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Old September 20, 2007, 20:54   #1
MrL1A1
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Generator, batteries & power supply

Ok, lets say I got my generator but I do not want to run it all the time....but I need semi-long term power (enough to run the fridge, a couple lights and a small heater fan). How can I incorporate batteries in the equation ? Would 6 or 8 car batteries charged off the generator every fews days be enough to run my appliances? This way I could save fuel and $$$ and always have at least some juice
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Old September 20, 2007, 22:06   #2
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You would need to incorporate an inverter into the situation. Batteries are DC appliances are AC. An inverter changes DC into AC.
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Old September 21, 2007, 00:03   #3
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Is that hard to do and are they expensive?
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Old September 21, 2007, 00:21   #4
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If you try something like this, you wouldn't want to use car batteries.
You need to use deep cycle batteries instead.
Car batteries aren't designed to be discharged to the degree that an application like this would do.

You also would need a large amount of battery capacity to run an electric fridge, lights and a small heater for a few days.

I have a little bit of personal experience with this.

In my case, I have a cabin in the woods and there's no electricity.
I didn't want a generator making all that noise whenever I wanted electric power.
I wanted to have basic lights, music (an old laptop computer with a music library on it),a small stereo amp, radio, the ability to charge battery packs for cordless tools, etc.
I even wanted to run one of those large coolers that run off 12 volts.
More importantly, I wanted this stuff to be available 24/7.

After doing this for a few summer vacations, I arrived at a solution that works OK, and doesn't require a large battery capacity.

I have two Trojan L16H 6volt 420 amp hour deep cycle batteries wired in series for 12volts.
These batteries weigh about 120 pounds each.

I have an 1100 watt Exeltech pure sine wave inverter connected to them.
I went with pure sine wave so there wouldn't be any issues with plugging things into it that don't like non-pure sign wave AC.

I use 7 watt fluorescent screw in light bulb replacements for lights.
I found that even the small electric coolers pull between 5-10 amps at 12 volts.
This and especially if somebody else brought one along, really drew the batteries down when run 24/7.

So I use an old propane powered refrigerator/freezer out of an old RV to take my refrigeration off of the electric circuit.
It will run 24/7 for about a week and a half on a full 20 pound (gas grill sized) tank.

If I need heat, I use a kerosene heater, or burn wood in a small stove.

For cooking, I have a big tank of bottle gas outside.

So now I can run my system for 2 days between recharges if I don't waste energy. (I usually charge every day so I don't discharge the batteries as far, thus extending their life. They 'aint cheap LOL )
It consists of 7 watt fluorescent lights, an old laptop computer, an old Marantz 1060 30 watt per channel amp, a fluorescent shop light for an outdoor light when needed at night.
I try to charge any cordless tool battery packs when I do my main batery charge.


So now you ask, what does it take to fully charge these 2 Trojan L16H 6volt 420 amp hour deep cycle batteries wired in series?

I have a Honda 6.5hp motor, with a modified 65 or 70 amp (I forget which) Delco alternator.
IT'S MODIFIED SO THAT IT DOESN'T USE AN INTERNAL VOLTAGE REGULATOR, BUT INSTEAD WIRED TO ALLOW ME TO CONTROL FIELD CURRENT EXTERNALLY.
MY NEIGHBORHOOD AUTO ELECTRIC SHOP DID THIS FOR ME.

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO THIS, BECAUSE IF YOU JUST HOOK UP AN ALTERNATOR WITH THE STANDARD VOLTAGE REGULATOR TO DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES, YOU RISK EXPLODING THE BATTERIES WITH THE HIGH CURRENT THE ALTERNATOR WILL PRODUCE (BECAUSE IT'S NOT BEGINNING THE CHARGE REGULATED BY CURRENT INSTEAD OF VOLTAGE), OR YOU WILL BURN UP THE ALTERNATOR.

Just for this pair of batteries, I need to begin the charge cycle with 40-50 amps. (plus a little more to account for any current being drawn in the cabin from the inverter, which for each 1 amp of AC, it pulls about 10 amps from the battery bank)
It runs at the level of amps until the battery voltage reaches 14.8 volts, then the current is backed down gradually as the batteries charge to keep the charging voltage at 14.8 volts.
So you can see that it's easy to run the alternator at close to it's rated capacity pretty easy.
The good thing is, it's not in a hot engine compartment, so that helps.


So say I would want to double this battery bank?
Already the small Delco alternator won't have enough capacity to properly charge the battery bank, as I would then need 80-100 amps.
And the 6.5hp motor would be getting close to not being big enough.

I'm planning on going to a battery bank of four L16H batteries in the near future, so I recently upgraded my alternator to a Leece-Neville 165amp externally regulated alternator.
These are pretty expensive.


So getting back to your idea of using your generator to charge a battery bank during the time you have it running?
Imagine the size of AC generator it would take to run an AC battery charger big enough to charge these?

