Q:

What are some good steam-powered electric generators for the home?

A:

Quick Answer

There are few, if any, commercial steam electric generators intended for home use due to the significant safety concerns associated with steam-powered turbines of the size required to provide power to a home. The majority of home steam generators are small, self-built projects that produce around 2 kilowatts of power, though a few companies, such as Green Steam Engines, offer standardized plans for these devices.

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Full Answer

Though steam is used to power the megawatt-scale turbine generators that produce electrical energy in most power stations, the complexity of these generators makes them largely unprofitable when downscaled to the tens of kilowatts, which is the power required for most homes. In addition, a gallon of water contains as much energy as dynamite when fully evaporated and pressurized, meaning that steam power systems require constant monitoring to avoid potentially devastating explosive accidents. Variations in the energy density and output of common home fuels, such as firewood, make monitoring even more critical, since the pressure of the boiler may suddenly spike if large amounts of fuel undergo combustion simultaneously. However, small cylinder-based engines, such as the Green Steam Engine, can reliably produce up to 15 horsepower and run at lower pressure than turbine designs, making them safer for home use than turbines.

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