you are comparing a diesel to solar, wind or Hydro, then you would also be looking at batteries for those which would require maintenance as well.

Weigh up your poison. None of them are perfect or completely hands off like the grid is.
 I'd also say good luck going off grid with a battery setup and not running out of power sometime without a generator. Spose you could do it in certain limited areas of high sunshine or wind but you may also have to spend a lot to give you the capacity of when it does rain or gets still.

The one thing that wins a Diesel genny over for me is all the power I want anytime I want the power and for as long as I want it.
You may be able to do that with Hydro but how many people have that very desirable option available to them?  Hydro, in a perfect setup for it, would certainly be my first choice apart from the fact of how few places there are where you can get all the water flow you want at all let alone all year round.
But even then, you'd still be cleaning screens probably every day or so, lubing bearings and doing other checks.

Some of us actually like a bit of hand on DIY and like to do things for ourselves.  Others of course just want to pay someone to do things for them and never have to lift a finger.
Those types definitely are best staying very much on grid....  and on town water supply and sewerage and gas and.... Suburbia.

Mary B

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 07:20:57 PM »
We had a 12 cylinder cat Diesel generator at the casino. One of my jobs was to check the fault panel and exercise it once a week. That thing ran for 12 years before they had to replace a cylinder and that happened when one of the guys in the shop dropped a screw down the air cleaner and didn't bother telling me. Of course it sucked it in... That was an expensive repair, they had to slide it out of the power room to work on it. Guy who dropped the screw was caught on security camera and lost his job. That generator was critical for us because of the frequent power outages. It was a trip to be in the power room when it fired up, you would hear the slats on the radiator slap open and have just enough time to grab ear muffs. Only had 1 fault other than the blown cylinder, that was a problem with a generator head bearing that tripped a temp sensor... Generator powered the casino and the power grid for the rez, if memory serves me it was 1,000kw...

Warpspeed

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2017, 08:07:22 PM »
George,

I have spent two years away on Antarctic expeditions, all the electrical power down there is from diesel, all the vehicles are diesel as well.  Everyone down there has two jobs, a primary job, and a secondary job to fill in for someone else if they are ill, away on a field trip, or dead.
I was the head radio guy and my secondary job was to fill in for the diesel guy that runs the powerhouse.  Pretty used to running up a second diesel alternator, synchronizing it to the one running and changing over,  Fuel is critical, and crappy fuel that contains lots of suspended solids, like used sump oil or cooking oil is going to play hell with injector pumps and injectors.

So Yes I have two years part time PRACTICAL experience running a diesel power generating plant.
Not big machines, two x Ruston Hornsby 40 Kva and a Lister 15 Kva. 
What is your relevant experience George ?

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2017, 04:27:30 AM »
Fuel is critical, and crappy fuel that contains lots of suspended solids, like used sump oil or cooking oil is going to play hell with injector pumps and injectors.


What is your relevant experience George ?

Yeah, I thought you had been stuck with some job you didn't want to do and got a resentment of Diesel Generators.
Obviously you wanted to stick to your Radios and not go out in the cold getting your hands Dirty filling in for the engine Guy. Understandable enough.
You would have had fuel in drums and I expect those gennys would empty a drum a day or they were running day tanks which may have been heated or  in the gen shed to be kept warm although arctic Diesel is a lot different to normal Diesel mainly being kerosene with anti gelling additives like Jet-A1. Did you have a hand crank pump in the drums to refill the genny? That would not have been fun winding them over either so I can well see where mention of diesels would bring up less than warm thoughts given what you had to do with them.

A big old Ruston driving a 40KVA alt would surely put out a lot more noise than the engines I am refering to but I don't think there would be a lot of people putting in that size Genny for their regular off grid home let alone multiple of them. Even if they did, I surmise the engines you worked on were in containers and were near deafening inside but far quieter outside and you couldn't hear them in the buildings you inhabited anyway.


My relevant experience is running waste oils for over 14.5 years in my everyday vehicle(s) and never having to replace a worn injector pump yet and only a set of injectors that I was told needed doing when I bought the Vehicle and eventually I got a stuck injector. Put new injectors in the thing and it ran like a stung cat. I turned the IP down quite a bit and it still went the same as before.

Obviously one does not run filthy fuel through their engine unless they are terminally stupid. I guess that's a misconception of people whom have never used waste oil but have made up their minds to rubbish the idea anyway.
I filter my oil CLEANER than the standard for Pump Diesel.
I also make sure the oil is dried as Veg oil unlike Diesel can hold suspended water and nearly every of the hundreds of lots I have picked up Has had suspended water in it.  I dry it as a matter of course. The fuel I produce is so dry that you can add 1 or 2 drops of water to a cupful and test it and it still passes.

 I don't run garbage through my engine, not that stupid no matter what some people who don't like the idea want to make up.
Clean fuel is one of the proclivities of people that run waste oil.  The mind set is not to tip rubbish in their tanks but rather to go to over the top lengths to make the fuel more clean than standards require. Many also heat the oil to thin it which in a lot of cases is unnecessary if one looks at the viscosity standards issued by the pump manufacturers. They also start on Diesel and shut off on it to avoid problems that are more imagined than real in most cases. Myself I run straight Veg oil with the addition of 5-10% ULP on occasion.  5% ulp brings the ignition timing of the oil back closer to that of diesel which is helpful as most people don't re time the engine for oil.  In winter if it gets real cold I may add up to 10% ULP to help mainly with starting.
Most of the time I don't worry. If the engine takes a few more cranks to light off it gives the thicker sump oil bit more of a chance to prime and come up to pressure when the engine does light off. Seems many people want the thing to light soon as they look at the key but having been involved in racing where you wound the engine over to get oil pressure before you switched in the ignition, I tend to think slow starts are a plus not a problem.
Thing always starts in a predictable manner so that's all that counts to me.

