diy solar

diy solar

Advice on wood shop motors in off grid setting

066logger

New Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2021
Messages
53
Good evening everyone! I’m back with a new project lol. So in my never ending quest to be as self sufficient as possible I am working towards building a wood shop to process wood from my little sawmill.

Here’s where my problem lies. This shop isn’t going to be an everyday use shop, at least not the large power draw tools anyway. I have a solar system that one of the wonderful members here helped me get designed properly (thank you FilterGuy !) and with the addition of some used solar panels we have been cruising along in the house perfectly with 0 generator usage.

Okay. So my dilemma, one of the first tools I have purchased for this shop is a woodmaster 718 helical planer, it’s a beast of a machine, with an equally beastly electric requirement. In operation it uses up to 5 electric motors. The main planer drive is a farm duty 5hp motor, then a 5hp dust collector, 2-3.5hp routers and a 1/8hp feed motor. My aimes 6000 watt 18,000 surge inverter definitely was not a fan of the 5hp motor (be nice I know I’m a dummy for even trying, I didn’t realize motors can draw up to 5x rated amps on startup) and now I’m at a dilemma. I think my only option is a pto powered generator for my tractor (38.3 hp at the pto) to run something like this at home. I do have the option of a shop in town with grid power but then I have to transport all my wood there and back. Are there any other options in missing here? Thanks!
 

Attachments

  • IMG_3445.jpeg
    IMG_3445.jpeg
    295.4 KB · Views: 10
What's the nameplate amps on the whole planer and what kind of plug does it have? Or does it have multiple plugs?
Haha it’s a bit convoluted. It has 5 plugs lol. Here are the name plates and I believe the plugs on the two 5hp motors are nema 6-30 I believe. 3 prongs 2- flat and a ground. The first nameplate on the large farm duty motor is faded but i believe it says FLA 23 if the picture isn’t clear enough.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_1102.png
    IMG_1102.png
    296.1 KB · Views: 11
  • IMG_1103.png
    IMG_1103.png
    275.7 KB · Views: 10
  • IMG_1113.jpeg
    IMG_1113.jpeg
    286.3 KB · Views: 9
  • IMG_1112.jpeg
    IMG_1112.jpeg
    120.3 KB · Views: 9
  • IMG_1111.jpeg
    IMG_1111.jpeg
    169.7 KB · Views: 10
  • IMG_1110.jpeg
    IMG_1110.jpeg
    214.8 KB · Views: 11
Google says they're a 30 amp machine. It's within the realm of possibility that a Schneider XW could run this, but I'm not sure about anything on 24v. Victron might have a way to do it on 24v for lots of money.
 
You may want to research soft starts. I put a Micro-Air soft start on my RV air conditioner so my Victron Multiplus can start it up and run it…

But my guess is you will need a massive inverter/battery/system to run all that.
 
Oh jeez, 30 amps is just one of the five plugs lol. yeah maybe PTO generator is right.
Yeah lol. That’s kinda what I’m thinking. That or going full on Amish paradise and converting it to gasoline powered. We have some Amish communities around here and if you have never seen a gasoline powered well pump they have them 😂. No electricity involved, just a gas motor and and air compressor.
 
You may want to research soft starts. I put a Micro-Air soft start on my RV air conditioner so my Victron Multiplus can start it up and run it…

But my guess is you will need a massive inverter/battery/system to run all that.
Yeah… I’m thinking it’s past the realm of what I want to build in a solar system. Our system is currently great for what we need 95% of the time and I’m just not sure it’s a smart move to oversize so massively for such an infrequent load…
 
Oh jeez, 30 amps is just one of the five plugs lol. yeah maybe PTO generator is right.
Do you have any advice on those? I’m reading a bit online and it looks like I need a little over 100 amps to start each 5hp motor. But reading I’m even pushing my tractor to get to a 25kw pto powered generator. Is it even going to be possible to start one motor, then once it’s online bring the next one up without literally bogging out a 46hp diesel motor just to run a planer 😳?
 
Do you have any advice on those? I’m reading a bit online and it looks like I need a little over 100 amps to start each 5hp motor. But reading I’m even pushing my tractor to get to a 25kw pto powered generator. Is it even going to be possible to start one motor, then once it’s online bring the next one up without literally bogging out a 46hp diesel motor just to run a planer 😳?
I don't think you have to size a generator for peak surge. They can naturally surge better than most inverters. I couldn't really know but I suspect that a quality 10kW or 15kW might do it.
 