Anyway, MY POINT in writing all this is to make the point that what you're wanting to do is a bigger project than you would think.

I know when I started down this road back in 2000, I had no idea it would take as much as it has, just to have 420 amp hours @ 12volts capacity.

I have thought of messing with some solar panels in the future, but haven't yet, because the cabin is in thick woods, and there's not enough sun.
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Old September 21, 2007, 01:04   #5
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wow...awesome post
Sounds like you have a nice setup at the cabin. To be honest I was unsure about what kind of feedback I would get here in regards to the battery bank idea. I guess I have watched to many old b/w WWII sub films with the guys traveling around the world on batts (diesel recharge).

I am going to look into those deep cycle batts
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Old September 21, 2007, 03:46   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrL1A1
wow...awesome post
Sounds like you have a nice setup at the cabin. To be honest I was unsure about what kind of feedback I would get here in regards to the battery bank idea. I guess I have watched to many old b/w WWII sub films with the guys traveling around the world on batts (diesel recharge).

I am going to look into those deep cycle batts
Yes, it works out pretty good up at the cabin.
I have it mounted in a 14 foot, dual axle, ramp, Wells Cargo trailer that I use to take stuff up there.
Then I just run a long 10 gauge extension cord out to the trailer and plug into the inverter.

The cabin at one time had electricity, so it is wired.
I just got into the fuse box and wired in the extension cord.

Besides having basic power 24/7, it's so much nicer to be able to relax in the woods, and not have to listen to a generator running all the time.

Course, if a person was in an area where there was sunlight, they could use some solar panels, and not have to hear a motor at all.


Here's some info on the batteries I use.
http://www.trojanbatteryre.com/PDF/d...ata_Sheets.pdf

Go here and download the "Product Specification Guide"

http://www.trojanbattery.com/pdf/TRJ...dSpecGuide.pdf

Note that the L16H is the best of the L16's as far as capacity.

Trojan also has a place on the home page to find a dealer near you.
http://www.trojanbattery.com/Index.aspx

These batteries are so darn heavy that you'd pay alot to have them shipped.

A note on deep cycle batteries.
You'll see batteries being sold as "deep cycle" that aren't really true deep cycle batteries.
A simple thing to look for is whether they have an "amp hour rating".
If there's no spec listed, it's likely not a true deep cycle battery.
(I had people pull this on me when I first went out to buy batteries and wasn't sure enough about what I was doing)

A note of caution again.
If you decide to get into charging deep cycle batteries, make sure you have the right kind of setup to avoid hurting yourself.
Just NEVER try to charge them with a standard voltage regulated alternator.
I see places on the Internet telling people to do that, and it makes me cringe.

In fact back when I first got into this, I tried it too, not knowing any better. LOL
Lucky for me, the current surge from the alternator, trying to output enough current to bring the voltage up to it's setpoint, put such a load on the motor that it killed the motor instantly. LOL
I didn't realize til I went "back to the drawing board" to learn what was going wrong, that I could've exploded the little battery I was attempting to charge.

If you have any questions, please fee free to get back with me.
I'm sure there are tons of people out there who know alot more than me about this, but I do know some basics.
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Old September 21, 2007, 10:44   #7
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very cool, I think many people with a cabin would like to try this. But I have three questions.
1. How did the local electronics shop get the adjustability on the alternator? 2. Why wouldn't the small alternator just take twice as long to charge the larger sized battery bank? Isn't a slower charge rate better for your batteries anyway, besides the fact that the alternator would be spinning longer and the engine running more?
3. Do you have to check the fluid levels of the batteries?

thanks
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Old September 21, 2007, 11:28   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by xdshooter
very cool, I think many people with a cabin would like to try this. But I have three questions.
1. How did the local electronics shop get the adjustability on the alternator? 2. Why wouldn't the small alternator just take twice as long to charge the larger sized battery bank? Isn't a slower charge rate better for your batteries anyway, besides the fact that the alternator would be spinning longer and the engine running more?
3. Do you have to check the fluid levels of the batteries?

thanks
xdshooter
Good questions.
There's really so much stuff about doing this that I didn't touch on.
What started as a simple thing to have a simple 12volt battery to run my "ghetto blaster" and bagphone, has grown into this.

I'll try to give some basic answers.
This whole thing is actually something that a book could be written on.

Basically, I was inspired by this great article:
http://www.homepower.com/files/webextras/mark8.pdf

I have a friend who does metal fabrication, and he welded up a design I made based on this article, so I could mount my motor and alternator to it.

1. My local auto electric shop simply modified my alternator so that on the connector, I had direct access to the field.
(If you could find an alternator that is already of the external regulated type, you could skip this step)
I assume the other end of the field is grounded to the alternator case, because I just apply adjustable current from the battery to this one lug in the connector, and the circuit has to be through the alternator case. This way, I can externally apply current to it to adjust the amount of output current the alternator.

I still just manually apply adjustable field current with a big rheostat connected to the batteries, and watch the charge current and charge voltage as they charge.

