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Off-Grid Ho~! Topic: Batteries


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Off-Grid Ho~! Topic: Batteries

January's 2018 Winter-time in Springfield Ohio has proven to be perfect for testing.

One day it's 60degrees and sunny, the next day it's 12degrees with low-hanging cloud cover and blustery winds.

Between the wind generator and solar panels, both are paled in priority compared to that of batteries.

Recently I mused at how the job is almost accomplished out here; 24hours every day, for more than 2 years now, in the garage monitoring and tweaking, testing and experimenting, is finally coming to a close.

Mission Accomplished

It worked perfectly!
.
.
.
Springfield Offgrid Ohio Batteries
Then I woke up.


The following findings were not gleaned from the Internet; but rather by trial and error and much testing the revelations were made. So what I'll be disclosing will be new discovery, some of the information will be CONTRARY to the propaganda on the net about the respective topics. It is hoped that the next generation will pick up from the following data and build upon it as I may have started this project too late in life to see its completion.

Onward!


Below are shown the corporate crap; look closely and recognize it. Take special note of the white acid residue at the bottom of the box and around the coroded terminal connectors. This crap is brought to you by capitalists that use the least amount of invested capital to push products that will see their demise over and over and over....in your lifetime. They, and their cable connectors, are not your friends.
Springfield Offgrid Ohio Battery


But Lo~!

In the photo below are shown two brass connectors.



These brass connectors were found at a great local store called Rural King. If you don't have a Rural King in your neighborhood you don't get to enjoy their complimentary coffee and popcorn, and a pleasant helpful customer service, and a wide variety of assorted merchandise and equipment, and if you need hardware parts like nuts and bolts DO BOTHER TO COMPARE their prices with the big box stores!

Suffice to say, the community here in Springfield loves their Rural King.


Springfield Offgrid Battery

It was always just presumed that connectors will have to be periodically inspected and replaced (because the uncensored portion of the internet told me so).
It seemed inevitable, acid will literally eat the soft metal of the common lead connector, leaving only wires at the posts.
I never heard any other viewpoint on the internet in regards to a solution in off-grid applications.

Unfortunately, we do not have the freedom to visit all the websites that actually exist because our internet is extremely filtered
(90% is not allowed and labelled to us as the "black" and "dark" web and become data that is tucked away via "blacklists").



So cables will need to be inspected, tightened, and replaced from time to time, End of story, huh?

Tip #1:

Cut the corporate capitalist crappy connectors from those cables!



If a person were to spend 52cents, they would not likely be buying a Mazeratti.
More likely, the person spending 52cents is buying a 52cent item.
This is not to say that spending more will yield more.
In 2018, it is unsafe to say that the highest prices in the marketplace will ensure the highest quality anything.

One thing is for certain though, those cable connectors sold at walmart, kmart, autozone, etc. are NOT for off-grid applications.
I've been dealing with those cables for over a decade.

Save yourself the headaches and potential power failures (and more!), trust me on this one, cut the cable terminals off and install the brass connectors.


Springfield Battery CableThis alternative to corporate-farmed cabling offers the convenience of nut and bolt, as opposed to one-time-use crimp and solder. This method allows for the adding of other connections at a later date without having to purchase more hardware and eliminates unnecessary labor.
Brass Connectors were the answer.

The cost difference is shocking at first, but when you consider it is a once in your lifetime replacement (as opposed to replacing dangerously damaged cables every other year), coupled with the fact that the automotive capitalists designed cables to incorporate the cable into the connectors, rendering their cables not user-serviceable, and their connectors not re-usable.

I did not find this factoid on the Internet!
Brass connectors exhibit no, sulfation! Why? I don't know why. Maybe if we were to be permitted to see the whole internet, it may be that a site exists to explain the phenomenon...

BRASS BATTERY CONNECTORS

No more sulphuric mess, no more cable connectors dissolving in areas that are not visible to the naked eye, no more going back to the marketplace to replace the entire cable or connector because of deformity due to stretching, no more checking after weather extremes ... brass, with its tighten once design, equates to less maintenance and a more reliable connection.

