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Author Topic: My Gulching Experiences  (Read 8759 times)

merlin419

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #45 on: April 27, 2007, 11:07:37 am »

I really enjoyed your account of you efforts so far. Looking forward to my own someday.  I also have had mental reservations with the term "Gulching" or even "Retreat".  Both sound a little too defeatist to me, my personal preference is from Robert A. Heinlein. Looking forward to building "Merlin's Freehold".
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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #46 on: April 27, 2007, 08:58:22 pm »



For those that are interested in more info about using¬  water to generate power check out this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelton_wheel
The pelton wheel would be something for generating your own power. The minimum head or hight of the water must be about 20 ft. for a small unit.

This puzzels me a bit. Anything I ever shorted out cause the device or wires to be destroyed. A dead short circuit would draw amperage until the weakest link burned up. It would seem to me that an open circuit would not damage the solar cells. If there is no complete circuit no current flows, nothing gets damaged.

T.H.E. Cat 

I've seen the Pelton style wheels in use. They work well in the summer by small steady streams that are high above the wheel - often with a flume.  But again they are subject many of the same problems as other type wheels.  Water debris, washout from floods, freezing, etc.  They are all high maintenance unless you can find someplace with water flow and level is static year-round.  I've never seen such a place.

In regard to solar panels not suffering from being shorted?  Yes, it has always seemed weird to me.  The early solar-electric controllers typically shorted out panels to cut back on the charge rate.  I've got 5400 watts of panels on my barn roof right now - and I could short them all out in full sun - no problem.  Shorted or full open circuit - they don't care.  Seems when you short the ouput, it stops the input.  With most types of water power, you can't have either although a fuse or breaker can prevent damag from a short.  An open-circuit can fry them under certain conditoins and often a false diversion load needs to be attached.  Some people divert them to large electric hot-water heaters.

Some of the older diesel-electric railroad engines did the same.  Engine ran at full capacity as did the electric generator.  All the excess unused electricity was diverted to a huge electric heating element in a large tank of water.
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T.H.E. Cat

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2007, 08:13:11 am »

Some of the older diesel-electric railroad engines did the same.  Engine ran at full capacity as did the electric generator.  All the excess unused electricity was diverted to a huge electric heating element in a large tank of water.

I've never heard of this before. I've been into model railroading since I was3 years old. I have studied everything from steam power to early dieselization. Could you provide a diesel engine builder that did this. Perhaps Baldwin, EMC, GM, GE, Westinghouse, Buda to name a few.

From what I know about early diesel-electric was that they used a DC genarator and exiter to excite the field of the genarator. The speed of the engine determind the voltage output to the traction motors. When a diesel electric starts out all traction motors are in seires and as the locomotive  gains speed it transitions from seires to series-parellel on the traction motors and then to all parellel at full speed. When the engine goes down hill they use the traction motors as generators. The current that these motors generate then go to a set of resistors on the top of the engine. Large fans blow cooling air over the resistors to keep them cool making it sound like the engines are are running a full speed.

T.H.E. Cat
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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #48 on: April 28, 2007, 09:05:37 am »


I've never heard of this before. I've been into model railroading since I was3 years old. I have studied everything from steam power to early dieselization. Could you provide a diesel engine builder that did this. Perhaps Baldwin, EMC, GM, GE, Westinghouse, Buda to name a few.

I am by no means an expert on locomotive or toy trains.  My only knowledge - in regard to what I mentioned - in one of my electrical engineering classes years ago. It involved a General Motors Electro-motive diesel-electric locomotive engine that created a lot of excess electric current that had to be diverted.  Much, I think was from the dynamic braking systems. GM-EM divsion used a huge array of electric heating elements to absorb the current - and cooled them either with huge electric fans - or a water tank.  GM bought rights to the first diesel engine ever invented (before Rudolph Diesel's engine).  First diesel was invented by a Brit named Dugald Clerk. His design later became the GM Detroit-Diesel two-stroke-cycle supercharged engine.  It was used in some early trains.  GM bought Electro-motive in the early 40s and I believe that is when GM first used the  huge heat-sinks.

