Power outages, augers and blower fans

tomWright Posted By tomWright, Nov 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

  1. tomWright

    tomWright
    Member 2.
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    Sep 27, 2008
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    Loc:
    N. New Jersey
    Sitting here in NJ where so many of my neighbors lost power, (or worse), due to hurricane Sandy, I was hit by how much an alternative power source is needed for those of us that use a pellet stove or, in my case, a wood burning stove/insert that requires blower fans. These all require some sort of electric power to run safely, or run at all. While I never lost power, if I had I would have had to shut down my wood stove to prevent an over-heating disaster. If I had a pellet stove, I would have been Summarily Out of Luck.

    There is no reason why these heat generators need to be reliant on the electric grid. But could also provide their own electric power for fans and augers. There have been many threads on this, even one started by me last year. I found 21 threads with just a simple search on "Thermoelectric":
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/alternative-electric-source-for-blower-fans.73095/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/aspen-wood-stove-fan-thermoelectric.30122/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/biolite-electricity-from-a-stove.87456/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/cook-stove.66826/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/eco-fan-for-insert.63013/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/eco-fan-or-stirling-engine.62164/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/ecofan-rip-2008-2011.74648/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/electric-generator-from-chimney-draft.71358/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/electricity-generating-heat-engines.74878/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/energy-is-limitless-one-small-example.57867/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/heat-power.51678/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/heat-powered-fan.15932/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/light-from-fire.89883/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/micro-chp-unit.46325/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/new-mit-discoveries-that-may-change-the-way-we-live.69687/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/sweet-wood-fired-electrons.14195/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/thermoelectric-fan.25513/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/thermoelectric-fan-powered-pellet-stove.83770/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/thermo-electricity.93495/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/watts-happening.71355/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/woodburners-and-generators.89699/

    Who knows how many there are with other ideas, not to mention the backup generator threads.

    There seems to be an unfilled need that could be easily filled. Not just for power outages, but for those in rural areas where relying on the utility is not the best choice, or you are living off the grid and want some thing more reliable than PV/wind. If you Google for "thermoelectric wood stove blower" you get lots of hits for companies that seem to be working on this, but nothing I would want to mess with. Most are stove top contraptions intended to power battery a recharger or something similar.

    My idea is more basic: Attach a TEG array to a wood insert, underneath in the inlet side of the air channel, Hot plates up, touching the hot floor of the wood stove, with cooling fins hanging down into the airstream where they would be cooled by the fans they power. It seems like a fairly simple problem for someone with any electrical engineering background to work out. Add a switch (such as in a UPS) to swap between AC line power or TEG power to give the option or allow for failure of the TEG, and you have a pretty good system.

    For pellet stoves, start-up the auger with AC until the TEG powers up to working voltage and swap over. Wood stoves could probably start without any AC, as the fans would spin up as the TEG's produced more power as they heat up.

    I just wish I had the background to do it myself.

    Any electrical engineers have any input into this? Heck, if you are in NJ I would volunteer my Jotul 550 as a test-bed.
     

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