To be totally honest with you, I didn't buy the brass connectors for any of the aforementioned reasons!

I had purchased the brass battery connectors as one that might purchase a chrome starter for their prized car.
The connectors were nothing more than "tricking out" the battery bank for show.


Several advantages converting to brass were noticed immediately; No sulfation was the bountiful harvest.


If the uncensored portion of the internet has left anyone else disamused and lacking when seeking truth (in any area), and when the internet communications controllers are askew in the shaping of the offering of internet data to further intelligence, the entire off-grid realm holds as the curbed model as evidence of the existence of a censored internet.
I'm just saying, having watched thousands of videos on the topic, and having read and perused thousands more websites on the topic, nowhere was this information concerning a more permanent solution to an inevitable problem found.


That's disturbing!

Along with cable connectors, ought to naturally come the cables themselves. Since the crappy cable connectors don't work well in an off-grid application (or safely for that matter), after changing the connectors, let's look at designing a better cable now.


Tip #2

Design your own Cable scheme

Making your own cabling is critical a pain in the asz.
You won't be accomplishing this with a pair of scissors so break out your sharpest blade, grinder, or precision cutoff saw; and after having chopped the connectors specified in Tip#1 above, clean off both ends, carry the wire to the battery bank, and get a measurement leaving a slight allowance for movement. Be careful not to accidentally touch the cables to the terminals while assessing your cut.

It's true, 12v electricity is eons safer than the grid electricty, however handling batteries unsafely can kill you.

Trust me, When working around batteries, do it safely as possible

Onward>
Below are a set of new batteries. The long wires seen in the photo below are temporary as the new batteries have not been incorporated yet, and soon to be eliminated.

Springfield Offgrid Batteries

To clarify the necessary cuts, one cut for your SERIES connection and one for your PARALLEL.

A.) When cutting for series connections, make the cables as short and direct as possible. These connections require no allowance for play as they are clear out of the way from the service cell caps, having play in the series connection would be of no good use, that I can think of.


B.) When cutting for parallel connections, make the cables go from the first connector, T H R O U G H to the farthest battery connector that your cable will reach to in one stretch. Less cuts equates to less energy loss and minimizes detrimental variables.


The argument for custom-cut cables isn't just an argument for safety's sake, or that it looks neater, or that the result are a more-efficient battery bank, but also you are gaining the least cost per lifetime by making your own cables.
Off-grid Battery Springfield Ohio
In our economically controlled society, the pre-manufactured crappy cables are all cut one-size-fits-all (basically) which leads to critical problems. Anyone having to check the specific gravity of each cell in each battery, or adding distilled water or sulfuric acid to each cell in each battery, has encountered the tangled web the corporate crap creates. Cables are strewn seemingly everywhere no matter how well you try to loom them. The mess of cables causes confusion, is a proponent of potential accidents, causes phantom energy loss due to length/distance, and simply looks bad.

Now notice the nice, neat, predictable cables you see in the photos shown below.
*Aside from the evident fact that I don't generally bother dusting my batteries (as the uncensored internet typically depict, batteries that are shiny and probably just for show financed by the very entity seeking to gain advantage), yet also notice that there isn't any acid build-up around the posts and connectors. It is patently impossible to clean the posts without disturbing the dust around the posts...i'm just waiting for the day when I have to clean the posts!

Springfield Offgrid BatteriesBrass connectors solved corrosion issue.Offgrid Batteries

Cutting your own cable lengths allowed for reduced costs in cabling, less phantom energy loss, and a safer workspace.
Direct cable connection from one terminal to the next allows for quicker transferrance of power with least amount of heat loss (resistance due to excess length), and overshadows the problems caused by excess cable, whether it be at the battery bank or the distance from the battery bank to the end-user.

So if the common marketplace only offers one size in battery cable thickness, and only one or two lengths, cutting it all down for tailored cuts meant nothing gets wasted.
If the next generation want thicker cables, let them finance it, these cables are getting recycled as-is ';-)).