I have built a small, compact and cheap to construct processor that I merely tip the fuel in, set it going and come back 30-90min later and it is done. I then pump the fuel into 25L drums or an IBC and it's ready for use. I change the on board fuel filter on my car every 6 Months as a preventative as I get the filters for nothing anyway. They are a little underrated for the full power of my vehicle so I keep them clean to prevent loss of top end power.
As I have the engine on my vehicle Dialed up for extra grunt, I also have been running a DIY water injection system to remove any deposits from my engine. I have only taken down one small China Diesel due to a Cracked Cylinder ( that of course all the Naysayers will blame the fuel for in an attempt to prove their point) which I also ran WI on.  The Piston, Head and ring lands were so clean they looked like they had been buffed with a clean rag.
Lots of people whom don't know anything about WI rubbish that will all sorts of fear mongering but reamin ignorant to the fact it's been used for decades on everything from Cars to Aircraft to ship engines.  It's still Currently used on a LOT of ship engines and BMW just put it on one of their performance Vehicles.

In doing WVO for so long I have seen all types of excuses and BS about waste oil wrecking pumps and engines and all the rest of it. The people whom do run it, and I have several personal friends I see all the time running it, have never had any such experience. It's the old thing of sledge what you don't know and believe every negative thing your read to defend your position.  That's more than fine with me, if everyone was on this then oil would be hard to find and I wouldn't be able to enjoy it the way I do.  I have no reason to want everyone doing this and apart from the misinformation people like yourself spread, really don't care who uses it or who does not.

I did work out many years ago the economics of running oil.  I took a 2 year prediction of engine life as someone said would be all it would last running on oil. I worked out the miles I did, the fuel I used ( which I have always kept a log of) and the cost of a new/ rebuilt engine.  Forgetting the fact the truck had almost 550K Km on it when I got it, I worked out that if it lasted 2 years and fell over, I would still be marginally in front.  I had that truck 3.5 years before I sold it to get a better equipped unit of the exact same make and model. That one I have now had 5 years.  The last one I did a starter motor on and a clutch in the time I had it. Must have been that oil destroying the engine again.  This one I changed the injectors, have put a clutch in I was also told it needed when I got it, put tyres on the thing and took off the failing clutch fan and put electrics on it. Put an improved water injection system on it.
I am up to 60K Km on this one now and it's at 440K km.

I have heard a lot about oil killing engines and shortening their life but the thing that never fails to make me laugh at such attitudes is no one can ever tell me how long an engine should last.  How can they say it shortens their life if they can't say how long they should last in the first place? The ones that have thrown numbers out there I have always beaten substantially.

I am hoping to buy a used engine for my truck this weekend.  I am going to swap it for the one in it now and then do my engine up and re fit it. Yes, an arse about way of doing it and certainly not the cheapest, but the thing is sentimental as well as practical and comfortable and I couldn't give a damn about the cost, I want the old girl with it's original major parts just as when I got it.  I'll upgrade it with the heavier duty aftermarket  forged rods and pistons which are much stronger which replace a known weak point in this engine, have the head re done as the valves are starting to get a bit leaky ( damned Oil again!) and I will have it ported and rebuild it with a different turbo which mine is also getting a bit tired having been fitted from new 20 odd years ago that does more low end grunt which is where I drive the thing.

I'll fit a heavier duty clutch, replace the worn engine mounts, install new alternator, PS pump, uprated and compensated Injector pump, Radiator from a much bigger V8 I already have so it will never get hot and I'll have it all balanced so it's smooth and will rev if I want it to.  I specificaly do not want a a horsepower monster but I'll make the easy and sensible improvements so the thing will be as good as it can be drive-ability and reliability wise. When the engine is ready I'll send the gearbox out to be freshened up and the bigger input shaft and bearing now available installed. I'll also look at fitting bigger 4 spot brake calipers.
It will cost around $10K all up but I will have an as new engine and box that will probably last me the rest of my days and have at least 50% extra power over stock which will make it a lot of fun to drive.   The cost will still be cheaper than buying something newer and less reliable or strong and saving upwards of $4000 a year on fuel costs that I have averaged in mileage every year for years, I'll get a pretty quick return on my investment.  Add to that the Mrs and I are thinking of going away on more trips together which will probably see more miles, not a hard decision to make. If we turn into grey Nomads and want to pull a van around, we'll be able to do it easily and very economically.

I have also been running waste oil in my Lister, Hatz, Lombardini, Ruggerini and 4 Chinese Vertical and horizontal stationary engines for well over 10 years. More recently I have been Blending it with Diesel in my Fathers Iseki Tractor.  Only comment from him who doesn't know I have been putting it in the thing is it has been running a lot more quietly and smoothly lately.

I wouldn't recommend waste oil in electronically injected engines but for mechanically pumped units there is zero problems. All the IP's I have come across on stationary engines, (and I have a few of them now!) are all basically the same simple plunger types. They are tough as nails and almost impossible to break. That said, I am also aware of a company in Germany that are making conversion kits for modern electronic engines to run Veg oil. From what I can see, there is no change to the fuel system at all and they just run some different fuel mapping and bigger fuel pumps or boosters probably to handle the extra Viscosity.  I might look into this some more with a view of buying a cheap electronic injected Vehicle for the Mrs to run round in and see how it goes. Even if I blend with 50% Diesel, still halves the cost of fuel.  Better alternative would be just go buy drums of Jet fuel as it's cheaper and thinner than diesel anyway therefore reducing the viscosity further for a given amount than Diesel.

