Introduction by George B.
Why I think you need consider making the time for Steve’s project? As we study small generators, we learn that one of the larger mistakes we can make is buying one too big. I use the example of friend Jack Belk attempting to live at Magic Hot Springs (far from the grid) with what the owners of Magic had installed for a generator, He ran out of his monthly allotment of fuel in a few days, that’s when he found utterpower and friends, and built a 3KW Listergen set that allowed him to live in comfort with only a portion of his allotment of fuel. I’ll leave it up to others to share links in comments, so I don’t get carried away here.
Smart load management and a small efficient generator can allow you to live well off grid or weather outages long after others run out of fuel. An understanding of stripping non esssential loads, and then starting your largest load, like a well pump can allow you to run far more than you might first imagine with far less fuel. As for storm coverage, imagine blazing through all of your fuel half way through your outage only to sit in darkness in unpleasant and sometimes unbearable temperatures.
As you read, just think of your refridgerator, freezer, well pump and more requesting to run, not loads coming on all at once and overwhelming your small generator.
A very popular search term on the internet is ‘whole house generator.’ I’ve come to recognize it as a sign that the person who asks for such a thing has not yet to identified his needs, and just how much more big machines carrying small loads burn VS the smaller machine well loaded.
Steve’s project opens the door to so many possibilities and solutions. But first.. you need take that step. This is not your Dad’s Micro! What Steve demonstrates here is a fraction of the cost, and takes a fraction of the effort to learn. It doesn’t take days to set up a programing environment, no expensive tools.
I was just over to Radio Shack this week and was amazed to see a full bay of Arduino everything! Our friend Forrest Mims would love this environment, and so will you! The first thing you need understand, your first lesson is simple, and all you need is open source and free! All save for the micro, and a few parts, and it will all be worth the education. If you are interested in a person’s code, it’s always easy to show your appreciation with a paypal donation so he might pay to keep his website on line.. I see no reason that we can’t work together to optimize a box that allows a generator to strip loads based on priority, and to know what loads to strip before starting a well pump. No reason Steve can’t offer a kit of parts.
What follows was written by our fellow DIYer Steve Spence.
Ok, so this is a long title, but it’s a very cool project. Take an appliance or other piece of machinery, add an inexpensive web server / microcontroller, and now you can monitor and / or control the device with a web browser. Say you have a remote generator, you can monitor temp, fuel consumption, voltage/freq/current, and more. You can even log that data to an sd card. Remote startup / shutdown becomes an easy proposition. The example below uses a Arduino microcontroller, with a Ethernet shield running a web server. You have several analog ports you can observe (temperature, voltage, current, etc) and several digital ports (or pwm ports) that you can control. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
You will need:
SSR (dc controlling a ac appliance)
Connect the SSR + (3) to port 7 0n the Arduino, and the – (4) to Gnd on the Arduino. The two ac terminals on the SSR (1 & 2) are connected like a switch (break in the hot line) to the appliance.
Open the Sketch (program) in the Arduino IDE (you’ll need the software from ), and edit the IP information to match your network, and the MAC address of your Ethernet shield. Upload the sketch to the Arduino, and open the IP address of the Arduino in a browser of any computer on your network. You will now be able to see the values of the analog inputs (floating, as we have not connected them to anything), and have the option of turning the digital ports on / off. If you connected the SSR as above, whatever lamp, motor, or other ac appliance you have connected is now web enabled.
This project will run you approximately $70, and take about 3 hours to complete if you have never used an Arduino before. More projects like amp hour meters, smart power strips, load shedding and control, are coming, so stay tuned. For more information, please visit http://arduinotronics.blogspot.com