Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

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  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,412 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    Wowie! Zowie,, 6000 hours between oil changes! That's either pretty interesting or pretty scary. That said, running any engine on gasious fuel, natural/propane/methane is much easier on the engine, and hence can prolong oil change intervals. Also long duration run times are also easier on engines. It is the start/stop/heat/cool that kills them.

    (The only reason I use propane as an example is I have no idea of the BTU load per CuFt/Meter etc, nor do I have any idea of cost. For the purposes of this discussion propane and natural gas are nearly identical in performance both in engines and in gas burning units).

    I will have to read some more to find out how this works in the real world. My other intuition is that a ground source/ground water heat pumps might bring more BTUs for the buck.

    T
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I don't have the consumption rate of a propane-fired Honda unit, so I can't help you with propane numbers. A given amount of propane has a little more than twice the energy of natural gas. But without having a flow rate for the generator, I wouldn't try to estimate the cost of running it.

    If you know how much electricity is required to run the ground pump, you could figure the cost per BTU. In an area with expensive electricity it's going to be less attractive. Unless of course you have enough solar & wind energy to run the pump - in that case you get your heat without buying any fuel at all which is pretty exciting.

    How much might it cost to install a ground pump heat source, a wind turbine and some PV on my house (keeping in mind that my house has a small server farm that runs 24/7)? And if I decided to keep what I have, how many cords of wood would that same money buy me? :)

    Howard
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I can add a little about the freewatt, I have followed the system for about two years and decided in October to make the plunge, since we now have a local dealer.

    A little background, my home that I bought two years ago had oil fired hot air. My wife and I hated the oil smell, the large tank in the basement, and the fact the we could only store 250 gallons of oil at a time. Our goal was industrious, we wanted to be able to survive on our property for a least a year with outside input. Thus, when we installed our pool 2 years ago we installed a thousand pound propane tank with the hopes of eventually replaceing the oil burner.

    We are in the construction stage of having a 10kw PV system installed, the grid tied pv will replace 80% of electricity needs. However, like most pv systems we will produce more energy than we need at times, be short others. I could have added a battery bank, however this would increase the cost and complexity of our install; I still would have been in need of heat. In addition a battery back up system would also likely need a backup generator. Most of our electricty comes from coal fired plants and I would like to never pull from the grid ever again.

    The freewatt will produce heat and electricity when the solar is not avaliable, we will be burning a Dino fuel, however I feel the enviromental impact to be less than the power plant as they cannot use the waste heat. Propane is locally produced, and generally regarded a being more Eco concious than coal.

    I have over insulated or house to reduce our heating needs, going from a 125000 btu furnace to 80000. I intend to add a solar thermal heat exchanger so hopefully when the sun is shining and the pv is producing the co-gen unit won't need to run.

    As far as economics are concerned it's just to early to tell. My wife refers to how much money I have spent as; "the number to which we do not speak". Electric rates are suposed to go up in 2010, so we will see if I am a genious or if she will leave me for a richer man.
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    That's going to be quite the system. Since you say you're not going to have backup power, it seems like you opted for the standard freewatt. That makes sense, since you certainly won't need the 1.2kw coming from the freewatt on a sunny day whether the grid is alive or not.

    The solar heat exchanger should cover you pretty well. If you can get most of your heat from that, then you only need to run the cogen and furnace on cold nights. I'd be curious to see how you do over time on savings (not counting the "number to which we do not speak" which I'm sure is pretty substantial).