One thing where oil kicks diesel out of the park is Lubricity.
Modern Diesel is dry as hell now and the reports of problems from it's wear inducing properties are more than common knowledge.  Studies have been done that show as little as 2% Veg oil in diesel improves it's lubrication to the IP and injectors I think it was 32x.  Using straight or even 50% Blended WVO or WMO  puts the numbers off the chart and could not help but to increase component life.  As mentioned, No one puts as collected oil through their tank, You process it first to remove contaminants and in my case and others I know, our fuel well and truly exceeds the standards for particulate matter, moisture and overall cleanliness as required for pump fuel.  Those that centrifuge their fuel would have an even cleaner product but it becomes a moot point when you are already exceeding the requirements by at least 100%.

Rather than the fable of destroying IP"s and Injectors, the reality is they are so much better off from a wear POV running oil over pump diesel, there is no comparison. Add to that the increased Viscosity of oil over diesel and its also known that you can push a pump further than what you could on diesel because the oil will help keep the pressures up in worn IP's.

As for oil being dirty or contaminating fuel systems, the complete opposite it true.  In veg circles it's well know you either have to clean your tank and lines or you are going to be changing filters regularly when you put a car from Diesel to Oil.
Diesel leaves Black, tar like residues that the oil shifts. Takes a week or too but eventually loosens it up and you have problems with constantly blocked filters till it all passes..... and there is LOADS of it. People call waste oil dirty  and rubbish but the reality is that ( fuel quality) processed oil leaves tanks clean and shiny. Diesel leaves a load of filthy black crap.

On my first converted merc I had this problem. Persevered with changing filters DAILY for 2 weeks then when that wasn't enough I pulled the tank and blew out the lines. The amount of garbage I got was incredible.  Since then all my veg cars get the tank cleaned and the lines blown out and Caustic run through them to get the gunk out.  I can get 10L of yecch no problem.  Nothing in comparison to my brother in laws boat.  He has 2x2000L tanks in the thing and a 1000 up the front.  He pulled out a 44 gallon drum of crap from that when he got diesel bug and had to do them. He crawled into the tanks with paint scrapers and a shovel to get it all out. I used to inspect the tank on my vehicles every year between Christmas and new year when I do the annual service like changing diff and gearbox fluids etc but I don't bother now. They have never been anything but shiny clean once the diesel gunk has been removed and they have run oil, even with the occasional run on engine oil when I have too much given to me just for my burners and want to get rid of it or am short on veg. 

There is no doubt that waste oils given proper pre filtering are a perfectly viable fuel and cause None of the problems people accuse them of.  I have yet to see or hear of a single engine failure caused by veg use. Yeah, there are loads of accusations but when you look at the cases, you always find they are nothing to do with the oil at all and a little further digging turns up loads of cases of the same engine that has never been near oil having the exact same problem.

I also worked out years ago how well oil pays me.  People go on as if you have to spend every waking moment finding and processing oil.  It's ridiculous.
Collecting I do about once a month.  Might spend an hour cruising around, might spend 2 depending on how much I want and how far I go to get it. Sometimes I can be home in 30 Min with the months supply on board. Most times take me a couple of trips and an hour. Again, depends wether I want 400L or 1000 to top up.  I generally try to have full reserves of about 4000L going into winter then I don't have to collect again till spring.
The longer the oil settles, the cleaner it becomes.  I normally put though about 2500L of oil through a 1Um filter that costs me 8 bux.

I Fill my 200L drum manually from the settling tanks because I want the exercise. Takes about 10 min walking back and forth and filling and emptying. I can pump it, I just prefer to not to be too lazy and it gives me some resistance and cardio exercise I can well use. 
From there I set the pump going which circulates the oil and filters it and dries it as it goes. In ideal conditions it can be done in 15 Min while I'm doing other things.  Mainly depends on the humidity and how wet the oil is. Filtering doesn't take much and the turnover of oil through the filter is high.  Mostly I give it a min of 90 minutes. Once the processor is loaded I can do whatever I want. Don't have to be there, I can go out and let it do its thing.  If I have to process when it's wet and cold and shitty, I might let it run all night.  haven't had to do that in a while. When the oil is done I change a valve on the processor and pump the oil into the drums through the filter so there is no possible way any molecule hasn't been through at least once.
I used to do a water test on every batch before decanting it but I haven't bothered for a long time now. I know the processor, been doing it so long,  I can read the weather and the oil and on the odd occasion I do a test for shits and giggles, it always passes with flying colors.  Of course many people don't dry their oil and still have no problem.  I like to be careful and as I have the processor set up to filter and dry and it takes no extra effort, why not.

The only time I don't dry my oil is when I'm interstate and running short and have to do a pickup on the road.  I can look at what is there and know whether it's OK or to look for another source.  Being that this oil goes in with the other I am certain of the quality of, any moisture content is going to be reduced a lot anyway.  Being I am on the road, the oil will be burnt quickly and not have a chance to sit round long enough to cause corrosion or growth problems in any event. Fats hold a lot more water than straight clear oil so as long as I don't pump slop, I'm safe as houses.

