Stirling engine generator designs vary based on the intended purpose. There are many Stirling engine configurations that will generate electricity. Starting with little model engines that generate just enough electricity to light an LED Light to large 25 KW Stirling engine generators that power many homes.
Many model Stirling engines are sold as educational aids. Generally this type of model has a little DC motor and a drive belt. There are usually a few other sensors and connections to help students learn and understand how a Stirling engine generator works. The 3B Scientific U10052 Transparent Solar Stirling Engineis the type of model marketed to Schools and educators. They are usually too expensive for a hobbyist.
There are model Stirling engines that generate enough electricity to light an LED or drive a little toy car. A good example of this is that Thames and Kosmos Stirling engine model kit. You can also find other hobbyist level Stirling engine generators on Amazon and Ebay.
I love the novelty of this type of Stirling engine. There are many home workshop inventors that have come up with creative and inspiring engines. Although these engines are usually designed for proof of concept or just for fun, they can do some work. They usually can generate enough electricity to charge batteries, run lights or power radio.
I have found a few sites that have good examples of Stirling engine generators. These are smaller engines but they give you an idea of what is possible. If these were up scaled they may even be able to create enough energy to satisfy the needs of a small household.
How I Built a 5 Hp Stirling Engine is a great book about how Merrick Lockwod built a 5 Hp Stirling engine. In the end this five horsepower Stirling engine generator could produce 3.7 kW. And it was fueled by rice husks.
There are many videos about Stirling generators. Some of these videos are about small do it yourself Stirling engine generators and some are about engines large enough to provide electricity for a household.
This little Stirling walking beam engine has a three volt DC generator motor. The builder of this engine reengineering it from a motor available on little machine shop dot com.
This little transparent Stirling engine is designed for educational purposes. It allows for quantitative investigations of the Stirling cycle. It looks like a fun little modeled on however it is very expensive. This model looks like it’s typically marketed to universities and other educational facilities.
This video is by scrap to power. This video shows a small radio being run by a small beta configuration Stirling engine. It’s a good example of turning the heat from candles into usable electricity.
This video shows a 5 HP Stirling engine generator by Stirling Technology, Inc.. It’s running an array of incandescent light bulbs. It appears to be water cooled and has a hopper that feeds the burner. It looks like they may be burning sawdust or some sort of the agricultural byproduct. You can see a list of fuels and more information on the DIY Stirling engine home page.
This video is about the Phillips Stirling cycle generator (Philips MP1002 CA) that was originally designed to run radio equipment.
Generating electricity with the sun is one of the cleanest ways for us to generate electricity. Currently there are solar heated Stirling engine systems that use a large parabolic a mirror to focus the sun on the hot side of a Stirling engine. Some of these solar collectors are nearly 40 feet in diameter and contain hundreds of curved mirrors. They’re designed to follow the sun to collect as much energy as possible.
Amazingly, solar heated Stirling engine systems can be more efficient than photovoltaic cells. This makes it exciting and attractive for solar energy enthusiasts.
The idea of collecting the sun’s energy with a heat engine is not a new one. This article Harnessing the Sun published in 1901, shows a dish installed at a farm in Pasadena California that could lift 1400 gallons a minute. You can read more on Solar powered Stirling engines here.
Sunvention International is a company that is working on efficient multifunction solar systems. They have some large low temperature differential Stirling engines that are amazing to watch. They use them to cook, run power tools mechanically, pump water and generate electricity. You can see a video of one of their large low temperature differential Stirling engines On my LTD Stirling engine page.