So lets see if I have it right,the whispergen has Nitrogen inside its workings that never needs replacing,and the small flame burns continually like a gas fridge.Would it have to be going all of the time or could you turn it off and on as required??It sounds very clever but they dont tell you much about it on their web site.Can anybody tell me in plain english how it all works.Thanks.
It is a Stirling engine
, which is an external
invented by a guy named Stirling in the early 1800's as an alternative to steam. There are bunches of explanations on the web. For example, search for "stirling engine" on wikipedia.org (it's not the best explanation I've seen, but it will do).
You turn it on and off as needed, but it takes some time to warm a Stirling engine up to get it started. It is not as long as a steam engine, though. Since it is a generator
, it probably isn't a problem.
These generators are quiet, but they have low output:
DC version: 800 watts (i.e. about 66 amps at 12 volts)
AC version: 1200 watts (i.e. about 10 amps at 120 volts, 5 amps at 240)
There is a lot of waste heat, and the designers expect you want to make use of it. The DC generator
makes 5500 watts of waste heat, which almost meets my heating
requirements during the coldest part of winter in Baltimore
. (Of course, I could just burn the diesel
directly for heat.)
Several years ago, I looked at these generators. At the time, the DC version was about US$10,000 and it produced 720 AH per day at 12 volts. (Obviously, the current
model is a different machine; price
is probably different too.)
That would be a fine unit if all you want to do is recharge your batteries
. It is quieter than a regular generator, so you don't really care if you have to run it longer to charge the batteries
Instead, I chose a 4200 watt (i.e. 120 volt 35 amp) AC diesel
generator. It cost about US$6500, and it runs both my air conditioners at the same time. I couldn't see any reason to pay more for a generator that produces less power.
I don't see the Whispergen units as a practical companion to electric drive. Think about it: 720 watts = 1 horsepower. Unless you can motor
indefinitely on less than 2 HP, you have to stop to recharge your batteries when they run down. There would be no 12 hour days motoring up the ICW
I think stirling engines are interesting, but they aren't threatening conventional gasoline and diesel engines yet.