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My Slice of the Pie, a long build towards a small farm

Provience

Kill!
Joined
Jul 8, 2009
Member Number
15
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9,160
Loc
Gatesville, TX
I need a place to keep pictures and thoughts and talk through ideas and such, need to start a thread over here anyways :rasta:

A couple of notes and hopefully lessons learned from the previous Basic Home Battery Questions thread

well those questions are right where I started this thread, so topical more than stupid. at least I've learned some things and can, slightly, quantify them. Diesel makes a certain amount of KW based on BTU and, generally, that doesn't change. internal pumping losses, system sizes and whatnot do make some difference, leading to the following things obvious to everybody who already knows:
A 5kw gen will make 3kw of power more efficiently than a 12kw gen, but only slightly.
A 12kw gen will make 8kw of power more efficiently than it will make 3kw of power, but only slightly.
A 12kw gen making 8kw of power will make 20kw of power more efficiently than a 5kw gen making 3kw, but only slightly.

A constant 2kw draw will be more efficient directly off a 5kw gen, rather than a 5kw gen making 3kw or a 12kw gen making 8kw charging a battery bank, more than slightly.
A variable load up to 2kw with more low draw at or near idle is more efficient to use a battery bank and a gen set, how much depends on the amount of time at or near idle, either very little or a bunch.

I was correctly pointed earlier in the thread to start with the charger side, because they can only handle up to a certain charge rate. Pairing the charger up to the generator that is the most efficient at that rate makes for a good match. Running the charger at the max charge rate is the most ideal way to keep the charger operating at it's highest level of efficiency.

Batteries can only accept a charge at a certain rate, so then the battery bank needs to be large enough that it can handle that rate, anything below is missed opportunity, again slightly. Going larger than that doesn't incur a penalty, so long as you don't go so large that a larger controller and gen would be a better fit.

Supporting a 2kw constant load with just a generator would be about $7-10k/year in diesel Anything that you can do to supply electricity that does not rely on fuel, then, can rather quickly pay foritself, though that requires batteries to store the surplus and rest the gen. <- this concept is a big part of why regenerative braking increases the miles/gallon on hybrid cars. I'm just more familiar with cars, so i'm a bit ignorant on how it crosses over to non-mobile applications. ultimately it leads back to heating as that is a massive use of most folks energy.

I have a personal bias towards ground source heat pump supporting hydronic heat: fuel is noncommodity and passive, ground source doesn't suffer the efficiency loss air source does below 40* ambient air, it is only trying to heat water to 85-100* rather than whatever forced air goes up to, a recirculating system should gain efficiency as it recirculates, as the in/out temp delta narrows with time, it allows for cooling and heating, it also allows the option to spin off a leg to use as livestock water trough heater. frozen water sucks to deal with and electric resistance heaters are prohibitive. hauling hot water a few times a day also sucks.

so can an electric system be supported at 'reasonable' cost compared to a propane/pellet/wood/diesel boiler? maybe :rasta: would it be more ideal to supplement the ~4 months when PV could fall short by using fuel in a generator to charge batteries, or would it be better to supplement with a wood stove or pellet stove for home heat, or, if it needs to be supplemented, would it be better to simply rely on a commodity for primary heat. I dunno, but at least now I have a handy chart that I can take notes on to see some goals. In talking with various people on their current energy uses, propane used for cooking, on demand hot water and laundry (can't air dry in freezing temps :rasta: ) seems to amount to maybe a couple hundred gallons a year to under 100 gallons a year. even an efficient home would use more than double that if adding in a propane furnace.

Originally Posted by Crisbee1 (Post 44749832)

