Sharing Resources

In my last post I mentioned that I had gotten carried away at Sun Electronics’ Miami warehouse and had filled my trailer and truck to the point that I decided to leave some batteries behind. I shredded one tire at one A.M. and only had one spare, so maybe that was good that I didn’t try to overdo it. Will I have enough battery power to get by until my next trip to Miami? Probably, yes. You see, I have figured out how to incorporate some other battery sources that I already own. Many of you may be able to do the same.

Before I explain, I’d like to introduce you to the Anderson plug. If you have ever noticed how a forklift battery plugs into the lift truck or the charger, well that’s an Anderson plug. It is a flat, two pin plug that is polarized. One plugs into another, they are both the same and you can’t plug them in backwards, which is a neat trick. They come in at least 3 different sizes. There is a small one like on my niece’s ride-on electric car, a big one used on forklifts (350 amps) and a medium one (175 amps). Moreover, they come in colors, but not to make them pretty.At my house, I have gray, yellow and blue in the 175 amp size. Each color has a slight change to the shape, so you can only plug into the same color.

The first I ever used was gray, and I have one on the front of my truck. I replaced the two tow hooks on the front with receiver hitches, so I could slide a winch on and off, as needed., and plug in to the Anderson plug. I also have a 3kw inverter I can mount there for power in the boonies. Gray became my 12v standard.My solar-powered expedition boat has yellow connectors and I can plug it into the 24v system that powers my house at this time, adding an extra 350 a.h. of battery, without buying more batteries. For some reason, I haven’t had the boat out all year, yet it’s batteries stay active and contribute at no additional cost.The new 48v system has blue Anderson plugs.

There is no way I can screw up and connect the 3 different system voltage levels to each other. I have two 48v golf car/utility vehicles that can plug in to the blue line and add 350 a.h. to the 48v system. I got to considering it, and since the boat has two banks of 24v, I can use a special 3 connector cable to change them to another 175 a.h. at 48v. No screwups will be possible when reconfiguring, connecting or disconnecting and I get bunches of additional storage from batteries I already own.

A similar adapter cable could be used to connect a golf car to the 24v system without making smoke and sparks.The utility golf cars, little trucks actually, allow me to move my solar power around. I no longer even own a functioning gas generator. I cut my firewood with an electric chainsaw, trim trees with an electric pole saw, trim my hedge without a long extension cord and operate power tools for construction and repairs around my farm. The inverter plugs into the blue Anderson plug. There is also a homebrew stick welder to plug into the blue plug. Why limit your solar power to the house?

Photos that somehow disappeared: Blue Anderson plug and 3kw inverter on the solar jalopy. Solar-charged Yamaha G19 powers the chainsaw to cut wood and then hauls it to the house. They both add to the storage of the solar power system. Use your imagination until I can find the right photos and get them back here. It will be less confusing than looking at a boat labelled golf car and a bunch of flamingos labelled Anderson plug!

But back to the main topics, Anderson plugs, once successfully set up, allow you to do all kinds of configuration changes without worry about connecting something wrong. Using them to add underutilized resources to your system can help you get more out of your system without buying more.In my 48v system, with what I have, it tallies up to 460a.h. of main system battery plus 525a.h. of battery that otherwise wasn’t doing anything at night. That’s 47 kwh, good for several cloudy days.Don’t overlook what you already have!By: Neal Collier

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