Dunno why but I always wanted to live somewhere without electricity. Then as soon as I moved to a house without any i started trying to either make it or find alternatives. The first place I moved to in 1985 was heated by a rayburn, lit by tilley lamps, and we had a gas fridge. It wasn’t long before the then OH started to complain about washing everything in the bath and drying it over the rayburn. So not knowing any better I went out and bought a 2.5kw Petter diesel engine to run the washing machine, of course now we had a washing machine then why not get a TV! and whilst the genny is running we could watch TV and charge batteries to run a radio, CB, 12v lights for the dark mornings etc. This of course was completely useless because I was trying to use car/tractor/lorry or whatever batteries and as I now know (after 15 years of trying) that they are totally unsuitable. Starter batteries are just not suitable for constant cycling (charge and discharge)
In 1989 I moved here, again with no mains but at least the house had a genny and was properly wired. It was a trusty lister SR1 3kw Startomatic, though it didn’t actually work and even when had it rewired it would only stopomatic. This meant i had to go and start it by hand (100yds away) then if I went round the house and switched everything off it might (if it was in a good mood ) switch off. The problem was that on a windy night you could not actually be sure it was off!
Here’s the old girl, 1969 and whilst a bit smoky will still do a turn. These old listers will run forever but when I started to fish for crab and lobster it just was not man enough for the 5 freezers so i purchased a newer larger one. Well it was a 1974 so was only around 20 years old and came from an estate down loch Hourn way where it had run 12 hours a day from new and still not had the heads off (still hasn’t). The old twin still runs sweet as a nut though she’s not been used in anger for a few years now. To avoid running these more than necessary i repaired an old Rutland FM910 that had been left here by the previous owner, I made a big tall mast and a huge battery bank from tractor batteries (i still hadn’t learned about batteries)
I had a 12v volt ring main in the house with fluorescent tubes for lighting. It worked quite well but knowing very little about electrickery I used cable that was too light (taken me 15 years to work this out) also as previously mentioned I was using the wrong batteries but despite all this it worked very well.
Having said that i wouldn’t recommend the Rutland, the only reason mine’s still going is because i had a pile of scrap ones to salvage. About three years ago due to increased usage and spiraling fuel costs we decided to buy a proper wind turbine so after much research we went for a ‘Proven 2.5kw’ now this cost us an arm and a leg and we could have got some Chinese job for a fraction of the cost but we live in a very windy remote spot so i wanted something reliable and the ‘Proven’ is certainly that, being a downwind turbine it continues to produce full output when most others have turned out of the wind or put the brakes on. However it does have a higher start up speed and can take a wee bit longer to find the wind.
This is it going up a couple of years ago.
and this is my mate Willy just making sure the cables don’t get trapped.
The turbine charges a bank of 48v lead acid fork lift truck batteries of around 1000ah capacity.
The 48v dc is then converted to 230vac by this inverter.
And when the wind don’t blow for a few days this beauty fires up automatically and charges up the battery bank. This fine piece of kit is a Lister HR2 12kw genny it’s a 1978 and has only done 500hours! when I bought it it only had 60 hours on it as it was a mains failure set from a satellite tracking station.
Since this was originally posted on the 1st of Jan 2008 I’ve added a small Navitron 200w hydro turbine model number ‘XJ14-0.2DCT4-Z’
This wee turbine is designed to produce 200w at 230v from around 5lts a sec at around 12m of head. My head is much higher at 40+m but my flow can be as little as .5lt per sec so I’ve reduced the jet size from 18mm to 7.5 which seems to give me about 140w at flows down to 1lt per sec but I’m still experimenting.
22nd September 2008
A solar panel at last! I added a ‘BP Solar’ 50w panel today and linked it into my 12v battery bank
It will put out almost 3 amps in full sun but even at lower levels it’s doing something
Hydro turbine panel, the top one is battery bank voltage, the middle hertz, which is a great way of checking the turbines speed and load, the bottom one is the turbine voltage and the one on the right DC amps though I’ve since replaced it with a digital one as the analogue one was sticking. It does in fact put a steady 1.75 amps into the 48v bank and around 4 amps into the 12v bank plus it runs a couple of 21w CFLs.
Here’s the turbine in action without its cover on
And this is the other end of the pipe, basically a 25 gallon galvanized water tank with an old washing machine drum inside as a filter. The screen on top catches most of the crap and when the burn is in spate it gets washed off. The outlet to the turbine is about two thirds the way up the tank so sediment lies in the bottom and the excess just overflows. This is it during a frosty dry spell running at its minimum of around 1lt per second, usually it’s gushing out of that old BT duct at 10lts per second!
Things have moved on
Gosh it’s been a a while since I’ve read this post and oh how things have moved on, well in the hydro department at least. Seven years on from it’s installation the Proven is still going great, though they went bust and got taken over by Kingspan. The Navitron ‘cheap and cheerful’ turbine was replaced two years ago by a ‘Stream Engine’ from http://www.microhydropower.com/ and I’ve now added a http://www.powerspout.com/ into the mix
The Stream Engine is a high voltage unit with a transformer that directly charges the batteries
The Powerspout is a high voltage DC unit that feeds into my AC bus via an SMA inverter
Well things have really moved on, with the price of PV tumbling we invested in four of these http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=664&catID=135 from Navitron http://www.navitron.org.uk/shop.php and what a difference they have made in the summer. Now with almost 1kw of solar on our roof as well the wind and hydro turbines we’re well on our way to total energy independence :-)https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/all-i-need-now-is-the-sun/