Mountain home has forced air heating, air handler with 2 heat strips each on it's own 60 amp breaker in a stand up 12x12 attic space. Ground mount a/c compressor (not heat pump) and a roof mount mastercool swamper. The heat strips flat get with it, I have one of them shut off, just one can keep 1200 sq ft toasty warm, 2x6, on a slab, lots of insulation. We have been without power for 4 days at a time, Honda 3000w generator runs everything I need. pellet stove noworky without electricity, I have a basic Osburn wood stove. Wood is a pain in the ass. I burn 3-4 cords a year, I cut 2 and buy 1 or 2 depending on the deal, typically $250 a cord for split juniper delivered, not stacked. I cut by myself and usually it takes me all day to get half a cord so 4 days of cutting. $20 for a permit from the FS for 2 cords, set up with a tag system down to the time and date of harvest, get caught cheating it's a federal ticket, if you are not a Dick LEO might tell you to drop your load behind the FS office and don't let me catch you again. By the time you actually put that piece of wood into the wood stove you have picked it up 10 fucking times. Fill woodstove before bed, set heat at 66*, heat will come on 2 or 3 in the wee hours of the morning, get up bump heat to 68*, empty stove ash, build fire, modulate fire to maintain 72*, repeat. This morning

Realsquash

There's some (a lot) of incorrect information here, or maybe just misunderstanding some of the numbers. I read through most of it but there's too much to comment on everything directly. How DIY-ish do you want to get? Your best option $ and efficiency-wise is to set up a Tesla/Leaf/Volt battery at 48v and use a 48v inverter. If you could get a higher voltage inverter that would be more efficient, but there aren't many at a reasonable price. Lead acids are less efficient due to their weird charging requirements. Lower voltages are less efficient. Even an MPPT is more efficient when you run a higher panel/string voltage and a higher battery voltage (to a point). For charging you could use some Telco rectifiers like I do. They are massively parallel, redundant, smart, programmable, compact, run on single or 3 phase, and are 97% efficient at 100% load. They are regularly under $100 on ebay and each one will do 3000w. Eltek is the manufacturer. I have 4 of these set up for charging my Volt bank that's set up for 48v. I also have 1600w of solar panels, but wish I had more. I also have a 12.5kw diesel generator. This is in my motorhome, and this is a very DIY setup. Also know that you're only going to be able to use 50% of the capacity of a lead acid deep cycle, and 80% of a lithium. The Tesla numbers and most of the other stuff you see quoted on the internet are incorrect interpretations of things. Tesla supercharges to 80% for only one reason - the cars and chargers aren't equipped to cool the battery well enough for any more charging power. They will pound in the amps from 20-80% as fast as they can and just stop charging. This is one of the big advantages of lithiums. They don't need to top it off to 100% to get max battery life, so they don't have to spend the time topping off at lower amps to get max capacity, either. If you had to fill a glass with a water hose you'd be much quicker if you didn't have to slow down the water flow to top off the glass right to the rim.

....

Eltek Flatpack2 48/3000 HE - 3kw each. You would have to look for a shelf on ebay like I did, or you can make your own box for them and build your own connections for the rear of them. They normally slide in from the front of a cabinet and they are packed in tight. They can operate on their own or you can buy the controller to program them. There have been some people in the past who have reprogrammed them for others on the DIY electric car sites. I just bought a thing to program them on ebay, I think it was $50. They work by themselves, don't need to stay connected. When all the rectifiers are connected their inputs and outputs are all in parallel. There is a can bus connection between all of them as well. They will load balance, they are hot swappable, etc. You can program them to be a constant current supply up to a specific voltage, where they will taper off in constant voltage. You can set the max current on them, etc. I like them because I can log all of them and what they are doing, temps, etc. On the battery capacity you're off - my pack is a 16.5kw model, so I charge it to 100% and discharge to 20%. That's the 80% of capacity. Going between 20% and 80% is internet hogwash, no electric car on the planet does this because going only to 80% doesn't give you a large number more cycles. Also, I think you misunderstand the charge/discharge thing. If you have the gen running and powering the charger and you turn on the inverter, the power is going to come from the charger, not the battery. All the power will come from the charger and will go into the battery and the inverter. That's basically how it works. On my setup, since I can't use the OEM BMS to do anything, I am just reading the pack sensors and ambient temp outside. I also watch the water temp in the reservoir. The objective is to keep the pack under about 95F in the summer, and above 25F in the winter if I'm doing anything big with it, like charging. Slow discharge in the cold is no issue down to 5 or 10F, but I just keep it warm. Optimum temp is like 75, but depending on the situation it might be wasted energy to bring it up to that temp. It doesn't take a lot to keep the temp up in the winter. I have a 48v hot water heating element in the reservoir and the brushless 12v pump from a Volt (cheap on ebay, basically the same as a ZL1 intercooler pump) that I can run at a very low speed, so it takes almost no power. I run the heating element at a low power level. There is also a small heat exchanger with a small fan on it so I can cool the pack at night when the air cools off, for example. I also built a very small A/C compressor deal to cool the battery below ambient, but I haven't needed it more than a few times in the past couple years so it's out of there at the moment because I never finished the enclosure for it. I used the evaporator/coolant heat exchanger from the volt for that, too. It's a TXV setup, nice and easy. If i ever end up travelling where it's extremely hot I'll finish the enclosure and put it back in. I do not have any cell balancing devices, I do manually check the cells a couple times a year just to be safe, and so far I'm 0.03v different high to low. No kidding. I do need to get a monitor built for it. There are lots of cells to manage here and pretty much all of the aftermarket stuff is junk and causes more dead cells than they save. I'm running a Magnum MS4400PAE, which is a 120/240 split phase 4400w inverter. Here's an in-progress photo I had online showing the battery and main panel:

