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majere
#1 Posted : Monday, September 15, 2003 1:55:22 AM
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I am off grid as thee knows. I have now built four such, now working on #5. First two were PV, last three Hydro. That should be a big tip for thee.

And I disagree with the advice thee has gotten. That is a ''high rpm'' generator. The low rpms, less that 800, are much better for a host of reasons. China Diesel is one brand name (and in my personal opinion the best).

For what it is worth, be sure thee checks thy local code! In a lot of locations, a generator must be ''tanked'', even if a mobile. $$$. And a lot of regulatory red tape. But with a low rpm unit, one can use unfortified biodiesel (soybean oil, corn oil, etc.) and not be tanked.

Another tip I can give thee is that batteries are the real price tag of any such system. The best bang for buck is L16 (6v forklift) and T105 (6v golfcart) which you can find second hand for much less than new, with most of the life left. Visit establishments who would use such, they often keep ''spares'', that are never used, but rotate at five years. The life is 15.

Do not scrimp on the inverter! Buy new there, best you can. There are so many ''el cheapo''s that will cause thee grief very soon.

Oh, check out the new 12v alternators. Back when I built the best we could get was about 80w. Now they are 240-300 in J.C. Whitney, in case thee does have a chance to add wind / water. Or even an emergency lawnmower generator.

600w array is not enough, in my personal opinion, even for a tiny workshop.

Another tip: Secrets of Lead Acid Batteries by Lindsay

Have fun!

Majere
jdcox
#2 Posted : Tuesday, September 16, 2003 4:23:29 AM
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Thanks, Pat/Maj, I looked into it. I was stunned to learn that some alternators can put out as much as 250 - 300 amps. Wahoo. On one website, they suggested ''teaming'' up alternators to get even more! I also looked into China diesel......their website was pretty poor (started with an ''L'', actually) and didn''t tell me enough...like where to get one and the cost. Still, I see options. I haven''t chased down Lindsay yet......but I''ll get back........
Keep up the advice. This stuff is fascinating.
majere
#3 Posted : Tuesday, September 16, 2003 12:50:25 PM
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Lindsay Publications. Sorry. Just a minate... Their number 885. They do have a ''funky'' website.

Another thought did hit me of somthing that might be better for thee. Mazda, back in 1995 made a ''football'' or ''jobsite'' low rpm diesel that would run unfortified biodiesel. Michael has it now. Only 0.8k, and only about an hour and a half on the tank, but that little bugger is tough, it got dropped off a few cliffs and off a water tower. And with a beautiful sine wave. Expensive, over $1000 then, but worth it.

''teaming'' alternators is something I have never done. Can''t advise there. I have made a ''lawnmower'' emergency 12v with an alternator and one of those cheapie 110vac inverters. Just enough to keep a freezer going during construction of the Librum.

Something else. I really like the new ''fishscale'' roofing panel idea. Basically, they are painted film on metal shingles, with plastic freznel lens on top. Roof the whole house in them. Not much output compared to standard panels, but not cold sensitive, not shadow sensitive, would wear better than a painted metal roof. If I had to do it over again...

Yes, China Diesel''s site is poor, but not the product. Ummm... I can''t remember the catalog/company name exactly. ''Hardy''?. Logo is an arm ''making bicep'', they are a china diesel reseller. They are good, always had any part I needed. Sorry my study is in such ''move-in'' chaos.

And if thee needs a crash course in the ins and outs of fortifing biodiesel, Back Home magazine had an article a while back.

Maybe I was out of line, but thee is intending to buy off the shelf, on the batteries, correct? If there is a communications center nearby, ask if you can buy rotated out G14s. These are HUGE 12 volters, openable, cleanable, indefinate lifespan. I used some of those when I built that first plant in Georgia. Had to replate the lead on the plates, but not hard for me. (grin). Ummm... That would have been 1988 (?). Still in service. T''s and L''s never would have made that record.

Want to build thy own? Storage Battery Engineering by Lamar Lyndon. 1903. And I remember one by a man named Warwich, published about the same time. If I find that ref in this chaos, I will tip back.


Take care,

Majere
skruzich
#4 Posted : Tuesday, September 16, 2003 2:00:41 PM
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Ok, if yall are going to run multiple alternators, just remember that the way you hook it up is going to make a BIG difference. Here is what you get by the way you hook it up.
Parallell

Alt 1 + alt 2 + alt3 ect ect = voltage out1 + voltage out2 + voltage out 3 ect ect.
Just Add the total out put of votage. If you have 3 12v alt, you get 36v

Now if you hook them up in series, you will get 12 volts period.

