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I'm a total stupid-head about stirling engines, but they seem so cool. It seems like there should be a way to generate electricity for a home with one of these, and reduce my power bill.

How can I do this?

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I'm confident it's possible in our near future, but I'm not sure how practical a home Stirling Engine would be. Most of my energy is spent on cooling.

There's more than enough solar energy radiating on my home's rooftop to bring water to a boil. (Had to replace the pressure valve on it once, which is how I know.. ) My solar heater is composed of only 2 heat-collection panels, which easily heats 80 gallons from 80 degrees F to 140 degrees F in a sunny afternoon. It'd heat much higher if the controller box wasn't set to max out at 140 for safety reasons.

So, finding a heat source isn't a problem. What stumps me is finding a good cooling source to create the temperature difference. The best idea I could come up with for the home is to bury some kind of heatsink/water chamber in the back yard, and use the Earth as a heatsink. Not practical at all. :-(

The Deep Seawater pipe that will draw cold water to cool Downtown buildings would be a perfect cooling source.

Imagine if we could siphon off the the heat energy just from the Airport Viaduct (copper water tubes embedded in the concrete, maybe?), and complement that with the deep seawater to power a few HECO-controlled Stirling engines.
Like most technologies a Stirling Engine has its place. You can and should use the same process for determining the use of Stirling as you would any other energy option.

1) Find where your energy goes. Most of us use electricity or gas for water heating. This is best handled through solar hot water.
2) Can you become more efficient? Switching to LED or CFL lights will lessen your load and need for a costly alternative. Getting energy efficient appliances and simply turning off or unplugging some things can go a really long way.

3) Determine if this is meant to be an experiment or a economically viable. You could make energy from your waste, wind, solar, etc... These may or may not fit into your grand plan.

Personally, I find solar thermal and PV more than adequate when combined with conservation to get my electric bill down to $20 or so. Of course, I don't use air conditioning.

I love stirling and think it is a great option for CSP applications, but as of yet I haven't found a good home application for it.


Stirling engines can certainly be used to generate electricity.  The most efficient scheme for solar power uses a parabolic concentrator dish focusing onto the 'hot' plate of a Stirling engine.  The company Stirling Energy Systems has built their pilot plants in California.  The peak conversion efficiency of this scheme is around 50%, which no other solar technology - concentrator, PV or otherwise - can match.  SES's organizational and financial problems as a company aside, the solar concentrator - stirling technology should be scalable for home use, and you can D-I-Y -- the most difficult (or expensive) part will probably be building or buying an appropriately sized Stirling engine and connecting to a generator or alternator.



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