:beer: thanks. i'm going to need to read/look at that a couple more times. Concerning the capacity, there was a GM article talking about how they consider them unsuitable for auto use at 12kw, so that is what I was figuring as an easy to figure worst case capacity. still plenty useable even if it can no longer charge up to the full 16kw. but if it a non-issue, then by all means, the more the merrier. it does seem like I've misunderstood the charge/discharge thing, thank you for clarifying that. makes sense. interesting that there isn't a way to use the OE water pump/heater. it seems like it would be really simple to set that up with a high/low temp switch to keep it happy. in a non-mobile use with a bit more space especially. hell, it could be tied into a home HVAC and treated as a 'zone', wouldn't be much in terms of heat use compared to what the whole rest of the home is sucking up. So just to clarify: Generator->bus bar->rectifiers->batteries for charging and then batteries->bus bar->4400W Inverter- >Load for discharge edit: eye see now, rectifier handles the AC to DC stuff and inverter the DC to AC stuff, so the Eltek flatpack does the charging/managing/loading side https://www.eltek.com/globalassets/i....ds3-1-7- 1.pdf. gosh, that seems much better, and you can run the gen at 220v instead of 115v and the rectifiers are handling the parrallelellding, with the battery cells set up at nominal 48v 3kw banks, and then however many of those 3kw banks/rectifier combos for however much storage you want to add.


after much-ado about pellets vs wood vs heat pump, this really seems to be the 'ideal' option, just requires dry wood

https://smokelessheat.com/product/vedolux-40-ub/ i'm also going to drop this thing here. it is a natural-draft wood gasification boiler. No electric blower, so that is neat :smokin: I found a whole bunch that wanted ~1500watts just to run the blowers....for that same power(ish), i'll take the heat pump and not have to deal with wood or thermal storage :laughing: so the idea of a high efficiency boiler that doesn't require electric input pretty well makes wood worthwhile

https://www.caleffi.com/sites/defaul...dronics_10.pdf

and i've also downloaded several of the Caleffi Idronics .pdf publications, they are awesome. using the outside wood furnace to heat a large water storage tank, to then pump the hot water around the ground to use as livestock trough keep-from-freezing and home in-floor heating and on-demand water pre-heating, caleffi sells/makes the controls to do all that stuff and puts out really good and detailed information on how to maximize efficiency with their stuff.


The thread these exceprts are from is roughly 60 pages in PDF format, if your information or post isn't quoted above, know that i'm reading and considering all of it, just wanted to tag this handful as kind of "general idea" things
 
And some pictures of what I ended up with, 40 Acre Ranchette (no mule, my reparations package sucks)


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USGS seems to have updated their website which is fun, unfortunately I cross a line between two of their 24k scale maps, but a nice topo map is fun to have.

After looking at a whole range of the country trying to find this high desert with grass climate, this ended up being the spot to be. keeps the wife happy, keeps me happy. We looked at several places in the region last year and this was the first one that agreed to sell to us at a price we were willing to pay ~$800/acre.