If I look at the cost of Diesel here, been around $1.20 a liter and my hands on time, call it say an hour all up to process 180L, ( which is way over estimating,) it's not hard to work out that I'm pretty much on doctors wages if I considered my time as so many harp on about. I don't consider it because obviously this is my hobby not my living and if I did it full time I'd make  a better than average wage with it.  Of course the other thing to consider is if I was working that hour in a regular job, I'd also be paying tax at better than 33%.  I do an interstate trip of 2500km all up every year and it usualy costs me about $20 in fuel because I will add some petrol to the oil when I get there because I always go in winter and want to stop any fat dropout in the cooler temps and the thing is loaded so I want the better performance.

One thing that hit home to my Son years ago was when he was doing his practice driving hours. Here learners are required to do 120 Hours practical driving experience under supervision before they can get their provisional license to drive on their own. My son had his way before any of his friends.
We would go driving any time we felt like it,  wherever we wanted. Frequently I would pick him up from his burger flipping job and we'd go driving for an hour or 2 depending on how he felt.  Often we would go on oil runs to make the trips more worthwhile. I had more oil than I could use from this and passed on the proceeds to a couple of mates whom never had so much in reserve ever before.

When my son got his licence before most of his friends including those that were up to a year older, he started asking why they hadn't got their hours up yet?  The reply was that unlike him, they couldn't rack up 6 or 12 hours a week driving around just to get hours up, they could only get their hours in at an opportune time when the family had to go somewhere because their parents could not afford the fuel just for them to drive around.  We never thought of this but when we worked it out, we could see the significant expense involved if we were buying fuel.  If we had to buy it, we would never been able to afford it either!  My son always was a bit dismissive of my oily proclivities until that time and realization of the cost of fuel set in.

Of course once he had his license and was going out, I hardly ever saw my truck. He always took that and left his car because it saved him the expense of fuel.  Of course all his mates wanted him to run them around as well.  At first I was annoyed he made a welter of it but then I realised while he was driving, he wasn't boozing up like a lot of them so I was happy.
Being a smarter kid he also took advantage of the free fuel situation.  A group of them wanted to go away for an end of school celebration.  My son said he would provide the transport and everyone else could cover his share of accommodation, food and drink.  As part of the trip was camping, he also threw in the sweetner of my covered trailer so they could take all the crap they wanted.  Being the truck is a 7 seater, it was an offer too good to refuse for the other 6 so my boy got the trip for free basically.  I filled the tank on the truck and put another 200L in the trailer and they went everywhere they wanted and beyond. 


At home, oil allows me to reduce my power bill from what would be a certainty to be over $1000 a quarter to $150. I watch the meter to make sure I'm not in credit and have questions asked. In winter the house is warm and cosy and we often have windows open. I have a small Pool heater with a converted burner I made which I circulate the water through and into a very admittedly bogan looking car radiator at the back of the house with a couple of fans on it turned around. This is because the outlets of the radiator face the wrong way and it's easier and neater to run the hoses straight out than put bends in them. Having a straight shot with the fans into the room makes for better heat dispersal in the house. I was in the process of making a cover for it so it looked better but it's become a talking point with friends and visitors now so I'm not worried.
I can push as low as about 7Kw of heat which can be a bit much but as low as the burner is capable of some completely impractical output like around 80KW.  Could do significantly more if I increased the size of the Hoses from  the heat exchanger. The electrical consumption of this setup is under 300W
The next thing I want to look into is an absorption cooling system so I can cool the house as well as heat it by burning oil.


For fuel for my burners and heaters, the only processing I do with that is strain it through some felt.  All I have to do is get the larger particles out and it's good to go. The Burners I build have no fine jets or orifices to clog so the once through the material is enough and a settle reduces any water content also to be of no issue.  I tend to burn the waste engine oil people give me and I get from my own vehicles and my fathers business.
Sometimes I use it in the stationary engines and the China diesels particularly don't care one bit what they are fed.


I guess if you have a bad experience with something you'll always be adverse to it but if you like something and embrace it to work out the problems and solutions for them, then not only do the problems go away but you can have a lot of fun and enjoy the benefits they offer. To me and a lot of other people that is a feeling of security and independence and really getting something valuable for nothing.

 I love my diesels, all of them and the bottom line is they along with the waste fuel I run them on has given my family and I a better quality of life and indulgences we would not have been able to afford otherwise. It's given me a hobby and interest for a lot of years that has in fact paid hugely rather than been an expense. The exercise I get carting fuel drums around and doing things with this seems like fun rather than the chore of deliberate exercise.

Filling a diesel tank everyday for me would be something I'd be grateful for and feel a smugness that I am getting a whole load of benefits from that most other people don't get to enjoy or take advantage of.




And you thought the first post was long Bruce!  :0)

Bruce S

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2017, 10:34:43 AM »
FoggyNotion
IF we get too far off course let us know !!
Posts of the sort from george65 that have massive amounts of

George65;
With my eyes messed up from service; these posts takes me a while to read through.
I can say they are a treat to read!  8)
I do have some questions about the burners and filtering tho.
I made use of an old school bus internal radiator and 12Vdc fan to move the heat around. Lovely little thing.

Just waiting to see if the OP minds us going on about your setup.

Cheers;
Bruce S
A kind word often goes unsaid BUT never goes unheard

Warpspeed

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2017, 10:53:09 AM »
Yes George, you cannot just pick up a free bucket of oil from your local fish and chip shop and pour it straight into your diesel fuel tank. Although that is often the first impression people sometimes get from the whole "waste oil" concept.

You really need to be fanatical about the whole clean dry filtered fuel thing, which is fair enough if you want your engine to last. And grease in the oil can clog filters, so its all far from simple.
But for many people that just want to go off grid without a whole lot of extra constant work, there are arguably better ways.