Tip #3

Despite the myopic trend in this Nation right now, Think long-term


Thinking long-term is essential when building a one-time power plant that will outlive you and me.
Chances are likely that the next generation will not be that keen on how it all works. Consider your neice or grand-child coming to your off-grid edifice, would you feel safe having her around your power plant by herself? If not, fix it as if you were dying tomorrow!

Long-term, as in longer than just your existence, ought to be the goal.

The title to this tip wavered between: Thinking in Terms of Longevity and the alternate title: Never Throw Anything Away unless it's truly trash.

Since I generally am cash-poor, larger cables were not feasible. However making the most of what I had ensured a great savings in not needing to purchase more cabling to accomplish the new cabling scheme (in other words, I didn't throw away any of the old cables simply because they had become unusable, or those that became damaged due to "natural" occurrence).

Since I don't subscribe to a garbage pickup company, all I needed to do was go diving into my own personal (very clean) dumpster to retrieve all those defective cables from days gone by.

This would be a good time to clarify, my garbage is not like most people's garbage. My garbage does not smell and attracts no living matter.

Garbage is another problem turned into a solution.

Q: So if I don't have a regular garbage pickup, where's my garbage?
A: Glad you asked. As it turns out, it's easy to make less garbage. Firstly, let's define garbage in an on-grid situation vs garbage in an off-grid application.

In an on-grid situation, your trash is trash that could be recycled, however the difficulty in finding the means to purpose it are limited (especially if you live in the cities). Typically, trash in an on-grid situation cannot be separated for recylcing, and therefore becomes trash.

However, in an off-grid situation, your trash is immediately a commodity. Recycling is automatic.

Explained further, garbage consists of plant by-products, glass, metals, and styros.
1.) Paper or cardboard.
Since I heat and cook with wood, that garbage is kindling and a necessary commodity (especially in the winter time). So with the elimination of paper, wood, and cardboards from the garbage, is instantly less garbage than the next person.
2.) Table scraps, vegetable and fruit processing scrap, etc., ends up in a sealed compost container and ultimately incorporated into the garden.
So that eliminates table and other plant-matter from the garbage, which is usually where garbage odors originate from.
3.) Steel and other metals are re-used in all sorts of varied projects.
When there is too much accumulated metals, one phone call makes it all go away (search location: craigslist; search term: metal scrapper). Donating also helps the community by giving the exess to the starving scrappers.
4.) Glass products are reused in canning, storage, or used as drinking glasses.
Very little glass ends up in the garbage until it results in breakage.
5.) Plastics and styros.
THAT'S MY GARBAGE!! On average I'd say there's one bag per month (or less) that is carried out to the sealed dumpster (a bus).

Oddly enough, even styrofoams have come in handy for various projects as of late. This winter styrofoams have come in handy for temporarily insulating the garage openings shielding me from the bitter cold that is outside right now. (12degrees outside; 84 degrees inside! ";-{)

So the useless plastics are garbage and bagged up. There are no odors because there's no food matter left in the garbage. No critters will find sustenance from my garbage.

I state the long-winded aforementioned to curtail the more judgmental among us, that might just assume something incorrectly, and lose the message for the wrong assumption.

In short, Think long-term in more than just your garbage, cables, etc. Remember you are going to get old, forgetful, error-prone, so you're not just doing it for the next generation's sake.
I don't know about you, but the notion of NEEDING someone to keep up with me forgetting to turn off the lights and whatnot, is not that appealing (or considerate to the next generation). Virtually all of the lights in here turn off by themselves if they sense no activity (for whatever period chosen). There's probably 2 dozen sensors in the area I'm in right now, each with it's own light strips for the different areas in here. It works perfectly now, and it will work perfectly after I die.
If there's no movement for a specified period of time, electrical connections are disconnected automatically (until there's motion again). So lights and various other electronics automatically turn off when I leave the building or pass out for a few hours. This may not seem like much until you try to live off a battery in the wintertime! Automation is key and allows for the long-term life of your battery bank.


