Best Generator?

Hi everyone, I’m sure this is a much discussed topic. I’d just like some input before I do any more research! Any help is much appreciated.

I’m really wanting to know if a petrol or lpg (gas) generator would be better, I know a petrol generator can be easily converted but can an lpg generator run straight off syngas with no conversion needed? I’m looking around 8kw to 10kw.

Thanks and again, any input is greatly appreciated.

Ashley.

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You would still need to adapt the carburetor to run on woodgas. But the multi fuel generators are a good idea, gasoline, LPG, or NG. Having multiple options in one package is always nice. Also keep in mind on woodgas you’ll have less potential output of power, so it’s best to size up.

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Thank you. Yes, I looked at multi fuel generators, unfortunately it seems the best selection are sold in the US I’m in the UK and can’t find anything for a reasonable price, I don’t want to pay over the odds in case I end up damaging it quite quickly! Thanks

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If the LP / NG generator is designed for this gas, then it may have higher compression. The multi fueled version with gasoline option most likely have the run of the mill Honda Clone engines. So they will have typical compression ratios for gasoline. They may also be the case for mass produced LP and NG generators running these engines. So unless the engine is built with higher compression for gas there is no benefit.

Regardless of the stock fuel input of the generator, the wood gas conversion are the same.

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Purchased new? Would not matter.
Or used? Favor a dedicated LPG one.

Favor a V-twin/two-cylinder engine of at least 500+ CC’s if intending to woodgas fuel.

Welcome to the DOW
Steve unruh

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Hi Andy , what are you going to be running on the generator you want to get ? whole or part of a house / standby power , power tools like welders ect ? also consider where your located do you live in a built up area or are you away and out in the sticks ?
I would consider looking for a inverter generator for quieter running , than the open frame generators .

Where about’s in the UK are you ?

Good luck Dave

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Thanks Dave,

We’re in a little village in north Lincolnshire, I’d say semi rural, theres around 200 feet to our closest neighbour. The plan is to run the whole house and work shop in time but we may need to incorporate a home battery too. We do use power tools but at any one time the maximum pull would be around 3KWH from the workshop and 3KWH from the house. Thanks again.

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Ashley, I have a 9kw Genny that I’m going to adapt to woodgas, but I’m also planning to do a battery bank setup with inverters and using a smaller engine with a Dynamo to charge the batteries on days when the panels aren’t charging enough.

A lot of the guys on the forum are of the understanding it’s better to charge a battery bank with the generator. If there’s things you can power directly with an engine that’s also a good way to go, like a water pump or something along the lines of that.

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Thanks, I assumed a steady load would be the best way to go. I’m not 100% how the batteries work, I was hoping you could use the battery as a power source whilst constantly charging (gasifier>battery>breaker>fuse box)

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Morning Ashley do you have electric cooker Kettle and heating then that draw 3KW ?
I run a few battery packs here a small one for camera’s tv recliners washing machine drop saw , the larger pack i save for more power thirsty items like microwave air fryer that sort of KW guzzling appliance doing it that way if i am out of sun to recharge my battery packs i can decide what pack i want to charge up and then run gasifier as well .
All my stuff is old second hand , but work well and efficient for what i do , if money is not a problem then your choices are almost endless as far as generating and battery units go .

I have around 4 second hand cheap Chinese inverter generators from 8.6KW down to 3KW, and i bought them for low price from Gumtree and marketplace .and old battery packs second hand traction packs from forklifts are the go

If you want to go New then go for LIFEPO4 battery packs they will give good value , don’t bother with ex telecom battery’ s they never hold up in a off grid , as for inverters then most higher end set ups will use Victron units .

Dave

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Good Morning Ashley,
Dave’s statement, " . . . works well and efficient for what i do . . . " is the real key.

