Heat and Power your Home - using renewable Fuels.
Another view of the AAA
Inspired by the simple Lister generator sets of the late 1930s (above left), this system brings renewable
power to my suburban home.
The 1951 Lister CS slow speed diesel engine generator set runs happily on waste vegetable oil in my
garden shed, providing up to 3kW of renewable electricity and plenty of waste heat for heating water and
for heating the house. Behind it is the inverter cabinet which houses the 5kW inverter and batteries.
Built mainly for recycled parts and salvaged equipment this system provides all the heat and power I
need, with a very much reduced carbon footprint.
When you generate your own heat and power, you get a far better appreciation of what is involved, and a
better sense of the value of the energy. Whilst home heat and power is currently a little more expensive
than grid power, this situation is likely to reverse within two or three years. An investment now is an
investment for the future.
The gen-set is now fitted with a
starter motor. This is belt driven
from a second toothed pulley on the
This motor is a very powerful 6kW
permanent magnet motor, once used
on a machine tool spindle drive.
When powered from a 48V battery
it will spin the engine over
compression at 180 rpm making
starting considerably easier.
It has the added benefit that its dc
output can be used directly for
charging the inverter batteries
Space in the old shed was getting very tight!
The salmon coloured box on the left is an engine dynamometer, rescued from Cambridge University. It
contains a 4kW dc shunt wound motor, and is controlled from a thyristor drive unit housed in a tall
cabinet, currently in dry storage in another shed. The dyno allows both motoring and generating power
measurements to be made. It is intended to have one engine permanently connected to the dyno to
investigate fule consumption under various loads and use its dc output directly for battery charging.
The kettles, storage heater and deep fat fryer are useful test loads for the 5kW sine wave inverter, and the
blowlamp and big batteries in the inverter cabinet come in handy when starting the engine. Behind the
dyno is the 16kW wood fired boiler that will also be used in the new shed, and contribute to the household
heating via a buried heat main.
The solution was to build a new shed over the old one, and make use of the existing concrete shed base.
The new 10' x 12' engine shed has been constructed to replace the dilapidated 6' x 8' wooden shack,
which the Lister had grown out of. Here are some photos showing the progress:
A photo from early February shows the new workshop starting to engulf the old 6' x 8' shed. Note the 9
litre fire extinguisher bottle used to make an expansion silencer for the Lister.
New workshop built on 4" x 2" framework, double skinned and insulated.
The shed consists of a 3m x 3.5m insulated workshop area, and an additional 3m x 3m uncommitted area
that will house the engines, the heavy equipment, and the experimental stuff such as the woodchip gasifier.
A new path was laid from the house to the shed. With a slight downhill slope it makes trolleying heavy
items to the shed very easy.
South East facing elevation of new workshop and engine shed. Size 10' x 22'. Behind the insulated workshop
area is another 10' of covered area. As well as the engine shed, this provides useful ell ventilated area for
woodchip gasifier experimentation. Shiplap cladding almost in place, just the fiddly under eaves and felt
trimming to do.
Front of workshop faces south west. Solar panel will be mounted on front of roof. Large
window 1300 x 900mm gets all the afternoon sunshine- except at 2:30pm when the shadow of
the house chimney stack passes over - like shown.
Fine weather in early March
meant that a lot of progress was
made. Tim Dawson Stanley came
across from Ireland to help with
Having just dug the trench to
connect the heat main to the house
- fellow veg oil Lister enthusiast,
Tim has a well earned fag!
Trench for heat main is 9m long,
225mm wide and 400mm deep.
The heat main consists of two
pipes 22mm polyplumb, with
19mm insulation. These are then
inserted into 68mm plastic
drainpipes. The sides base and
top of the trench are lined with
50mm Kingspan polyurethene
The trench also carries a 110mm
grey waste pipe which serves as
the duct for the electric power
cables, comms and other
Another view of the front of the workshop showing the heavy duty 19mm shiplap cladding
on the front and sides . The UPVC windows were slavaged from the old kitchen and living
room when we extended the house 2 years ago. Front guttering almost in place.
The engine base for the
Lister is 500mm deep,
600mm wide and
reinforced with some
50mm angle iron.
Here we see the
excavation and the
metalwork, prior to
pouring the concrete.
Scroll down to see the
engine shed floor after
the concrete had been
7th February - coldest night of the year, with frosts down to -6 C. The 1951 Lister engine generates power
for the office and keeping the house warm during the coldest of this winters weather. Note the 120 litre,
lagged thermal store that keeps the engine warm overnight and making starting on cold mornings easier.
The following day, work on the shed comes to a standstill as we awake to a covering of snow. The rear
bedroom, which is my temporary office window overlooks the shed developments.
