Confusion and Battery

I have to get a battery (or two) for my new solar panel and fridge to operate.  It is a little bit embarrassing to admit this, but the books and internet information on the subject is about as interesting as the teacher is to the Peanuts characters.  I begin reading on the subject and before long the words all blend together and all I read is wawawawawawawa…  I find the subject nearly totally without interest for me.  The only parts that I find captivating are, produce your own power, so that you are not depending on the shady power companies.  It is the same with telecommunications companies – always ripping people off… so if I could talk my friends into operating HAM systems then I would try to dump those bastards too.

Back on topic… I have to get batteries and because basically all articles are BORING and user manual TECHNICAL… I really don’t know what to do.  I found one article which at least starts off interesting enough to read.  The thing is that I want to run the fridge and perhaps a few lights too since the pot-lights that I bought are VERY battery intensive.  For now I have access to free batteries but this may dry up and besides I don’t like to fill the land fill with a hundred batteries.

There is a battery store in Kingston which I think I will visit today.  Hopefully, I can talk to someone who speaks English… I don’t mean this in a racist sort of way at all.  What I mean is that I would like to go in and say, “I have a little 12 volt fridge and a 97 square foot house.  I need a battery that will make the fridge work and maybe two or three lights that are bright enough to read by”.

I would like an answer like this.  “Yes, this is what you need.  It is X dollars for this.  Would you like that today mam?”

What I am expecting is this.  “8 – 410Ah L16Ss in 2 banks is 20 RE500s wawawawawawawawa”.

Why is there not a simple solution to this task?

Categories: Money, Off Grid, Ontario, Sustainable living, Tiny House Ontario | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Confusion and Battery

  1. Oh wow. I just wrote all of this, and accidently lost it by going to another screen. Howdy! I’ve only recently learned of your blog, and have been working through. I appologize if this is a bit late. First, the folks over at OtherPower (http://otherpower.com/otherpower_systems.html) give a very clear instruction. I recomend them for readying. I want to encurge you in understanding your power needs and your power system. A lack of understanding makes you as much a slave as any power company. Most likely you’ll have a very underpowered system that will only agrivate, or waste thousands of dollars or both.

    First, understand your need. Every device needs POWER (Measured in Watts) and runs for a period of time (Measured, in this case, always in hours). Multiplying these gives you ENERGY( measured in watt-hours, or Wh). Make a list, with a column for power, time of use per day, and energy. Total up the energy needs to get a daily average. For example:

    Lamp (CFL, 60W eqivlent), 13 Watts, 3 Hours, 36 Watt-Hours per day
    Laptop (when not charging), 20 Watts, 6 Hours, 120 Watt-Hours per day
    Cell Phone (only when charging), 2 Watts, 1 Hour, 2 Watt-Hours per day
    Total, 158 Watt-Hours per day.

    Second, we need to make sure we capture enough energy to meet our daily need. This map (http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/5thedition/environment/climate/mcr4077) provides a level of solar energy for all of Canada. I like to use the winter values as they are the stricter need, and makes summer very easy to cover. This map gives values in MegaJoules per Square Meter (MJ*m2). These can be divided by 3.6 and then multiplied by the rating of a panel to get the expected energy you can produce.
    Again, for example, In Winnipeg, december, with a panel mounted at 60 degress to the ground (The lower left map), I get a value of 11 (MJ*m2). Thus, I can expect a 100 Watt panel to product ( 11 / 3.6 * 100 ) = 305 Watt Hours per day.

    Finally, we want to make sure we have enough storage to cover the strings of the sunny days and low days. Think back over the past year. How many cloudy days have in had in a row. If you’re having difficulty thinking of it, a week is generally a good number. Keep in mind, that if this is to low, you either need to run a generator or just do without. It’s also important to remember that batterys do not like to be cycled completely and will be aged horribly. Most Deep cycle batteries (Marine, Golf Cart, Trojan L16 off grid batteries) are labeled in Amp Hours (AHr) and should by multiplied by their voltage (V, often 6 or 12) to get that all important Watt-Hour.
    Again, for example, using the need above of 158 Watt-Hours per day, I want enough battery power for 7 days between sunny days. That gives me a storage need of 158 * 7 * 2 = 2212 Watt Hours of storage. That is just a bit more than 2 Marine or golf cart batteries or a single Trojan L-16.

    As a final throught, you want your system to create 12 volts for your devices, however most batteries are 6 volt. You can create a 12V battery and joining two 6V batteries by connecting the negative of one to the postive of the other. This is called a series connection. You will still have one negative and one positive post free, and those can be thought of as the posts to a single 12V battery. If you have more than one 12V battery, you can get more capacity, but the same voltage by wireing them positive to positive and negative to negative. This is called wiring in parallel.

    I hope this all helps without being overwhelming. I don’t think it can be distilled any more. Just remember, this is a fraction of what I had to learn to get my HAM license (Call sign KC9SJQ). The best of luck to you!

  2. Hi, I just started looking at Tiny homes.. on a previous link I was looking at the solman
    http://www.sol-solutions.com/products-services/solman-portable-solar-solutions.html

    I was lead on this search from the trailer to this movie: http://tiny-themovie.com/
    They got a sol-man because of the issues your running into…

  3. Velda

    Oh you make me smile and laugh…. is it bad that I read the peanuts teacher in the wawawawa voice in my head? lol I hope you find what you need hon. Peter knows alot about that stuff you could call and maybe he could help you with the right thing to ask for. You know the number!

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