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Saturday, July 29, 2006

[Self Reliance in Troubled Times] Canning your food for the off-season

The folks at Ball, the makers of canning jars and other products, made available a ton of good info on putting away food for non-growing season. Although they left that business in '93, it is maintained at

We still have our Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, and it's a valuable reference.

Posted by Steve Spence to Self Reliance in Troubled Times at 7/29/2006 07:53:00 PM

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

[Green-Trust Off Grid] Finetuning the Inverter Settings

After we lowered the charge rate on the Prosine to 100 amps from 120, to keep from tripping the 20 amp breaker on the generator, we found that when the pump kicks in while charging at a high rate, the whole house blacks out for about 5 seconds. The pump is pulling about 95 amps at 12vdc, and the charger is supposed to cut back on charge rate automatically, but the starting current of the pump is putting it well over the 100 amps maximum I have set. What I need to do is get the 240vac generator circuit to the charger, and use a balancing transformer to convert to 120 vac at 30amps, or setup a cistern with my 12vdc pump, and use the jet pump on generator to fill the cistern when rainfall has not been sufficient.

Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust Off Grid at 7/26/2006 07:04:00 AM

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

[Green-Trust CHP] Green-Trust and Lister CSOG JoinForces

The Lister CS Owners Group and the Green-Trust Lister group have joined forces. The combined group can be found at Lister_CSOG at Yahoo groups. We discuss Lister powered generators, cogen (CHP) applications, general engine maintenance issues, as well as biodiesel and used fryer oil fuel. The group description is as follows:

An Owners Group for Lister CS slow speed diesel engines, Startomatic generator sets and Indian built Listeroid engines.

This group is for all Lister CS and Listeroid enthusiasts in the UK and elsewhere.

It is aimed squarely at the enthusiast who wants to put these engines to work making power and useful heat.

Topics for Discussion.

  • Obtaining new and second hand engines
  • Restoring original engines to working condition
  • Using a Lister CS in a home heat and power system
  • Lister Startomatic generator sets
  • Running a Lister engine on vegetable oil and other fuels
  • Obtaining spare parts, alternators and accessories
  • Imported engines
  • Instruction manuals
  • Useful contacts in UK and elsewhere
  • Transporting Lister CS engines safely

Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust CHP at 7/25/2006 06:42:00 AM

Monday, July 24, 2006

[Green-Trust Off Grid] Inverter News

We kept blowing the circuit breaker on the generator when the well pump would kick in (90 amps at 12vdc) while charging the batteries (120 amps at 12vdc). Reset the dip switches for 100 amps of charging, and replaced the 14 gauge extension cord that runs from the generator to the inverter with a 12 gauge cable. Now the cable doesn't get warm either. Hey, some things you have to learn by doing.

Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust Off Grid at 7/24/2006 05:29:00 PM

[Green Trust Fun] White Water Rafting

It would have been nice if they told us it was a Class 4 before we entered the water! Just kidding. We had lots of fun. The memorable quote of the day was "I saw my mom, and she's been dead for 2 years" .......

Posted by Steve Spence to Green Trust Fun at 7/24/2006 05:26:00 PM

Friday, July 21, 2006

Off to a Off-Grid Seminar

We are off to a off-grid seminar at Woodhenge with Jim Juczak this weekend, and some river rafting. We'll be teaching folks about battery and inverter systems, wind and solar, LED lighting, etc. I'll have lots to blog about when I return. Y'all have a safe weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Batteries are getting fully charged!

With the dip switches set for my 1260 ah pack, the charge rate of 120 amps, and options set for warm environment, and flooded lead acid, we are well on our way to having our pack fully charged for the first time.

Xantrex Prosine 3.0 Inverter/Charger/Transfer Switch Installed!

I got home tonight at 6pm, and immediately dove into the package that UPS delivered this afternoon. One and a half hours later, the batteries were charging at 120 amps, and we tested the auto transfer switch and inverter functions by disconnecting the generator and reconnecting. Works like a charm. This works a lot better than our old 50 amp charger that never brought the batteries up over 12.4 volts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bazura Bags - Recycling is Fashionable!

Bazurabags are made in the Philippines by a women's co-operative, utilizing used juice containers. These containers are not biodegradable, clutter landfills, fields and the streets of the Philippines. This method of recycling unwanted waste is one way of helping to clean up our environment. Mallory is enjoying her new Bazura Bag, knowing that she is supporting women, and the environment.