The older rigs used several versions of DC motors that had many issues with excess current.  The later AC motors do not - as I understand it.  And heat-sinking in general is even more of problem with diesel-hydraulic locomotives with torque-converter drives - not common in the U.S. but have been used a lot in the rest of the world.
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Rarick

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2007, 11:11:33 pm »



For those that are interested in more info about using  water to generate power check out this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelton_wheel
The pelton wheel would be something for generating your own power. The minimum head or hight of the water must be about 20 ft. for a small unit.

This puzzels me a bit. Anything I ever shorted out cause the device or wires to be destroyed. A dead short circuit would draw amperage until the weakest link burned up. It would seem to me that an open circuit would not damage the solar cells. If there is no complete circuit no current flows, nothing gets damaged.

T.H.E. Cat 

I've seen the Pelton style wheels in use. They work well in the summer by small steady streams that are high above the wheel - often with a flume.  But again they are subject many of the same problems as other type wheels.  Water debris, washout from floods, freezing, etc.  They are all high maintenance unless you can find someplace with water flow and level is static year-round.  I've never seen such a place.

In regard to solar panels not suffering from being shorted?  Yes, it has always seemed weird to me.  The early solar-electric controllers typically shorted out panels to cut back on the charge rate.  I've got 5400 watts of panels on my barn roof right now - and I could short them all out in full sun - no problem.  Shorted or full open circuit - they don't care.  Seems when you short the ouput, it stops the input.  With most types of water power, you can't have either although a fuse or breaker can prevent damag from a short.  An open-circuit can fry them under certain conditoins and often a false diversion load needs to be attached.  Some people divert them to large electric hot-water heaters.

Some of the older diesel-electric railroad engines did the same.  Engine ran at full capacity as did the electric generator.  All the excess unused electricity was diverted to a huge electric heating element in a large tank of water.

For hydro I would create an inpoundment basin, call it a cistern.  When I had generated all the electricity I needed I would use the electricity/mechanical energy to pump water into the basin (If I could get ahead of the water wheels usage of it), or simply find some way to compress air into an underground holding tank, use that to either run the gulch workshop tools, or run an air motor to generate electricity when the stream isn't running fast enough? Either of these would give a "variable battery" wouldn't it?

On the solar cells, they are made out of a semiconductor like a transistor.  There are transistors that are used as switches, adjust the voltages on 2 legs and it allows current to flow, raise the voltage or take the voltage away (depending) and the transistor turns off.  Solar Panels can apparently be "turned off" by shorting them.  as long as a voltage exists across the output, the solar panels do not generate power since they are off, they just re-radiate sunshine like any other material does with heat and reflection.
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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #50 on: April 29, 2007, 08:43:09 am »

For hydro I would create an inpoundment basin, call it a cistern.  When I had generated all the electricity I needed I would use the electricity/mechanical energy to pump water into the basin (If I could get ahead of the water wheels usage of it), or simply find some way to compress air into an underground holding tank, use that to either run the gulch workshop tools, or run an air motor to generate electricity when the stream isn't running fast enough? Either of these would give a "variable battery" wouldn't it?

Yes - it would create a variable-means of energy storage - but a very complicated one.  The more complication, the more maintenance, the more that can - and will - go wrong.

That's why I prefer solar - expecially it it's off-grid.  You can build a fairly maintenance-free system that way.  But, to qualify for most State and Federal incentive programs - you must have a grid-tie system.  That then makes it all very complicated.  And, if you want grid-tie with a battery-backup system - then even more complicated yet.  I've got a 5400 watt grid-tied system at my farm with battery backup, and a 1000 watt off-grid system at my property in the Adirondacks.  The latter - off-grid system is a pleasure.  But, the grid-tie system I have at home is ridiculously overly complicated.  It works fine   - but if and when some of the electronics fail - it's going to be a mess to fix.  I only did it to get the $22,000 cash back from the NYS incentive program.  I am forced to use it for two years - and after that I can do whatever I want.  And - the electronics are warranteed for 5 years.  So, I'll be alright.  If they fail out of warranty - I'll rip them out and  convert to off-grid.  The Kyocera KC175GT panels work fine either way - and they will last longer than I can possibly live.

