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Monday, May 12, 2008

Propane Fridge & Wind Power Experiment

I ran across this article today, I found it very interesting and informative, I hope you can get something out of it too.The article is about keeping your food cold when you don't have much power.

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/hackleman56.html

We might be getting a propane refrigerator, I have been learning more about them, they sound like a really perfect way (for us) to keep our food cold, we have been using a small, cube fridge, it's pretty small, and doesn't use THAT much power, but it is our biggest power drain, if we can get a propane powered fridge, it would help us conserve the power we generate each day for use on other things, like surfing the internet! :) Ever since we got internet access, we use the laptop much more often, surfing the internet for hours each day, more at night, so we pretty much use up our batteries, the inverter starts complaining each time the fridge powers up, if we don't shut down the computer, the inverter will eventually continually beep and shut down. When that happens, nothing works until the next day when the sun comes up.

Our Newest Test Project

Bob has been experimenting with a smaller windmill style generator. We found out that you can use a cordless drill motor, it contains a permanent magnet motor, combine that with a fan and a tail, set up in a windy spot, and you get electricity.







Yes, that is a Ryobi drill mounted there, this is the test model, the wire isn't really hooked up to anything, though Bob just walked through with a 12 volt (?) led light, we are going to test it. We had had it hooked up to a volt meter, with a fairly light wind, the highest we have seen is 6 volts so far.

Bob got this put up yesterday, it's been windy for the last few days to a week, once he got this up, the wind just died... typical huh... anyhoo, there is light and variable wind today, so we will be putting our test model through it's paces.

Update, the led lights do light up, woo hoo!

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17 Comments

Anonymous seth said...

you might want to consider a chest type fridge, more efficient than stardard type. just food for thought.
Seth

May 12, 2008 6:23 PM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks Seth, we have considered that, would probably have to make one though, the few that are available to buy tend to be expensive.

Wretha

May 12, 2008 9:28 PM

Delete
Anonymous seth said...

I did read of a fellow that took a standard chest freezer and turned it into a very efficient fridge by adding an external thermostat. www.treehugger.com/files/2005/07/man_retrofits_f.php thermostat
interesting reading
Seth

May 12, 2008 9:51 PM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Thanks, great minds think alike, I've seen that one already, good site though, food for thought! Keep 'em coming... :)

Wretha

May 12, 2008 10:19 PM

Delete
Blogger Tracy said...

Hi Wretha; having used a couple of propane refrigerators, I can heartily recommend finding another way. In my experience, they just use too much propane. Granted, I was using old RV fridges (I tried 3 different ones) so YMMV.
The homebrewing supply houses (morebeer.com, for example) have a thermostatic controller for about $60 that can be used to control a chest freezer. I would add a small fan inside (to run only when the compressor cycles) to prevent stratification.
The money you would save by doing this, compared to the price of a fullsize Dometic or whatever, would buy at least a couple of 60 watt PV panels; which would probably cover the electricity usage of the fridge, and then some.

May 13, 2008 10:53 AM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Hi Tracy, I'll look into that, thanks! I realize that I forgot to mention that we will be getting the propane fridge nearly free, it's a used unit in a friend's unused trailer. I haven't seen it, I know nothing else about it, not even sure how free it will be, we may trade a carton of cigarettes or something like that. Hopefully I'll know more by the weekend.

Wretha

May 13, 2008 12:37 PM

Delete
Blogger Tracy said...

I have some ideas for my propane fridges. One possibility is rejetting it to work on methane gas, with a digester to produce the gas. That would work well at my homestead in the Southeast, where you plant watermelons by throwing the seeds & running for your life.
For my Terlingua land, a better idea would be to use a Fresnel lens to concentrate solar power onto a copper heat sink (painted black) which is connected to the refrigerant boiler.

May 13, 2008 10:32 PM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Tracy, throw watermelon seeds and run for your life? That's funny!

Wretha

May 14, 2008 12:05 AM

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Blogger The Scavenger said...

Dragon sent me your way and I am glad he did. I love the cordless drill wind generator idea and would love to know more about how it is working for you. Always looking for ways to generate some power. Great Blog

May 15, 2008 3:41 PM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Hi Scavenger, welcome to my ramblings... I'm glad you like it.

The drill wind generator is sort of on hold for a bit, just a little bit though, need to make more juice for the batteries, they are HUNGRY. :)

I'll post more about them as we work on them, stay tuned! I'm checking out your site too.

ps
thanks Dragon!

Wretha

May 15, 2008 7:47 PM

Delete
Blogger Panhandle Tex said...

Not to rain on your parade but from the couple of propane refrigerators that I have had, they just don't work to well, cooler than room temperature, but not what I would call cold. Perhaps that is the best way to put it, they make things cool, not cold. Granted these were older "full size" fridges.

Panhandle Tex

May 15, 2008 10:24 PM

Delete
Blogger Panhandle Tex said...

Opps, forgot to mention the idea of using an alternator for a wind generator. I have never tried it, but 25-30 years ago it was the hot idea.

Panhandle Tex

May 15, 2008 10:26 PM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Panhandle Tex, I'll let everyone know how it goes with the propane fridge. We are still working on the wind systems, I'll post more about things as they happen.

Thanks for your input. :)

Wretha

May 16, 2008 1:03 AM

Delete
Blogger Tracy said...

Couple more comments: First, my RV propane fridges would freeze the entire interior, even in 100 degree weather, if you cranked them up. They just used a lot of gas doing it.
Second, about automotive alternators: not a good idea unless you rebuild them into PMGs. In stock form, they are less than 50% efficient. Somebody tried to tell me that, but did I listen? Nooo, I had to find out the hard way, just like everything else.