I don't think you have to size a generator for peak surge. They can naturally surge better than most inverters. I couldn't really know but I suspect that a quality 10kW or 15kW might do it.
I have never gotten to deal with any electric motors in this size and in the past looking at the name plate got me good enough to not have any issues. But even my gas generator that’s 8kw 13.5kw starting watts just made the magnetic starter go crazy on the main motor and even with the belts off free spooling the motor it would start to spin up but with massive vibration and obviously something not right. (Again very dumb and hopefully I didn’t hurt anything, I shut it down as soon as I realized it was a no go). The fellow I bought it from fired it up and ran it just fine on grid power so I know the motor runs fine with the proper amount of power.
 
As this is just the first of many power-hungry tools that will accrete in your type of wood shop, I think I'd go with a hd shop power source, like a diesel gen ...

Both tractor (for pto) or diesel-gen can be "used" (depending on which route you go), so perhaps that gives you some options in the used marketplace. You need a diesel power source for the shop, as you are off-grid. The wood shop really needs a grid connection, or for us off-grid folks, grid-like power from the tractor/pto-gen, or diesel-gen.

I don't have such a shop (yet), as I have to build the shop (barn) first ... but the planning (and lust for it) is there ...

All of this may take an electrician to wire it all up correctly, once you've outlined enough of the shop futures that the electrician can plan it out and get it going for you.

Hope this helps ...
 
Since your usage is only occasional I would suggest a good quality used diesel genset. Something in the 30kW+ range.
 
Will it work on 3 phase power? That would be the way to go, three inverters setup in three phase. Much more efficient. And DEFINITELY go 48v lol
 
As this is just the first of many power-hungry tools that will accrete in your type of wood shop, I think I'd go with a hd shop power source, like a diesel gen ...

Both tractor (for pto) or diesel-gen can be "used" (depending on which route you go), so perhaps that gives you some options in the used marketplace. You need a diesel power source for the shop, as you are off-grid. The wood shop really needs a grid connection, or for us off-grid folks, grid-like power from the tractor/pto-gen, or diesel-gen.

I don't have such a shop (yet), as I have to build the shop (barn) first ... but the planning (and lust for it) is there ...

All of this may take an electrician to wire it all up correctly, once you've outlined enough of the shop futures that the electrician can plan it out and get it going for you.

Hope this helps ...
I’m thinking a dual powered shop will serve me best. A small 240v sub panel from my house for the everyday loads, lights, battery chargers and outlets for my metal working tools. (I’ve got a small grizzly mill/drill 1.5hp I believe and a small lathe that’s around the same size) and then a separate sub panel that will be wired to my other shop where the tractor will be stored so I can just plug in the generator and run the tractor while it’s still under cover. I’m leaning towards the pto generator as it’s one less motor to maintain, my tractor has only accumulated 300ish hours in the decade I’ve owned it and being a non turbo kubota diesel is already probably pretty similar in size and quality of the engine that I would find in a diesel gen set. But mine only has 300 hours compared to in the used market engines are 5-15,000 hours into their life and diesel motors aren’t particularly cheap to rebuild (that I do know 😂). And those larger gen sets fetch a premium around here $5,000+ whereas there’s a 35kw generac pto generator for $1,250 right down the road from me.
 
Will it work on 3 phase power? That would be the way to go, three inverters setup in three phase. Much more efficient. And DEFINITELY go 48v lol
I think 3 phase would require different motors wouldn’t it? The little bit of research I did (as these machines are often 3phase and 3 phase models are cheaper as it isn’t a common grid connection around here) was that you would have to swap the motors to go that route.
 
I think 3 phase would require different motors wouldn’t it? The little bit of research I did (as these machines are often 3phase and 3 phase models are cheaper as it isn’t a common grid connection around here) was that you would have to swap the motors to go that route.
Possibly, three phase motors tend to be very affordable. Overall cost and complexity you’re probably best going with the PTO generator. Large wood working equipment is one of the reasons I’m going dual 10k victrons.
 