The reason I haven't built the Mark8 charge controller, is partly laziness, but mostly because it doesn't charge in a way that takes into account the actual net charge current going into the batteries.
i.e. If things are adding load in the cabin, I'm not actually charging the batteries as much as I think I am.
I'm an electronics person, and have been thinking over ideas on making my own charge control circuit that charges the batteries based on net charge current to the batteries.
But since this is just a vacation cabin that I'm not able to spend tons of time at, this charge controller circuit always gets pushed back in the list due to always pressing immediate things.
In fact it's become a joke with my friends about my still using the rheostat to manually control the charging.
I realize I could probably find a "store bought" charge controller that would do this, but I'm sure it would be relatively expensive, and most of all, I wouldn't be able to repair it myself when it eventually had a malfunction.

2. You're right in that you don't want to charge batteries too fast.
But even charging at a rate of 10-15% of the amp hour rating (check the specs on your batteries to see how fast you can charge them without damage), it takes SEVERAL HOURS to fully charge the batteries.
Plus, you need to have the charging capacity to do an "equalization charge" every now and then as needed.
If you greatly reduce the charge current, it greatly increases the charge time to a point of ridiculous.
Which if one was using solar panels or a windmill, with a charge controller, so that it doesn't have to be watched, or making sure a motor doesn't run out of gas, that probably would work alot of the time.
But in my case, where I'm in the woods, there's no appreciable sun, and carrying a windmill up there is impractical, even of there was wind.

3. I check the electrolyte levels in the battery according to the manufacturer's instructions found here:
http://www.trojanbattery.com/pdf/TRJ...UsersGuide.pdf
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Old September 21, 2007, 15:31   #9
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thanks, that is a very good read. I was guessing rheostat all along.

I've had an idea kicking around in my head to do a charging windmill, that puts the alternator(s) and control circuits in a small shed at the base of the windmill. Sort of like an old farm windmill, but instead of a pumpjack, the windmill sends it's power down a driveshaft to a bank of pulleys and alternators. The key would be getting a hall effect sensor to monitor speed, and increase and decrease the field current to keep the rpms within a range. That way, you could trickle charge in a slight breeze, and fast charge when the wind really blows. OR when the batteries are full, and the ambient temp is below, say, 50 degrees, dump into a heating element inside the house.

once again, thanks, this adds a bit of info to my brain that it needed!

later
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Old September 21, 2007, 16:34   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by xdshooter
thanks, that is a very good read. I was guessing rheostat all along.

I've had an idea kicking around in my head to do a charging windmill, that puts the alternator(s) and control circuits in a small shed at the base of the windmill. Sort of like an old farm windmill, but instead of a pumpjack, the windmill sends it's power down a driveshaft to a bank of pulleys and alternators. The key would be getting a hall effect sensor to monitor speed, and increase and decrease the field current to keep the rpms within a range. That way, you could trickle charge in a slight breeze, and fast charge when the wind really blows. OR when the batteries are full, and the ambient temp is below, say, 50 degrees, dump into a heating element inside the house.

once again, thanks, this adds a bit of info to my brain that it needed!

later
xdshooter
Sounds like fun.
I'd like to get more into using nature to charge batteries at some point.

Though I have no personal experience with using an alternator in a windmill, I have read that a standard automotive alternator loses a lot of efficiency because even when sitting waiting for wind.

Your design sounds interesting and could cut down on useless field current when there is no wind.
Do you know how much current it would take to run your control circuit when in standby (waiting for wind) mode, or how much it would take when in trickle charge mode?

One idea that just hit me on this.
What would happen if you had a small spring loaded flap, that when there was a preset amount of wind blowing over the windmill, a small switch would be closed by the flap, that enabled power to your control circuit?
That way there'd be no current loss when there was no wind, or wind velocity below a given set point.

There are permanent magnet alternators (PMA).
I have no idea how expensive they are, or what drawbacks they have.

There is an old article from Homepower Magazine where they made their own.
Here's a link to the story:
http://www.otherpower.com/wood103.pdf

I think in my case, I'm going to experiment with solar panels first, because I can just carry them in my cargo trailer with the rest of my system, and if I'm somewhere there's sun, pull them out.
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Old September 22, 2007, 08:32   #11
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pictures would really make this post ,great
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Old September 22, 2007, 10:44   #12
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Quote:
What would happen if you had a small spring loaded flap,
hmmm, that does sound like a possibility, I guess my thought was that you could run a small circuit to monitor a hall effect sensor, that sends a voltage to a relay only when a desired speed is attained. I am not the electrically minded, but I have a few electrical engineers in the family.

I guess I wasn't really worried about not having wind. The high plains of South Dakota where I grew up, where I will be installing this, don't go more than a few hours without wind. I did a little geographical research, and my site has one of the tallest hills outside of the Black Hills, in the entire ND, SD, MN, NE, IA, area. Right at 3000 feet.