May 16, 2008 2:48 AM

Delete
Anonymous Jeff Earnest said...

Hey Wretha,

Scavenger provided me the link to your Blog, I too am interested in the progress of the RYOBI wind generated power... I've a couple of cordless drills who's batteries have long since passed, and like the idea of supplementing my solar with 'anything else' alternative. In Florida, if it's not sunny, it's probably windy. Please let us know more about the drill mill as ya'll progress...

Jeff

May 19, 2008 10:06 AM

Delete
Blogger Wretha said...

Hi Jeff, welcome to my ramblings... :) I'm not sure when we will actually do something with the Ryobi drill wind generator, it's been set aside for now so that we can finish the bedroom and deck addition to the cabin. We have guests coming next month and more the month after that, gotta get things done around here so our guests can have a good place to lay their heads. As soon as we pick up the windmill project again, I will be sure to write about it.

Thank you for your interest, BTW, I checked out your site, very cool, I wished you were closer by, I would definately be interested in trying some cheese & milk.

Wretha

May 19, 2008 4:29 PM

Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretha,

Check out
http://fourmileisland.com/IceBox.htm

I don't think you can use it now with summer coming, but it's something you and your hubby can look into this fall/winter.

TheMajor'sLady
www.lornkanaga.livejournal.com

May 22, 2008 6:21 PM

17 comments:

  1. you might want to consider a chest type fridge, more efficient than stardard type. just food for thought.
    Seth

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Seth, we have considered that, would probably have to make one though, the few that are available to buy tend to be expensive.

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did read of a fellow that took a standard chest freezer and turned it into a very efficient fridge by adding an external thermostat. www.treehugger.com/files/2005/07/man_retrofits_f.php thermostat
    interesting reading
    Seth

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, great minds think alike, I've seen that one already, good site though, food for thought! Keep 'em coming... :)

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Wretha; having used a couple of propane refrigerators, I can heartily recommend finding another way. In my experience, they just use too much propane. Granted, I was using old RV fridges (I tried 3 different ones) so YMMV.
    The homebrewing supply houses (morebeer.com, for example) have a thermostatic controller for about $60 that can be used to control a chest freezer. I would add a small fan inside (to run only when the compressor cycles) to prevent stratification.
    The money you would save by doing this, compared to the price of a fullsize Dometic or whatever, would buy at least a couple of 60 watt PV panels; which would probably cover the electricity usage of the fridge, and then some.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Tracy, I'll look into that, thanks! I realize that I forgot to mention that we will be getting the propane fridge nearly free, it's a used unit in a friend's unused trailer. I haven't seen it, I know nothing else about it, not even sure how free it will be, we may trade a carton of cigarettes or something like that. Hopefully I'll know more by the weekend.

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have some ideas for my propane fridges. One possibility is rejetting it to work on methane gas, with a digester to produce the gas. That would work well at my homestead in the Southeast, where you plant watermelons by throwing the seeds & running for your life.
    For my Terlingua land, a better idea would be to use a Fresnel lens to concentrate solar power onto a copper heat sink (painted black) which is connected to the refrigerant boiler.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tracy, throw watermelon seeds and run for your life? That's funny!

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dragon sent me your way and I am glad he did. I love the cordless drill wind generator idea and would love to know more about how it is working for you. Always looking for ways to generate some power. Great Blog

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Scavenger, welcome to my ramblings... I'm glad you like it.

    The drill wind generator is sort of on hold for a bit, just a little bit though, need to make more juice for the batteries, they are HUNGRY. :)

    I'll post more about them as we work on them, stay tuned! I'm checking out your site too.

    ps
    thanks Dragon!

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  11. Not to rain on your parade but from the couple of propane refrigerators that I have had, they just don't work to well, cooler than room temperature, but not what I would call cold. Perhaps that is the best way to put it, they make things cool, not cold. Granted these were older "full size" fridges.

    Panhandle Tex

    ReplyDelete
  12. Opps, forgot to mention the idea of using an alternator for a wind generator. I have never tried it, but 25-30 years ago it was the hot idea.

    Panhandle Tex

    ReplyDelete
  13. Panhandle Tex, I'll let everyone know how it goes with the propane fridge. We are still working on the wind systems, I'll post more about things as they happen.

    Thanks for your input. :)

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  14. Couple more comments: First, my RV propane fridges would freeze the entire interior, even in 100 degree weather, if you cranked them up. They just used a lot of gas doing it.
    Second, about automotive alternators: not a good idea unless you rebuild them into PMGs. In stock form, they are less than 50% efficient. Somebody tried to tell me that, but did I listen? Nooo, I had to find out the hard way, just like everything else.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey Wretha,

    Scavenger provided me the link to your Blog, I too am interested in the progress of the RYOBI wind generated power... I've a couple of cordless drills who's batteries have long since passed, and like the idea of supplementing my solar with 'anything else' alternative. In Florida, if it's not sunny, it's probably windy. Please let us know more about the drill mill as ya'll progress...

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Jeff, welcome to my ramblings... :) I'm not sure when we will actually do something with the Ryobi drill wind generator, it's been set aside for now so that we can finish the bedroom and deck addition to the cabin. We have guests coming next month and more the month after that, gotta get things done around here so our guests can have a good place to lay their heads. As soon as we pick up the windmill project again, I will be sure to write about it.

    Thank you for your interest, BTW, I checked out your site, very cool, I wished you were closer by, I would definately be interested in trying some cheese & milk.

    Wretha

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wretha,

    Check out
    http://fourmileisland.com/IceBox.htm

    I don't think you can use it now with summer coming, but it's something you and your hubby can look into this fall/winter.

    TheMajor'sLady
    www.lornkanaga.livejournal.com

    ReplyDelete

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