Powering a wood-working shop

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by TxGypsy, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. TxGypsy

    TxGypsy Well-Known Member

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    I'm about to jump into alternative energy with both feet. The area that I'm looking at moving to has more folks with solar panels than it has folks hooked up to the grid! Getting electric lines run to your place is so expensive that it's not practical......it's also an ideal location for solar. I know that I can run a house off of solar panels...especially with a propane refrigerator, and stove and I'm a pretty energy conserving person. The big question is....can I run a wood working shop? The shop will be used every day. Would I be better off not trying to use solar for this and using a generator instead? Is it feasable to use solar and just have a generator as back up? The shop is a necessity. Gotta make a living somehow.
     
  2. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well if you stop at any Amish wood shop you'll usually find a big Cat engine running a big air compressor running air motors on the tools.
    or you could go back to all hand tools like a few are doing and have your lumber prepped for you.

    Hand tools are more fun,quieter and less stressfull and a lot of times just as fast.
     

  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are wood working shops; and there are wood WORKING shops.

    What was your old shop running on, a 40 amp breaker box, or a 3-phase 400 amp breaker box? Give the folks a little idea of the kind of load you put on the system.....

    Is it just a one person operation, or are 3-4 tools operating at the same time?

    --->Paul
     
  4. PyroDon

    PyroDon Well-Known Member

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    ramblers correct we need a bit more info .
    for a standard home shop , one tool at a time max 30 amp draw . I would personally get a Gas or diesel generator/welder that way you could also make metal repairs . I know they do make a generator/air compressor combo that runs on gas. Not sure if you can opt for diesel on one or not or what the total wattage output is but might be something to look into.
    If your living off grid I definately would not skimp on the back up genny go for the highest quality you can find with a dependable motor such as onan,honda, or kohler
     
  5. TxGypsy

    TxGypsy Well-Known Member

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    Excellent questions! I just automatically assumed everyone else had every power tool known to mankind :D ;) There will be 2 people working in the shop at times, which could mean more than one tool going at once. I'm pretty sure that the last shop had several 30 amp breakers, but my significant other believes in over-building and WAY over wiring. Tools in the shop are: large metal lathe, wood lathe, large floor drill press, table top drill press, 'shop' sized air compressor, table saw, chop saw, all kinds of pneumatic tools, 2 large floor model grinders, 2 large floor model sanders, hand held skill saws, hand held drills, jigsaws, and whatever new and wonderful tool he comes home with next. Some days there will be lots of tools running and some days we will be doing lots of work with hand tools.
    I'm of the opinion that it's not going to be real feasable to try and run all this stuff on solar. He thinks he can, but he hasn't been studying solar energy for years the way I have. About the only experience he has is with solar fence chargers.
     
  6. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds as though you might need your Shop set-up where you can Hook to electricity----then drive to your off grid home---------Or you are going to Need A BIG generator or two------------Forget solar with all that equipment------You might could set-up some solar to run a few small hand held electric tools. If you spent $250,000 in solar-----------You might could run a couple of the bigger pieces at one time for a while per day----if the sun shines alot in your area. The Cost of Solar depends on how Much you will use each piece. If your light bill is $100 per month or less where you are set-up now, you can set-up for about 1/2 of above price, If your bill is $200 per month on your shop----Then you will spend close to the above-----with Some still spent on a BIG Generator as a back-up. Good Luck!! Randy
     
  7. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My shop has a thickness planer (Dewalt small one), table saw, radial arm saw, drill press, 2 metal lathes, wood lathe, air compressor, wire feed welder, numerous hand power tools (drill, router, skil saw, sawzal, etc.) Everything runs off of a Trace (Xantrex) SW4024 (4000 watt) inverter. The batteries are charged by 1.8kw of PVs and a 2.5kw Jacobs wind generator. My son and I are the maximum number of workers in the shop in normal situations, and wouldn't have more than 2 power tools running at a time, usually only one, and we have had no problems so far. We have an AC connection to the grid as our back-up power, but the shop, garage, and barn (freezer in the milk house) run only off the batteries and inverter. The battery is 24 volts, 1500+ amp hours.

    First thing you need to do is figure out how many hours a day and a week each power tool will run, and then check their labels and see how much power they use. Then you can actually estimate your power needs. Do it on a daily and weekly basis (I'm assuming each day is not the same).
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think you will need the generator, and 'grow' into an off-grid system that will handle part of that load, perhaps all of it some day. But, you will need the generator, so might as well start with that. Diesel or LP seem more popular for long-term use as you are planning.