This is what it looked like last early Novemberish. it had snowed about a week prior

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and this is about in the same spot at the end of August this year. A couple thunder storms that didn't leave the ground wet managed to bring a touch of green to the grass. this is roughly the South East corner approx 6647'

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View onto the property from the North East corner approx 6712' (yeah, this is going to be a bunch of pictures, but i need to host them on the internet to share in other places anyways :flipoff2: )

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about the middle of the north side , area is an exposed hillside with about 200' total elevation

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North West corner, approx 6546'

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This is about the lowest spot along the West boundary, 6490' and about the middle of the west line

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The wife was happy to see that the desert isn't all sage and cacti

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South West corner approx 6539'

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this is also looking at the steepest part of what i've got

Here is the view South from that corner, it's nice being on the last of the foothills

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This is along the south border just over the hump of the steepest part of the slope, looking around. this is about as far down the hill as I figure i'd drive. leave it alone or terrace it or such

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Didn't get pictures of animals, did see several bushy tail mountain rats, chipmunks, 1 buck, 2 does and 2 baby mule deer and lots of what are apparently badger holes

Badger scat? it was the only think that didn't look like deer or rabbit poop

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some of the sage was pretty thick

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Flowers were still out, well, i'm taking them as flowers anyways

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and the wife named the one tree, here is Sid.

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We met one of our neighbors who is signing this week. apparently they had a quick survey done, one of the corner stakes is labeled "approximate" :shaking: , and they are looking to move an old fence for a 320ac ranch about 15' in over about 300' long because it cuts off a part of their property. They were advised of the issue and have decided that retaining an attorney is the best way to move forward. This pretty quickly resulted in a whole bunch of "i told ya so's" from my wife about how this area was going to be too built up and we should sell it and move further out :lmao: this whole covid shutdown/school closure BS has REALLY helped out my cause for getting her convinced that a self-reliant f-off lifestyle is a worthwhile endeavor.

Based on my non-scientific GPS and such, any boundary disputes that involve our area should end up with us gaining some lines, but it isn't worth a couple grand to me, the existing fences are where i like them and i plan on rerouting the existing road (well within my rights) to the area i'd consider contested, so no big deal

Neighborhood drama out of the way, the next thing to do will be to figure out a decent way to get a tractor up there to start clearing things off.

Ultimately, a used John Deere 4052R and a 14.5klb ex seem like the ideal tools to buy first. I don't plan on being able to move out there until about 2031, my dad might be out there about 2023.

Plans for now are to clear out the brush and encourage grass, create an area to park the camper and a sort of 'equipment pad', then work out where water will come from, nearby wells range from 130-350' so on property should have good prospects, then build a large 3 bay+ shop with a 1/1 apartment along one side for the old man. then work out the "power building" and a 13-1500sf 3/2, then some sort of barn and animal buildings. without dealing with water rights, we can do household, livestock and 1 ac garden, so that should be the hot ticket.

Milk goats, egg chickens, as many alpaca as i can fit, maybe a couple horse and some rabbits. still need to actually learn how to hunt and fish to have variety in my diet :rasta:

so long and slow build, but figured i'd get the thread started to hold pictures sooner rather than later.
 
Flat lander.

Indeed! I'd love to buy out my neighbors, but it just isn't in the cards right now, it's 10 minutes to the mountains/forest

Good for you:smokin:

thanks! all my best decisions come from pits of depression, if i hadn't required hand surgery last year, i wouldn't have finally made the leap from years of talking about it to actually buying a start


:laughing: It should be a fun project, and while i'm wondering what temperatures above freezing feel like, i'll keep you and your sunshine in mind :)

Looks like a nice piece of land - congratulations! :beer:

Thanks! It got better every time we walked around and through it. need to figure out a spot somewhere halfway up to pile snow and make a retention pond to help with the ~2 month long "dry" season and passively irrigate and it should clean up really well
 
Is this a giant ranch that a developer cut up and sold off?

I see ads like that all the time on FB/CL... $800 an acre! Click ad and it shows a red square in the middle of nowhere in another state.
 
You might want to look into Electric Thermal System heaters you could use any excess electricity to charge them. Ours only store heat during off peak hours then shut off during peak and use the stored heat to keep the house warm.
 
Awesome you posted this. I really dig watching people plan and make a dream a reality. I hope to do this in the next few years.