Tip #4

Warm Batteries are happy batteries.

Having come from Florida to Ohio, one might say it's been more difficult a task than ever considered before. Not only was there a need for MORE solar panels and MORE wire and MORE batteries and MORE charge controllers (ad infinitum and nauseaum), but there is also the revelation that the power bank is variable due to the temperatures! Whereas in Florida I could safely leave the battery banks outside, Not so in the colder climates of Ohio. During the first couple of years in Ohio, I was not able to do anything with the solar panels and batteries, and then when I was able to the codes restrictions were a new obstacle I had not encountered before. Other new problems were popping up, like who knew snow would just completely cover the solar panels, and then just sit there? Who knew that extreme cold would cause a lull in power supplied by the batteries in inclement weather? For the past 2 or 3 winters, depending on whom you're relying on for information, I've been living within 3 feet of the battery banks here. There are battery banks on 3 of the 4 walls of this 3-car garage and separated into 4 battery banks (each with their own panels, loads, and charge controllers). Being in close proximately has allowed an increased learning of batteries in general.

This TIP is actually found on the internet (but you'll really need to look for it if you tailor your search in the off-grid scenarios). This is where common sense ought to have kicked in, cold batteries are bad for tractors and cars, too.
Offgrid Batteries
So in closing, give thought to place your battery banks where the temperature is somewhat controlled year-round. The data and energy gleaned from the charge controller will be easier to understand, predict, and aid in planning for the inevitable completion of your single-generation power plant production.

The Batteries will need to be planned for long-term (unless you're wealthy and can afford to replace them every 3-5 years).

Tip #5

Fuses are for Automobiles. Breakers are for AC electricity. If you don't have them, don't panic.

Unlike what you'll hear from any of the uncensored sites, fuses are for the ignorant or cash-rich. I have NEVER used any fuses whatsoever...until I came to Ohio.
I'll explain why I have fuse boxes now, whereas my more than 5 years (10 years?) prior to coming to Ohio, I have never used fuses, or needed them.

When I came to this location, I was confronted almost immediately by the codes enforcer and told an investigation would ensue. Audio: .avi .flv .mp3 .wav
So, moreso out of fear (of those we finance), I installed fuse boxes and quick disconnects (fused-disconnects, also), just in case.

But in reality, the codes department is hindering discoveries. The truth of the matter is, I have ALWAYS simply connected to my 12v battery just as you would ALWAYS not put a fuse between your flashlight's battery and the bulb!
In contrast, when you have erratic electricty (such as in the manner of 110v and 220v outrageously dangerous electricity that runs throughout your home), it's THEN that you need breakers (fuses)!

1.) 12v is relevately safe. However, it is not advised to hold your tongue up to a 12v battery as you might with a 9v square battery. The volts are safe, the amps can potentially kill you (depending on what type of 12v battery you are experimenting with). 110v and 220v in contrast have killed people around the globe every year, whether it be due to electrical shock, fires, power outages *(medications that need to remain frigid), etc. When was the last time you ever heard of tragedies caused by a 9v battery or a 12v battery? I'm not saying something can't happen without fuses, it just hasn't ever for me.
2.) 12v battery is stable. Batteries are stable and only unless it were purposeful, never spike (we can't possibly state that about the nation's forced 110v ac electricity).
3.) 12v Does not create fires. However, we A L L have witnessed the fires from the forced 110v ac electrical grid.


But in argument, what purpose would INTERNAL fuses serve in an off-grid application? I'm not stating that nothing can never go wrong (even WITH fuses, "things" can go wrong). But one ought not to jump on those books that theorize the the sky could fall....when in reality, INTERNAL fuses have never served a purpose. I've always just connected directly to the 12v battery. Never has there been any incident.
******** Don't try this in an automobile! You DO need fuses in an automobile due to the function of an automobile battery, its manner of recharging, and other reasons.

