Friday, March 30, 2012

Part 3 .. The Battery .... Suburban Solar

In an "Off Grid" system the storage battery is a key part of the system, too small battery,  you may not have enough capacity to operate your devices or equipment long enough before you run out of power.
Too big,  a battery,  the amount of solar you have would never charge it to 100% charge (in charging terms this is the float charge)

In today's world there are two types of batteries available to us, the older style flooded (or batteries with liquid acid) and the AGM battery that uses a lead paste instead of a liquid acid, these batteries are somewhat sealed and require no need to fill them with water.

Since solar panels have been going down in cost dramatically, solar charging systems are getting more affordable.

The same size and make solar panel that I installed on the suburban, I also installed on the travel trailer in 2005.
In 2005 the panel cost was over $600.00, today that almost same panel cost is around $350.00, due to the governments finally getting out of the solar subsidy business.

The only part of the system that is going up in price is the battery.
An AGM battery with 100amp hour rating cost around $300.00 pretty pricey if you ask me.

A flooded 12volt battery with an amp hour rating of 125amps cost approx $80.00 at Sam's Club.

So, here is my battery story: :)
I needed to take the waste oil I had collected from doing oil changes to our local Advance Auto Parts Store, to dump in their recycle tank, while emptying the container I noticed they battery cores on a pallet.
After finishing, I asked the manager if they sold used batteries, I would like to pickup some deep cycle batteries to start a battery bank for an off grid project..

He said they probably could sell them when they came in, and could let me know when the deep cycle ones came in.
Then, He thought for a minute and told me he had a (not so new) deep cycle battery on the shelf in back that had been on the self for over a year.
Having been on the shelf that long he could no longer sell it for full retail price, my obvious question is how much?

$40.00..................  Sold...
That is how I settled on a 180 amp hour battery for $40.00

Now to the battery install

I built a plywood box to house the battery, making it as small as possible to save space since it is in the cargo area, some of you may notice the sides of the plywood have galvanized metal, the folks that I purchased the wood from build horse barns, this material is used in the doors.

I sealed all of the interior seems with silicone in case there would be any spills.

 Battery wiring:
All battery cable ends are soldered to prevent loose connections.
I also use Anderson Connectors for cable connections, the advantages of using these are, they are all soldered lugs, they can only be connected in one way, preventing any incorrect positive to negative mistakes, I also found out that the different colors are not interchangeable, this is great. I use red connectors for battery connections, and blue connectors for solar voltage connections eliminating mistakes.  

Here is the battery sitting over the rear axle area of the cargo compartment, I still need to make a hold down so it cannot move.
   Up next time 
The inverter and power distribution..

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Suburban Solar Part 2 "AmmoCan Controller"

Charge controller for the battery.
What is a charge controller ?
The charge controller is really just a voltage regulator for the solar panel to prevent over charging the battery.
The solar panel at peak power will deliver 17.1 volts, too many volts for a 12 volt system.

So the charge controller will reduce the voltage to a maximum of around 14.6 volts, monitor the battery voltage,  reduce the output both voltage and wattage to prevent overcharging the battery.

I have installed a simple MorningStar ProStat 15amp maximum  solid state controller.

Mounting the controller in a cabin that carries lots of stuff from time to time I wanted something quite rugged to protect it from being bounced around.
So, I looked around among my extra stuff and found an ammo can that would work perfectly.

ammo can with hole

Actually this can came from Arkansas (thanks Brad & Tammy).
Since I like to monitor the battery voltage, I made a hole in it to install a digital voltmeter to know what the voltage is at anytime.

This is a top view of the controller in the box a piece of 3/4" plywood positioned the unit in the center of the box, I used nylon barbed fittings as insulators  to protect the wires going out of the box from being cut.

Side view of the "Ammo Controller Box" with the meter installed and working.

I installed the "Ammo Can Controller Box" on the back shelf using bungee straps.
The leads are long enough to be able to move the unit to another location, (as in outdoors), the can is sealed and I can use the unit in wet outdoor weather, the wires have connectors so it can mobile.
There are times when I would like to use another solar panel, that is sitting on the ground and need a controller to run that one.

Another thing I like about the "Ammo Can Box" is that it is somewhat .... EMP proof (just in case ;)  )

Coming next the Battery

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Solar for the Suburban

During the last snowbird session this last winter, I added supplemental solar power for the trailer and to power the Tiki bar for fun.
Adding the panel makes it possible to have solar charging in a remote area away from the trailer, if it is in a shaded area.
Adding solar power to the truck improves it's versatility when Rv'ing, having an extra battery will be handy also.

During the time in Quartzsite I installed a solar panel on the luggage rack of the suburban one afternoon.

I have done this project in stages as time permits.

So, this is the first step installing the panel.

The mounting was accomplished using aluminum angle to span the luggage rack, and attaching the panel on the edge with stainless steel hardware.

The wiring was routed along the roof-line to the tear hatch, and into the cabin at the rear.

The solar panel is a  KYOCERA Solar Panel 135watts

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thinking out of the box

Thinking out of the box of traditional education

Last Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a segment on Sal Khan, the 35 year old MIT and Harvard graduate who is revolutionizing education with the Khan Academy.
For those who haven’t heard of it, the Khan Academy is a free educational resource on the web that has amassed a giant library of over 3000 video lectures on biology, math, science, economics, physics and more.
Khan records each video lecture himself, and uploads them to the Khan Academy website where they are then voraciously consumed by millions of students around the globe each day – 1.8 million in a 24 hour period, and more than 40 million over the past 18 months.
What Khan has done almost single-handedly is fill a desperate societal need for educational quality without government molesting the process. And best of all, he’s created an entirely novel way for anyone, anywhere on the globe to get a world-class education without a price tag

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vanishing America ?

This last weekend I have attended a "grow Show" for the medical pot trade, spoken with and spent some time with large manufacturers from our trade.
A very interesting weekend to say the least. Most are from the east cost and I noticed a bit of culture shock from them.

Seems there is much more discussion of what is happening in our country lately,

I am noticing more & more folks waking up to what the political powers are impossing on us  than before, even with the coverup of the press-titute media.

Check out this video trailer

Crying Wolf - Original Trailer

you can download the movie for free here

link to blog
This is a cowboy RV boondocker that is living full time in his rv, he has been posting for the last few days about the trends of the American culture lately, some very good reading here, that I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Annual Pheasants Forever

Pheasants Forever in Imperial Nebraska, since this is the area I spend most of my time Pheasant hunting,
I go every year to support the local chapter of Pheasants Forever.

This year the winds were pretty strong for traveling, I usually leave with the trailer on Friday, but, this year because the winds were in excess of 50mph,  left on Saturday, the winds were only 30 mph.

Pheasants Forever  includes kids to their festivities Here they are auctioning 22's, a gun for both boys and girls

Hats are auctioned for a chance for a gun, BBQ, or power tool (hat winners)
Thrill of a winning a bid

Looks like our girl Libby

The local auctioneer Mark Fanning donates a Red Ryder BB gun for all boys & girls to the age of 15

After the banquet we returned to Wauneta and caught up on the local happenings since we were there last