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  1. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
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    1,920
    Loc:
    southern ontario
    Yes, I can really appreciate the difference at those tempertures. Changes all my plans for the day...

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  2. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
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    1,010
    Loc:
    Nothern Lower Michigan
    Me too!
  3. Jclout

    Jclout Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    149
    Loc:
    Southbridge, Massachusetts
    9 cu ft !? What do you burn in that thing telephone poles???
  4. Jclout

    Jclout Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    149
    Loc:
    Southbridge, Massachusetts
    Oh I get it now (after I already posted) 9 cu ft total of all your stoves. Little slow on the details, I missed the 's' on 'fireboxes'!!!
    BrowningBAR likes this.
  5. wolfkiller

    wolfkiller Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    137
    Loc:
    Salcha alaska
    Now that we have heard how few of us are 100% wood heat. Who has taken it a step further and gone off the electrical grid as well. We did 3 years ago and I will never go back. Average electric bill around here is $150 then they add a $160 fuel surcharge.
    I put in a huge battery bank, solar panels, and a backup genset.
    Now electricity cost me about $50 a month in the winter and is free all summer.
  6. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,438
    Loc:
    NWI office - 2 Heritages; Chicago home - Woodstock
    I have been burning alot when it cools at night. I have natural gas heat, so it's relatively cheap, but I prefer wood heat for many reasons.

    At home, I'm burning a woodstock gas stove. Bought a thermal infrared thermometer. Stove tops was sitting at 200 after an hour and the firebox at 640 off of natural gas. This time of year, that only runs a few hours a day or it cooks us out of the space. I figure that uses a small amount of gas and a therm is relatively cheap to make our space very cozy without messing with wood.

    At work, I'll light the stove and keep it going for a week when it's cold. Nothing compares to radiant heat. No way would I pay the utility company for the temps I'm enjoying from wood heat.
  7. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I have solar panels, but I'm still on the grid.

  8. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2012
    Messages:
    149
    Loc:
    Central PA
    It sounds like you need to upgrade your insulation and weather stripping. Blowing winds shouldn't be a factor.
  9. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2012
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    149
    Loc:
    Central PA
    I'm off-the-grid, wolfkiller. About 3/4 mile to the nearest electric pole. Electricity costs me $0, unless you count the one or two days a year I have to run my propane backup generator for a few hours.
  10. wolfkiller

    wolfkiller Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    137
    Loc:
    Salcha alaska
    Nice. How do you make your power. My dream is property with a year around creek for hydro electric.
  11. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    You are able to make enough power with just 2.5 Kw total between the solar and wind? I have 4Kw worth of solar panels and I've figured it will cover about 85% of my electric use. I put the panels up a few months ago but haven't had the time to wire it in just yet... been working 12-14hr night shifts off and on... my off time has been spent processing wood mostly.
  12. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2012
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    Loc:
    Central PA
    My system is summarized in my signature. It's hard to do micro-hydro these days with environmental regulations. Double-check on that before you buy your dream property with a creek. You may not be allowed to disrupt the flow.

    Yes, 2.5 kW is sufficient in a hybrid wind/solar system if your house is optimized for it. I designed my house with a 6 kWh - 8 kWh daily electricity budget, which is a quarter to a fifth of the average American household. Solar provides the majority of my day-to-day power, but the wind always kicks in at just the right times to prevent a deficit. Wind is strong in the evenings and all winter, the perfect complement to solar. I'm up on a hill with an 80' tower. My solar panels are at about a 60 degree angle to maximize winter insolation at that angle. I have two parallel, redundant battery banks totaling 26 kWh between them, so I can run my house for about 4 days (a bit longer with conservation) with no wind or solar, though realistically I would start my propane generator after 2 days to prevent the batteries from over-discharging. Half of my loads I run directly on DC and the other half go through an inverter to produce 120V AC. The DC loads are much more efficient. My well pump, radiant floor heating pumps, much of my electronics, and most of my ambient lighting is DC. Task lighting and certain appliances are AC. LED lighting throughout. Very efficient pumps. Cooking is done with propane or wood.

