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  1. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Messages:
    2,012
    Loc:
    Near Williamsport, PA
    I will be looking at some sort of an outside wood boiler/gasification heating system before next winter. The main problem I have with them is what happens in the event of a power outage(we seem to have them fairly frequently in the dead of winter). The boiler will be situated at a place where there will be good southern exposure and I'm thinking that a small solar panel to power the boiler's electrical needs may be the "green" answer and may be a solar set up I can actually afford. Where do I start looking for resources into something like this for our central PA. homestead? Can the solar array be set up to have the main electrical grid as a back up in the event of equipment failure or lack of sun?

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  2. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,253
    Loc:
    Northwood, NH
    Yes.

    Be aware that the power requirements of many gasifiers (to run the combustion air fan) may drive up the size of the panel and battery bank. Same goes for the pump, so plan on having a low-restriction piping system, so you can use a small pump.

    Solar is very do-able, but requires planning ahead to minimize power usage.

    Joe
  3. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I agree, very doable. Joe and the rest of the Boiler room gang can probably help a bunch on the heater end of things, there are a ton of places for the solar side, a couple that I've found interesting are Northern Arizona Wind n' Sun discussion forum with some real experts on solar power, and Build it Solar for all sorts of DIY solar stuff, including some neat solar hydronics setups. If you read through those two, you will find huge numbers of other links to things solar as well.

    Gooserider
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,384
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    It may be best from a $$ viewpoint to use a battery system which is charged by the Grid initially and then kept charged with a small solar array - that could be sized to give "x" hours of backup, whereas a solar PV system which would provide full backup might be expensive.

    Since power tends to fail on less than stellar days (not full sun), this may make more sense. Another low cost possibility is the $600 windmills - if you have a relatively windy site - but, again, I think battery storage is the key. In that case, you don't really need any solar or wind...or very little.
  5. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    798
    Loc:
    SW Missouri
    Laing makes a sweet little DC high efficiency solar pump. The D5 Eco solar pump will run off a small PV panel or 12V battery. At a couple feet of head it would move 50- 60,000 BTU/ hr. This will eliminate the need for an inverter and the associated losses.

    In a bind a gasification boiler, although not at peak efficiency will run without the blower motor, just crack open the door.

    hr
  6. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,253
    Loc:
    Northwood, NH
    Batteries (and their maintenance) tend to be the biggest issue. Cost of ownership of a battery bank is pretty high. Panels cost something to install, but it doesn't take much to get the panels that would be needed just to run a typical heating system.

    Joe
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