As I mentioned earlier, Holland is doing that sort of "Rube Goldberg" thing you've mentioned.  Rather than virtually give away their excess electricity to Germany during windy season - they've been installing huge air-compressors driven by electric motors - along with huge air pressure storage tanks.  The idea is . . . when wind gets low, they let air out of the tanks to drive air-driven electric generators.  It's questionable at this point  - if all the expense and maintenance involved is going to yield any sort of net-gain. I doubt it.

Same goes for where I live in New York.  Not too far from me is the "Gilboa Dam Water-Storage" facility. They release water during the day to power water-turbine elec. generators to make electricity and sell to the public.  By nightfall, water gets pretty low.  Then, electric demand from the public is also low, they use electric motors to pump water all night back into the reservoir.   The whole thing sounded kind of neat at first - when first built with a huge expense that still is not paid for.  Now ??  The dam is eroding, many communites/homes are threatened by a weak dam and getting completey washed out, etc.  And, now there are new proposals to rebuild at an even huger expense.  I suspect, in the end, absolutely nothing was saved - no net yield, just a  hidden net loss.
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ripsnort

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #51 on: April 29, 2007, 02:22:04 pm »

The nice thing about having your own hydro generation system is that if you have enough flow it will run 24/7.  In New England you will be lucky to average more than two hours of sun light a day on a year round basis to run a PV system.  If you don't have enough water to run a hydro system 24/7, then you can turn it on and off as needed.  When your batteries or controller electronics go you could still turn the hydro on and use it directly.  With PV you would be limited to the two hours a day of sunshine.
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T.H.E. Cat

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #52 on: April 29, 2007, 04:26:25 pm »

The nice thing about having your own hydro generation system is that if you have enough flow it will run 24/7.  In New England you will be lucky to average more than two hours of sun light a day on a year round basis to run a PV system.  If you don't have enough water to run a hydro system 24/7, then you can turn it on and off as needed.  When your batteries or controller electronics go you could still turn the hydro on and use it directly.  With PV you would be limited to the two hours a day of sunshine.

Does your "solar powered calculator" also shut down if it's cloudy out? :rolleyes:

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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #53 on: April 30, 2007, 08:12:31 am »

The nice thing about having your own hydro generation system is that if you have enough flow it will run 24/7.  In New England you will be lucky to average more than two hours of sun light a day on a year round basis to run a PV system.  If you don't have enough water to run a hydro system 24/7, then you can turn it on and off as needed.  When your batteries or controller electronics go you could still turn the hydro on and use it directly.  With PV you would be limited to the two hours a day of sunshine.

Not really true about New England sun.  I lived in the lowest average sunlight area in New England - "Northeast Kingdom", Newport, Vermont on the Canadian border.  Solar worked there - not as good as other parts of the country, but adequate. And, one plus is - the solar panles work better in extreme cold weather.  My farmhouse where I live now is in central New York - Otsego County is  rated for average sunlight about as low as you're going to find in "old New England" including NY, CT, MASS, RI, and VT.  Same goes for my Adirondack property in the middle of a forest in Hamilton Co., New York near Indian Lake.
  One of the places I buy solar equipment from - is New England Solar Electric Inc.   Call them up at 800-914-4131 and tell them solar does not work in New England.  I suspect they will not agree since they have many local off-grid customers.
 In regard to hydro, yes - it can be setup so it can be shut on or off with a flume-pipe hooked to a pot-style turbine.  And yes, it can be used directly - just a an array of 12 volt solar panels can when hooked in parallel instead of series. I have a deep-water-well powered by solar with no batteries - it  is hooked direct.  it is a very efficient system.  There are also many types of  12 VDC appliances that can be  hooked direct with no battery system.  Not the best choice though in the Northeast.
 Here - in the "dark area" of Otsego County , NY - (once part of New England) my 5400 watt system provides and average of 320 KWH of electricity per month.
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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #54 on: April 30, 2007, 12:51:25 pm »

  In New England you will be lucky to average more than two hours of sun light a day on a year round basis to run a PV system.  If you don't have enough water to run a hydro system 24/7, then you can turn it on and off as needed.  When your batteries or controller electronics go you could still turn the hydro on and use it directly.  With PV you would be limited to the two hours a day of sunshine.

