Miscellany

Oh, will they ever come up with the perfect battery? Super capacity? Super cheap? I’ve met one guy who has learned to adjust his pace to make it from Pensacola to Miami in a Tesla. Maybe adopting a more relaxed pace would be good for most folks! Solar Jorge, down in the Keys, likes the discontinued Chevy Volt. You can do your daily commute on electric and charge it with solar, but if you want to run coast-to-coast, there is no problem. In the meantime, let the photo above be a warning. Oh the irony of that bumper sticker and the Honda generator! Sad truth is, the car is probably normally charged by coal generator unless he has his own solar power system.

I am constantly messing with batteries. Adding, upgrading, experimenting, trying to coax a little more life from them. The set of 8 T-105s that I repaired by installing new studs have been added to the battery zero export grid tie system. Most of the house is now off grid, now that the demands for a/c are down and my battery pile is higher. Still, that ZEGT system chips in some sun power when the dryer or oven are running.

When there were no batteries the system was constantly tripping out as the two inverters fought and passing clouds would interrupt the flow. Adding 230 ah of Sun’s house brand batteries helped, but with the high draw of the dryer the inverter would soon trip out at the low end of the battery range. Granted, the trip point was set high for longer life, but adding 220ah of Trojans made a lot of difference. I took a look at the meters this afternoon and each leg was contributing 850 watts. These are “1000” inverters, rated, of course, at 950, actually running at 850. Chinese math. Still, running the dryer with 3300 watts from the utility is better than running it with 5000. The batteries are backed with 2kw of panels and I was registering a real 1750 watts coming out of the charge controller, this afternoon. Not bad. This should be a good setup for summer use when much of the house is on utility power. As is, I could probably drop down to 1 kw of solar.

Here’s a tip. Never throw a cable away and keep a supply of terminals. Old cables became new for minimal cost to lash this together. And remember: Never use 500lbs. of batteries when you can use 1000lbs.!

I had another couple of stray solar batteries. I don’t think Tony and Roberto sell the Outback 106RE batteries anymore, but I had two old ones out of a set of 12 that tested 100% after 5 years of overcharging. What to do? I need to restore the barn solar, so maybe one there to run the lights. It would be nice to have more for tools, but we can always plug into the jalopy for kw power.

And the other? In the wake of the hurricane, my last two running tractors abandoned that classification. One of them decided the fuel injection pump had pumped enough, so I am awaiting parts from Ukraine. BOTH had batteries die, along with the one in the wife’s car. Batteries always seem to start crashing with the first hint of cooler weather! I wondered about the use of an Outback 106RE for starting a Diesel tractor. One way to find out.

In my recent studies of AGM batteries, I learned that while you cannot charge them very hard, they have insane discharge rates. Would a 5 year old abused battery have enough insane discharge to start a Diesel? Yup. I had to change one cable terminal and it worked great. That tells me that surge power to run an inverter should not be much of a problem.

An old solar battery has the tractor running. AGM batteries have tremendous surge capacity, aka “cold cranking amps.” Poor little tractor has to do all the hurricane cleanup.

And speaking of surge power, I was rummaging in the Sunelec.com web site and found an interesting new battery system. It looks awesome, in a neat rolling cabinet. 4 of those would look good in my Man Cave. They are too pretty to put in the battery room. I think the bigger unit, the lithium-based eVault Fortress, can put out around 170 amps, so it would be a good match for one of those GS8048 inverters and around 5kw of solar. It gives both the input and output specs, so it is easy to make sure you are matching the inputs and the outputs. You can stack them for more power.

To replace my current battery pile I would need at least 4 of them. Maybe John will send 4 of them to me for a test drive so I can write a review. I won’t hold my breath!–Neal