Monday, September 19, 2016

Wood Stove Generator Project - Part 1
Unknown10:00 PM

Since the winter season was approaching, I started to think about new ways to generate power to charge the "electronics battery". This a 12-volt, 55 amp hour, AGM battery I keep inside the main cabin. The main purpose was for the kid's low voltage electronics, my wife's laptop and to charge the on-demand hot water heater.  I like to save the main battery bank for big stuff; running the vacuum cleaner, LED lights and the occasional use of the DVD player for movies. This system works, especially in the winter time when snow is covering the solar panels and the batteries charge life was short. In my mind, it doesn't make sense to run a big inverter to charge a small device.
I had an idea on how to generate a few watts of power from the wood stove heat.  I would use a bunch of Peltier thermoelectric modules, two pieces of aluminum and an ammo box. I was hoping to have it all self-contained in the ammo box, placed next to the woodstove and charge a battery. The overall budget for the project would be less than $100.

The project started off with (10) 100W TEC Thermoelectric Cooler Peltier from eBay, The cost was $3.83 each with free shipping. The model was #TEC1-12709 (12 volts at 9 amps). I should have purchased a TEG module, but the cost was too much money at the time. The TEC doesn't necessarily generate 100 watts, it consumes 100 watts when a battery was applied. 
The "hot side" of the modules would be placed on a piece of aluminum and secured into place. It would then be attached to the side of the ammo box and the box would be filled with water or snow. A water jacket or block would be perfect, but I have quite wrapped my head around it. 
In the next week, I will mess around with this idea and see what I can come up with. Below is a few pictures of the progress.
Aluminum plate. Actual an old bus stop sign

Assembling the modules on the plate (white wafers)

For the first test, all the positive on one and negative on the other. (Parallel wiring)  
Used Silver Arctic thermal paste and electricians tape

Made a crude cooling fin from a Starbucks aluminum can.
Overhead shot of the rig

Basic cooling fins for the "cold" side. Worked better with a 12-volt fan blowing over the fins.

Ammo box on it's side. That is where the generator will be fixed too.

About The Author Scott Symmes Scotts career is based in the Graphic Design and the home finishing industry. Afterwork, he steps away from the computer and work on random projects. On weekends, Scott and his family head out to their small 420 sq. ft. cabin in the mountains to relax and test out DIY solar panels/wind tubines projects. In the year 2011, Scott combined his love "building Stuff" and a few videos to create a YouTube channel, cedarworkshop. After a few months, the channel had over 250 subscribers and was quite popular. A few months later a web site and Blog was added for more information. P.S. Scott is more of a "do-er" than a "talk-er", so the writting or grammer may not be the best. Thank you for your patience and feel free to comment or make suggestions. Enjoy! Facebook and Twitter