Since your usage is only occasional I would suggest a good quality used diesel genset. Something in the 30kW+ range.
I’ve definitely looked into them, the worst part is I’m not sure the negatives outweigh the positives in my use case. First off another engine to maintain (battery, coolant, oil, keeping stupid mice out etc) and in the used market I’m looking at $5,000+ for a machine that’s got 5-15,000 hours on it. Vs my tractor only has 300 hours, it’s a 46hp (engine hp, 38pto hp) kubota non turbo diesel that gets used regularly enough here on the farm that the battery doesn’t go dead but in a decade I’ve only put 300 hours on it. The pto generators are cheap here ($1,250.00 for 35kw generac) and they have a much smaller footprint than a similarly sized engine drive generator since I’ve gotta store my tractor regardless…
 
Possibly, three phase motors tend to be very affordable. Overall cost and complexity you’re probably best going with the PTO generator. Large wood working equipment is one of the reasons I’m going dual 10k victrons.
Yeah? 3phase is something I have 0 experience with lol. It runs right overhead my shop in town but my experience has been getting a transformer and pole set to go 3 phase and the included electric bill (shop is currently not hooked to the grid at all) are astronomically expensive $10-20,000. The dual victrons would be sweet! How big of a motor do you think you can run on 20kw? Just for my figuring 😂
 
Victron system could do it but the ROI might be awhile 😉
Found this video a while back, awesome system.
Ahahahaha oh I’m sure the wife would be thrilled with half the house filled with solar equipment 🙃 not to mention the million plus I’d have to spend lol. Geez that’s a sweet setup though!
 
Yeah? 3phase is something I have 0 experience with lol. It runs right overhead my shop in town but my experience has been getting a transformer and pole set to go 3 phase and the included electric bill (shop is currently not hooked to the grid at all) are astronomically expensive $10-20,000. The dual victrons would be sweet! How big of a motor do you think you can run on 20kw? Just for my figuring 😂
16kw continuous and 40kw surge should handle quite a lot 😁
 
I’ve definitely looked into them, the worst part is I’m not sure the negatives outweigh the positives in my use case. First off another engine to maintain (battery, coolant, oil, keeping stupid mice out etc) and in the used market I’m looking at $5,000+ for a machine that’s got 5-15,000 hours on it. Vs my tractor only has 300 hours, it’s a 46hp (engine hp, 38pto hp) kubota non turbo diesel that gets used regularly enough here on the farm that the battery doesn’t go dead but in a decade I’ve only put 300 hours on it. The pto generators are cheap here ($1,250.00 for 35kw generac) and they have a much smaller footprint than a similarly sized engine drive generator since I’ve gotta store my tractor regardless…
Just about everyone that I know of that tries a PTO generator ends up not liking it. They get in the way of your tractor being a tractor and are not particularly good at outputting a stable voltage and frequency. Did not look at prices but this site has quite a few used diesels gensets: https://www.generatorsource.com/Used-Generators
 
Yeah? 3phase is something I have 0 experience with lol. It runs right overhead my shop in town but my experience has been getting a transformer and pole set to go 3 phase and the included electric bill (shop is currently not hooked to the grid at all) are astronomically expensive $10-20,000.

Only $10 ~ $20k, huh?


The dual victrons would be sweet! How big of a motor do you think you can run on 20kw? Just for my figuring 😂

Also look at Rosie and Sunny Island.

16kw continuous and 40kw surge should handle quite a lot 😁

I have 23kW continuous, 44kW surge for my main system.
The 3-phase one would be 18kW continuous, 33kW surge. It takes in single-phase 120V from grid and makes 3-phase.

Would like to see a rotating mass to provide surge.
There are rotary phase converters to make 3-phase - wonder how they do for that?
 
If total wattage is within inverter limit, only starting is a problem, consider a 3-phase motor and VFD. It ramps up RPM slowly.
Ideally PF corrected VFD.

I think there are some choices for 5 HP VFD that works with 120/240V split-phase rather than 3-phase input. The off brands are more likely to claim split-phase input. Probably any do work, but can't deliver as much power.

VFD are pretty inexpensive. Much less than an inverter.
3-phase motors tend to be more expensive but can find used on eBay.
 
I would think so haha. I was surprised one 5hp motor can draw over 100amps on startup 😳.
My Trane 5 Ton central AC unit (5 hp motor) had an inrush of 162 Amps (measured it twice!), even the label showing "only" 144 LRA. After installing a "Micro-Air EasyStart 368 Soft Starter" it reduced the inrush to 33.5 Amps! Now my inverters have no problem at all with it.
 
