Hello, my faithful readers!
*I will be making a video post on this subject with all the details of this less-than-successful journey and will only outline my basic findings and conclusions in this post*
Now that 2016 is over, I celebrate 8 months of yurt living. I am still adjusting and tweaking different aspects, and today I will talk about my winter solution for electricity.
You might have seen my post about my heating setup. So you know I use a lot of energy to heat the place, and now I want to convert all this heat to electricity using Peltier elements and it’s seebeck or thermoelectric effect. For those who don’t want to read the article, it’s basically a thermocouple that is used in portable fridges. If you apply electricity to it, one side will get very cold and another will be very hot. If you apply heat and cold to the element, you will get electricity. Simple enough, right?
Not that simple!
I was researching thermoelectric generators for some time and found no commercial products on the market. During my last trip to China, I found a factory who made me one. It’s a 45W woodstove generator that I will talk about here.My electricity
At this point I use around 40-75 watts at any given time for one ceiling fan (45W on medium), 10-20W for lights, and the occasional laptop and phone charging at 5-40W. Right now I power everything with 2 PowerIt Li-Ion solar generators that I charge offsite. One full charge lasts me one evening and night of the above consumption. So my goal it to create a solution that will charge those batteries from my heat sources.
First I tried to make my own little charger that actually works. But I am still waiting for parts from China, so I will update you on that in my future posts.
So the way the generator works is you put it on a heat source and it will start making electricity. This electricity will turn on the cooling fans and the bigger the gap between the hot and cold side, the more it will produce.
I managed to turn on several LED strips, but it’s not enough to charge my generators. I will need another 50-60 watts for that If you want to see technical characteristics of this generator, you can do it here
After realizing that I won’t be able to charge my PowerIT generators, I decided to charge my marine battery and power my fan through an inverter, but it’s still in progress.
My wood stove is not that good for this generator since it doesn’t have enough flat surfaces. It is also quite small and the temperature fluctuates quite a bit and this may overheat the generator. (Why? The temperature will gradually go down and the cooling fans would turn off. There will be no temperature difference to generate electricity. Even if you heat it again, the difference is not significant and fans don’t kick in and the cold side gradually overheats.)
Since this device is incredibly sensitive to temperature swings, I will be working on my own generator for my propane heaters, which have consistent temperatures and hopefully better results
I had quite good success with my DIY generator and managed to charge my phone with it.
Peltier elements are very inefficient, but still usable. It just needs tweaking for every scenario.
I didn’t achieve battery charging from my heat sources, but I will be working on custom solution during this winter.
Let me know if you have any questions.