Building a power house

Hey everyone! I’m new here, i live in central Ohio but i have a house in the woods with everything i need but i would like to build a power house. My general idea would be to have a big enough shed i can keep a gasification and a generator in to power my home so i can be energy independent. Also my gasifer will be running off of wood chips from white pine 2x4 because i can get that from work for free. Does anyone have thoughts or ideas on all of this?

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Welcome Ken! I think the first couple of questions you should ask yourself are,

What is my current daily Kilowatt Hour consumption?
Can I trim it back in any way?
Can I implement solar to assist the generator?

When running a generator that’s store bought bear in mind the horsepower loss, this will in turn reduce the full potential of the generator.

If you’re building your generator, oversize the engine to the head so you don’t suffer that power loss, you’ll be compensating the loss the engine faces by having a surplus of it were on gasoline. Also if you’re building your own generator choose something like a water cooled 4 cylinder or bigger. Gasifiers aren’t a big fan of single cylinder engines, the pulse can be annoying. With a larger engine aim to get that engine spinning at least at 1800 RPM so your oil and water pump are working well.

One good way to utilize a generator powered by woodgas is to dedicate it to charging a battery bank, that way you’re not running it 24/7, only in charging bursts when the solar panels aren’t doing enough. It’s not great to rely on only one avenue to generate electricity and a battery bank gives you flexibility.

Your hopper should be big enough for at maximum about a 3 hour run time, giving you opportunities to check the gasifier and make sure it’s all in working order.

Big big safety concern, make sure this shed is very well ventilated! Gasifiers produce carbon monoxide, and if you plan to also store the engine in there then doubly so. Either open doors, or fume hoods powered by fans. Get CO alarms.

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Yea i was definitely going to run all the exhaust outside, probably through the roof. Eventually i want to have a grain bin outside next to the power house so i can feed my wood chips directly into the shed when i need it. And to the second part of the question about the size of generator, i can currently power (almost) my entire house with a 4375 watt starting/ 3500 watt running generator. The only thing it won’t power in the house is the two back bed rooms and the hall way bath room, plus my well pump. So i was planning to install a 10,000watt + generator which i would presume should run the whole house and well pump.

I had also considered adding batteries to the power house so that any unused energy could go towards charging the batteries, that idea being so i wouldn’t have to run the gasification system/ generator at night. All good thoughts, keep them coming, i don’t want to miss anything when taking on this big project.

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Ken I would suggest getting a lot of vents in the building, because Carbon Monoxide is lighter than air and blends at all levels. Maybe run a fan in the building pointing out a window to keep air circulating.

A 10kw generator sounds like it should work, powering a well can always be a challenge if it isn’t dual voltage. I have a 240v only well pump so I’m in the same camp.

If you have the funding for it I’d look for a twin cylinder slightly above that KW size. Then your generator won’t always have to be at full tilt to power the home and maybe give you wiggle room for directly powering the well.

One thing you could do is run your 120 Volt side of things with a battery bank and inverters, and power the well with the 240 Volt output of the generator directly. For the house’s 120 Volt side you can also get some solar panels to help out with charging the battery bank.

You can buy charge controllers that use a 120v plug and it will start and stop depending on the status of the batteries.

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Before anything else you’ll need to get an engine. Gasifiers are sized to the engine’s flows.

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Man you are right on point, that’s what i needed to hear. I will definitely make sure to put more ventilation in the shed, i don’t need to die trying to survive. I like your thinking with the well pump because i was thinking i would definitely have to some how transfer power only to the well most of the time when i need it and use the batteries to power lights when taking showers and things of that nature. Thank you for your help, i really appreciate it. I try to talk to my wife about things but she eventually zones out lol

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How do i determine the size of gasifier I’ll need with engine size?

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In the book “Wood Gasifier Builder’s Bible” by Ben Peterson he’s made a size chart based on engine size. I highly suggest that book for use in stationary engines I own a copy myself. You can find it on Amazon.