Heres the fun part. You must know what the amperage of each is.
Because,
The exact opposite applys to amperage.
So if you hook them up in series, you total the amperage output of all alternators to get the total amps. ;)

This is what you will have to do to hook up in each scenario.

if you hook up in paralell,
you will have to figure out if you want a 12v, 24v, 36v total voltage of combigned batteries. Make a central connection bus, and hook pos to pos connection point and neg to neg connection point. connect your bank of alternators (total voltage output must not exceed total voltage of batteries). you will connect each alternator to the pos connection point, and ground the housing of each alternator to a earth ground. Run your pos connection point to the input pos point on your dc/ac invertor and the ground to the ground point of your dc/ac invertor. Then you can feed the output lines to your house.

Now if you use series, you will need to connect your batteries like this.
starting with first battery, pos to your invertor, neg to second battery pos, second battery neg to third battery pos, ect ect. Now connect your alternators first alt output to second alternator output, second to third alt output ect.
last alternator to the first battery pos and ground all housings to the last battery neg. Hook first battery pos to the pos input on the invertor and the last battery neg to the neg input on the invertor. Then hook up invertor output to house lines.

You might have problems with voltage regulators in each of the alternators in a series connection.
If you do i will set down and figure it out for ya.
Steve
jdcox
#5 Posted : Tuesday, September 16, 2003 4:31:49 PM
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This place is like Christmas for hermits. Thanks. I''ll pursue a few more ''leads'' (like the batteries) and get back to this thread.........this one is fascinating. You guys are at a level (or two) more knowledgable than the owners of equipment! No one in the PV array business around here knows this stuff.
skruzich
#6 Posted : Tuesday, September 16, 2003 6:01:57 PM
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Wow, your kidding jd, how do they set them up if they don''t have a basic understanding of electronics.

Just make sure you don''t hook a pos to a neg on the same battery, I would dare say you may end up with a mini hydrogen bomb if you do. :)

I also was looking at a by product of lead acid batteries. That is hydrogen. If you could figure a way to seal the batteries in a enclosure, and capture the hydrogen that is produced from running electricity through lead and water, then you would have a alternative fuel source to use. Hydrogen would have to be collected and stored in a pressurized container i would think. Not sure what it would take to turn it into a liquid from a gas other than pressurization.

steve
majere
#7 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 1:55:28 AM
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Hermit,

Do these, err..., ''salesmen'', have any PV certifications? Like most trades, there are actually certifications. Always check credentials. Hech, get your own! I know thy intelligence is up to the task. Might be another ''side'' business for thee.

If thee is truely as ''behind the curve'' as I am interpreting, then I suggest going to the library and reading as many of the Back Home ''Ask Mr Solar'' articles as thee can get thy hands on. He also has online college credit and freebie classes, I understand. ''thoughtscreate.com'' I think it is.

I realize that I am coming across as a ''anti'' Mother, and ''pro'' Back Home, but really that is not the case, one uses all assets/data. Back Home is simply a better reference for this, today. If thee has old Mother to work from, Mother is better. (grin). Mother''s Handbook of Homemade Power, while showing ''age'', is still an excellent ''tooth cutter''. I see it on eBay all the time.


Steve,

I have done ''water cracking''. Hydrogen over water with pressurization. DANGEROUS. For a short while at the Librum home, that was our cooking fuel. Darn wonder I did not blow us up. In my ignorance I did not know of the special valves and made my own ''float'' type. Please, if thee goes into this, use the ''store bought'' valves. My ''oxygen'' cracker is still in use, for the welding rigs in the Librum shop.

For what it is worth, there is no BTU cost break in doing this. More expensive than building a big enough plant to run an electric stove/rangetop. (which surprised me). MUCH more expensive than propane. So, in a PV home, I suggest gas/propane for cooking.

I did not even research the possibility of converting a generator to run on H2. Just too dangerous. H, being the smallest molecule, is almost impossible to keep from leaking from almost any container, one spark, and BOOM!

Gassification of the batteries while under charge is one reason I told Hermit not to skimp on the inverter (which today usually includes the bank charging equipment). And there is sulfur compounds in battery gasoff, making it even more dangerous. Mini Hydrogen Bomb is a good description, I have seen several ''blown'' plants while in the service. And yes, I had the UPS secondary MOS (military occupational specialty).

Find a copy of Peavey''s ''Fuel from Water''. While geared towards automotive, it will cut thy teeth on small cracking plant operations.

Whoops, gotta go.