And what purpose would EXTERNAL fuses serve in an off-grid application? I'm not stating that nothing can ever go wrong (even WITH fuses, "things" can go wrong). But one ought not to jump on those books that theorize the the sky could fall....when in reality, I'm living proof, INTERNAL fuses have never served a purpose. I've always just connected directly to the 12v battery. Never has there been any incident.
******** Don't try this in an automobile! You DO need fuses in an automobile due to the function of an automobile battery, its manner of recharging, and other reasons.

The point is, 12v is virtually harmless. Nobody has ever died touching both opposite terminals of a 12v battery at the same time (just as its harmless to do with a 9v battery). However monopoly electricity probably will send you off to the hospital if you touched both terminals at the power plant, or you could die, or at very least touching both terminals of that dangerous ac electricity will have you re-think whether or not you ever want to do that again. Do it with 220v and that could very well be a wraps for the rest of the day for you.

In contrast, I've yet to see a codes inspector worry about the existence of a breaker box in the house that runs the dangerous 110v and 220v electricity. He has NEVER been concerned to inspect ("investigate") since the first profit was "made" in the form of a building fee when the house was built in 1940's? Why do you suppose that is? When once we had elected officials, has become selected CEO's (in my opinion...ie. haliburton/cheney; harkin energy/bush, trickle down etc.).

So, do I profess that fuses are paramount to your survival in quickly getting an off-grid system up and operational? Nope, Sorry.
If you're going to outlaw my 12v battery being used in a stable off-grid manner, then shouldn't one first be concerned in outlawing the automobile that has killed millions? The autmobile battery is in an unstable environment, when placed in an automobile.

Tip #6

Micro VS Macro - - Micro battery banks are the answer


My findings, in more than a decade of experiments, show that the mainstream battery bank is simply not the answer. It's also potentially dangerous!

There is a better way.
To the best of my knowledge, this discovery is entirely my own.
This section is going to need some quality time, and will be my favorite section to write.

Once upon a time, I followed all the advice I could get my hands on concerning solar, wind, batteries, controllers, inverters, the science of wire distance/drop, etc. So just like EVERYBODY else, with only one view that regurgitates itself all over the internet, I built that large battery bank. 48 batteries or more were in one bank (about a decade ago). Garbage results. I tried 12v bank, 24v bank, and a 48v bank. I tried using different guage wire and still garbage results. To clarify what is garbage in my opinion, is when the bank is in the garage and you're pulling the electricity all the way to the other end of the house, yet the voltage drop hinders electronics from functioning reliably, the wire becomes warm (that's energy loss), the batteries are overworked and become warm and prematurely bulged-out, the specific gravity becomes alarmingly low, the fact that you might add more panels hasn't any effect whatsoever, and more.

Enough.

Here's what works. In the same instance that you would never park the battery to your flashlight at the other end of the house is the same reason I'll give toward credence that micro is preferable over macro battery banks.

Micro-battery banks work! The first one I made was by accident. I was moving a bank of batteries that no longer was expected to be needed. Toward the end of moving the bank, I became busy with other projects. Having left two solitary 6v batteries in series, and only two lights (12v led 16.5' strips), I was pleasantly surprised that when I made my daily rounds to the different charge controllers, that the single battery (6v x 2 = 12v) was looking pretty good and having the lights in there had suddenly become appreciated because I needed light at the time. So I left that bank and those lights alone (figuring I'd get to them when time permitted). That bank has been running for years and never a hitch!
The voltage following each night is the highest of all the other battery banks. All the banks are either 12.3 or 12.2 or 12.4 v (under loads) by dawn.
Not so with the micro battery bank!


My advice is this, get a battery. Get a panel. Get a charge Controller. Put a load in the loop. When you finally get to the point where that load runs YEAR ROUND, walk away. It is better to have a fully charged battery that is barely used, then to have a battery over-used and short-lived.

With the dangerous ac electricity it's just the opposite. You don't want to be ANYWHERE near where the electricity is being made without proper care and attire. We've all seen the power hubs and fenced yards holding tranformers and the ilk, the signs usually state something along the lines: DANGER OF ELECTROCUTION STAY THE FLIP OUT! (*or something like that)

Whereas a large battery bank, although leaps and bounds safer than the monopoly electricity, tranformed into smaller micro battery banks, just got safer.