    Attached Files:

  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Philadelphia
    Maybe we should take this to The Green Room, but do you not have the option to stay "on the grid", and make some money back from the utility in the summer? This is something we looked into only briefly, when we considered buying a still partially functional ca.1740 water-powered mill, to convert to a home. I was entertaining setting up a micro hydro power plant, something that has been already done with many of these old mills.
  14. theonlyzarathu

    theonlyzarathu Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2011
    Messages:
    104
    Loc:
    Bar Harbor, Maine
    I've heated my house with wood for the past 34 years. Even when I had a big riteway 37(with its 6 cu foot file box) I was often confronted with coals in the morning and and the temps dropping to the mid 60's(and that was when I had a house with R-22 in the walls and R-33 in the roof. We have a nice down comforter. We bring the temps in the house into the mid 70's in the evening, and then they fall over night.

    Heating with wood(unless you have a auto feed pellet stove) is all about temperature swings, and controling them. It always has been. If you want some a steady all the same temperature all the time, then you need some auto feed fuel device attached to some kind of thermostat, which means an oil furnace or propane furnace or auto feed pellet stove. Otherwise you will have to tend the stove, and if its cold outside, and you don't have a super tight, super insulated house(r-60 in the roof etc), it will drop during the night.

    Other people may have other experiences but these have been mine in 34 years of wood burning. And a recent move from eastern PA to near Canada, has not changed the process.
  15. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    What's the short-circuit amp capacity of those batteries? Being in the presence of that much stored energy just gives me the heebie jeebies. If those things are anything like a car battery, an unintentional short circuit could be very... exciting.
  16. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    Dec 15, 2011
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    Loc:
    Greenwood county, SC
    i burn 24/7 once winter is here. Prolly will start in NOV sometime. I B/c im here in upstate SC still have not had a first fire yet. Not needed to really. Wanted one a few nights but did not want my tv room to be 90f and my bedrooms 70+ and sleeping with windows open!
  17. charger4406

    charger4406 Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Messages:
    93
    Loc:
    southern Quebec
    24/7 from november to april.
    before and after that it's up to the heat pump,
    not because it's easier or better then the defiant
    during the shoulder season , because i have one
    and our electricity is cheap!
  18. HatboroPaul

    HatboroPaul New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Messages:
    29
    Loc:
    Hatboro, PA
    I burn 24 hrs...just not in a row:p

    Actually our plan is to leave the heat pump off, and I feel pretty confident we can do it, it just has not been cold here since I got the Osburn so Ive only had to really run it once.
  19. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Central PA
    Probably at least a few hundred amps, maybe a thousand. I've melted a hardened steel screwdriver accidentally on them; happened in a split-second flash of light. I'm understandably cautious around them -- too cautious according to my electrician father-in-law. To my amazement, he took his bare hands and grabbed both terminals of one battery, and nothing happened. I guess since one battery is only 4V, that's not enough to overcome skin resistance. Still, if his hands were sweaty, I think it could have been a different outcome. But he works on NJ Transit electric trains which operate at unfathomable energy levels, so he knows better than I what is safe. Still, I'm cautious anyway.

    I've got 60A fast fuses on each bank plus a 100A fuse on the battery switch, plus breakers on each DC main branch, plus AC and DC breakers on each house circuit, plus proper grounding, and surge suppressors, and over-voltage cutoffs, plus lightning protection. And the batteries (and propane) are in a shed 80' from the house.

    Also, if that gives you the heebee jeebees, you probably shouldn't think about what's going through that mains transformer outside your house.
  20. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    1,920
    Loc:
    southern ontario
    so, just out of curiosity, is the shed insulated, and do you heat it? I just wondered whether there was a noticable loss of stored energy from the batteries due to outside temperature during the colder months?
  21. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    1,689
    Loc:
    WNY
    We'd love to go off grid, but it's too cost prohibitive for upfront costs. We typically keep our bills to about $40 a month so it would take a long time to recoup what we'd have to spend (plus it would hike up our taxes from what I've heard-remember we are in the state of taxation...er...state of New York that is). It makes more sense for us to conserve and be thoughtful about power usage-like simply unplugged the microwave when we're not using it, buying an old LP stove that doesn't use ANY electric and me following mr eclectic around and shutting off the lights he leaves on, lol.
  22. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    No need to think about it... I am an electrical engineer, although my area of expertise is not batteries.

    A typical marine battery (I assume similar to your deep discharge type batteries) has a short circuit capacity of 2500 amps. Parallel a few of them together, and the capacity adds, respectively.