Having a great thumping diesel running 24 hours out in the back shed is rather like living next to a freeway, airport, or railway line.  After a while you just don't hear it consciously. Its there, but its something that is soon ignored. And down south, the powerhouse was the warmest building on the whole base.

As for an aversion for oil and engines I am a bit of a car nut.  But there is a big difference between going out and polishing my pride and joy at weekends or when I feel like it, and having to constantly keep monitoring, fueling, and maintaining a diesel power plant every single day.

I much prefer solar. 
No moving parts, no refueling, completely silent, no exhaust smell or regular maintenance, and nothing that can really suddenly go catastrophically wrong.

Mary B

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2017, 01:56:50 PM »
George, can you start a separate thread on the heater? Some pictures and details? That way we don't derail this one.

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2017, 06:11:12 PM »
Yes George, you cannot just pick up a free bucket of oil from your local fish and chip shop and pour it straight into your diesel fuel tank. Although that is often the first impression people sometimes get from the whole "waste oil" concept.

Yes, that is often a myth perpetuated in Media reports.
I think any intelligent person that does 5 minutes reading on the subject soon realises how different the case is with the endless amount written about oil processing.  As I said, for most people in the game, having their oil impossibly clean is a badge of honor and I have read of very few problems caused by dirty fuel.  Many people Process and test their oil to standards that commercial Diesel won't pass. My own is 5-10 times cleaner than commercial diesel and has a lower water content.

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You really need to be fanatical about the whole clean dry filtered fuel thing, which is fair enough if you want your engine to last. And grease in the oil can clog filters, so its all far from simple.

Many people, most in fact don't dry their oil. Most of my friends don't and as much as I'd like to hold my own ways being superiour, they have suffered no failures in many years of doing this for me to point to.  Most people are Fanatical about their oil, no question but plenty are a bit hit and miss and still have no problem other than going though fuel filters with regularity.  Thats the job of the filter, to protect the IP  etc and that's what they do.     

Fats can block filters but again, if you allow for the problem, it isn't one.
On the last truck I set the fuel system up to run on oil with a high fat content as I had easy access to fats at the time and wanted to extnd my liquid oil supplys.   It's only an issue when the ambient temps are below about 20-25o.  Above  that dry fats become Liquids. On the other truck I had a heat exchanger I built which was way overkill for the job. I could start the engine with the pickup in liquid fats and by the time the fats started clogging the filter, there was enough heat coming out of the head going through the HE to melt the fats and eliminate the problem.  I have since found that the addition of 10% ULP does the same job.

It tends to keep the fats in soloution down to the lowest temps my vehicle ( or stationary) engine sees and anything that has dropped out is mixed with enough liquid to allow the engine to warm up sufficiently so the heat melts the fats before it blocks the fuel supply.  The transition is seamless. In cold areas obviously one would pay due diligence to their processing and ensure fats were eliminated or the fuel system was set up accordingly.  In a stationary setup, the problem is very simple to handle. You can start on Diesel or liquid fuel, let the engine warm up and have a system where the fuel or the fuel tank is heated and change over. In practice on vehicles, one can start on Diesel and change over even before they start if they want because by the time the fuel in the lines and filters has been used up and the oil is present at the IP, the engine has warmed enough to melt any fats so again there is no problem.

One thing I used to do on my vehicle and engines was use a metal can fuel filter and sit it on the exhaust manifold.  that put heat in the thing straight away.  Unlike what many carry on about, it won't over heat the fuel to hundreds of degrees like the exhaust runs at because there is not the direct thermal contact area to transmit enough BTU's to do that and there are other things like air passing over the surfaces etc so it can never happen.
I have also run copper pipe along the length of exhaust pipes and rather than the predicted hotter than the sun temps most predict, the problem was I could not get enough heat into the oil to get it to the temp of around 800 I wanted.  Wrapping a round section of tube around another round section of tube provides very little contact area and the heat transmitted is more radiated than directly transmitted.

On my stationary engines where I have suspected fats may have congealed Such as on my little chine diesel I ran for some time on a few hundred litres of Duck fat I was given which is pretty solid at ambient temps, I just hit the metal fuel filter and Injector pump and lines with a small blow torch to get some heat into it. Clerly you use your brain and don't burn the hell out of everything as you only need to get the system warm and not even to the temp it will reach when running normally.  The thing is fats need not be a deal breaker and are in fact easily dealt with particularly in a stationary situation.
I would have no hesitation to run a stationary engine on fats if I could get a good supply. Fats actually have a higher calorific value than veg oil and make a great fuel and even you would love the warm cooked meal smell they give off which is quite different to the veg oil aroma.
               

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But for many people that just want to go off grid without a whole lot of extra constant work, there are arguably better ways.
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Arguably.  For you it's the end of the world, for me it's pretty much fun. Those wanting to go off grid without a a whole lot of extra work I think are kidding themselves and should stay ON grid.  I have never been off grid but I have enough experience with DIY power to know there is always going to be a lot of extra work in it over the nothing you do for grid power.

I set up a solar system. It's boring. Nothing to do, not much to learn.  From my POV, unreliable as well. As I said, over the last 6 weeks, I could generate more power in hours with my smallest genny than what the solar has put out due to the weather. Not everyone has good sunshine. If you live in a place where it snows, for a good 3 months a year your solar setup will be useless..... unless you want to go out every day scraping snow off the panels.
Makes refilling a generator sound like the much better option to me.

Quote
Having a great thumping diesel running 24 hours out in the back shed is rather like living next to a freeway, airport, or railway line.  After a while you just don't hear it consciously. Its there, but its something that is soon ignored. And down south, the powerhouse was the warmest building on the whole base.