I am hoping to be able to put up one larger grid tie windmill, then run several smaller, cheaper, redundant, off grid windmills for grid down situations, and do cut my grid use to almost zero. Solar would work fine, but I think there is more energy to be had for the investment in wind this far north.

later
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Old September 22, 2007, 21:30   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by mosbysmen
pictures would really make this post ,great
Here's a few pictures from a couple of years ago, before I mounted the batteries in the trailer.

As I said earlier, I as inspired by this article I found from Homepower Magazine online.

http://www.homepower.com/files/webextras/mark8.pdf


My own motor/alternator battery charger.
http://www.rensseltucky.com/power/IMG_3164-8x12.jpg

NOTE: Unlike the Homepower article where they mounted the alternator from the other side of the belt, in order to preserve the stock rotation direction of the alternator, I mounted my alternator on the same side of the belt as the motor.
I think it gives a more compact installation.
But it has the drawback that the alternator is now rotated backwards.
In doing this, I needed to get a bi-directional cooling fan. (The part mounted just behind the pulley)
It makes no difference which direction the alternator is rotated, as long as it has a proper cooling fan designed for the direction of rotation is used.


A typical time charging the batteries.
Square gray box houses the rheostat that I use to adjust field current to the alternator.
This controls charge current.
http://www.rensseltucky.com/power/IMG_3162-8x12.jpg


A view of the voltmeter and ammeter I use to monitor the charging voltage and current.
http://www.rensseltucky.com/power/IMG_3160-8x12.jpg


A view of the 2 series connected Trojan L16H 6 volt deep cycle batteries.
http://www.rensseltucky.com/power/IMG_3161-8x12.jpg


Hope this gives a better picture.
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Old September 23, 2007, 22:06   #14
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Glad this became sticky. Lots of excellent info!
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Old November 04, 2007, 13:24   #15
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Old December 30, 2007, 09:20   #16
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I am planning a generator setup for the whole house..

What I am ignorant about is the best fuel to use: i.e. gasoline, diesel or LPG/NG.

My issue is long-term storage of the fuel. Gas breaks down, even with Stabil in it after a while. I'd like to keep enough on hand for a few weeks of use, which means hundreds of gallons of fuel.

Seems to me a large LPG tank is easy to install and conceal, and the gas "keeps" for long times.

I don't know about diesel at all.

anyone?
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Old December 30, 2007, 09:38   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by izaakb
I am planning a generator setup for the whole house..



My issue is long-term storage of the fuel. Gas breaks down, even with Stabil in it after a while. I'd like to keep enough on hand for a few weeks of use, which means hundreds of gallons of fuel.

Seems to me a large LPG tank is easy to install and conceal, and the gas "keeps" for long times.

If it was me, I'd use LP.
An example, a friend of mine's dad had a microwave tower on his land that the company paid him rent.
They closed it out some years ago, and inside the building on a skid was a generator to power the tower when the power went out.
They gave it to my friend's dad.
It was powered by a small block Chevy, that ran on LP.
The thing sat there for years with minimal maintenance, and automatically started and ran for awhile about once a month.

My friend's dad still has that generator.
I'd go with an LP powered generator if I was serious about having something that might sit for a long time that when needed had the best chance of working.
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Old December 30, 2007, 09:45   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by edporch
If it was me, I'd use LP.
An example, a friend of mine's dad had a microwave tower on his land that the company paid him rent.
They closed it out some years ago, and inside the building on a skid was a generator to power the tower when the power went out.
They gave it to my friend's dad.
It was powered by a small block Chevy, that ran on LP.
The thing sat there for years with minimal maintenance, and automatically started and ran for awhile about once a month.

My friend's dad still has that generator.
I'd go with an LP powered generator if I was serious about having something that might sit for a long time that when needed had the best chance of working.
good info. the LP generators I've seen for sale, tho, are limited to about 10-15kw is that a practical max or do i just need to look more?

looking for something about 20kW
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Old December 30, 2007, 10:11   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by izaakb


good info. the LP generators I've seen for sale, tho, are limited to about 10-15kw is that a practical max or do i just need to look more?

looking for something about 20kW
I don't have an answer for you off the top of my head. :-)
I've never done any real research on this, other than just basic observations.
I would just say "Google is your friend...". LOL
(that's where I'd start, with the Google Advanced Search)
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Old December 30, 2007, 11:06   #20
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This is interesting:

http://www.generatorjoe.net/product....2&1=203&3=2952

"tri-fuel" generators, gasoline, LPG, or NG.
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Old March 31, 2008, 19:20   #21
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Quote:
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looking for something about 20kW
That seems like a lot of power. I have 10kw (Lincoln welding machine) and it seems like plenty for most anything I can imagine needing a generator for. Why 20?
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Old March 31, 2008, 20:31   #22
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Quote:
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That seems like a lot of power. I have 10kw (Lincoln welding machine) and it seems like plenty for most anything I can imagine needing a generator for. Why 20?
Because it will do the job and leave plenty over for other purposes. Did you read the thread? This is for a whole-house setup, which includes a workshop.
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Old April 05, 2008, 16:00   #23
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Because it will do the job and leave plenty over for other purposes. Did you read the thread? This is for a whole-house setup, which includes a workshop.
Yes I read your thread, and it did not say anything about doing the job with plenty left over or about including the workshop. If you need/desire 20KW go for it. It will be expensive, both to purchase, maintain, and to run. You are concerned about fuel choice because of having to store a great deal of it but want a unit that seems to be sized larger then what I think is needed and will not be very efficient.