    Howard
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I should add that the freewatt is not 100% installed, the warm air furnace is in, my dealer said the propane freewatts won't be avaliable untill sometime this month. I was told all propane freewatts offer backup power capability. I like the idea back power as we usually lose power during winter ice storms, when we need heat the most. Once everyhing installed I will do a write up, with all of my numbers.
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    If what you bought was a 'freewatt plus' and the electricans have either been there or will be there to install a transfer switch and a load management panel, then yes - you have backup power (or will have). We have seen samples of non-backup Honda generators that run on propane and I didn't know if they became a product or not.
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    baldy672, have your heard anything about the propane freewatts? I installed the warm air ready in Oct. and I still waiting for the freewatt.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,328 admin
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    Solar Lurker,

    You might try PM'ing Howard directly (has not been back here for over 1 month--Or contact Climate Energy directly.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,686 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)
    I should add that the freewatt is not 100% installed, the warm air furnace is in, my dealer said the propane freewatts won't be avaliable untill sometime this month. I was told all propane freewatts offer backup power capability. I like the idea back power as we usually lose power during winter ice storms, when we need heat the most. Once everyhing installed I will do a write up, with all of my numbers.

    I also have been watching this develope and was thinking in an offgrid mindset of using the heat to circulate in an existing solar heated tank and charge batteries with the 1.2KW 240VAC. Any idea how expensive this basic propane unit will be?
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)
    baldy672, have your heard anything about the propane freewatts? I installed the warm air ready in Oct. and I still waiting for the freewatt.

    I haven't heard anything specific about the delivery of the full-production propane units. The facility here in MA is the R&D center and (especially in engineering) we don't hear all of the details concerning manufacturing. We have though, stepped up beta testing with the propane units. I'd suggest you talk with your dealer and have them check with whoever at ECR might know the details.

    Howard
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)
    ... was thinking in an offgrid mindset of using the heat to circulate in an existing solar heated tank ...

    The freewatt isn't intended to run in an offgrid setup. It's intended to fill in when the grid goes down to keep the heat on, light a lamp and keep your milk & eggs cold. If you're a creative sort (as many on this board seem to be) perhaps there's some clever use you can work out with a like-minded dealer. We're always hearing about new applications for this stuff. But offgrid isn't likely to work since we do depend on grid power to charge batteries.

    If you figure out a way to fool the freewatt into thinking it's on grid by giving it power from an inverter, that may be a possibility. We do that with our demo trailer we take to trade shows.

    Good luck, and let us know what you come up with!!

    Howard
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,686 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)
    baldy672 wrote: »
    The freewatt isn't intended to run in an offgrid setup. It's intended to fill in when the grid goes down to keep the heat on, light a lamp and keep your milk & eggs cold. If you're a creative sort (as many on this board seem to be) perhaps there's some clever use you can work out with a like-minded dealer. We're always hearing about new applications for this stuff. But offgrid isn't likely to work since we do depend on grid power to charge batteries.

    If you figure out a way to fool the freewatt into thinking it's on grid by giving it power from an inverter, that may be a possibility. We do that with our demo trailer we take to trade shows.

    Good luck, and let us know what you come up with!!

    Howard

    I as you say, probably will not "come up with anything". It sounds like "this" is still a long way from being what I am interested in. Tinkering around with this stuff is not going to happen but thanks for the update!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    Dave

    when I actually get it installed I will let you know how it works with grid power and without.
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I found a video of the freewatt plus at vimeo: http://vimeo.com/11562666

    It appears to use APC's Adaptive Load Transfer switch, it seems they are using the 6 circuit panel.

    From APC literature it seems that this unit will accept power from both a generator and another source such as UPS, PV or Wind.

    I cannot tell How smart the APC is in determining what souce to pull from.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,686 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    Come on go buy one and test it! Can you buy one....
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I would buy it in an instant. It was supposed to be available 1rst quarter 2010, now rumor has it the freewatt is doing in home testing for a year.

    I am a little disappointed with Freewatt, I like my propane furnace so far. However if I knew that it was going to take so long to release the Freewatt plus I would have waited.
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    My hope may have been dashed

    I just spoke to my freewatt dealer. It looks like the freewatt plus is going to cost anther 25,000 to install. I already paid 8000 for the furnace part, I got to say I have a little sticker shock. If I knew the system would cost over 33,000, I would have gone GeoThermal.

