solar/generator combo and grey water recycling

Discussion in 'Building DIY, Machinery & Tools' started by glen, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. glen

    glen Active Member Premium Member

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    Hi all.

    I was wandering if anyone here would be kind enough to give me some advice.

    I have been given a caravan, i have somewhere to keep it (a field) and i am planning to live in it. I will be completely off the grid. I’m not entirely sure about the cheapest and most efficient way to do this.

    Firstly, is there a device that can connect both a solar panel AND a petrol generator to the leisure battery? If so what would this device be called and where can i find one?

    Secondly, i do not have access to clean water although there is a river nearby. What would be the best way to filter/purify this water? The caravan has a built in filter and there are purification tablets available but i have no idea is this will be enough. It would also be great if there was is a way of recycling the grey water. I guess i could build some kind of DIY filter using gravel, sand and activated carbon, and filter the water as it leaves the waste water pipe. Then have this going directly to another wastemaster (with some purification tablets) which then gets pumped back in to the caravan. Obviously i don’t want to get sick and so i would greatly appreciate your advice.

    Please forgive my ignorance on the subject. It’s all a bit new to me and it’s hard to do any proper research without an internet connection. Thanks
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  2. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi Glen. My water filter for the van is a double element. The first one removes sediment, and the second bacteria. I got it from magneticworld.com Qld. Living off-grid is easy if you're set up right. 12 volt everything uses heaps of power, which is ok if you have heaps of sun or wind constantly. It's always better to up the voltage and/or go to ac through an inverter. The only way you will have power in sun/wind slumps is a bloody big battery bank or a genny. Better to base your setup around a daily period of no power. Refrigeration is a big power user (you will already be heating water by other means). In hot, dry climates evaporation can be used. A hessian fridge (fly-proof) hung in a tree/shade. Mine had a solar pond-pump, with the panel in the sun, pumping the water from the drip-pot back to a top distributor, so it runs down the hessian evenly, this also cooled a keg of beer in another application, in 45+C heat. As for greywater, a Lifestraw, or similar larger technology will recycle it. But why would you when you need something for your garden? Whatever you do Glen, don't buy on impulse. An 80watt solar panel can cost $80 to $350, depending where you buy it. The exact same controller for a 20 amp(240 wattx12volt) system is $80 in OZ is $12 on Ebay from China- you just need a longer wait time.
    The old bushies did quite well without our new-fangled apparatus. If you see something useful but expensive, make it out of wood, wire and throw-outs. Buy powdered milk, dried peas etc. , but avoid dried meals which are 10x as expensive. Put your grey water out the caravan sink and run it onto your new vege patch. Make sure you wash the seeds out the tomatoes, chillies etc. down the drain. In a month or 2 your convenient veg patch will be up and away. Water is the highest commodity, even in the tropics. Also even at Milparinka I had (intermittent) internet with a bloody big home-made ariel post with an extension wire for the car ariel.
    240volt ac and solar, 12v dc are definately not compatible. However if the genset has a 12 volt outlet, you may be able to regulate a feed into your batteries. Alternately a blocking diode on the + 12 volt will stop a power overload frying your panel/inverter. That's a simplified explanation.

    Also, on a holistic level, isolation can be soul-destroying if you let it be. So many farmers commit suicide. Monitor yourself and your emotional state, go somewhere else( or find a distraction like gardening or chooks) if you are experiencing any negative emotional feelings. I have been through this. You don't want to be there. Now my philosophy is,; If you can't be happy with your own company, you will never be happy with anyone else's either.
    Good luck Glen, and FTW.
     
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Do you mean like a switch between the two or just running power to the battery from both sources?

    I've drank water from a bilabong filtered through a bush hat with grass in it when I was desperate but I wouldn't recommend it :)
    I don't know how good those caravan filters really are because I've never used one but filtering technology is good these days down to a few microns I believe - I'd still boil river water for drinking after filtering though.

    If you have access to river water why recycle the grey water?
     
  4. glen

    glen Active Member Premium Member

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    OK thanks for the replies guys!

    Yeh i guess a switch between the two would be good. I was only going to use the generator to charge the battery - perhaps just a couple of hours a day to give it a boost. Then again, i guess i could just swap the inputs around, whichever way is less hassle. I'm not sure if i will get enough sunlight to use solar power alone. There are some large trees behind the caravan blocking the light so i would assume that i would need something extra. Then again, i don't know all that much about solar panel efficiency.

    With regards to recycling the grey water, I just thought it would be more efficient and have less chance of being contaminated. I'm not completely sure how far the river is from the caravan as I still to go and investigate.


    Cheers! :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  5. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    ay Glen, this sounds awesome!

    What gear do you currently have? Fridge, what size? 240v or 12v? What batteries - amp hours, are they deep cycle? What solar panels? and what do you need to run from the batteries? lights? 240v TV?

    You might keep the solar system separate from the generator. Charge the batteries during the day from the sun, then in the afternoon use the generator if needed. I'd use a normal 240v to 12v car battery charger connected to the generator, disconnect the battery from the solar regulator and connect the car battery charger for charging.
     
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  6. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    That's the go Stevo. My 800w genny has a 12 volt outlet, but the safety switch clicks out if you try and drag 10 amps out, so a battery charger's the go-10 or even 20 or 30 amps, but a 4 amp would even be a start.
     
  7. glen

    glen Active Member Premium Member

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    OK Ill find out more when i head back to the caravan in a few days, but i don't think i use much power. Previously i was using a light, a fridge, a slow cooker and the water filter. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before but i guess i could simply connect the solar panel to the leisure battery and connect the generator to mains power using an inverter (i think that is what stevo was refering to). Thanks again! :)
     
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  8. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    The slow cooker, if it's 240 volt, will use a fair bit. If your fridge is a gas/electric it will use a fair bit too, as the caravan fridges run a heating element to substitute the gas flame, but only about 90-120 watts if it's a compressor-type. Yeah, you could just run both the 12 and 240 volt systems separately. Even so, you could charge the 12v batteries from the genset with a battery charger, but a caravan fridge will, I think, use more than 4 amps by itself. 12vx4A=48watts. A caravan fridge may be 2-300 watts, and runs constantly. With a battery(think of it as like a rubber-band winding up), and a compressor fridge which cuts in and out, you may get by through the night. Either that or turn the fridge off at night, but then it needs to be able to catch up during the (solar) day. Clear as mud?:cry::confused:
     

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