My 10KW unit is almost twice the size of most portable units I see (5-6.5KW) out there and with a little planning will keep the freezer and fridge cold with power left for hot water and some microwaving for the few hours a day I would run it. We will not get to have central AC or the electric range, hey this is a black out, some things will have to go. I make sure to keep a few full propane bottles on hand all the time for cooking and have radios, lights, fans, and even a TV (until they go completely digital) that run off 12v power. I do not plan on working in the shop while the power is out but if I do it will be during the day when generator power is not needed in the house and I could devote the whole 10kw to running power tools.

I would like to see a break down of the wattages you reasonably think you will be running simultaneously. Does all that add up to any where near 20KW?

I sleep good knowing I have "only" 10KW in the garage for emergency power and think I will get a lot more use out of it as a welder then I ever will as a generator.
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Old April 05, 2008, 17:35   #24
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I didn't mention it before, but I also want to use this as alternate power from the county power. NG prices are reasonable and from what I've read, the efficiency of a 20kW unit is better than two 10kW units.

I have a pretty big house too, which is part of the problem, I don't want just the fridge and a few lights going. I have two deep freezes and a few other things I'd rather not lose. Plus, I need enough power to work on top of it.

I figured 12-15 kw is enough, but 20 seems smarter from efficiency.
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Old April 20, 2008, 22:16   #25
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BATTERIES & OTHER NEEDFUL THINGS:

http://www.eastpenn-deka.com/default.aspx?pageid=366

http://www.go-ev.com/PDFs/BattEQ-Summary.pdf

http://www.victronenergy.com/content.php?extraid=11

http://www.victronenergy.com/content.php?extraid=11
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Old May 07, 2008, 06:41   #26
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FWIW, there are combo inverter/charger models out there. They will charge your batteries "smartly" when you have mains/gen power. Some even feature a transfer switch.
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Old August 23, 2009, 21:36   #27
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I've recently updated my power system described earlier in this thread.

I upgraded my alternator to a Leece-Neville model A0017706AA.
This is a 165 DC Amp rated alternator that has external control of the field, and has internal rectifier diodes.

I also upgraded my battery bank to 4 Trojan L16H-AC's,
Each battery is 6 volts and 435 amp hours (at the 20 hour rate), and weighs 125 pounds.
So my total battery weight is 500 pounds.

I put 2 series connected pairs in parallel, and this yields a 12 volt bank rated at 870 amp hours (at the 20 hour rate)

I've kept my 6.5 HP Honda motor that I had originally.
This motor will in no way drive this alternator to anywhere near it's rated capacity.
But it does drive this alternator to the approx 80-85 DC amp charging current I need.
I should get longer life out of the alternator before needing to have it rebuilt, because I'm only using about 1/2 of it's capacity.

Additionally, my system is now mounted in the 14 foot cargo trailer I take up to the the woods, so all I have to do is park it, them simply plug a 10 gauge extension cord into the modified fuse box of my cabin.

I've been up in the woods since Friday, and this setup has held up well to the increased loads that I and a friend have put on it.

I will give a more full report as I refine this new system, plus will have some pictures.
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Old September 02, 2009, 21:14   #28
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If buying an inverter/charger, be sure to get a tranformer based unit. They will be field servicable at a service center like ours. The new "quick switch" technology units are sealed and since made in China, no parts available. Stick with Xantrex, Magnum Energy, or Outback Power. They have readily available boards and are usually 2-3 year warranted.
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Old September 02, 2009, 21:40   #29
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If buying an inverter/charger, be sure to get a tranformer based unit. They will be field servicable at a service center like ours. The new "quick switch" technology units are sealed and since made in China, no parts available. Stick with Xantrex, Magnum Energy, or Outback Power. They have readily available boards and are usually 2-3 year warranted.
The inverter I use with my system is a 12 volt DC in, 117 volt AC out Exeltech 1100XP.
This is a pure sine wave output unit with 1100 Watts output.

It's worked great for me.
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Old April 10, 2010, 13:50   #30
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Relevant paragraph from the article below, broken down for readability.

http://mayvillesentinelnews.com/page....html?nav=5041

When I was a kid in the 30’s growing up on a grape and dairy farm in Ripley, my parents used kerosene lanterns for illumination. Kid’s homework and dairy milking was done by lantern light. In 1937 my father purchased a 2nd hand 32 volt, 750 watt Delco-Light Plant (a General Motors product) consisting of a one cylinder engine and generator installed in the cellar. 16 very large lead/acid cells in tall, square, clear glass jars lined the cellar wall. This battery bank supplied 32 volts dc to the home.