Last edited:
Only $10 ~ $20k, huh?




Also look at Rosie and Sunny Island.



I have 23kW continuous, 44kW surge for my main system.
The 3-phase one would be 18kW continuous, 33kW surge. It takes in single-phase 120V from grid and makes 3-phase.

Would like to see a rotating mass to provide surge.
There are rotary phase converters to make 3-phase - wonder how they do for that?
Oh good grief!! $150,000!!! That’s insanity. I was talking to one of the local business owners here who has a small engine shop and was adding on another building and looking at adding an additional 400 amp service. I assumed 3 phase as he’s in the middle of the industrial part of town but he was complaining they had quoted him a little over $10,000 to set the pole and put in a meter base. Maybe it was just single phase 😳. Good grief. Yeah I’m never connecting to the grid… no wonder the local sawmill down the road runs a Detroit two stroke diesel generator with 20’ tall straight pipes when the 3 phase lines run right over his log yard! I can hear that engine bog down every time his log carriage rolls through and he’s about 4 miles away as the crow flies 😂.
 
Last edited:
My Trane 5 Ton central AC unit (5 hp motor) had an inrush of 162 Amps (measured it twice!), even the label showing "only" 144 LRA. After installing a "Micro-Air EasyStart 368 Soft Starter" it reduced the inrush to 33.5 Amps! Now my inverters have no problem at all with it.
That’s definitely a good thing to keep in mind! I’ll look into it. If nothing else it might help the inrush current more manageable for the tractor. I posted on a tractor sub over on Reddit looking for people with experience doing what I’m looking to do and one member had done basically the same thing with not great results. I guess the governor on his particular tractor he was using was struggling to keep the motor where it needed to be and he had all sorts of problems with over voltage and brownouts, blowing up his electric motors and switches. I’m still waiting on the details on that one…
 
Just about everyone that I know of that tries a PTO generator ends up not liking it. They get in the way of your tractor being a tractor and are not particularly good at outputting a stable voltage and frequency. Did not look at prices but this site has quite a few used diesels gensets: https://www.generatorsource.com/Used-Generators
Yeah 😞. I’ve definitely heard some mixed opinions on them… some seem to really get along good with them but some absolutely hate them. I do have a quick attach and hydraulic top link on my 3 point so it’s only a 5-10 minute operation to swap implements, inevitably the implement I need is never on it anyway so I’m always swapping back and forth lol.
 
If total wattage is within inverter limit, only starting is a problem, consider a 3-phase motor and VFD. It ramps up RPM slowly.
Ideally PF corrected VFD.

I think there are some choices for 5 HP VFD that works with 120/240V split-phase rather than 3-phase input. The off brands are more likely to claim split-phase input. Probably any do work, but can't deliver as much power.

VFD are pretty inexpensive. Much less than an inverter.
3-phase motors tend to be more expensive but can find used on eBay.
I think I’m probably pretty far over the limits of what my system is capable of unfortunately. My bigger inverter is only a 6,000 watt 18,000 watt surge (supposedly).
 
Well guys, just as a follow up for future searches. I found a katolight 25kw (75kw surge for 5min 😳) pto generator mounted to a trailer with 100’ of what has got to be 4/0 fine stranded copper or larger X3 to directly connect to a panel for $1650 a couple hours away.

Drove up and tested it on the fellows tractor, seemed great so I bought it home. Rigged up a cord real quick before dark and fired up the planer. I only had enough plugins to fire up the main 5hp motor but the tractor fired it up without an issue. It does load the motor for about half a second when the motor is first started but once it’s going feeding a board through is flawless. It doesn’t even notice it’s there. So far I think this is the most reasonable solution for my problem. And with 150lbs or more of copper wire and a little trailer I think even if the generator didn’t work out I could have gotten my money back. The genset head is around 450lbs according to the manual not counting the gear box. Quite a substantial generator!
 

Attachments

  • IMG_1397.jpeg
    IMG_1397.jpeg
    223.8 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_1401.png
    IMG_1401.png
    492 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_1402.png
    IMG_1402.png
    530.8 KB · Views: 5
  • IMG_1403.png
    IMG_1403.png
    739.8 KB · Views: 6
Back
Top