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How to Generate Electricity From Any Heat Source

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 3

TEGs (thermal electric generators) are electrical devices that can be used to generate electricity from the difference in temperature of two surfaces, the greater the difference in temperature, is the greater the amount of electricity that can be generated. This makes TEGs ideal for generating electricity from the waste heat of many sources, including your stove, furnace, car exhaust or solar sources.

For many years NASA has used TEGs to power their spacecrafts and the oil and gas industry has used them to power remote monitoring stations around the globe. Only recently has this technology become available for general public use as a result of their de-classification.

TEGs are very quiet; as a matter of fact they are absolutely silent. They generate electricity or cooling by employing three established thermoelectric effects known as the Peltier, Seebeck and Thomson effects. In essence when an electrical volt is past between dissimilar metals, one surface becomes very cold and the other very hot. This makes thermal electric generators flexible for a number of applications. For example, by passing a voltage through a TEG module, a cold surface can be created and used as an air conditioning source or as a cooling surface, such as those used on a computer's CPU. If however, you heat one side of the module and cool the other side you will generate electricity.

Things You Will Need

- A TEG module

- A heat source

- Tubes to carry the cooling liquid

- A cooling source such as water

- A circulating pump

Step 1

Connect the tubes to the cooling liquid source.

Step 2

Connect the tubes to the TEG module.

Step 3

Connect the circulation pump to the tubes, so that it will circulate the cooling liquid between the TEG module and the cooling source.

Step 4

Turn on the circulation pump.

Step 5

Place the TEG in contact with the heat source.

Are looking for ways to save on your home energy bill? Or perhaps you are searching for a super quiet electricity generator that can be powered by a number of heat sources such as natural gas, propane, solar or the waste heat from a heating appliance or manufacturing process thermal electric generators are an option you should consider.

Tips & Warnings

Most modules you can buy will operate well above 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is best to operate them well below that range. Remember, its not the amount of applied heat that generates the most electricity, rather it is the difference in temperature of the surfaces to which the modules are connected. This fact make TEGs a super efficient silent power generation option that's ideal for cold climates.

Related article: How to Make an Air Conditioner from Peltier Modules.



Nov 4, 2009 12:37am
I am fascinated by this concept. My husband and I built a rocket mass heater in our basement last year, I am very excited to show him what else it can do. I will make sure to post this article over at Backwoods Home Magazine. There are many folks there I am sure will enjoy it.
Nov 4, 2009 8:33am
Thank you. I came across this information a few months ago and I too was fascinated with it's potential. I've seen TEG modules that can compete favorably (in watts per dollar) against other renewable energy alternative such as solar.
Oct 15, 2010 5:16pm
Looks as though a solar concentrator would be an easyily employed heat source. And any excess heat could be used to heat water for other purposes.
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