17th February and the roof is now felted and battonned. Before the shiplap cladding, the shed looked like a
giant packing case. 50mm and 75mm Kingspan insulation stacked up front waiting to be installed. The
garden office is the shed in the background, waiting to be commissioned later this spring.
16th March. With the engine shed now roofed over, we could collect the second
engine from where it had been in storage for 8 months. My father in Law, George,
poses next to the 1953 Startomatic engine, 36 years his junior. The new concrete
path to the shed and big wheeled trolley made moving it very easy
The 1953 Startomatic engine is put into the engine shed on the trolley, it's temporary
home until building work is finished and it will then be mounted on the new engine base.
Behind it is the Austrian 16kW "Windhager" wood burning boiler. That's a later project!
|For More Information:
Ken Boak can be contacted by email by anyone wishing further information on this project.
Since starting on this Lister project, several other Lister engine enthusiasts and their CS
engines have come to my notice. These links describe a few of them. We have recently started
a Lister CS Owners Group, contactable via Yahoo Groups
The shed would be large enough to provide a good sized workshop and house the two Lister generator
sets, and the ancillary equipment such as inverter and batteries, 250 litre thermal store, dynamometer test
rig and heat exchangers.
I settled on a 3m x 3.5m workshop, and an adjoining 3m x 2.1m engine shed.
A concrete base, 500mm deep by 600mm wide and 1200mm long was cast at the same time we poured the
engine shed floor. It is isolated from the rest of the shed floor and this should help to reduce acoustic
The two engines will sit side by side on their Startomatic bases. The primary engine will have the deep
concrete base whilst the secondary or back-up engine will have an isolated 150mm concrete slab.
The secondary engine would be used for dual fueling trials from the wood gasifier and coupled to the
dynamometer to allow accurate power measurements to be made.
It was also decided that all my renewable energy equipment would reside in the new shed, connected to
the house via a simple insulated heat main and power cable.
With all the heat sources in the shed together, they could share a well insulated 250 litre thermal store.
With engines and woodfired boiler running for the winter 6 months, the thermal store would be used by
the solar water heating panel during the spring, summer and autumn.
Keeping all the renewable energy equipment together under one roof would simplify the plumbing and
mean that it could be easily isolated from the rest of the house when maintenance was needed.
The new shed is now centrally situated between my office shed and the house. With the extra room
created, the office can be de-cluttered of the bulky equipment in storage, and once again used as a proper
March 2007 Update.
By the winter of 2006/2007
the Lister project had
outgrown the ancient 6' x 8'
shed and a new home was
needed. I had also acquired
a very nice Startomatic
engine from a chap in the
Lake District, and with two
engines to install, I decided
that it was time to build a
new engine shed and
Later in the spring we are to have a conservatory extension added to the back of the house. This will
feature underfloor heating like the existing kitchen and bathroom extension,. The whole conservatory
floor will consist of about 2.5 cubic metres of concrete and screed and will be used as a high capacity
thermal store, heated directly from the waste heat from the Lister engine.
March 8th morning.
Another view of the metalwork
that went into the engine base for
the main engine.
The central area is 500mm thick
and the sides are 150mm thick.
The whole slab is 1200mm x
1375mm and contains about
0.5m3 of concrete - about 1.2
It is isolated from the rest of the
floor by 2" timbers which will
help reduce noise transmission
through the structure.
Archeologists will wonder at
this marvel in centuries to come.
Developers will curse me for
burying a tonne of concrete for
no apparent reason.
As can be seen, access to my back
garden is via a narrow
passageway, down which
everything must pass.
The path was laid at the same
time as the engine base and shed
floor. Its 900mm wide and
allows heavy items to be
trolleyed from the street to the
A slight fall in levels makes
getting trolleys and stuff to the
shed very easy - with gravity
The workshop door and engine
shed door are 1200mm wide to
allow easy access with engine
cranes and trolleys - essential
when working with engines that
weigh up to 500kg.
Might this be a potential site for
a gravity assisted, narrow gauge
The engine shed area is 3m x 2.1m. The engines will sit side by side on the left. This area is now
enclosed and roofed over, allowing some much needed dry storage space. Pipes and ancillaries
will pass through the hatch on the right.
A south east facing window on the left brings in good morning sunshine.
These photos show the heat main pipes
that run for 9m back to the house
adjacent to the new path.
The engine shed / workshop will be a
"Heat Hut" - a self contained, renewable
Connection to the household systems is
designed for simplicity and ease of
isolation. If necessary it can be isolated
for maintenance and the house systems
continue to be supplied from traditional
gas fired heating and grid electricity.
