The new issue of Fine Home Building came in today’s mail. Since my inspection for this afternoon was cancelled, I start to read it over. One of the first articles was describing a CHP system for a home. My first thought was that have to be kidding, but no, there is a new bread of micro-cogenerators on the market now.
I grew up in machine shops and plastic factories. I think my grandfather and father may now be brought up for child endangerment in our current climate, but as a four year old, I was playing with a drill press, and taking parts from an old Mercedes to build myself a “car” on the second floor of their factory. It was their storage area, but it was my playground. When I was in college, I worked as a draftsman in a plant and as a quality control engineer. I mention this to give you some background, to let you know that I was familiar with these loud generators that came on to produce electricity for the firm.
CHP systems are “combined power and heat systems”. A generator produces electricity, while the heat from the motor is used for heating water. I could not imagine that anyone would want this in their home with the noise that I remembered. The new units do not have a lot of support staff around the US, so mainly its for homeowners who can handle some maintenance on their own. However, I was curious, so I looked at the website to find that the noise issue has been addressed. From the details given on the site, this could be the wave of the future for higher end homes, but I think it would be sometime before we see this in other homes. For urban homes, we would need to run this off natural gas or biodiesel; large propane tanks would only do on larger properties, due to building codes.
So would you like this system in your home? From the description, it could be pretty energy efficient, but you would need to do some fast talking with a building inspector or just the building department for the permit.