Ken HendrickOff-Grid Solar and Wind Generated Power

Page Topic: Tips

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Springfield Ohio Off-Grid Solar and Wind Power

1.) Build your battery banks (plural) where power is needed.
On the Internet they show many videos and documents that depict a large battery bank to supply an edifice electricity.
On face value, yeah this would appear to be a normal assumption because we've been trained from birth with AC electricity and the fact that their electricity comes into the home through a centralized main into the fuse box.  That's our world in modern societies.

HOWEVER,   it's been my experience that this is a total waste of time and unduly expensive offering less yeild than building micro-battery banks.   Micro-plants, if you will.
When you grab a flashlight, it has batteries in it that allow you to travel around somewhat freely.  The power source is in your flashlight.   You are carrying your battery bank around with you to receive that light.   You do not leave the batteries to the flashlight in the garage and walk out into the night holding a flashlight with a long wire to the batteries.    Now imagine if we use the scenario offered by the internet?    Now you have a long reach to the power source....it could be clear at the other end of the house.   When I started out, I did just as the internet solar gurus advised.   I spent a fortune to be starving for power at night.    The problem with a central battery bank (like a centralized government) is the price of convenience.   Long spans of wire cause voltage loss.   Try this experiment in your spare time:  Grab a 9v battery, check and note the voltage to the 1/10th.   Now select the fattest, longest wire you can safely connect to that 9v battery and then check the voltage at the other end of those wires.   It's lower.   You might assume it's an inconsequential loss but you'd be myopic in your thinking.   The convenience of a centralized battery bank to convert a home's electricity is an illusion.   Put a load on the end of that wire and now the loss is compounded by how many volts have to travel to bring amps to power the load (in other words, if the voltage drops from 12.4v to 12.2v when tested without a load, it means that there is loss right off the bat and when a load that requires more energy than the wire is capable of delivering, your wire gets warm...warm wires are lost energy.  Transference loss.     

It is better to build micro-battery banks for a number of reasons.   For instance, I have a few lights at the other end of this large garage.   Rather than spend a hypothetical $1.00 to get the amps needed to power the lights from here to the other end of the garage;  or I could rather choose to put the bank of batteries at the other end thereby only spending a hypothetical $0.25 to power the same strip of lights.    Presently I have only three battery banks.   However if age wasn't so gaining on me, there'd be 6.    Aside from eliminating that wire loss (thereby increasing your potential yield and duration), there's also the money savings issue.   Let's talk money.   When you venture off to conquer some project,  bringing your home off-grid for instance, you know it will cost $$$$$ to do so.   You don't have that money, in comes the despair.   But what if you have right now $ of the $$$$$?   That's right, micro.    The benefit of a micro battery bank is it's versatility (move it easily to wherever you might need the power).   Today your micro battery bank might be in the bedroom to handle the lights only,  whereas tomorrow you decide to move into the basement and transfer the small battery bank (flashlight) with you!    Small battery banks are much easier and safer to manage.    Since you don't have the $$$$$ to cover your home with solar and take it off-grid, start with the $ you do have.    A micro battery bank makes the hurdles not so high.    Lights conquered today with one battery bank is one-step closer to tomorrow's micro-battery bank (the computer or dvr or water pump, etc.).     Micro battery banks are safer.   Here's an example of the potential danger in dragging electricity from a central location:   One time I was centralized.   I spread wire in a virtual railroad track all around the building in every room.   Now all those lines were energized, hence loss.   Regardless of whether I used that electricity or not, It still required a draw from the battery banks to keep those wires energized.   So one day I went into the room I used the most (the furthest point one could go from the centralized battery bank) and was shocked to the smell of something burning.    I saw anamolies such as some lights were no longer on,   a monitor was off, holy crap bare wires!!!    The problem with a centralized bank of batteries is that wire size is SO CRITICAL when your batteries are centralized.   Whereas a micro battery bank is a few feet from the source of power,  a micro battery bank is more direct.   I'll stop back to add reasons to this section in addition to those already mentioned, but I need to touch basis on something else before it's forgotten...
Springfield Ohio Off-Grid Solar and Wind Power