I checked my sun maps for the entire U.S.  I picked some of the lowest light areas compared to highest.
My area in New York is one of the lowest in the contiguous 48 states.

This is what the average outout from a 2.4 KW solar-array will be per year:

12197(Binghamtom, NY)  2,818 kWH per year
05855 (Newport,VT)    2714 KWH per year
12842 (Indian Lake, Adirondacks, NY)  2,818 KWH per year
87327 (Zuni, New Mexico)  4.094 KWH

This shows average output per square-meter of exposure.  Good for a simple relative comparison of areas.

Boston, MASS   1421 KWH per sq. meter per year
Houghon, MICH  1260 KWH
Juneau, Alaska  922 KWH
Binghamton or Buffalo, NY 1250 KWH
Zuni, New Mexico  2200 KWH
Bangor, Maine  1480 KWH

My sunlight is a little less then for Binghamtom or Buffalo, NY and I averaged 320 KWH per month this year with a 5400 watt array - and this was one of the crappiest years ever recorded.
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ripsnort

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #55 on: April 30, 2007, 05:52:28 pm »

I know PV works because I have PV, and I am planning on adding to it.  However I would much rather have a full flow hydro system, for the reasons I gave.  Also the long cloudy periods we have in New England make it neccessary to either oversize both the PV array and battery bank or have a backup generator if you want a stand alone system.  Economics push most people to the generator so most "stand alone" systems end up being fossil fuel dependant. 
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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #56 on: April 30, 2007, 08:53:31 pm »

I know PV works because I have PV, and I am planning on adding to it.  However I would much rather have a full flow hydro system, for the reasons I gave.  Also the long cloudy periods we have in New England make it neccessary to either oversize both the PV array and battery bank or have a backup generator if you want a stand alone system.  Economics push most people to the generator so most "stand alone" systems end up being fossil fuel dependant. 

Yeah, everyone gets dark periods, and parts of the Northeast get more than most.  During some or those times, no amount of added solar panels makes any difference - since zero times two - still equals zero.  Some people add wind generators to augment their systems.  Water - at least in my part of the country - is rarely used - for a multitude of reasons - incuding complexity, legalities, changes in water volume due to weather, etc.  That all being said, if you have a good source of water - it is one engergy source that pretty much runs night and day.  I own the first mill-site in my town.  It was originally built in 1790 and utilized a dam and a flume to run two mills. I own the site but can no longer - legally- repair and use the dam.   I also cannot, legallly, tap into the fast-flowing creek and tap it with a diversion for a pipe to a turbine.   I cannot do it legally, yet I own the land and the creek.  Techncially, I own the land on the sides of, and under the creek but not the right to control any of the water.   I know many people that have tried to tap water sources and hit many legal hurdles.   Then, on top of that - you've got all the other issues - debris, high water washout, etc.   Maybe you've got some sort of unique water source that has a contant water volume and level and would be low maintenance.  If so, it is very unique  and obviously would not be a viable choice for most people. We also have several old small-scale hydro-electric dams around here.  Very few still operate.  One private investor purchased one a few years back - and got into one legal issure after another. He's in the papers now - getting sued by the State of New York for releasing silt and killing 1000s of trout downstream.
 In regard to a hybrid system - with battery bank, genset, solar panels, and perhaps more . . . still requiring  fossil fuel at times.   Yeah . . .  seems modern life - with the population densities we have - will never avoid that -until something radically changes.  But, you could certainly be setup where you use much much less.  At my Adirondack property, I have a off-grid solar-electric system battery bank, and a 15 KW genset that can run on mostly firewood smoke.  Just takes a cup full of gas to start it and get it warmed up, and it then switches over to wood-smoke for fuel.   But, I don't bother doing that for short stays and quick charge-ups.
 As long as you are driving a car or truck, or - worse yet - flying anywhere - you are burning tons of fossil fuel anyway.
 In regard to solar and system cost?  Here in New York, I need a system twice the size as a person in New Mexico to get the same KWH.  But, I pay half the price due to State and Federal incentives - most of which you can't get in the sunny states (except CA).
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ripsnort