Take care,

Majere
jdcox
#8 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 2:16:24 AM
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Well, actually I am not quite as ignorant as I might sound. I have read volumes. But reading and doing are worlds apart and I have also learned that the academic version of a topic is less than the whole truth of it. Our local salespeople may or may not be more knowledgeable than they appear - but the focus of their conversation is, for the most part, to sell and thus I have a few doubts. Combine my ''salesman'' doubts with the lack of any ''hands-on'' knowledge and I may, in fact, actually be as stupid as I sound. But I get the concept. I get the idea. And I can buy the stuff. But living with a system teaches you more than the catalogues ever can. For instance: finding good 2nd hand batteries will be a mystery - whenever I talk about such things, most people just look at me weird ("what is he talking about?"). I can assure you that if I phoned the telephone company and asked for the works yard and talked to the foreman and asked about batteries, the guy would first say, "Geez, I dunno. You''ll hafta go through head office." If I persist, he might say, "Well, we sometimes get old batteries in, now and then. But they go out to tender. Some salvage guy picks them up." And, if I persist further, "Hey, look! I just work here, OK? If you want some batteries, maybe you should look in the yellow pages or something, you know. I''d like to help you fella, but I am only the manager of operations. I don''t know anything. You''ll hafta go through head office."
Then I''ll say, "Thanks. ''Preciate your time. By the way, you''d have a promising future in government, you know. You''re perfect for it. Where''s head office?"
In other words: it''s painful. Still, everytime I let cynicism take over, I meet some great person who proves me wrong. So, I am going to give it a shot.
skruzich
#9 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 3:21:48 AM
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Posts: 134,494
Jd, you can also do like the recyclers do with the batteries. You can take the old ones, and open the case up, and pull the lead plates out, and knock the junk off the bottoms and clean up the plates. If they are loose, solder them back to the collector line, and place back in the clean plastic case. Glue the top back on and fill with sulpheric acid. Thats how they rebuild batteries.
Might be a good way to make a decent battery bank. Now i know that the deep cycle have more lead in them and are able to withstand more heat than the regular car batteries.
Now i am not sure about gel cells.
Hmmm I need a couple batteries for my boat and i think i have a couple of dead ones out back. Might try it out myself
steve
majere
#10 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 1:53:44 PM
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Steve,

Don''t try it with auto batteries. Those are mesh or grid plates, not really a plate at all. Not worth trying to replate/salvage, not enough to them. Annother negative aspect is even when you drain the mesh types, there is still a explosion hazard. Also a cleaning hassle. And I would not trust the cases to take the heat.

I wish I had this office in order. There is a book in here somewhere that detailed the construction of batteries to covert a jaguar to electric. Standard batteries would not fit.

Gels, nicads, etc, well, frankly, I don''t like them. KISS. And $$$.

-----

Hermit,

I know thee is not stupid. And i know thee is going to do the research. And I wholy agree, books are not the same as experience.

Such facilities (telco, golf, and forklift) have to pay to haul them away. Disposal fees are high.

You can make thy own, no arguement, but not cost effective. Personal experience.

Another tip, when thee looks at the panels, make sure they are the newer ''racer'' type. The older ones suffered from shadows. Unless the whole plate was in the sun, the electricity could not ''get out''. Another way to put it is that the old types were series plated, and if a cell in the chain was not producing, it acted as a resister to the ones that were. ''Racer'' type have each cell plated to a bus.

And is this going to be a grid intertie system? Lots of legal tips I could give, and a couple of horror stories.

Majere
skruzich
#11 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 3:12:12 PM
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Hmmm I wonder what I could use the capaciter plate for a forklift for majere, I can get two or three of them, My uncle has them collecting dust. I know they store alot of electricity, capaciters are as big as a drink cup.
If the auto batteries are that bad, then I won''t mess with them. What is the difference between auto batteries and marine batteries?
steve
jdcox
#12 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 4:18:35 PM
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No. No grid intertie. The grid is miles away across water and, to my mind, can stay there. I''d rather live by the sun than ''plug in'' again. I know that I need light and that is why I am doing this. And I likely need the computer, too. It will help me earn a small stipend. But the grid is like a drug.....you are hooked and strat using more and more. And the dealers of both are amoral. I am afraid I see a bit more ugly these days in what I thought was benign and/or innocent.
But back to the system. Could I prevail on thee to suggest a battery or website that depicts the ''ideal'' battery? Then, armed with that knowledge, I can then seek out users of such batteries and, perhaps, pick up their 2nd hand ones. By the way - how would one know if there was enough life left in them to warrant salvage? And, secondly, if I do get a few and they are ''dead-ish'', does it make sense to take them to a battery maker and ask them to be rebuilt? I would rather pay something than mess with acid and heavy boxes. Within reason, of course.
StreetLegal
#13 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 10:36:29 PM
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Steve...you asked the question:

"Wow, your kidding jd, how do they set them up if they don''t have a basic understanding of electronics."

