Reduce Generator Fuel Bills
Many homesteads, stations and rural communities around Australia are largely or solely dependent upon diesel or petrol as a fuel to generate electric power.
Add a Battery Bank
Just by incorporating a battery bank, a 240 volt battery charger, and an inverter into the power system you can reduce your fuel bills by as much as 50% and in so doing recoup your capital outlay for the extra hardware within one year.
Further Fuel Saving Hints
6 issues to consider to further reduce your fuel bills:
- Generator Size
- Renewable Energy
Follow these recommendations and you can have minimal fuel bills without sacrificing lifestyle.
Low Voltage Lighting
By a simple modification of removing the lighting circuit of the house from the 240 volt AC supply (especially if it is from the generator) and reconnecting the lights to the low voltage DC battery supply and changing all light bulbs over to low voltage ones you can have good quality lighting that is more reliable and uses considerably less power. Where long cable runs are supplying power to multiple lights, some rewiring may be required.
Fluorescent lights operating on low voltage DC need to be equipped with low voltage dedicated inverters which eliminate that stressful flicker so often associated with fluorescent lighting and so are much more relaxing and pleasant to live with. The PL type lights are very energy efficient and have a warmth and quality about them which is superior to most other lights.
PL type lights are a mixture of fluorescent, neon, sodium and mercury vapour light technology; are up to five times more efficient than the commonly used incandescent lights and last six times longer. By using the most efficient lights where the lights are needed the most you can make another significant reduction in your fuel bills.
Low Voltage Appliances
By introducing a few low voltage power points and a selection of low voltage appliances you can reduce generator run time and use less power overall. Low voltage appliances, particularly radio, electric fence, pumps etc connected direct to the battery supply are more energy efficient than their 240 volt equivalents. A low voltage pump uses much less power than its 240 volt counterpart.
By changing over to a low voltage compressor motor type refrigerator you may be able to significantly reduce your fuel bill still further. A low voltage compressor motor type refrigerator or freezer on average uses significantly less power than its 240 volt counterpart. Run the generator only for peak loads and get most benefit from the battery bank 24 hours per day.
Using electricity for heating is very inefficient. Use gas or firewood or some other readily available fuel for heating instead. You may have a slow combustion stove going continuously in the winter months with a water jacket for your hot water needs. A solar hot water system could take care of your hot water needs for most of the year and a gas cooker may be used when the stove isn't on. You may also consider a gas fridge instead of an electric fridge.
A Smaller Generator
Generator based power systems are often geared to being able to power everything being turned on at once, ie maximum loading. By transferring a significant portion of this load either to the battery based inverter or directly to the battery bank there can be a considerable downscaling of the size of generator needed.
Any petrol or diesel generator needs to have a minimum loading when it is running. This means that if you just want to watch TV which is connected to the generator you would have to turn on a whole lot of other things, lights, appliances, heaters etc in order to provide this minimum load. Just to watch TV can cost you a small fortune in fuel. A smaller generator has a smaller minimum loading and uses less fuel per kWh for the smaller loads.
Having a large battery charger permanently connected to the generator would provide a loading which is storing the power for future use instead of just wasting it.
Renewable Energy - Solar, Wind or Hydro
If you have already employed one or a combination of the previous methods to reduce your fuel bills you could start using your savings to invest in long term measures to reduce your fuel bills even further. Every solar panel, wind turbine and hydro unit will mean a further reduction in fuel bills. You could keep adding to the system and gradually get to the situation where your dependence on fuel for the generator is very minimal or none at all. A combination of energy sources is always the best option - when the sun doesn't shine either there is plenty of wind or its raining. Hydro power, unfortunately is not applicable to many outback areas as a fast flowing stream and/or a vertical head of water (to give pressure) are essential.