Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Discuss lifestyle changes to better survive disasters. This category is for topics pertaining to being self reliant such as DIY, farming, alternative energy, autonomous solutions to water collection and waste removal, etc.

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Ducky
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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by Ducky » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:38 am

raptor wrote:
LBB wrote: But be careful, batteries get damaged by high heat, so make sure they are in a room that won't get higher than 100 degrees F.
I suspect that during winter in Alaska this is not going to be a problem. :lol:
Lol yea, getting really hot won't be an issue, Even inside a small shipping container i don't think it would get above 100.
Wind turbines do work well up there, ( they have several road condition web cameras up ther along the highway that are run primarily with small wind turbines.)
Unfortatly the are I'm looking at has rather large trees that block most of the wind.(Palmer/wasilla area)

My question is what size of generator and battery bank should I be looking for?

And can these setups be configured to have the generator turn on automatically when the battery voltage drops down low?
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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by raptor » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:55 am

Ducky wrote:
My question is what size of generator and battery bank should I be looking for?

And can these setups be configured to have the generator turn on automatically when the battery voltage drops down low?


raptor wrote: The best answer is to figure out what you want to run, wire the generator to those circuits or be prepared to manage power usage manually (which is not that difficult).

So for instance lets say you want to run:

Furnace and blower (15 amps @120)
12 light bulbs ( 10 watts bulbs @120= 1 amp)
refrigerator/freezer (600 watts @ 120= 5 amps)

In this example you would need access to 15+1+5= 21 amps x 120 volts 2,520 watts or a 3 kw generator.

Sit down and add up what you want to run to determine the size of the generator.

If your house has 200 amp service and you wanted to run everything (200 amps@ 240volts = 48 kw) so a 50 kw generator is what you need. A battery bank to supply this level of power for a 24 hour period would be massive (800 4-d batteries @ $300 each).

If on the other hand you find you can make do with 60 amps at 240 that would require only a 15kw generator. The battery bank would still be massive about 250 4-D batteries at a cost of about $300 each vs. a generator cost of between $3,500 for a NG to $9,000 for a diesel.

Going to only 30 amps at 240 volts would be an 8 KW generator but still 125 4-D batteries.

A generator is the most cost efficient way to produce large amounts of AC power.

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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by jbinbi » Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:59 pm

I am no expert on Alaska, but the above calculations give you a good idea. I would assume if you want to be off the grid, you will be using sparse amounts of power and trying to live off the land?

I would think the best heating source in Alaska is wood. A wood stove with some blowers/fans in your living space gives you free heat.

So you only need electricity for refrigeration and lighting and entertainment. LED lighting goes a long way to conserving power, I would choose those lights.

Refrigeration , outdoors is your natural refrig for a lot of stuff in a protected shack if possible.

Just saying that what I consider I need for power in suburbia is probably a minimum of 100 amp service at 120V. (And that means I have gas for the dryer, no central air, and I don't turn on the dishwasher when the A/C is going etc.) But you can live on 12kw. I would think in Alaska if you are trying to live off the land as much as possible, this might be the high end you need. I have a 2k Honda for emergency to keep a refrig and my heating system going if we lose power. It goes about 8 hours on 1 gallon of gas. Good generators will save gas by matching speed to power output.

If you are using a generator with batteries, you need deep cycle marine batteries, each could be 300AH (Amp Hours). Then you need the generator to charge a DC battery, then go to an inverter to use your AC appliances. The only reason to do that is if you don't need large amounts of continuous power. If you do, then I think you want to stick with just a larger generator.

To give you an idea, what you find on personal cruising trawlers, say 35' are 12kw gensets. This is to power all the amenities (AC, Heat, Refrig, Electronics, etc. )NOT to drive the boat.

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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by LBB » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:08 pm

Ducky wrote:
raptor wrote:
LBB wrote: But be careful, batteries get damaged by high heat, so make sure they are in a room that won't get higher than 100 degrees F.
I suspect that during winter in Alaska this is not going to be a problem. :lol:
Lol yea, getting really hot won't be an issue, Even inside a small shipping container i don't think it would get above 100.
If you draw power from a battery is heats itself up as well, so you need to make sure that that they are ventilated.
Just don't stack them in a closed space like a closet or so.

I have a ham radio friend that was manager in a battery store, he did all kind of tests.

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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by Ducky » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:43 pm

raptor wrote:
If your house has 200 amp service and you wanted to run everything (200 amps@ 240volts = 48 kw) so a 50 kw generator is what you need. A battery bank to supply this level of power for a 24 hour period would be massive (800 4-d batteries @ $300 each).