    I have to do a little more research, the technology is supercool, however at these prices I don't think the system can justify itself. I will keep everyone updated.
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: My hope may have been dashed
    It looks like the freewatt plus is going to cost anther 25,000 to install.

    I'm sorry I didn't see your post sooner. That didn't sound right when you said it. To be fair, installing a freewatt plus system can require extensive electrical work depending on your situation, so I can't comment specifically on your installation. We typically expect a complete installation to be thousands less than your quoted price of 33K for a warm air Plus system. I brought this thread to the attention of the New England freewatt Sales Manager and he was also wondering why your quote was so high. If you'd be so kind, please send me your name & contact info so he can make sure that there isn't some miscommunication between your dealer & distributor or something. Installing freewatts is a rather new thing in areas outside of New England and maybe someone in the chain has a detail or two out of place.

    Thanks,

    Howard
    [email protected]
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)
    I found a video of the freewatt plus at vimeo: http://vimeo.com/11562666

    It appears to use APC's Adaptive Load Transfer switch, it seems they are using the 6 circuit panel.

    From APC literature it seems that this unit will accept power from both a generator and another source such as UPS, PV or Wind.

    I cannot tell How smart the APC is in determining what souce to pull from.

    It's actually pretty simple. The APC panel controls load shedding on up to 6 circuits of 15A each. when you install it, you choose which circuits in your house need the benefit of backup power. the panel takes primary power from the grid or whatever you consider to be an unlimited source of continuous power. A second input is provided for backup power which on the freewatt installation is the Honda MCHP unit. The APC is then configured to know the maximum output of the backup source so it can load shed when that source is active. Finally it will take the input of a UPS so that critical items can be powered from that while the switchover happening between the primary and secondary sources.

    The device is primarily a transfer switch. when the main power source goes out, the unit switches expects that the backup source will come online and then switches those 6 circuits to that source. Using rules you set up, it turns loads on and off so as to not overload the generator. If both the primary and secondary sources are out (as they would be when the generator is starting up) the system can provide UPS power to circuits specifically marked as critical.

    It's not clear that it's directly applicable to installation where you have PV and wind and want to use them both to power stuff. in that situation, I would think you'd want some control device that uses output from both to keep a battery bank charged and then use inverters to provide the house power. Both PV and wind will have frequent outages when the sun goes down or the wind stops. the APC panel is intended to provide constant power when the main source is active and controlled power when a limited current backup source is providing the power.
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    Thanks for the info, baldy672. I appreciate the excitement ecr and climate energy have over these units.

    I have been talking with a second installer, who I think may be better equipped to get this unit coordinated with my re initiatives. I have yet to see his prices, but let's hope it is less than the first installer.

    Seems like the unit should cost about half of what was initially quoted. A good quality low rpm liquid cooled generator is only 11,000 to 12,000 installed. The apc units are not much.

    Baldy672

    Do you think a non freewatt plus unit could work with an ac coupled pv system? Is there any reason why the system couldn't be run by a sunny island?

    I would only want the device to run when there is a demand of heat.
  • baldy672baldy672 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I'm not aware of any other generators that are designed specifically to be run indoors and are approved for that use. in the world of portables, there are certainly many generators less expensive than a Honda, but there's a reason for that. Look at work sites and see how many professionals choose Hondas.

    The freewatt expects to be connected to a continuous grid connection. If your Pv installation is going to provide that, then it's a fair question for your installer. Many PV installations are set up to provide surplus to the grid during the day and do nothing at night. The net effect is to use zero from the grid but there would be no output at night when you're most likely to need heat. It doesn't sound like a great plan but I don't know all your particulars. A good question for the dealer.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    SolarLurker, do you have any update for us on your freewatt + system yet? I'm also looking into getting this system. Please let me know how it goes for you.
  • SolarLurkerSolarLurker Solar Expert Posts: 122 ✭✭
    Re: Heat Harvester (Freewatt Cogeneration System)

    I have been in contact with a different dealer, who's prices are much more inline with what I was expecting. I hope to have it installed in a few weeks, I will keep you posted.
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