Some here out of remote necessity; or desire, work to be fully off-grid 100% of the time.
Other woodgas DIY electric power generate as a cost savings over ridiculously high local grid electricity base costs; or draconian demands to hook up and stay hooked up.
Others here the woodgas electricity needs are annually intermittent related to Grid-Down storms outages; Grid suppliers rolling interruptions and such. Where I live in wildfire seasons now the Grid suppliers will pre-actively cut off areas surrounding any active fire zones. And Lighting storms active times. Deep, deep water wells dependent then a place can go days without. Not good.

Your “What I want (or need) to do” will drive your decisions on all points.
Real easy to trap yourself with a mere hundreds of hours service-life engine generator when you needed one good for a 1000 hours at least between restoration services.
Annual fueling needs regardless of it’s source becomes Life-fun dragging down for fully off-Grid if anyone in the household does not buying into daily loads management scheduling. It becomes fuel needs impossible. Them expecting you to compete against a big-Grid for their affections. Wood-for-power becomes a primary Divorce driver all too often.

Wood-for-power fully off-Grid you’d need whole multiple cubic meters of chunked up sized, dried wood for fuel. Acees. Availability. Costs in time efforts and real money needing to lay out will becomes the Dog you must serve.

Truely Rural living with, using your own property’s growing wood for home heating, backyard open pit fun-fires then adding woodgas-for-power just falls into place.
Urban . . . smoke making restricted areas . . . it is difficult. Not impossible. Just very, very difficult.
Steve unruh

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I can’t really wrap my head around how much prepared wood someone would need to get all their electrical needs off a wood fired generator 7 days a week. Obviously you would need some sort of battery bank to keep a refrigerator running overnight. I’m not real clear on what’s different about inverter generators. I just have the gasoline 2000 watt kind for enough quick power while I get the wood gas one fired up, but I am concerned, like with electronically control vehicles, that one little electrical component burns out and the whole thing is unusable.

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TomH, you are correct that a modern inverter-generator does put-it-all-in-one basket. A very speed flexible all-electrical/electronics loads safe basket.

But in comparison to all other earlier engine driven electrical generator solutions then it becomes easy . . .
Have more than one basket.
I have now two inverter-generators in two sizes. Saving back for a third larger one to be able to solo deep well power then.
Note that AussiDave has more than one inverter-generator too. Smart man.

The earlier DC rotating armature with segmented commutator large brushes types you needed to learn to be a more than fair mechanic/electrician to keep them up and running past 500-1500 hours. Com dressing sticks. Commutator undercutting. Field “flashing” to re-magnetize. Points cleaning and adjusting.
Later DC alternators an improvement, yes. But then with no more commutators you had to be able to power diodes diagnose and c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y replace. Still with two smaller contact brushes needing changing our with now slip rings needing dressing servicing. And the earliest still with a points type voltage regulator. They, use wear. Then electronics regulators. They use-age out: system shocks fail, too. These needing diagnosing. Replacing. Replacements: all-is-now-good verifying. And some as brushless designs then needed “field” flashing re-magnetizing. Just from sitting too long unused. An attempted reversed battery jump starting.

AC generators? Many with contact brushes. Some with contacts points. All with some types of field supply diode bridges, electronic AVR controllers. Sure. Sure. Common service/repair parts pre-stocking possible. Who’s the more than fairly competent mechanic/electrician going to be, eh?

Not me for you or any here on the DOW. Too far away.
S.U.

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My suggestion for you is to forget the LP versus NG versus Gas. Focus on getting the inverter type generators with parallel capability. If you have two units you can team them together, this way you have power on demand. If you are just charging then you only need one unit running on woodgas to meet that demand. If you need to charge plus do other work like run a clothes dryer you can run both units to meet this higher demand. Say you have just one generator but it is large enough to run the clothes dryer and charger. However when you are not in need to run anything else and just the charger its not going to do it very efficiently.

For instance my 212 cc generator can run my 1000 watt charger. It will run for four hours on one hopper load. Now running the 420 cc generators running this same charger and nothing else It will only run for 2 hours. When you are making fuel every bit of it counts.