If on the other hand you find you can make do with 60 amps at 240 that would require only a 15kw generator. The battery bank would still be massive about 250 4-D batteries at a cost of about $300 each vs. a generator cost of between $3,500 for a NG to $9,000 for a diesel.

Going to only 30 amps at 240 volts would be an 8 KW generator but still 125 4-D batteries.

A generator is the most cost efficient way to produce large amounts of AC power.

Ouch dream killer! That hurt
I guess I will have to do some math and actually figure out my needs.
It just hurts my brain so much :lol:
jbinbi wrote: I would think the best heating source in Alaska is wood. A wood stove with some blowers/fans in your living space gives you free heat.

Refrigeration , outdoors is your natural refrig for a lot of stuff in a protected shack if .

That is true, One of the houses we grew up in we heated entirely with our wood/coal stove. Sometimes it would get so hot inside the house that we had to open the front door when it was -60
As far as refrigeration I the winter. We used to go to Fairbanks,about 2 hours away and get groceries every mont to two months, we would buy like 6 gallons of milk and just leave them on the back porch. Along with some other freeze safe foods.
In the winter you don't have to worry about bears and contrary to what all these shows on tv are telling you, Wolves are not a problem at all. I lived up there 22 years and was out in the woods constantly. I only saw wolves twice and both times when they saw me they turned around and took off. They are more afraid of us than we are of them.

The biggest problem was those pesky ravens
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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by raptor » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:24 pm

Ducky wrote: Ouch dream killer! That hurt
I guess I will have to do some math and actually figure out my needs.
It just hurts my brain so much :lol:

Unless you use electricity for space heaters, hot water and cooking you can power a lot of things with 8kw to 12 kw.

At my house I use NG for cooking, heating water, clothes dryer, household heating and even generator fuel. The 15kw NG generator is needed only because I like central air conditioning. I can run 4 tons of HVAC with it but otherwise a 2 kw generator would be all I need to keep the internet on, ice cubes in the frig and lights working.

It is very important to figure out what you want to power and the power required to run the equipment.

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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by grennels » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:18 pm

I've always wondered about steam.
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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by raptor » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:22 pm

grennels wrote:I've always wondered about steam.
Steam works quite well. In fact most modern power plants use a steam turbine to make electricity.

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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by LowKey » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:13 am

raptor wrote:
grennels wrote:I've always wondered about steam.
Steam works quite well. In fact most modern power plants use a steam turbine to make electricity.
On the other hand, steam gensets (the boiler to be specific) require a good deal of babysitting.
Whenever the subject of a steam plant for small scale power generation comes up I feel obligated to point out that at dry steam pressures one gallon of water (as steam) can contain the equivalent explosive power of one stick of dynamite. That's not saying it can't be done, but anyone interested should really read up on it first and understand the dangers if something goes wrong.
Do not simply trust pressure relief valves....much like you should never trust a mechanical safety on a firearm you should never trust a pressure relief valve. Just as you would never violate firearms safety rules by pointing a weapon at something you did not want to shoot and pull the trigger while trusting the safety to prevent a discharge, do not fire up a boiler and walk away leaving it unattended trusting that the pressure relief valve to avoid a catastrophe. You really need to be there watching the gauges in person, ready to vent the pressure manually if needed.
Oh, BTW, steam burns are many orders of magnitude worse than those caused by fire....just something to keep in mind.
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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by cv66er » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:05 am

Ducky wrote:I have been leaning away from solar because of the fact of having to continualy brush the snow off, and that in the winter I doubt the pannels would really get that much sun(very short days).
Solar could still be an option. Optimal angle for solar cells in Alaska is about 60 degrees. How much snow will build up at that angle? You would just need more cells and batteries too make up for the short days. Your main issue is cost of additional cells, batteries, and beefing up the mounting structure.

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Re: Power Generation Suggestions for a ranch

Post by LBB » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:19 pm

cv66er wrote:
Ducky wrote:I have been leaning away from solar because of the fact of having to continualy brush the snow off, and that in the winter I doubt the pannels would really get that much sun(very short days).
Solar could still be an option. Optimal angle for solar cells in Alaska is about 60 degrees. How much snow will build up at that angle? You would just need more cells and batteries too make up for the short days. Your main issue is cost of additional cells, batteries, and beefing up the mounting structure.
Also the solar water heating system might work and can heat up the water at least a couple of degrees, so there is less heating involved.

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