    The reason your FIL can touch both terminals, and you can as well, as that it's very low voltage. You said 4 volts? Dry skin has a typical resistance of 1 - 5 M-ohms, so 4 volts will only provide ~1 microamp... not even enough to feel for most folks. Sweaty skin is more often around 1 - 3 k-ohms, providing more than 1 mA from 4 volts, right around the threshold of human perception. It might tickle, but won't hurt.

    The dangerous "no-let-go" response occurs with DC currents approaching 10 mA, which with sweaty skin, could theoretically happen as low as 6 volts. Most of us have experienced a little sensation when grabbing both terminals of a 12V car battery, but usually not much more than a tickle.

    My fear of batteries is not on the electrical side, but on the chemical and thermal end of things. I've seen three car batteries explode in my past, with severely destructive results. In one case, it was when someone accidentally short-circuited the battery. The other two cases were while cranking to start the engine in an Olds Cutlass diesel car from the early 1980's. Very scary stuff, when boiling battery acid goes flying about the garage. (Damn near as scary as someone who doesn't burn 24/7 :eek:)
  23. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    149
    Loc:
    Central PA
    Yes, battery capacity decreases when it gets very cold. The shed is extremely well insulated with exposed radiant barrier on the interior. As such, a single compact fluorescent lightbulb (about 40 watts I think) keeps it above 40::F when it's in the teens outside. The 40W expenditure provides for probably several kilowatts of saved capacity. The shed is also heated by the hot water lines passing through it whenever either radiant floor heat or DHW is called for in the house. I typically program several thermostats to call for heat at least once in the evening and once in the morning for about a half hour (by setting them quite high during that time) during the dead of winter just to ensure that the pipes don't freeze and to push up the temp in the shed a little bit. It also makes for some nice toasty floors when getting ready for bed or just waking up :cool:

    You're right, it never makes sense to go off-grid if your base assumption is that grid power will always be available and at the same price you're paying today. But if you evaluate your assumptions closely, you may find them to be wanting. Also, if you're very good at conservation, it doesn't actually cost that much to do it. You could probably have an adequate system for your needs for $20k. If you put that in a home equity loan and amortize it over 30 years at 2.5% interest, it would cost you about $80/mo. Now that's twice what you're currently paying, but how long do you think it will be before you're paying twice as much just due to inflation? At 5% inflation, prices double in 14 years. At 10% inflation, prices double in 7 years (and quadruple in 14). Given the massive amounts of money printing by the central bank, how confident are you that inflation will stay below 5%, 10%, or 20%? If you don't want the stress of having to worry about that, you can lock in the $80/mo now and not have to worry about inflation. Or supply disruptions from storms, terrorists, or incompetence. Or income and sales taxes on that electricity. You will have the peace of mind that, come what may, you will still have power.

    You didn't answer "what's going through that mains transformer outside your house".

    I would think that internal resistance would prevent a 2500 Amp discharge. The batteries are only about 550 Ah. 2500 Amps instantaneous would imply they would discharge completely in like 10-15 minutes. That means that I could potentially run a 60 kilowatt load on them for that amount of time! 120 kilowatts with both banks included!

    Thankfully I don't have anything which could possibly draw that much current and also have all of the fuses and breakers in place to prevent a short from doing so. The inverter only pulls 3000W, or about 125A. At that rate, I have no fear of any chemical repercussions. The batteries do sound kind of scary when I equalize the them though. They discharge lots of hydrogen, but that's all vented out the roof. If only I could capture it somehow and store it to run through a fuel cell later!

    I read of an account in which someone licked their fingers and touched both ends of a AA battery and it stopped their heart. Apparently you only need a few microamps to do that. So I don't take any careless chances when it comes to batteries.
  24. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    20K is WAY too much for us at the moment. In all honesty, if there is enough breakdown that causes a long term disruption enough that we can't live without it anymore, we'll have bigger issues than whether or not we have electric. If there are big taxes on the electric supply, you can bet they will find a way to tax your system as well.
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'll start a thread in The Green Room to answer this question and others. You make some incorrect assumptions about what I said, with regard to discharging batteries, but this is not the thread or the forum for this discussion.

    edit: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/thomas-andersons-batteries.92263/
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