    Quick thought to a complex question. :)

    --->Paul
     
  9. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I once seen an Amish shop where the tools were run off a shaft. It was in an old dairy barn, and the shaft ran through the gutter. The band saw, table saw, lathe, planer, etc. were all mounted over the gutter and had a clutch and pully system. There were also shafts running off the main shaft to run fans, and the well pump. The shaft was powered by a deisel engine.
     
  10. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    Most of the tool items you mentioned have hefty inrush (surge) demands. So you need to build big from the git go.

    So as has been stated above-- a hefty gennie.
    Do not 'blink' when the talk goes to $10k for a good KOHLER.

    A unit like that could\would power the shop and house.

    Yes for a very big bunch of bucks PV could do it also.
    But its quite likely that you'll want to work in your shop on days when the sun is hiding . . . . .that big bunch of energy hogs (tools) gotta get their power from somewhere--the gennie.

    I hope you wont let some one talk you into one of those cheapie 4-500 buck pieces of junk *gennies* . . . . . .you will soon regret it.
     
  11. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I AGREE One of the cheap $500 one---With that Heavy Equipment-He Would be Sorry in a Hour!! Randy
     
  12. TxGypsy

    TxGypsy Well-Known Member

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    The sun shines(supposedly) 363 days a year here so cloudy days aren't a big problem. Nope never would have considered one of the cheapies.....but $10,000?!!!! Uh maybe we can work in shifts. Guess I better get to pricing stuff. Possibly start cooking dinner for some buddies who have more stuff than they know what to do with...including a few with big trailer mounted generators.
     
  13. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    You might want to be sitting down when you ask about the price tags of those "Big trailer mounted gennies"

    But yes those are an example of "Good equipment".

    Ok you may be in an area with lots of sun (way better than where I am) . .but as the sun goes down EVERYTHING also shuts down . . including that air conditioner thats keeping your tush comfortable.

    Oh golly time to turn on the . . . . . . .gennie . . . . . lol
     
  14. ericjeeper

    ericjeeper Well-Known Member

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    I think your demands will make it impossible to go solar, and very expensive to use genset. The most economical power, is what you get from the electric company.
    Good luck
     
  15. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    A very nice genny are the portable light towers with the 3 cylinder Kubota diesels.Get em at auction.....

    I saw some that came back from a middle east construction project,a lot less than 10G but I dont remember the price.They were almost new.

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  16. TxGypsy

    TxGypsy Well-Known Member

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    ROFL....but, but, but that would be the sensible, easy thing to do :D

    :nono:
     
  17. CatsPaw

    CatsPaw Who...me?

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    I was under the impression that Generac's were only in the $3-$4000 range, nat. or propane and plenty of quiet power. Come in the metal outdoor case, auto start under power-loss conditions, etc.

    Maybe use generator off and on, charge batteries when needed, turn off when using small or hand tools, plan for using big tools and generator power on days when you need to mill stuff up. Might even be days during assembly that you wouldn't even need it, just some battery tools.

    that ole amish 'we don't use electricity but we use electricity to run an engine that runs hydraulics and air' loop hole always gets me.

    I'm betting you'd wear your solar out with woodworking tools. Compromising by limiting what and how you can use tools can get real old real fast.
     
  18. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    The $10K example I used is for a good, proven, well respected, Kohler.

    Yes theres a bunch of 'other' equipment available at quite a wide range of prices.

    The point I would like to make is that the cheap stuff ($4-500 range) has a very limited range of usefullness__and life__
    The cheapie will do ok on a new construction job site powering a circular saw and such. When it craps out----you by another one.

    Now lets talk about the "In it for the long haul, Off grid folks systems". Doesn't make too much sense to pay big bucks for PV etc. etc. and to go with a bottom end junk gennie.


    OK . i'll get off my soap box . . . .
     
  19. CatsPaw

    CatsPaw Who...me?

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    Looked up Generacs and yes, they're in the $2000 to $4000 range. I think the 13kw was well under $4000. Mo 'nough power.

    Little cheapie portables are too noisy anyway. Takes along time to pay off a $10k generator unless you decide to sell some power to the neighbors.