2.) Don't use automotive connectors.
The industry in a capitalist state at its onset is flush with fine improved products and services.  However in a declining economy (http://usdebtclock.org) it's the reverse.    Now to save a buck means buying cheaper ingredients to make your food, within a declining economy it's the cheap lead in your hand tools or dangerous tested and untested monsanto in your backyard.   The same goes with the automotive industry, just as all other industries it too offers cheap crap to the consumer (first and foremost).   In order to obtain something better that is not in their stock you must first know to ask for that special ordered item.   I'm referring to the battery terminal connectors.    Brass connectors are not cheap by any means.   Overall, I pay about $5.00 per a set of two.  My battery banks are all 12v so taking a set of two 6v batteries wired in series equates to $5.00 investment.   But when the battery bank needs more duration of power, now the expense is magnified.   I have a battery bank about 3feet from me now.   There are 6 batteries and each are 6v.  So after connecting two batteries in series to reach 12v (thereby making one battery), the other two (four) batteries are connected in parallel.  The cost on that is about $60.00 JUST IN THE post connectors!   That's not including the wire!    However, let's look at the common contrasted offer at the monopoly stores, automotive connectors.  I want to say those things are made of lead but I am actually not sure, all I know is the metal is super soft compared to brass.   Unlike brass, common battery connectors are maleable.   Anyone working on batteries has experienced once or twice the terminals simply tearing (as if ripped).   We've also seen those connectors stretch (did you ever need to place screws or other nonsense between the post and terminal just to keep a solid connection to the energy in the battery?).    Here's a jewel you'll not find on the net, buy brass, make your own cables, end of story.    The OTHER cables (whether purchase through autozone or walmart) will be replace over and over and over.  Like everything a declining capitalist state offers, those cables carry a short shelf-life, which in turn equates to residual future income to the entities that are "forward thinking".    Brass connectors not only last (I can't finish this sentence because I've not had one become defective yet), but also I've noticed that there is no longer a designated clean up of the sulfation at the terminals!   Whereas the corporate crap offered at the stores would require my twice or thrice periodic cleaning of the sulfation, brass gives me that time to my life back.    Since I don't have to clean sulfation anymore, it means it's safer.   Now I'm not needing to move around wires with a tool to clean those terminals and posts using brass.   One more potential accident is removed from my life using brass.   So far no repeat trips to the store to buy replacement connectors, hence no additional transportation costs are future surprises.   Trust me, there's other things I've noticed about these brass connectors but need to move on to my next tip before that one is forgotten.
Springfield Ohio Off-Grid Solar and Wind Power
3.) Cut your own wire.
It's a pain, but do it.   Whereas the corporate crap offered at the stores are pre-cut either being too short or too long (NEVER just the right length because a micro-battery bank is not an automotive battery).  Some battery banks are stacked, some are inline to form the ending voltage whereas mine are side-by-side.   By designing your own cables you eliminate waste.   I generally will take one of those dozens of defective automotive cables that I have in a file cabinet, and cut the length to connect three batteries in parallel.  In other words, I don't cut to connect two wires on the parallel, it's one wire that goes continuously through.    The brass connectors have enough thread left on the bolts to allow for this method better than having two wires.   By eliminating the length of your wire from one battery to the next adds to the ability to quickly deliver energy when it's required suddenly and quickly.    Without the ridiculous excess of corporate automotive wires I now have safer battery banks to be around.   Tools no longer get hung up on the loops of wire because by cutting your own the wire is tight to the battery tops (as opposed to looping up above the battery bank).   In essence, I turn one salvaged wire length (after cutting their crappy connectors off) that would ordinarily connect one battery to the other, into three batteries connected without any additional cuts).  No cuts means less loss, less accidents and short circuits.   Cutting your own wire is versatile.     Cut what you need, no looming, no working around this wire and that when checking specific gravity in your battery cells, etc.
Springfield Ohio Off-Grid Solar and Wind Power

4.)  Purchase only serviceable batteries.
I'll get to this one soon, rest assured there's a mountain of reasons you want wet-cell over sealed batteries.   Time to eat, shower, etc.
Springfield Ohio Off-Grid Solar and Wind Power

5.) Go DC.  End of story.
Cut the wall wart! 

Recently I had a bad month; no sun, just dark and rainy (matter of fact, I'm in it now).   So having little sun and not enough wind has left the battery banks with some rather deep sighs (low voltage draws).   Aside from turning off everything that is not entirely essential, there's little else you can do other than relax and wait for the sun to come back into vogue.

However one of the battery banks was drawn exceptionally low.   I couldn't figure out why since almost everything other than the server and modem/router and a few lights and whatnot were all that were left on, everything else had been disconnected pending sunnier days.    I checked each battery's cells for specific gravity and all looked fine but the bank didn't seem to be taking a charge as it should.  It was decided that one by one the remaining items would be removed to another battery bank and that the problem must be located.   

AS IT TURNS OUT, the batteries were NOT the problem.    One of my prized pure sine-wave inverters appeared to be sucking power.   Following its removal from the batteries, the batteries almost instantly sprung back to life.

THIS IS WHY I SAY:  just keep it simple.  If you have a 12v battery bank, buy 12v appliances.   Having an inverter is just another thing that could go wrong since the inverter contains a slew of components and each one of them just itching to fail.

As another example, just today 2/25/18, it was decided to change out the firewood stove's fans from ac to dc.   I took pictures of the damaged open/bare wiring that had melted and surely posed a hazard sooner or later.   The wiring was rather thick (not just the plastic jacket); whereas my 12v conversion using old computer fans have very fine wires that will not likely be able to start a fire and will simply disintigrate if crossed from heat).   To extend the life expectency insulation was wrapped around the delicate wiring.   The fan (soon to be fanS) is much quieter than the ac counterpart that was removed.

The cost difference is huge.   12v to 12v is no or little loss.   For me to convert my 12v battery banks alllll the way up to 110v via an inverter, then alllll the way back down to whatever voltage the ac fan was operating at, is nothing but loss of otherwise usable energy.

During the daytime, when visitors come by, the 3k x 6k inverter is turned on, at nighttime it is usually also left on, but aside from that inverter and two micro-inverters (one is a 200w and the other a 400w) I use no inverters.   Sure, it would be nice to use all the large screens around here, and sure it would be nice to use the power-hungry octo-core and quad-core desktop computers....but I'm of the persuasion that until they make a 12v model, It's better to use the lower voltage screens and computers (laptops).    During sunny days?  Now that's a different story!


Springfield Ohio Off-Grid Solar and Wind Power


Our Nation CAN do Better!

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