You are either being deliberately or ignorantly Obtuse.
No one is talking about " a thumping great diesel " here sufficient to run a base camp in the antarctic. I doubt any home off gridder runs their generator round the clock and hydro and Wind would only be running in the small hours to charge batteries.  What we are talking about is something 1/4 the size or less of what you were working with.  I doubt there was much attention paid to silencing them either given their situation in the most isolated place on earth.  Very different to suburbia or acreage.

 I have already said my engines can't be heard from the house 10 ft away or nearby the garage they are in but you want to push the maligned idea that every diesel Genny out there is going to sound like standing next to a locomotive going up a steep grade. For the benefit of others interested in reality not personal agenda's, I'm saying again as someone whom has them, they do NOT have to be Noisy, Dirty, smelly or anything else you have against them.

My Brother in law has a  3 cyl diesel genny of 20KW on his boat.  You can't hear the thing from 2 ft away. Literally. It's under the cabin floor and in a sound enclosure. You sit right on top of it. The water lapping on the side of the hull when the thing is moored can be heard over the generator. You are more aware of the vibration of the thing than the sound.  Of course the reason you run it is to provide power for the AC, TV or other appliances so the sound they make drowns out anything the genny produces well and truly.  Every large cruiser has a similar setup and if they were loud as you say, then people just would never have them.  When the boat is underway, the engines are magnitudes louder than the generator yet still at an acceptable level of Db not to be unpleasant.

Your own experience does not automatically make everyone elses pre disposed to being the same.
Have a look on YT at the MANY vids of CS listers which are a very popular choice for off gridders and see how quiet they are. Plenty of people running them in suburbia in a garden shed that show you when they close the door things things cannot be heard at all.

Here you go, Found one for you!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2682AwYJ7w
Notice when the guy is standing at the door of the shed with the thing running, you can still hear the birds chirping in the trees well further back.
That alone tells me it's not the thumping great ear splitting beast you are worked on.

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As for an aversion for oil and engines I am a bit of a car nut.  But there is a big difference between going out and polishing my pride and joy at weekends or when I feel like it, and having to constantly keep monitoring, fueling, and maintaining a diesel power plant every single day.

No question there is a big difference but it's hardly comparing apples to apples is it?
Your weekend car is not something you depend on to give you a modern and comfortable lifestyle.  An off grid generator surely is.  Even if you have solar, there is still batteries to check and other regular maintenance. Of course if you get the 6, going into 7 weeks of weather we have had with maybe 5 sunny days in that time, you may find your solar is falling a bit short of your electrical needs.
I would suggest again, those that are averse to a bit of extra effort would be well advised to stay ON grid and just pay whatever power bills they get and be happy.

Quote
I much prefer solar. 
No moving parts, no refueling, completely silent, no exhaust smell or regular maintenance, and nothing that can really suddenly go catastrophically wrong.

No sunshine and you're screwed basically.  I think when it's a choice of no power or fueling and checking the oil on a Generator, most people are going to be happy to take the trade off.

I have been looking into solar for the no maintenance reasons you mention. No one wants to do more work than needed. The thing I have already seen is as well as being very convenient and easy, it can also be very erratic and non dependable. I can't rely on the sun shining tomorrow and even if it does in the morning, may not be makeing anything worth while by lunchtime. I have seen 1.2KW out of my poorly positioned setup. most times I have checked over the last weeks it's lucky to be doing 300w. I can make 2 KW all day long out of my little China Diesel and that's small enough I can pick the whole thing up and carry it round.... as I do getting it in and out of the garage to play with it.

I would imagine most people with an off grid solar system monitor it every day and have to be conscious of their battery level and the power they are using. To say you set it up and forget it is again another complete misnomer.  EVERYTHING you do off grid entails work and trade offs. There is no magic, perfect solution and anyone trying to make out there is would be dishonest.

Again, Solar, wind, Hydro, generators are NOT a solution for everyone. I would say though that generators are by far the most dependable and give the best assurance of providing all the power you want, whenever you want it.  From an economic POV, they are the cheapest purchase option for a given output and if fueled by waste oil, may even beat the KWH cost of a solar battery system over it's lifetime.
Hydro may be even better but it's not going to suit every ( many) people just as solar would be near useless for a good part of the year for others just as wind would be completely useless where I am. I could make more KWH peddling a bike than than a turbine would give me here in a year.  I know. My friend nearby tried it much to his disappointment and wasted investment. 

Clearly you don't like generators and given your experiences with them, it's understandable. Don't be misleading and try and put other people off what may be a very valid solution to them though with far fetched and completely inappropriate arguments that are in some cases nothing more than fear mongering.

You don't like generators. No problem, we get it. Just use what you want to use and don't try and create misinformation about things to put other people off just because you still harbor resentment for their use.  Your arguments are getting a bit over the top now and easy to debunk so lets stick to reality and let people make informed decisions based on truth and reality not biased and inappropriate misinformation.

Warpspeed

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2017, 06:40:07 PM »
I strongly object to your claim that I am spreading disinformation.  Pretty harsh words George.

Gasoline and diesel generators definitely have their place, particularly for portable use (camping) where there is usually not much other choice. But the vast majority of people, especially in the suburbs seem to be installing solar panels, rather than installing a diesel generator.  They cannot all be totally wrong.

My only personal experience with waste oil is for direct combustion in a metal smelting furnace. Its a pretty good cheap source of direct heat, no argument there.

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2017, 12:15:25 AM »
I strongly object to your claim that I am spreading disinformation.  Pretty harsh words George.

Sorry, pretty truthful words from my POV and I think I have already well shown why.

