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Home Forums General Discussion off grid with Stirling

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    Everybody talks about solar. i live in a northern region with 6 months of winter and 1.3 sun hours per day during that winter. Yesterday a dealer quoted me $50,000 for solar panels necessary to provide power to a normal house.

    To put it bluntly that much money will buy me 10,000 gallons of diesel even at $5.00 /gallon imperial. My generator only burns half a gallon per hour Before I have burned that much fuel the generator will have worn out. At 20,000 hour run time to charge my battery for the inverter this will last a lot longer than I will live.

    Environmentalist will condemn me for burning fossil fuel but suppose I ran biogas from my chicken and cow manure. That is carbon neutral.

    An even better approach is to use heat from wood since I need to heat the house anyways. I was told about a Swiss product that burned wood pellets for heat and generated electricity with a Stirling engine. Perfect! That is until I found out the company was not allowed to sell into North America. Bummer.

    Subsequent research shows this technology has already been used in India south east Asia and China so why not here?

    Seems to me that a Stirling engine using heat from a wood stove would serve nicely in regions wher it snows part of the year. Despite 8 years of looking i have yet to find something affordable. Two manufactures are quoting prices of $10,000 and $14000 except one of them is notcurrently producing a product and is not even taking orders. A Stirling engine generator is no more complex than a comparable power diesel engine. I can buy one from my local china clone store for $1000 so why can’t I find a Stirling engine equivalent?


    How many kW (kilowatts) is the array the solar power guy quoted you?

    There are some excellent deals out there in solar IF you know where to look and what to do with them (self install) to help maximize the influence of your dollar spent.


    I think you missed the point. I was posting about Stirling driven generators working in a CHP system for times and places where the sun don’t shine.

    When you only have sun for a couple of hours a day and that sun is less than 30 degrees above the horizon solar panels require a disproportionate larger panel than for same household much closer to equator.

    The aside about solar panel quotes originated because I was calling the solar distributor regarding a quote I was putting together for a customer.

    You are absolutely right there are cheaper systems available but right now most solar dealers are pushing grid tie in various forms or another. They do not think things through. And the very expensive quotes tend to discourage a lot of potential people.

    In northern rural areas we often see storm damage that results in power outages lasting many hours or even days. A lot of wood heat systems now rely on circulation pumps or fans so they too are affected by grid outages.

    The advantage of a stirling engine generator being that as long as the fire is going you also have power.

    My frustration stems from not being able to find a supplier who can or will sell into North America.


    Looks like you may have to build your own;


    Dustoffer, that particular book is not the best example. I realized I might have to build something myself over five yeas ago. The gentleman who wrote that particular book spent $2 million of US foreign aid money trying to build such a thing in Bangladesh in an unsucessful technology transfer effort. The result failed to perforn as expected because he saw fit to modify the design without permission of the original designer. While browsing the web I found several links to this project and the at times acrimoneous debates over how this project should be carried out. The book is more about how this guy spent a lot of money getting inferior results.

    There was a 5 HP Stirling engine manufactured in India almost 20 years ago but the factory has long since closed. The Ohio company that originated the design told me they have no plans for manufacturing any product for the US domestic market. They prefer to concentrate on the US military and aerospace applications. The Philips company in Holland also built a kerosene burning Stirling engine generator but discontinued it in the sixties or thereabouts.

    I do not have the money or access to a machine shop to build my own at this time. I have had blue prints in my posession for several years now.

    What is needed is a manufactured product off the shelf that people can buy with assurances of factory service support, spare parts and a price tag that does not exceed what they would spend on their whole house.

    I can buy a chinese clone diesel for $1000 so a $5000 Stirling engine should be possible. Apparently they are also being built in China but not for sale in North America.


    Its not a Stirling engine but a TEG thermo Electric Generator.

    This is really clever!

    Sometimes smaller is beautiful and this product definitely wins a place on my short list of products to keep handy.

    Friends have a wood stove and the heat is dispersed with a Cafamo brand fan which is powered by a TEG. Now this wood gas cooking stove makes its own electricity to power a faan that provide draft air flow to make the burning process efficient.

    As most of you know I live in the far north where the sun doesn’t always shine for several months in winter.. Besides, in winter it is nicer to cook indoors. Even if you had a solar panel to power the fan it does not work after dark. This stove fills a need.


    I see no reason why a person couldn’t run a steam engine generator if you have the fuel on hand (wood, gas, coal). Its not as efficient I hear as converting the wood to wood gas and powering a combustion engine generator. But it still produces power and it is an alternative. Its something I’d like to try some day. I hear that modern steam boilers implode instead of exploding and they have better or more dependable pressure release valves.


    I like the idea of thermoelectric generators although I suspect that the amount of power that they can supply will be small. Are you not able to use a wind generator?


    In the mid 1970′s new studies showed that HCFC was perhaps safer for use in homes but more damaging to the environment. The combination of hydrogen, carbon, fluorine, and chlorine create what is known as a fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbons have been monitored closely over the last 40 years. Thorough research has proven that their damaging effect on the ozone layer is a major threat to the environment. This finding quickly gained the attention of the federal government who stepped in to strictly regulate freon and other HCFC refrigerants.

    Who Regulates Freon

    Freon is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. The EPA works as part of the United States government to develop solutions and create laws to protect the environment. It is the EPA who declared freon was an Ozone Depleting Substance which must be “phased out” slowly. To do this properly the EPA joined forces with the international efforts to eliminate ozone depleting substances called the Montreal Protocol.

    Montreal Protocol is an international project developed in 1987 to prevent damage to the ozone layer by banning all ozone depleting substances. Most countries around the world began enforcing the project shortly after it was created. The United States got a late start but as of January 1, 2010 is fully involved.

    Phasing Out R-22 Freon

    As part of the Montreal Protocol the Environmental Protection Agency has begun a Phase Out program which will lead to a U.S. ban on all ozone depleting substances. The targeted ozone depleting substances include all HCFC freon refrigerants

    russ chase

    In 1987 Turboden designed a 3000 watt organic rankin cycle generator for a bio mass plant in Italy. It was twice the size of a wood stove and had a window in it like a wood stove.

    Turboden was bought out by Pratt & Whitney. There are a couple of there Cogeneration units in British Columbia one will produce 13 MW . I contacted them and told them there would be a great market in small off grid units so in the winter when its dark charging batteries using the 3000 watts would be fantastic. They didnt reply back.

    It maybe they dont want technolgy escaping them by these small units. They have great website check it out. I would imagine Elnav knows about them. Wouldnt it be great to feed your woodstove and charge your batteries at the same time. Off grid may than be to easy

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