It''s called tech support. It''s much easier to teach installers to call 1-800-HELP ME `CAUSE I AIN''T GOT A CLUE. I suspect they "connectorize" everything so there is no way to get it wrong.

---

jd...I would advise you to find out what circuit boards are contained in any of the devises you''re considering and what their current replacement cost is.

As with most electronics, replacement boards are "insanely" expensive...price gouging at its'' worst! As part of the purchase deal, you might consider negotiating a "future" purchase price for such parts.

And be aware that replacement circuit boards are often times "refurbished". That''s not necessarily bad, but there should be a big dollar difference between new and rebuilt.
StreetLegal
#14 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 10:45:18 PM
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I''ve often wondered why the subject of "build your own batteries" hasn''t come up on this board. From what I know, lead-acid batteries are very simple...in concept anyway!

I know the city where I live has some heavy regulations ($$$) regarding no acid in the sewer system...OSHA and EPA certainly have a hand in emissions controls. I can only imagine the insurance and worker''s comp costs for a battery manufacturing plant...can''t blame an insurance company for wanting to stay clear of any involvment with lead and acid.

All that to say "one should be able to do it himself and save".
StreetLegal
#15 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 10:54:51 PM
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jd,

I know that generators, welders, etc have a rated duty-cycle, meaning they can only produce full output for a limited time, then the output starts falling off.

I have a Ford diesel pickup with two batteries. If I run the batteries down by leaving the headlights on, I need to use a battery charger to build the batteries back up. If I use the vehicle alternator to recharge them, I run the very-real risk of burning the alternator out.

Obviously, the Ford alternator is not 100% duty-rated, or is not sufficiently sized for high-demand conditions, or both.
skruzich
#16 Posted : Wednesday, September 17, 2003 11:26:40 PM
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THe problem with the alternators street is that they built in the voltage regulator and the 4 way bridge that the diodes make will short out or burn up. The reason why this is happening is that they do not ventilate the case enough to cool this diode. If it were properly done, it would charge just fine without burning up. Now the old alternators that they used to use in the old police cars, (intercepters) ;) they would run 100 amp and would charge a dead battery almost in a couple minutes.


As for the acid in the batteries, I don''t know why one couldn''t recycle the acid, Just need to cook it down and remove the excess water and you get a purer acid. I think the boil point for sulpheric acid is 600 degrees, so you would boil off the water long before you started boiling the acid. Now one would NOT want to get a wiff of boiling acid water as it would tend to cause some problems with the respiratory system.
As for the lead, Couldn''t one make a mold and pour lead into the mold making new plates? All you would have to do is to melt down the old lead plates and reform it.
Just a thought.
Anyway, there still remains the ole problem in either situation of hydrogen being emitted and that right there would make any project like that a bit exciting ;P
hehe.
I did a experiment in highschool and collected hydrogen into a balloon, and once it expanded somewhat, tied it off and let it float up, took a match on the end of a yardstick and struck it and held it to the balloon. It created a mini mushroom cloud inside the classroom
steve
jdcox
#17 Posted : Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:23:30 AM
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Back to the batteries...........anyone know the names of a few ''ideal'' batteries and the sizes?
As to messing with acid and melting lead.........no thanks. I like to do things myself but I would rather take out my own appendix than do that (I know how to take out an appendix, that''s why - it''s easy. Most medical procedures and diagnosis are a lot easier than the medical monopoly would have you believe. Next time you are up my way, drop in and I''ll remove a few unnecessary organs if you want. And remember J. Robbin''s words: "The AMA operates under the assumtption that all sick people either have too many organs or too few drugs.")
Annnnnnnnnnnd................back to batteries. Where can a guy buy old 2 volt batteries (to hook them up in series to get 12 volts)?
StreetLegal
#18 Posted : Thursday, September 18, 2003 2:07:59 AM
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We used to melt down lead for cast iron sewer-line connections all the time. I''m sure you could still buy it at a plumbing supply house.

I agree, steve, I see no reason why old plates couldn''t be melted down and re-poured. As far as hydrogen danger, I can''t see it being any more dangerous than a store-bought battery. After all, adding the acid would be the final step, then it''s a matter of ventilation I suppose.

I don''t think they do anything special to make car batteries extra-safe. They just purchase more liability insurance and hope for the best. That''s probably why batteries are so expensive...it''s not because lead, acid, and a plastic box cost a lot.