The barn was too distant from the light plant and lantern light was still used there. The dc voltage drop in the wiring would have provided perhaps only 20 volts at the barn. Direct current bulbs were available in 28, 30 and 32 volt versions. The bulb voltage depended upon the distance, and voltage drop, from the light plant to the bulb. To supplement the generator, my dad built and erected a 50 ft. steel tower, topped by a wind driven 32 volt generator.

If the wind velocity was 7 mph or more, sufficient wind power was generated and the noisy, smelly Delco engine in the cellar could be shut down. Kerosene used to fuel the single cylinder generator engine was expensive (perhaps 10 cents/gallon) and wind power was quiet and free.

However, if the wind velocity increased to say 30 mph, the generator would over-speed and corrective action was required. Who ever was present at the time had to run to the tower and pull a trip rope to turn the wind vane at a 90 degree angle from the generator axis. The propeller blades were stopped by rotating them out of the wind stream.

This was usually a “kid job.” One of us boys would climb the 50 ft. tower ladder to fill the lubrication cups with oil periodically. That was fun and the Lake Erie panorama was spectacular for an impressionable kid.

Dad purchased this “used” windmill in the fall of ’36. He spent the winter months in front of the kitchen stove hand carving and whittling a 6ft. propeller out of a hardwood log. He balanced it, and it ran vibration free. It was a work of art. The windmill and light plant went into service the spring of ’37 and performed well until the memorable year of 1940.

The magnificent “Rural Electrification Act” of 1940 enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration caused power poles to be erected and 110 volt ac power came to the farm. Dad rewired our home and barn for 110 volt power. He sold the Delco-Light plant and the windmill tower to another farmer.
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Old August 23, 2011, 12:47   #31
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Uh, at least 1/4 of the world's population HAS no heater fan, generator, fridge, or electric lighting, and they still survive just fine. So why bother with such niceties, or trying to prep for such? If it aint a worldwide collapse of law and the economy, why not just move to where things are ok, instead of putting self and loved ones at risk by staying in a blighted, high risk area?
Uh, there's many other reasons besides prepping for "a worldwide collapse of law and the economy" for building and experimenting with alternative electric power systems.
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Old October 21, 2011, 14:11   #32
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Here is one of my favorite recent purchases. They are working great and I love the charger as well. The first reviewer, Ned the Engineer, does a great job reviewing them.

Linky to batteriesLinky to charger

These are AA's by the way..not quite what we're talking about, but huge money saver.

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Old September 01, 2012, 17:00   #33
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Generators in Consumer Reports

The recent hurricane Isaac to hit the Gulf Coast once again got me thinking of buying a generator in preparation for a similar event to hit the Houston area. The latest issue of Consumer Reports, October 2012 issue, has a timely article on Generators. They rate medium sized units rated at 5,000 to 7,000 watts. The 3 highest rated portable models were the (1) Troybilt XP7000 30477 ($900), the (2) Generac GP5500 5939 ($670) and the (3) Troybilt 6000 30475 ($700). To my surprise, the $2,800 Honda was rated fourth. They also rate permanent generators.
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Old November 21, 2013, 00:05   #34
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Tripp Lite makes a good inverter charger. That with deep cycle batts are a good start. One thing to remember: all batteries will fail someday.
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Old January 06, 2014, 11:33   #35
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One thing to think about, is this to get through a power outage, or for living long term? For my use, it is power outages due to storms (snow or hurricane, etc)

I have a Honda 6500 watt generator. When the power goes out. I run it a while in the morning and a while in the evening, not full time. A few hours each, morning and evening, keeps the fridge and freezers cold. Gives us water for use (well). And with changing what is powered, I can heat up the water heater and take a hot shower. I can also run the furnace (oil) to warm up the house.

It will not power my central air, but if I need, I have a couple of small window AC units that I could run.

For light, we use battery powered LED lights or oil lamps. No need to run the generator for some light.

As for a fan heater, heating with electricity takes a lot of power (most small heaters are 1000 -1500 watts) so running them from a battery source is not the best idea.
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Old March 22, 2014, 19:19   #36
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Old March 23, 2014, 19:58   #37
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Very interesting thread with a lot of good info. Because of a recent surge in interest in camping I finally decided to get off my butt and do something about running my CPAP machine on 12V. For those that don't know the CPAP is a air pump for sleep apnea sufferers. I can sleep without it but like it and rest much better with it. Anyway, after contacting the company that supplied it and a little research I settled on a Tripp Lite PV 150 watt inverter. It is non-intuitively small for the purpose but happens to work great even on the old battery out of my tractor (which is the old battery out of my truck). It should work even better with a real deep cycle battery which is my next avenue of research on the subject. Even so I am now set up for at least two nights (16 hours) of use on the CPAP off the old battery. My next move is to rig a plug off the 7 pin trailer light hook up on my truck so I can put the battery in the back of the truck and as I drive it will charge the battery. I think for my purposes (camping and emergency, storms & hurricanes in my case) taking every opportunity to charge the battery (while driving, a little solar, and when running the genny anyway) should get me by.

