Brewing using solar or wind power

Discussion in 'General Home Brew Equipment Discussion' started by FlatFenBrew, Sep 12, 2018.

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  1. Sep 12, 2018 #1

    FlatFenBrew

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    I am looking into how to brew using off grid solar or wind power.
    I brew in my garage so lots of room on roof for panels.
    Does anybody do this?
    Any advice appreciated.
     
  2. Sep 12, 2018 #2

    MyQul

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    I've been idling in the halls of HBF Towers for many a moon and tbh, I dont recall ever seeing any posts about off grid brewing. I thought their might be quite a lot of stuff at our American sister site HBT as Americans love all that off grid/prep-ing/zombie apocalypse stuff but I could only find this thread https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/any-off-grid-brewers-out-there.87440/

    There are a number of commercial breweries that use solar and/or wind power for their brewery but I there doesnt seem much stuff on it at the homebrew level. Perhaps it's too expensive to do at our level? If you can find anything I'd suggest contacting some of the micro's who use this tech and ask for some advise/pointers. You'd be surprised at how helpful and friendly some micros are
     
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  3. Sep 12, 2018 #3

    jceg316

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    I went to a permaculture farming exhibition a couple years back and there was a guy there showing how to make solar panels. I asked whether I could power my homebrew with it and he said no. Solar panels will be able to power TVs, laptops, modern appliances etc. but to keep a 2.6kw element running for an hour is too much.

    I will caveat this with it was 2 years ago and technology moves on, perhaps there's something which can handle that load. Now that I think about it, he may have been referencing his own build and not a commercial solar panel which can be much larger.

    FWIW he had some cool projects with him, like running his car on vegetable oil.
     
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  4. Sep 13, 2018 #4

    Drunkula

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    I've got 10 solar panels and running the kettle at night costs about 39p per hour (got a linked device that updates every 8 seconds) and in the day it reads 16p per hour, so it certainly helps.
     
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  5. Sep 13, 2018 #5

    Cwrw666

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    Just get yourself a stockpot and heat it over a wood fire.
     
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  6. Sep 13, 2018 #6

    Dutto

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    A real "No-Brainer" this one ...
    1. A gas ring and an ordinary Boiler sorts out Mashing and Boiling.
    2. For many months of the year a brew will ferment at ambient temperatures, but if required then a 100W Solar Panel, 110AH 12v battery, Inverter and 50W aquarium heater will easily provide sufficient heat for a "Trug System".
    3. If you need to chill something then gas powered fridges are readily available.
    ... all you have to do is "Think outside the box." right! :laugh8:
     
  7. Sep 13, 2018 #7

    Brewed_Force

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    If I could just find a way to harness the wind I generate after a pint or three of homebrew......:doh:
     
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  8. Sep 13, 2018 #8

    FlatFenBrew

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    Is this an off grid system?
     
  9. Sep 13, 2018 #9

    Benj111

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    possible? Yes.
    practical? No
    consider how often you would be brewing, say once a week max. You would then need to either size you solar array to run the kettle in real time. Ie 2 - 3 kws in panels (basically a standard sized house installation). Or store enough energy in batteries and run off the batteries. Considering all the boiling I would guess 5kwh MINIMUM. That is quite a lot of battery.

    The basic problem is that heating water is one of the most energy intensive things you can do, especially in the house. You are wanting to heat it up to a very high temperature in a short amount of time, so you cant even use the water itself as a store.

    If you are interested in solar I would look into residential solar and net metering.

    if you want to go off grid, go wood fired.

    sorry for the downer, I'm sympathetic but cant think of a worse suited domestic activity to go solar with. Perhaps your fridge, or laptop /mobile phone? They're much more suitable if you want a project.
     
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  10. Sep 13, 2018 #10

    FlatFenBrew

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    Thanks for your response.
    I understand what you are saying.
     
  11. Sep 14, 2018 #11

    hichaechoc

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    I've a 3.78kW array on my roof, the most I've ever seen it actually generating is 3.2kW per hour. When I'm generating more than I'm using the excess heats water until the tank reaches 60°C and then gets diverted back to the grid. Being retired I'm pretty flexible in when I do stuff and will brew when the sun's shining, however doing it off-grid makes it so difficult (= expensive) as to not be viable.
     
  12. Sep 15, 2018 #12

    Druncan

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    I did a course 6 years ago to build solar hot water panels. During three day course we all built low tech panels using garden hose sandwiched between kingspan and aluminium sheet painted black with clear corex on top sealed in aluminium strips then in 4x2 timber surround. With a 12v mini solar panel to pump the water through. Heats a bucket of water from 16-54*C in 3hrs on a sunny day! Now planning to install as part of my brewery development. But only Pre-heating water in a 300l calorifier. Any temp rise is money saved!
     
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  13. Sep 15, 2018 #13

    Benj111

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    Good point, can I ask how big the panel was to heat that water?
    Also would it be possible to overheat the system when it wasn't running, eg would the hose melt, if you didn't run the pump?

    I was under the impression solar hot water had fallen out of favour as it was now cheaper to just generate electricity to boil water. but I suppose home made panels would be cheaper.

    PS careful about using water thats been left in the system, and hasn't got hot enough. legionnaires and all that.
     
  14. Oct 10, 2018 #14

    FlatFenBrew

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    Sounds like a great start!
     
  15. Oct 10, 2018 #15

    LeeH

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    Off grid? No, it’s far too unreliable. I can brew for free on the best of days with an on grid 5.5kW split array with a 4KW inverter......just.

    That might put brewing off grid into prospective a little.
     
  16. Oct 14, 2018 #16

    Druncan

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    Hi It's 2.4m x 1m but has 100mm x 50mm surround to strengthen it. I'm only going to use it as supplemental pre-heating.
    My plans are that the water will be heated to at least 88*C for the mash also using our eco7 night time heating system and immersion so the insulated 300l calorifier is ready for brew days. Probably going to use a PHE to extract the heat back to the calorifier after the boil with my sub zero glycol bar cooler to finish of wort chilling to <25*C Any suggestions/improvements welcome!
     
  17. Oct 14, 2018 #17

    stz

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    Lets say you get 100w per square meter and have a 3kW element for hot liquor and boiling which aren't run together. You'd want 30 square meters of panel off grid + a bit extra for pumps, lights etc. Rapid electric water heating is pretty brutal for solar. It doesn't show a good return on investment, time, materials and cost. If you were putting in such an array it'd be madness to not connect it to the grid so it can be fully utilised when not brewing.

    I can imagine a bunch of old radiators painted black with reflective backing and something pumped through them which passes through an insulated tank to exchange heat to warm hot liquor part of the way 'for free' on sunny days? Thing is, when you brew everyday you size your heat exchanger so chilling wort produces enough warm water to refill the hot liquor tank for the next brew day. As long as that tank is insulated it stays pretty hot and usually I am only heating it from 60-70C to strike temperature. You only really pay to heat it up the once, after that you need rapid heating for the boil.
     
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  18. Oct 20, 2018 #18

    Druncan

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    To me that's the game changer. Taking heat back from the boil to the next mash (or heat bath water?)
     
  19. Oct 21, 2018 #19

    Dutto

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    Call me an old cynic but I have visions of all these solar powered heat exchangers littering up the garden and then remember the lady way back in the 80’s complaining that her electricity bill was over £40 a week.

    It was in the depths of winter and she was wearing a summer dress with short sleeves whilst her two children cavorted around her legs wearing “T” shirts and shorts.

    I wonder how many of us worry about saving money AND the planet whilst our better halves can’t be bothered to do either?

    Woolly sweaters make lovely presents and beat the hell out of romantic dinners!
     

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