If there is anything specifically you'd like challenge in what I have said in reply to your statements, I'd be happy to discuss it.

I agree that LOADS of people in the burbs are installing solar.  It can be a very good investment in off setting power bills. That's exactly why I have been playing and trying to learn more about them myself.

I think you made the key point in what you said however.  They are installing them in the SUBURBS. Very few people in the burbs are off grid. People in the Suburbs install solar to OFFSET their GRID bill, not to go off grid and rely on solar for all their power.
 I'm sure there are many people out there that do get the great majority of their off grind power from solar but I'm equally sure the great majority of them have a generator as well so they can have power when the sun isn't shining and prevent damage to their battery packs from being discharged too long.  A waste oil fired Generator would be much cheaper to run in this scenario same as any other than a petrol  generator or something running on LPG.

Not saying solar isn't a great alternative for off grid, I'm again just trying to make the point and have given examples where solar may not be the best choice and why or that it is completely dependable AND, that generators need not be the the chore and drudgery you make them out to be.

Anyway, I think anyone interested can see the points I have made and make an informed decision for themselves along with their other research. 

Warpspeed

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2017, 12:54:16 AM »
George, there is this wonderful invention you may never have heard about. Its called a BATTERY.

DamonHD

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2017, 01:30:56 AM »
Let's keep this calm please, no shouting.

As was pointed out before, batteries can add significant expense to a system.  For someone expecting power on demand 24x7 batteries may be key, but will push costs up way above grid prices typically.

Rgds

Damon

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2017, 02:10:56 AM »
George, there is this wonderful invention you may never have heard about. Its called a BATTERY.

Actually, I have heard of batteries! Even seen them.  The big ones like you would run your house from do get pretty expensive and are big, heavy and also need maintenance. The big and heavy may not be so much of a problem but the other factors may be more significant.
As I said at the outset, I think Forklift batteries may be a good option to start with as they seem to offer good value for money.

Please continue on Warp. I may not agree with all you say but I'm a big boy and thick skinned enough to handle the way you have said things without feeling offended or emotionally distressed. 
You have been more than respectful enough for me not to get all upset and teary, I trust you feel the same.
Just the way us Aussies are when we are grown up and don't need our hands held to cross the road anymore.  :0)

Bruce S

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2017, 09:46:59 AM »
I'm getting worried we may have scared the O.P. off  :(.
Haven't seen them login since.
I am , however, enjoying the information being posted. :)

George65;
Would you mind posting the model of those little Chinese diesel engines? I'm looking for something as small as my V-twin 16hp gasoline engine. It does not like the e-80 I'm feeding it, must be the aluminum it's made out of.

NOT to stir the pot, but , I do live in suburbia, mandated by the job I currently play at.
None of my neighbors seem to mind the noise when I crank up the engine when the lights go out during our stormy season.

I still have my contacts for WVO and still have my notes and equipment from my cold filtering days.

Perhaps WE (those of us who have done and are still doing this) should start a post ? I do not wish to get the O.P. peeved for hijacking their thread.  8)

Warpspeed;
I can understand the noise issue with the 'NAM era Gensets. Here at work we have two, they are so loud the City forced the department to put them into full-sized storage containers with 2 inches of Pink foam around them for sound proofing.

The newer ones 30Kw at old job; was 1/2 the sound levels.

Cheers
A kind word often goes unsaid BUT never goes unheard

JW

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2017, 05:37:17 PM »
Just a quick question what is the O.P.

george65

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2017, 07:28:25 PM »

OP= Original Poster..... person who started the thread.


Basically Bruce with the Small China Diesels you have 2 main types.  The horizontal ( cylinder) and the verticals.  Both are OK, In my experience and that of the DIY power crowd the horizontals are better.  They are heavier built, come in a heap of sizes and configurations from 2 HP to about 30 and air or water cooled in the smaller versions with all sorts of features on the water cooled like radiator or hopper cooled, Electric or manual start, and other options like headlights for fitment to walking tractors, exposed or covered flywheels, pulleys or ISO type mountings etc.

They also do inline Multi cylinder types from about 20 Hp up in the normal inline layout.  All the china Diesels are Knockoffs of engines like Kubota and  Yanmar and parts for the most part are interchangeable so readily available locally as well as on fleabay etc.
I believe thanks to your maniacal over the top EPA restrictions there is a ban on the import of many small diesels but some people have got around that by importing them in 2 Boxes as parts or " Air Compressors". The engine proper comes in one box, the fuel system as parts in another. assemble them together, off you go.

There are endless suppliers of these engines such as these people and the 1000 others on  Alibaba.
https://cg-dl.en.alibaba.com/productgrouplist-802199721/SINGLE_CYLINDER_DIESEL_ENGINE.html?spm=a2700.8239084.0.0.0ajyUi

Most people using these things modify them in their setup with bigger automotive air cleaners that take locally available filters  and fit automotive Mufflers and duct them out of the gen shed.  Many use motorcycle radiators, I use an automotive type with the original electric fan running through a resistor ( tail light globe) to slow it down so it doesn't over cool.  Some people use the exhaust blowing through a duct behind the rad to pull cool air through it, others tilt the radiator an have a duct that pulls the air through by convection. If you are doing a co-gen system then the cooling will be done by that.
Some people pull the heat from the exhaust as well as the coolant.