There are other size charts here on the Library portion of the non-forum side of the website, but they’re geared more to automobile engine sizes.

You mentioned woodchips, do you already get them in chip form or do you get dimensional lumber boards? Chunks would be more ideal, maybe Jenga blocks sized for starters. You could rip them lengthwise with a table saw and chop them down with a mitre saw or again with a table saw. Building with chunks in mind you also have the opportunity to use fallen tree limbs, or small trees that you can manage with coppicing.

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Hi Ken,
Welcome. I can tell you are going to fit right in around here. :smile:
If I were you I would first read Tractor with gas? Tone has made a gasifier for his tractor that I think will work for a stationary system. He also seems to be starting to generate electric power for his sawmill.
Many people on here start by making a charcoal gas generator because it is a very simple way to get started building. Baby steps first, and all that.
Of course Tools, Tips and Tricks is a huge source of all kinds of good info.
Don’t try to read everything. You cannot.
Have fun.
Rindert

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Hi Ken, Welcome to DOW. You might read Matt Ryder’s postings on here. He builds Thrive off Grid gasifier systems. Matt is 100% off grid for his home and welding shop. Your generator will have to be oversized as it will lose capacity (20-30%) operating on wood. Will you be using pine chunks or pine chips from work? (Chips from like a tree chipper make a difference) Pine is less energy dense vs hardwoods. Your system will need to be built around your feedstock and the engine size you need to power for your electrical generation needs.

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Actually i was thinking of cutting them up for wood chips but now they are all in small chunks already. I work for Carter Lumber, I’m a plant supervisor at one of there truss manufacturing plants and we have to pay someone to come take all our scrap, so i can take as much as i want home.

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So the majority of the wood I’ll be using will be dried chunks of pine(2x4) will this not produce enough gas like hardwood?

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Pine will work fine if that’s all you can get, you’ll just have to refill the hopper more often and clean out the ash area more often.
Hardwoods are more ideal for density reasons. Just like a wood stove.

Can you take a picture of the wood chunks you already have?

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I don’t have any at home, but when i go to work tomorrow I’ll send a picture of what I will be working with.

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It would be best to go ahead and start a stockpile, if you can get plastic 55 gallon drums you could store them in that to keep them dry, or maybe an old IBC tote that won’t hold water anymore and throw a tarp over it.

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Yea i thought about starting to hoard some wood lol but that’s why i was thinking of turning it into wood chips because then i could store it in a stand up grain bin and use a auger to move it into the shed. That way i could always keep it dry

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Wood chips typically have their own design hurdles to cross, being lighter they can hang up in the hopper. Not saying it’s impossible but it could be a challenge. Maybe if you modified a chipper to make very large chips. Stephen Abaddessa of Northern Self Reliance has made wood chip gasifiers, though he modified a chipper to ensure he’s getting decent sizes. Less wastage that you have to screen out.

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It’s definitely something i would like to try and figure out, i think storage of all this wood will be a big factor too. Any idea on how to store large quantities of wood chunks? Because how i was going to transport it home from work was just use a dump truck

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You could make crates out of pallets, or IBC totes with a door cut out to shovel the wood.

For intermediate storage inside the shed you could make wire baskets like the old office trash cans they used to have, any remaining moisture in the wood will sweat out if you have a flow of warm air going over the wood. The dryer the wood the better. You could just as easily use buckets if the wood is already really dry and hasn’t been rained on.

The wood will absorb some of the humidity in the air so it’s somewhat unavoidable, but that amount isn’t an issue for a gasifier. Just keep it from getting rained on.

One IBC Tote is usually 250-300 gallons, that’s a lot of wood.

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Hello Kenneth and welcome to the DOW.

I don’t know if you have found the WOOD SUPPLY thread yet but there is a lot of information on the subject .

You may get some good ideas from some of the members posts.

Thanks
Wayne

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