You dont necessarily need the inverter generators to run in parallel. If you are running a battery bank and pull all your power from it. You can then combine two AC units via the DC side of the chargers. In this case it will be important to size the generators to the chargers. Factor in a 50% and then shoot just lower than that when sizing the charger. So for instance a 5 kW continuous output generator will be good for around 2.5 kW running on wood gas. You could then run say a 2 kW output charger.

Lastly yes you must use a battery bank if you want power around the clock without becoming a slave to a gasifier. Run that thing as little as possible, get some solar to aid with that.

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Skill levels really come into play when trying to decide what you want to tinker with

I use the word tinker because so much of this is trial and error as you develop a system.

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If you shop around you can find inverters to convert 12 volt dc to 240 Volts

Batteries are usually pretty simple to find
You want deep cycle batteries

If you know anyone scrapping an old caravan you can get 12 volt lights and other useful items that operate directly from the batteries

Here is a link awful link to learn about battery systems and care

Since your new what is your goal?
I understand utility rates are going to get very expensive this fall are you trying to save some money?
That money might be better spent trying to reduce your energy consumption around your home

It’s cheaper to conserve than it is to generate

Tell us a little more about your home
How do you heat for example….

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Excellent. Just excellent, MattR. “Three does it Better” to the James Bond theme song.
Please do cross post this new video onto your topic so’s not to get buried, lost.
Best Regards
Steve Unruh

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I’m thinking a lot about older homes in n a rural setting here

Garry Gilmore made that bucket a day stove
The idea could be adapted to a back boiler
Something that used to be pretty common in homes with a coal stove

This could be a good way to combine heat with charcoal production for a generator

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Thanks everyone, much appreciated.

There’s a lot of questions here so I’ll just run through from the start. We started having power cuts a couple of months back (the first being on our wedding day which we hosted at home!!). Since then we’ve had several, including one that lasted over 24hours. I decided at this plaint I’d like to be less dependent on the power grid (I hadn’t even heard of gasification at this point).

I did some research and found that this was the best (in a way perfect) route for me to take. In regards to fuel, I run a furniture business from home and produce 20kg+ of wood daily (this is all kiln dried to around 15%), the gasifier it’s self has been built to handle slightly larger than average fuel (2/3” blocks) so cutting it down/chunking isnt a problem.

Now that electricity prices are rising id like to run the gasifier though most of day and then switch to grid on a night. Our electric costs currently are around £400 a month and are set to double shortly!

We do have the standard house hold appliances, kettle, dish washer, washing machine, dryer. We’re replacing what we can with low wattage or just more energy efficient versions to help with the load. The overall plan to keep the load low is to become more energy conscious (only using a few things at a time through the whole of the day).

I’m very hands on so upkeep of the generator shouldn’t be too much of a problem, I have a friend that worked with generators commercially for 10-15 years so getting the information I need in regards to repair and upkeep shouldn’t be an issue.

The gasifier I’ve built also gives us hot water (via a copper coil in the first cooling chamber, which we’re tapping in to the central heating to reduce on heating/oil costs.

To summarise I suppose the plan is to reduce our electricity cost as much as we can for around 12 hours per day and give us a fall back incase of power cuts.

In regards to batteries, I’ve been looking at home batteries which take and give 220v, so I’m guessing I wouldn’t need an inverter as such. I’ve just been struggling to get the right information on how they actually work but the information above is great. Budget wise, we are on a budget but obviously it can be changed when taking in to account the life span and efficiency of the set up. Ideally for the first generator we’d spend around £1000-£1500 (in case we break it!). The battery I’m hoping around £2000-£3000 but this may not be realistic as I’m not 100% sure on costs of the full system.

Again, thanks for the input, it’s all very much appreciated.

Ashley.

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Batt are dc and your house needs ac probably. I hear the same things about the grid overhere. We have no problems ever but gridfailure is to be expected in the near future. And of course the prices….Building a 3 phase 400 V system at the moment

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