Smaller battery banks also ensure that you never run out of power (even if the sky should fall).

I'll stop back to add/edit this section when time permits.

Tip #7

Hydrogen and pure Oxygen.

Suffice to say, the hydrogen-scare, like fuses, might be over-rated in an off-grid scenario.

Real life examples will be placed here soon!

Now let's discuss what a battery creates.
Why do you suppose that we've ALL heard only of one component that a battery creates? Hydrogen.
Why would it not be equally mentioned that a battery creates another gas? PURE oxygen.

Considering the fact that I smoke and have had a firewood stove within 3 feet of one of the battery banks, apparently the hydrogen scare is extremely over-rated.

I'll explain why it's almost impossible to blow up. Hydrogen is lighter than oxygen that we breathe. If hydrogen escapes the battery and you are standing over the battery, that hydrogen zips past you at a rate of (fast).
Also, when collecting the hydrogen from the batteries in such a way as to re-direct that hydrogen through a small plastic hose, and then lighting the other end, will find that the flame is barely able to be kept lit.


I'll elaborate more on this topic when time permits soon.

Tip #8

Automation

Use photosensors, motionsensors, timed-switches, etc.

It's been so long since I've had to find a light switch, that I can't even fathom wanting to go back to the conventional house!

At the time of this writing, I am surrounded by only the light of two monitors. However, I know that if I pick my hand up off the keyboard, or move back in my chair, that at least one light will come on (anytime I refer to a "light" I am speaking of a 16.5' length of LED's). Most all the lights in here are set to shut down 5 minutes after sensing inactivity.

I'll elaborate on this one at a later date

Tip #9

Choose DC to DC (No Inverters Allowed)

If you are on a budget, DC to DC is the answer. Many Get their panels and batteries then plug in a large inverter that pulls the voltage created by the batteries up to 110v.

Not the way to go. I'll list a few reasons why this is not the answer:

1.) Using a large inverter to handle your entire life's electricity consumption is blindly having faith that the inverter will never break down. Imagine you've just bought the overpriced inverter large enough to adequately run your home when the thing burns up at night time in the coldest day of the year. Now imagine your mom's medication that is supposed to be kept chilled at all times, is now not-so-chilled due to the loss of electricity. Poor mom.

If you simply must have inverters, at least use a bunch of smaller, cheaper units (the larger ones are outrageously priced and putting all your energy requirements into one inverter is risky). Like the advice to choose micro battery banks over macro, so ought to be your mindset toward inverters. If a micro-inverter ever goes down, simply piggy back to another inverter that is still working. Voila, mom lives!

Also, WHEN one burns up (gee, when does that ever happen?) it doesn't break your budget to replace.

2.) Whenever possible, ALWAYS STRIVE FOR DC TO DC. DC to DC is tantamount to zero phantom loss (not counting distances or mis-wire-sizing). Why would you want to charge a battery bank at one voltage, then pump it all the way up to 110v, only to have it stepdown to the exact voltage you started with? It makes no sense whatsoever to do this. If it's a 12v appliance that you are needing to power, simply remove the stepdown converter, split the wires and voila....no more potential problems of a stepdown converter going bad on you, either. A stepdown converter is simply just another thing that could go wrong (and it's completely unwise, unnecessary, and wasteful). Fact is, 99% (guesstimate) of all the items in your entire home of every member of all of your entire family tree are running items that are 24v or less (with the exception of only a few items such as most electric ovens, freezers, refrigerators, dryer, and in all about 20 items.....everything else is less than 24v! Your laptops are running usually between 12v and 24v, your phones are running 5v, even if you are plugging the appliance in a 110v socket the item you are powering is NOT using anything close to 110v. Now when you step down electricity there is immediate loss (and even more loss stepping it up).

Dc to dc just keeps on ticking flawlessly.


I'll stop back to add more to this section later.



THIS CONCLUDES THE BATTERIES PAGE


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