Whilst I have chosen mainly natural
products for this low impact build, the
concept of the heat hut, could use a 20
foot insulated shipping container for
rapid deployment. A complete
renewable energy system in a box - all be
it a big one.
If you have access and space for a 20'
shipping container, it is a very cost
effective means of getting a secure,
soundproof engine shed. Post -
globalisation, there will be plenty
A 110mm grey waste pipe was
laid on top of the insulated heat
main pipes to carry cables and
The sides of the trench have been
insulated with scraps of 50mm
thick polyurethene Kingspan
Sunday 18th March. An interior shot of the new shed shows the inverter cabinet and
1951 engine unmoved from their original positions - now very much in the way and
will be shifted to new locations. The photos also shows the 50mm Kingspan
insulation being added to the ceiling and south facing wall. Workshop now has
electric lighting and power - naturally.
Weather between 5th and 17th of March was warm and sunny, ideal conditions for outdoor construction work.
Veg-Oil Guru, Tim Dawson Stanley came across from Ireland for a week to help with the construction. We
used a lot of teabags during the week that Tim came to stay!
A total of 3.2 cubic metres of concrete was laid in just under 2 hours. We got Mixamate to supply
it at £115 per cubic metre, which was cheaper and much easier than trying to mix that quantity by
ourselves. They had a mini dumper truck just 800mm wide that could dump 0.2 cubic metres in
one load. It made it down the side path with inches to spare! Saved a lot of wheelbarrowing.
You can just see the faint outline of the timbers that subdivide this floor into 3 separate isolated
Here is the 5kW exhaust heat exchanger produced by Mike Wilkinson, ready for initial
trials on my 6hp Lister. It has 19 x 13mm tubes, contained in a 76mm outer shell. The
length is 1200mm. Exhaust emerges from cold end at no more than blood heat.
Bright, frosty weather in early February saw most of the framework up and the roofing
boards on, but the roof still not felted, required the tarpaulin to keep the weather out...
The Navitron 20 tube solar panel sadly lost 5 tubes when it blew over in the gales. It will be mounted on
the front of the shed roof and it will get its broken tubes replaced. These photos taken in freezing cold
temperatures early in the morning on Feb 7th.
In addition to the new starter motor, a 120 litre
local thermal store was used to replace the old 25
litre tank - shown here before the insulation
lagging was added.
The store is arranged such that the engine cooling
outlet thermosyphons into the tank, bringing it
slowly up to temperature, and the hot water from
the exhaust gas heat exchanger feeds into the
internal heat-exchanger coil and then out at the top.
This isolates the engine coolant from the house
central heating loop so that there is no
It also allows the engine to be kept warm at night,
as the excess heat from the thermal store
reverse-thermosyphons back through the
waterjacket of the engine maintaining it at a warm
Having the engine block already warm,
significantly improves the starting of the engine on
This page looks at my renewable fuel Combined Heat and Power system that I am constructing in a
shed in my back garden.
Using a converted slow speed Lister diesel engine from the 1950's running on waste vegetable oil, and
mainly second hand or salvaged components, I am producing a complete home heat and power system
that will run on waste vegetable oil, with supplementary heat being supplied from a converted wood
The engine alone can provide up to 3kW of electricity, and 6kW of heat, but by using an inverter from
an old emergency lighting system, and a large battery bank, I can have up to 5kW of instantaneous
The engine will be run during the daytime to recharge the batteries and at night all of the electricity
will be supplied from the inverter. The inverter also has a large battery charger built into it, so if the
engine is not running, the batteries can be charged at night from the mains using off-peak power.
A wood fired boiler will provide any supplementary heat that is needed to heat the house. This can be
stoked up at night and allowed to burn at a reduced rate until the following morning.
Fuel consumption tests over winter 2006/2007 suggest that the house can be heated and powered using
30kg (2 barrowloads) of woodchips per day, and 4.5 litres of vegetable oil.
What The System Consists Of.
Main 6hp Startomatic Engine with 3kW starter alternator
Back-up 6hp engine with 3kW alternator and 6kW dc starter/generator/battery charger
4kW dynamometer with 220Vdc shunt would generator, and motor/generator control cabinet
6kW electric storage heaters for dynamometer load
5kW sinewave inverter, incorporating 6kW battery charger and 108V 150Ah sealed lead acid battey
96V 100Ah battery bank (spare)
20 tube evacuated solar water heater
120 litre local heatstore for engines (allows local heat buffer and overnight warm starting).
250 litre thermal store - shared by engines, solar panel and wood-fired boiler.
22mm flow and return "heat main" to connect up with house central heating
32A armoured power cable to tie up to household consumer unit
Various other power cables for separate circuits control and monitoring cables.