Lister Diesel Engines

Two very popular engines for off-grid generators are the Detroit Diesel 2-71 like we have, and the Lister series engines and their copies. Both are designed for years of heavy service, are slow speed engines, and run well on used fryer oil. A friend of ours just released a new book on the Lister engines:

The Lister CS Story

The diesel engine most popularly collected nowadays is undoubtedly the one known to enthusiasts worldwide as the Lister CS. The number of available examples obviously has a bearing on the popularity factor as it easy to locate recently retired engines, or even complete lighting plants, in half decent eminently restorable or working condition The venerable CS was well known for its longevity, build quality and hard wearing characteristics, so much so that for the last thirty years it has been the subject of a rigorous copying campaign--- in fact in some third world countries the word ‘Lister’ has become synonymous with any engine equipped with twin flywheels—rather like the American term ‘Caterpillar’ to describe any crawler tractor. The most prolific copiers of the CS can be found in India and Pakistan where since the 1960s at least fifteen different CS look-alikes have emerged. A Lister CS in good running order will provide its owner with many years of trouble free use, and while new parts tend to be on the expensive side, there is a surfeit of available breakers to cannibalise without suffering a guilt complex at the thought of destroying our heritage!

This book is intended purely for the enjoyment of the CS owner/enthusiast who wants to know a little more about this interesting range of engines, identify the different types, and understand how to decipher their rough age by general appearance---because to the uninitiated they all look the same! Most importantly this book is intended specifically to cover the ‘slow speed’ range of engines—the 3-1, 5-1 and 10-2, but in order to clarify the introduction of each size in chronological order it is essential to bring the ‘high speed’ range of engines into the equation. In view of this, Part One covers the introduction of both high and low speed engines, while Part Two is devoted specifically to the CS range of ‘slow speed’ engines which are probably of far greater interest to the majority of readers. At this stage you would be quite justified in asking why these engines have earned the title ‘CS’ and what is meant by a high and low speed range? I hope the following pages answer these and other questions and that the unique collection of drawings and photographs (many supplied from the archives of Lister-Petter Ltd), selected to complement the text, are of great help to both the newcomer as well as to the enthusiast and Listerphile of many years experience.

For more info, see:

Homebrew Power
Powercubes (Ken Boak)
Utter Power
Small Scale Vegetable Oil Extraction
Flint Hills Diesel

Have a Lister site? Let me know and I'll add it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Xantrex Prosine 3.0

Our replacement for the blown 50 amp rv battery charger should be here this week. It's a Xantrex Prosine 3.0, which provides 3000 watts of sine wave inverter power, 120 amps of 12vdc charging from generator, and a 30 amp auto transfer switch, all in one unit. This piece will also replace our 2500 watt msw AC Delco inverter and our 50 amp 220vac transfer switch. We got a fantastic deal on this unit, less than half MSRP, and will share more once it's here and installed. Two recent donations from appreciative readers made this possible. Thank you Oren and Francisco. The next need is a Blue Sky Solar Boost 50 MPPT Charge Controller.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Battery Charger bit the dust.

Today the battery charger on our off-grid system bit the dust. It was an old 50 amp RV Converter, so it didn't owe us anything. We are looking at a few options for it's replacement. An all in one Inverter/Charger/Transfer Switch looks attractive right now. We had hoped to find a Trace SW2512, but they seem to be gone forever. The Outback 2812 is $2500, way over our budget. We found a Xantrex Prosine 3.0 that's closer to what we can scrape together. Meanwhile the batteries are dead, and we are on gen power, as it's been raining today and no sun. It looks like we will just shut everything off for a few days and step back about 100 years.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Biological Ethanol & Hydrogen

This type of research is currently beyond our capabilities, but the folks at the J. Craig Venter Institute are doing some very cool research with very promising results:

According to the U.S. Department of Energy approximately 80 percent of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions currently come from fossil fuel combustion. The DOE also estimates that world carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 6.1 billion metric tons carbon equivalent in 1999 to 7.9 billion metric tons per year in 2010 and to 9.9 billion metric tons in 2020. This continued consumption of fossil fuels is ample evidence that there is a growing need to eliminate carbon dioxide output into the environment and if possible capture back some of the carbon dioxide associated with global warming. The Biological Energy group is developing and using biological pathways and microbial metabolism to produce new fuels with higher energy output in an environmentally sound fashion. The team uses microbes, microbial genomics, microbial pathways, and plants as potential solutions to carbon sequestration and clean energy production. Current projects include: development of better understanding and reengineering of the photosynthetic pathway to divert the sun’s energy into more hydrogen production as well as reengineering cellulase pathways in certain bacterial to produce ethanol.

The Science Channel is currently running a special on their work called "Cracking the Ocean Code". Join genome pioneer J Craig Venter on a globe-circling ocean voyage, seeking new life forms and genetic secrets that could help solve the planet’s most urgent energy and climate challenges.

Sizing a Solar Electric System (PV)

A while back we posted an article on how to determine the loads you use in your home, RV, or boat, and size a photovoltaic system to power it. Through 6 simple steps, our spreadsheet allows you to play what if with various options to fine tune a system that will give you what you need, while showing you how to conserve and separate your wants. There are related articles linked from this one helpful in determining ROI, and aiming your panels for best efficiency.

Six Steps To Sizing A PV System

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