I''ve only been near one battery that blew up. I was driving a tractor when she blew...sounded like a 300 Winchester magnum. A well thought-out battery house should minimize any danger.
majere
#19 Posted : Thursday, September 18, 2003 2:08:50 AM
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I would not even mess with the forklift caps. Electrical field issues. Very ''lossy''. This is one reason most modern forklifts run on propane.

Marine batteries are car batteries with slightly better plates. The more ''solid'' the plate the more ''deep cycle''. For Hermits applications, he wants solid plate, like forklift of golfcart. Actually, that is a good point, I noted a trend of such going to ''mesh''. Throw away society at it''s best. Best check!

Actually, I think it is now a OSHA violation to even take a plastic wall (thermoseal case) battery apart. Course, Hermit is in Canada, and that might not apply.

As to refurbishing acid, frankly, yes, I have done that, I have not uses ''store bought'' acid in years/decades, but I NEVER suggest anyone else consider it. Some of the ''scrubbing'' reactions require calculus. Recovered acid is never pure. It is not a simple act of ''cook off the water'' (no matter what Saxon says). Not to blast, but even thinking so shows a lack of the necessary chemical knowledge. And Street is right, ''junk'' acid must be ''neutralized'' to comply with regulatory issues. Again, kaolin comes to the rescue.

On the ''single cell'' 2V batterys, I think thee may be talking of the old ''glass wedge'' batteries. Those were removed from market as the cell walls cracked. Glass is actually not a good container, or plate barrier/separator. Glass, err..., degrades. Hech, I have not seen a true ''glassy'' in years!

On ''plug and chuck'' electronics, I agree completely, which is one reason I try to buy equipment with ''discrete'' componets that I can directly replace. Bank for Buck. And I will not buy any that have ''subcards'', if I can help it. This is one reason I don''t recommend Trane, they show a distressing tendency to go to custom IC. My first plant I built the whole thing from discrete components. But then to give thee an idea of how long ago that was, the cpu was an 8086.

Street, sounds like thee needs to visit J.C. Whitney and upgrade that alternator. Look for a brandname called ''Mean Green''. Red, my old 78 Courier, still under repair (I have folks looking for a new/replacement 1800 cc block, it was an odd one)(Michael really did a number on poor Red), has a 240A, replacing the 45A stock unit. Reason? Electric chainsaw and lifesaving equipment.

Hermit, Mother #200 showed today. Guess who is in the advertisers section? Hardy diesel. And on the ''request a catalog'' card also.

Oh, that reminds me, Mother #200 has the ad for the first of the Mother Anthology CDs. (Nudging Steve.) $19.95 for issues #1-60.

Hermit, sorry, but thee will be working with lead and acid, no matter what, if thee goes solar. But I understand not wanting to cast thy own lead plates, etc.

On the other question about estimating ''life'' of second handers, it is a crap shoot. Most books I have seen preach to ''buy new and same''. I am too cheap for that. Rules of thumb: insist that the battery be fully charged at inspection. Look for corrosion. Check specific gravity (checks charges state, and will point out a bad cell), check ph (yes, inballence or not to snuff shows hidden internal corrosion)(sulfication). Visually look at the plates via the fill holes (wear safety glasses! Sealed to face type). ''hash'' marks on the top indicates a ''mesh'' plate. Any ''murky'' acid is suspect. As to what is ''ideal'', personal opinion is telco G series.

Back to work!

Majere
skruzich
#20 Posted : Thursday, September 18, 2003 2:12:55 AM
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Ok jd and folks, I screwed up on my explanation of voltage and series and parallel. I said that voltage is affected in parallel and it isn''t. Amperage is affected in parallel. Voltage is affected when in series and amperage is NOT.

Sorry for that screwup. It has been 15 years since i worked with my electronics on a regular basis ;)

here is a better explanation

Your battery size is measured in AMP-HOURS. This is a measure of battery''s capacity.

Battery voltage is determined by the number of "cells" in series. All lead-acid batteries have a nominal output of 2 volts. Actual cell voltage varies from about 1.7 volts at full discharge to 2.4 volts at full charge. 12 volt lead-acid batteries are made of 6 seperate cells in one case. 6 volt batteries are made of 3 cells in one case.

Putting battery cells in parallel increases amp-hour capacity, but does not affect voltage.

Puttin battery cells in series increases voltage, but does not affect amperage.

Here is a good worksheet to calculate how much battery power you will need.
http://www.suntrekenergy.com/battsize.htm

Now here is a idea that would help. If you build a capaciter bank, to hook your batteries to, your batteries won''t get hit with a heavy load or draw when you turn on a particular appliance. It will pull from the capaciters first allowing the battery system to charge the capaciters at a steady level.

Here is a excellent article on batteries, and which kinds are available.
http://www.phrannie.org/battery.html
steve
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