Thanks! It helps me to keep my thoughts somewhere and this is a great place to bounce ideas off people that have been there and done that. :smokin: keep us updated as you get through yours!


Thank you!

Very nice. I think you'll have quite a bit of wind.

Our 2nd? night there in the camper it was a pretty awesome storm rolled through, the kid was amazed the camper didn't flip over :lmao: Mornings were all beautiful and the wind actually wraps around the property in an interesting way. it comes up from the south and sort of follows the small valley along our west fence before climbing up the hill and dumping over the cliff on the east, then at night it was shifting and coming from the north, right off the big mountains and slamming towards the big valley down below. combined with low humidity and low temperatures, it should make for some neat snow drifts and really changed how I want to position the buildings

Is this a giant ranch that a developer cut up and sold off?

I see ads like that all the time on FB/CL... $800 an acre! Click ad and it shows a red square in the middle of nowhere in another state.

Far as i can tell, it was a giant ranch that was cut up in the late 60s/early 70's to try and capitalize on the post war-retirement get out of town boom. this area just didn't work that well apparently. the LLC formed went defunct in the early 90's and all the cabins when we looked last year were 70s/80s vintage. While it seems to have kept pace with inflation during that period, it seems to have kicked up a touch after the 2008 crash. Now it seems to have gone up yet again with the 2020 crash as there were several new cabins and modular homes this year and the properties across the whole county are about 50% higher asking and sales price. it seems like the area is primed to make another go at it, mining seems to be the big regional draw for everything that isn't a cow or hay and they have apparently stayed busy.

We went and looked at several regions in several states before making a purchase and did a bunch of legal reading and county talking, helped make me feel more comfortable with it. this way, if anything changes, we'll hopefully be grandfathered in to existing laws.

some places we looked made 40 acres feel like you were still living in a townhouse, some places 100 acres was too rugged to really be useful without significant dirt work.
 
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You might want to look into Electric Thermal System heaters you could use any excess electricity to charge them. Ours only store heat during off peak hours then shut off during peak and use the stored heat to keep the house warm.

i will, thanks :beer:
 
Our 2nd? night there in the camper it was a pretty awesome storm rolled through, the kid was amazed the camper didn't flip over :lmao: Mornings were all beautiful and the wind actually wraps around the property in an interesting way. it comes up from the south and sort of follows the small valley along our east fence before climbing up the hill and dumping over the cliff on the west, then at night it was shifting and coming from the north, right off the big mountains and slamming towards the big valley down below. combined with low humidity and low temperatures, it should make for some neat snow drifts and really changed how I want to position the buildings

I thought we had a lot of wind up north until I went down south and saw all the snow fence. :lmao: We have lived here 16 years and I still can't stand the storms with dry lightning. I close all the curtains and go to bed after rounding up the horses so they don't run through the fence. I think they're more used to it than me by now.
 
I need to hurry up and get my work down with that dump truck/old plow truck. That starts with me fixing the front brakes and driving it to my place. That thing would go up any of those hills if you had enough of a running start...
 
I need to hurry up and get my work down with that dump truck/old plow truck. That starts with me fixing the front brakes and driving it to my place. That thing would go up any of those hills if you had enough of a running start...

Hell, i need to hurry up and get your gears done now that i'm back!
 
I thought we had a lot of wind up north until I went down south and saw all the snow fence. :lmao: We have lived here 16 years and I still can't stand the storms with dry lightning. I close all the curtains and go to bed after rounding up the horses so they don't run through the fence. I think they're more used to it than me by now.

That area actually doesn't drift much. Being just east of a high pass it's fairly calm. He'll just have 3-5' of snow to deal with for 4-5 months :flipoff2:
 
That area actually doesn't drift much. Being just east of a high pass it's fairly calm. He'll just have 3-5' of snow to deal with for 4-5 months :flipoff2:

I was unloading my car at a wide spot on the road, older neighbor, probably 70's whose 3rd or 4th gen out there, made a similar statement. "it ain't so bad when you are in your 40's, but you get to be my age :laughing: " I told him i'd sell it and move if i wasn't dead by the time i hit his age. :flipoff2: we are friends now.

hopefully i'll have the buick done by then so i don't have to listen to all the "oh, shoulda bought a snowmachine, eh?" comments
 
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