The verticals only come as aircooled to 12 Hp. I wouldn't consider them quiet engines but they aren't hard to silence either in an enclosure that is ventilated.  Obviously a water cooled is going to lessen mechanical racket. IMHO the verticals are better suited to Portable/ occasional use and the horizontals are more the permanent setup appropriate and dedicated as would obviously be the inlines.
The little I have found of people using inlines suggests they really need to be taken as a core engine and modified from there.
Seems the engines are fine but its thing like brackets and hoses and clamps and all the external hardware that does not stand up to vibration well.
Change or remount all that as a lot of people do anyway,  and the things seem to give great service.

The emerging strategy with these engines as I have suggested for years is to use a bigger engine at lower RPM  and load it up. Many people carry on that diesels need to be worked hard or foul up and thinking along those lines which probably dates back to the '40's.  A mate of mine was head mechanic in the Main city Dealership for CAT as well as having spent a lot of time in the mines.  I asked him about my theroy of big engine/ low revs loaded up and he said what do you think CAT and others do? He told me how they now just dial in the power the engine has to do through the engine management system and that's it.  Engines now have a HP RANGE rather than a specific output.
Same thing, oversize the engine, under stress it but load it up so it is working at that lower speed.   This keeps Gas flow and operating temps up but the engine is experiencing much less stress than it was designed for.  Also makes them a lot quieter.

These  china engines are tough. They come with a spares kit which has rings, bearings, filters, tools and assorted other incidentals.  The Injector pumps are simple and robust. The work off the cam Via a strong spring which seems Ideal to me. if the viscosity of the Fuel was too high, it simply wouldn't pump it. Rather than something break, the spring would compress and the pump would be fine even if the fuel didn't move.  In a lot of pumps, something would break... and frequently does in automotive designs.

I have run about everything I can through my little engines.  WVO, WMO, Duck fat, Turps and printer solvent, Transmission Fluid, brake fluid, Automotive cocktail including plenty of thick gear  oil , old heating oil, Jet fuel, av gas and WVO mix, JP4 ( you won't find that many places in the world!)  and probably others I have forgot.  Net result? Engines didn't give a damn!
I have run many hours on waste engine oil with a drip feed water injection system and when I pulled the head, the head and piston looked like they had been buffed with a rag. I was amazed myself well and truly.  When running WMO and WVO, I would always suggest some sort of water injection system to keep any buildup at bay.  Even a good spritzing down the intake every run with a spray bottle has shown to be effective in my tests. Always better to have a small constant Water admission though. I saw a post on a site where one guy was using one of those water mister/ fogger things in a tray of water and had his air pickup over that. No chance of flooding the engine as so many worry about and a perfect distribution of the water as well.
He was also experimenting with misting oil for use with a burner but I never saw how that turned out.  I bought one of those misters the other week for an aeroponics system I set up so might give it a go myself.

Probably the only thing I know of that are held in better esteem than these little horozontal engines are the Listers and slow speed engines of old like the blackstones and Witte's ... usually horizontal old school layouts as well. They fetch a Mighty price these days in your part of the world so again a case where you might go through 2 Changfa's in your lifetime BUT they would cost you a 10/th the price each of the alternatives that you would have for life with rebuilds.
Mind you, the rebuild would probably be 20X the cost of rebuilding a changfa type which there are no parts you can't get so in reality it's probably moot point as well.

The owner of the other forum is Currently in China and is looking around for suppliers for me and getting Shipping quotes on engines and Generator heads.  I'm looking at putting a few thousand or so into bringing in a container of the things and selling them. I reckon they would go like Hot cakes Where my father is in the country for all sorts of uses. The alternatives are worth fortunes here and the Changfa's would be a good, reliable and cheaper solution. Parts are not only easily and cheaply available on the net, they can be had from the local diesel engine suppliers as OEM parts. Not the most economical solution but certainly a reliable one.

What do you use your Petrol engine for Bruce? Are you off grid or just offsetting your power bill?
Chances are the reason your engine does not like the E 80 is because the jetting would need to be changed and Ethanol requires a different mixture to Petrol ( richer) and Ideally the timing should be adjusted as well.  I have found Ethanol and mixes to be completely Lousy fuel.  It pulls moisture out the air so much it always give problems with wet fuel, it attacks so many seals and rubber components and as said, the mixture needs to be changed which on a lot of small engines is not easy to get or change jets... especially thinks once again to the idiot EPA that mandate the mixtures let alone jetting  not even be adjustable.

FoggyNotion

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2017, 09:02:03 PM »
Wow, a lot to read  (and I will)  I read a few already but spent a lot of time trying to log in, it wasn't letting me.  First off, let me say I intend to lose the electric stove and electric heat, (stove comes with the rental, and I plan to move) and will pick up a wood burning stove somewhere, I use to find them free on occasion, in craigs, from people remodeling who just wanted them gone, they were never the coolest looking ones, but functional.

I guess I wanted my question to be more oriented to what equipment I would need, from the generation, to the battery bank, to the house.  And what voltages for what reasons.  I may have to put a huge used motor home on the land at first, before I build anything. And I am looking into buying the land now. 

My electric bill is much higher than $600 a year.
I'm paying almost that per month in the winter time, and my power company can't explain why, which is why I'm going off grid.  I'm on well water and there is a pump which has its own meter, and the rest of the house is on a nother meter, so I am on two meters, and all winter I was paying like $265 per month (per (each) meter) and the power company won't tell me why (or cant) and certainly don't care as long as they get paid, and will shut me off if they dont.  They do agree it is unusually high.  I think that pimp is supplying water for the other 6 houses around me, all of whom have the same last name, and I rent from one of them.

I will write more when I read the rest of the replies, thanks for all of them.

ontfarmer

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Re: Best Off Grid Set Up?
« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2017, 03:50:42 AM »
Thanks  JW  for asking the question about  O.P.    Always figured it was me.