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #57 on: May 02, 2007, 09:00:48 pm »

jdemaris, I am fastinated by running the generator on wood smoke.  I've heard that it was long ago with cars, but nothing specific.  Does it work with newer engines?  Do you need a powered system to gather and pump the smoke?  Does it run as well as on gas? 
I am aware of the problems around bringing old dams back into use and even more, new dams.  The system I had in mind is a micro hydro run off of an oversized gravity feed water system.  If one could put in over size tiles where there was good flow, say next to a good size wet area with alot of stone around the bottom tiles, and put in a 2plus inch pipe next to the domiestic water supply pipe with a good drop you could product power.  The whole system would be in ground, invisible and low/no maintainance.  Yeah, I know you have a very intrusive burocracy/regulatory system there!
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jdemaris

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2007, 08:06:42 am »

jdemaris, I am fastinated by running the generator on wood smoke.  I've heard that it was long ago with cars, but nothing specific.  Does it work with newer engines?  Do you need a powered system to gather and pump the smoke?  Does it run as well as on gas? 
I am aware of the problems around bringing old dams back into use and even more, new dams.  The system I had in mind is a micro hydro run off of an oversized gravity feed water system.  If one could put in over size tiles where there was good flow, say next to a good size wet area with alot of stone around the bottom tiles, and put in a 2plus inch pipe next to the domiestic water supply pipe with a good drop you could product power.  The whole system would be in ground, invisible and low/no maintainance.  Yeah, I know you have a very intrusive burocracy/regulatory system there!

I have a lot of water available at all my properties, but never tried to use it yet for making electricity.  It's a matter of net yield - a lot of work, expense, and mainanence to get it going - versus not necessarily a lot coming out of it.  If I ever DO get around to it - this is what I'd like to do. I already have solar grid-tie and a backup battery bank.  I may go off grid in a few years.  I only went grid-tie to get the State to pay for half my system.  I'd like to have water piped from a pond I have that's on top of a hill behind my home - maybe 1/4 mile away and 100' higher than my house and barns.  I'd run a pipe - 5 feet buried below the frost line - to my house area with a small turbine-generator and a gate-valve on the pipe.  I'd like to be able to turn the water on ONLY when the batteries are down - and run it only until they charge up and then turn the water off.  That seems ideal to me.  Running the water all the time makes no sense for the situation. Moving parts wear out, and unfiltered water plugs things the longer the water runs.

In regard to running wood-smoke collector systems - any carbureted gas engine will work - but supposedly, long-stroke gas engines with low compression ratios see less power loss and work best.  Cars and truck engines built from the 1950s to date tend to be the opposite with short stroke and high compression. If you were to build a genset - any industrial type genset with gas engine will have what is needed - since industrial and tractor engines are just about always long stroke and low compression to tolerate poor fuels.  My 15KW genset has a four cylinder Continental gas engine that works great.  Mother Earth News has one they built - I think their's also has a Continental.
The smoke-collector systems needs no elec. power to run - it's all mechanical.  It requires gasoline to start the engine and warm it up, and it then gets switched over to wood-smoke.  During WWI and WWII, many countries overseas used wood-smoke to run their farm tractors and also cars and trucks on the road.
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FDD

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Re: My Gulching Experiences
« Reply #59 on: February 23, 2018, 10:20:53 am »

oldie but a goodie
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