And as somebody else mentioned, the rechargeable AA batteries are the bomb. I have spent a lot of money on them but saved a small fortune not buying disposable batteries. If you have kids you know just about ALL their stuff runs on AA, as do a lot of swell flashlights.
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Old January 19, 2015, 07:51   #38
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Past few days been very nice weather. Last night about 10 pm we noticed a bunch of emergency vehicles go past our house and soon traffic was backed up past our house and event was half a mile down the road. Didn't notice any power issues other than a flicker of our lights. Later got calls from a few neighbors asking how we were still on grid. Had to tell them we were running off generator.

Only got down to 34 degrees last night but a bunch of our neighbors had an uncomfortable night as power was not restored till 6 am. Eight hours without power in January is uncomfortable and they are lucky we are having above average warm temps. So just some person running into power pole paid for my whole house generator last night. Wife got to finish watching her movie. I got to sleep as had power for BiPAP ASV machine and we had heat.

There was no looking for gas cans, hooking up cords, yankuing on start cord of generator. Business as usual while rest of neighbors suffered. Buy your machines before you need them and life is good.
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Old January 19, 2015, 11:33   #39
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There was no looking for gas cans, hooking up cords, yanking on start cord of generator.
That's because you're not stupid, spent the money and expended the effort. You got exactly what you invested time and treasure into. Well done sir.
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Old January 22, 2015, 01:42   #40
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Deep cycle marine batteries will be your bare minimum. Question is how often do you want to be able to deep cycle them and they recover a full charge. Luckily I ended up with a truckload of S.A.F.T. Tel.x batteries on the end of a job.



Each string is rated for 150 amp hours and unlike most batteries if you discharge more than 50% there is no permanent energy density loss. They carry a twenty year no question asked warranty. If they stop working 18 years after installed, S.A.F.T. replaces them with no pro-rating. For most the issue that they are extremely large nickle-cadmium units that if rupture turn your home into an EPA Superfund site.

You can tap each string as 12, 24 or 48 volts. The higher the voltage the more efficient your conversion to 120v AC using an inverter will be. While they are the best battery going if you don't end up with your client purchasing too many for the job, $3,000 dollars per string is a slap to the wallet. I have five strings sitting in a rack with all the rectifiers and auto switching electronics. Great for short outages and when you need to pull maintenance on the generator while grid is still down.
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Old January 27, 2015, 00:51   #41
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I agree about deep cycle marine (not marine/starting btw) being bare minimum, but that is only if you are only buying one. If you are buying two or more, go with 6V golf cart batteries as a minimum. L16s are even better, but more expensive too.
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Old February 03, 2015, 23:07   #42
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If anyone needs professional batteries have a few grand worth that are driving me nutts keeping charged. From 28 amp hour to 130 amp hour all sealed and even some 20 year nicad packs the size of four diesel truck batteries sifting in a group. May even sell my three phase trailer mounted military diesel generator. Decided have way too many generators and batteries.
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Old February 16, 2015, 22:56   #43
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Power blinked a few times and battery stacks picked up first few times. Then generator fired and transfer switch kicked in. News says local to expect power outage to last all night. Wife didn't have to miss a minute of Stevie Wonder special. (She toured with him several years along with any non caucasion band of the late '60's and '70's). She would have turned inside out if missed last half hour.

Even in North Georgia, never know when an ice storm is going to take down our grid. T.V. going, popcorn in microwave and tumblers still cleaning brass. Weather service didn't send up significant alert earlier so doubt folks even made the mad bread and milk runs. Think I will try and take a nap.
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Old February 17, 2015, 07:26   #44
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Almost 12 hours into our little southeastern storm and one thing realizing short on DVD's. If a group of people are locked up in same structure, like in war the troops get a movie night to help morale, I have my battery stacks and generators but the cable went with the power. Have board games, cards, books but wife and I only have about 30 to 40 DVD's. Never been big on collecting movies.

Looks like I am going to have to scare up a diversity of entertainment. Battery stacks full charge, main generator humming along, HVAC keeping us toasty warm. About to cook breakfast and make coffee. Probably need more coffee too come to think of it. Four days is longest been without power. Mess we have may not be back on grid soon. Ham radio station tested. Thus far all systems go waiting on zombies to test the defense part.
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Old February 17, 2015, 07:30   #45
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Ham radio station tested.
Huey, what do you use for your main HF radio? Been thinking about getting a 80-10 meter again.

Gave all my stuff to a neighbor when he moved to Nashville. It had just been sitting for a while.

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Old February 17, 2015, 08:07   #46
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My home station is not near quality of work station. Follow links to my original work station and antennas. These are old as its pre D-Star, Rigblaster Duo and USB equipped radios. If wander my site is really dyslexic. Due to posting lots of pics and content, had a large number of people stealing content and selling it. Found three companies selling t shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads and even magazines using content from my site. Ripped 500 pages out, all the new stuff basically and left low resolution and not taken time to.fix.

http://www.crowderinc.com/hamradio_aa4bashack01.htm

http://www.crowderinc.com/hamradio_aa4batower01.htm

At home I have a Kenwood HF rig, Yaesu dual band, Icom 706mk2g for all band, and Icom Dual band D Star. Have a G5RV dipole and a 43' random wire vertical for HF. Have two diamond two section (don't remember model numbers) for VHF and UHF. Been meaning to stack out a tower but broke back and neck before got to it. Tower is laying at work with all antennas but all the people I installed their antennas for free magically got busy when needed help with mine. Still have people upset because don't bring bucket truck to fix their stuff for free.
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Old February 17, 2015, 08:22   #47
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Tower is laying at work with all antennas but all the people I installed their antennas for free magically got busy when needed help with mine. Still have people upset because don't bring bucket truck to fix their stuff for free.
Funny how that works, ain't it.

I used to climb. Didn't stack towers, just bolted on antennas and ran the hardline. This when I worked for Motorola C&E. Made some lovely cash on the side replacing lights up high.

Then I got too old to spend six hours aloft. Started to hurt too much.

I like Kenwood radios. Ones I've been in the guts of were overbuilt. Lovely stuff. I don't have any experience under the hood with ICOM or Yeasu.

Do you have anything you ain't using for sale?
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Old February 17, 2015, 08:33   #48
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Here is view of back yard. NWS nor local weather gave any significant warnings of winter weather for us. They missed this big time. Atlanta is clear, hour north is whacked. May not get power back today from what they said at the EMA. Luckily GEMA and local EMA keep ham radio spotters in the loop.

[IMG][/IMG]

As to radios have been selling a few. Actually advertised here first and not a single nibble so ebayed half a dozen extras lately. Didn't need six HF rigs or five D Stars, etc. About down to what I want to keep but have a stack of Motorola UHF radios programmable into public safety and ham bands.
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Old February 17, 2015, 08:53   #49
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Originally Posted by hueyville View Post
About down to what I want to keep but have a stack of Motorola UHF radios programmable into public safety and ham bands.
Got access to UHF stuff for free from the shop I used to work at. Public Safety orgs transitioned to trunked digital. 25 million local option tax paid for it. They went Harris radios.

Just looking for SSB HF stuff with maybe a general coverage AM receiver built in. Hundred watt, solid state finals.
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Old February 17, 2015, 10:19   #50
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Down to four HF rigs not counting my tube radio. Will always keep one tube radio and amp with spare tubes and capacitors. If the big EMP hits us analog types will emerge from the ashes.

Announcement Hall County (where I live) still 80% of customers with no power14 hours after onset. No significant icing was predicted for us. I hit grocery, topped tanks all three trucks, brought spare work generator home so had triple redundant backups. If wholehouse goes out will look like construction zone with drop cords running every which way but HVAC, freezers and television would be operable. As is, can't turn stove and oven on same time as not quite enough amp headroom with coffee maker, HVAC and other stuff on. Could shut down one or two items but who needs to bake in oven and cook on range same time if compromises coffee or DVD...

Edit:
When installed whole house generator had gas range, smaller HVAC unit and less square footage. Figured 10,000 watt (1.2 Kw peak) generator was more than enough to run all home devices. Few years ago gas range started flaking out so due to finances (nice gas range costs a new rear end) pulled some wire and swapped to electric. This is first storm of significance since addition of both upgraded and upsized HVAC and electric range. So while all critical systems are working fine, if HVAC cycles while trying to run oven then generator goes into overload protection. Now I either have to shut down HVAC to cook two or three course meal or run HVAC and cook in microwave, single element of range or Coleman propane stove.

When installed generator calculated needs including peak start up amps of devices installed plus some headroom. Did not figure swapping range to electric and the new HVAC system. I am the freak the always says to do the math and add 25%. Thats what I did but 15 years of upgrades and additional equipment exceeded my built in overhead. Would have added about $300 to step up to 12,500 or $600 to 15,000 watt unit at time. So now I swap range back to gas or buy bigger generator. Don't learn this lesson like I am now. Upsize 50% as power demands on a home usually increase, especially if do any additions (did that too)

Adding another generator is hard to match phases unless split panels which is a different pain. Thus bigger generator or new gas range and realize even doing that, generator is maxed. Don't like that. So now to research cost of upsizing to a a 1.5 Kw unit.
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Last edited by hueyville; February 17, 2015 at 11:50. Reason: Bit on @ss but when not life threatening
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