Author Topic: Off-grip power system  (Read 1174 times)

asatrur

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Off-grip power system
« on: September 17, 2013, 06:06:24 PM »
Alright guys, I have not posted in a long while, but now that we are in the middle of a major ARES event with the 2013 flood here in CO, I am looking at emergency power. Here is my sitrep
Icom IC-740
FT-2900
I want to be able to run these on battery power with the ability to recharge with a solar system and as with most folks, price is an object meaning maybe 300 total for now for the system. System needs to be semi-portable i.e. bug-out in vehicle, etc.
Based on my requirements, what you guys say is important in order?
Recharge time
Portability
length of battery use
price
I am currently looking at a 26ah 12v battery with a Schumacher Electric 15-Amp 6/12V Battery Charger for constantly charging the battery.
Ideas, thoughts?
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spacecase0

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2013, 07:19:28 PM »
here is my ideal batteries
http://www.electriccarpartscompany.com/40Ah-32V-br-46L-19W-73H-in-br-117-47-186-mm-br-34-Lbs-153-Kg-br-Sinopoly-br-EV-LiFePo4-Lithium-Prismatic-Battery-br-Model-SP-LFP40AHA_p_259.html
so for 12V it would be 200 for the set.
and I would go with straight solar, maybe with wind added, but
grid connected leaves it very open to EMP damage,

the advantage with the lithium is that you can leave it at 20% charge for years with no damage,
so you can have low power solar charge it up and not worry about keeping it near max charge.
also they are way lighter than standard lead batteries

I use a LM2596 DC to DC converter (search on ebay) to charge the batteries so I don't over charge them from the solar
that lets me run the low powered radios direct from the solar without any batteries in case they fail in future years.

unseenone

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2013, 07:28:04 PM »
What kind of BOV do you have?

You might possibly consider a dual, triple vehicle battery system, with one or more batteries in the boot. While solar is nice, if it's raining, and inclement weather they're not going to be much good. You can add a high amp alternator as well, for higher charging rates at idle.

I don't know much about solar, so I'd personally look at kits, such as this one, a complete 250W kit capable of charging two batteries at the same time. http://store.sundancesolar.com/solar-rv-boat-cabin-kit-260watt.html

The triple battery controller that will allow you to install batteries in a trunk or trailer, and have quick disconnects with Anderson type connectors.  Something along these lines (I have a two battery version of this) http://www.traxide.com.au/complete-diy-dual-battery/land-rover-dbs-kits/d3-d4--rrs-triple-battery/d3-tb5--usi-160--abg-25-.html

In an emergency, price is never a consideration. So it should not be a particular consideration priority. Reliability, is important, some cheap piece of junk will be the first victim of Murphy.

spacecase0

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 10:29:59 PM »
in that linked solar power system, the cells are Polycrystalline,
so that will not work in overcast weather at all,
you need monocrystalline cells to work in in overcast conditions and get very long life.

I have a few batteries (some tiny gel cells to power the hand held, some big deep cycles), and I charge and use them all separate,
I would hate for a failure of anything to take out all of them at once.

BTPost

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2013, 08:31:16 PM »
Understand that at 100 Watts RF Output, that HF rig is going to be drawing 20 Amps, and a 25 Watt RF Output Vhf FM Radio, is going to be drawing 7-10 Amps
... from the Battery. That means that a 26 AmpHour Battery even with a 80/10/10 Standby/Receive/Transmit isn't going to last very long in a Grid Down Senerio without external Input. Solar will supply some input, but only during the Day, AND only in fair Skies. In the recent CO Senerio, not much is going to be pumped into Battery when it is raining at the rate in the recent Senerio. Also keep in mind that Battery Charging is usually no better than 80% efficient, so it takes 120% more power to input 100% of used Power.  In the Senerio of the recent CO Operations, Hams provided much of the EmComm Disaster Comms where they were able, from cutoff communities. That means that they had EmComm Power to keep those Systems running 24/7 for the duration. My suggestion is:
1.  For a BugOut Senerio, the Vehicle needs to be able to supply the Required Power for the duration of the BugOut, as well as provide the Transport to whatever location is planned for BugOut. A secondary Energy input from Solar/Wind/other source is always a very good idea. 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none.
2.  For a BugIn Senerio, with loss of Grid, you need enough reserve  in you Batteries to at least make it 24 hours. The plan on backup Power Sources, like Solar/Wind/Genset for an extended Operation, of at least a week, and maybe more depending how isolated you are. Again use the rule, 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none.

Just having a Battery, and some sort of Charging System, does NOT a reliable EmComm System. Extra BIG Battery installed in the vehicle, (not Starting Battery but charged off the Engine Alternator) for EmPower will go a long way toward your goal. The Backup Energy System needs to be such that it can be broken down, and moved in a very short time. (BugOut Time)

Backup Power for  the BugIn Senerio needs to be able to operate in ANY Weather. Wind, Rain, Storm, Snow, whatever.... So s Solid Backup Genset with enough appropriate Fuel Storage to meet the 1 Week Operational Time. Also you need to look at your BugIn location, with eyes that see the 100 year Flood Plane, 100 year Fire, and make sure that that isn't going to impact your BugIn location. (Top of Hill, not near the Edge, and NOT in River Valley... Clear local Brush, and non-combustale Roofing & Wall covering)

These are Long term decisions, that you need to work on, over time, to get yourself Prep'ed for Disaster/SHTF....
Just Say'en.... YMMV....
Bruce in alaska AL7AQ

Tempstar

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2013, 09:16:02 PM »
 Good topic, and I'd like to pitch in. Our radio club has a "fall field day" which happens in October. Last year I ran an 857 on 2 T-105 Trojans and only got 3 1/2 hours until the voltmeter said 11 volts. I had the Harbor Freight 45 watt 3 panel setup running as well. I was running 100 watts and transmitting pretty heavily.
 Another Ham ran digital at 10 watts all day on a marine deep cycle, so it all depends on usage.
 This year I'll run the T-105s but use the Honda genny every hour or so to put some serious charge back in. My planning now includes the Honda and my freshly installed power pole plug off the battery of the truck. I'm even considering a fuel line modification to run the Honda for many more hours off the truck tank. I guess the moral of my story is that for a few hours battery power is great, but for the long term I'll still need fossil fuel. If we have a hurricane or other catastrophe the Honda is the first thing into the truck.
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asatrur

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2013, 09:49:44 PM »
Thanks for all ideas, I really appreciate it. I understand and recently read a story with the mantra 1 is none, 2 is one and I have plans to add redundancy to the system in the future, but for now, I have nothing. My BOV is undergoing some overhauls due to some recent issues, so upgrading that will have to wait. I just picked up a Werker 33Ah battery to start the system.
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unseenone

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 08:36:28 PM »
Here is another suggestion for those with the back and / or ability to stow it. A great storage option are 6v golf cart batteries. These crossed over will really give you some time. If you read about the battery, it is made for repeated beat downs of deep discharge. A pair of these would run a rig for a couple of days I would expect. They do need maintenance, and topping up with fluid periodically.

Product ID:   GC2-XHD-UT
Voltage:   6
Weight:   65
Width:   7.12
Length:   10.25
Height:   11.12
CAP-20:   232
Plates:   18
WET/DRY:   W

http://www.interstatebatteries.com/cs_eStore/Content.aspx?dsNav=Arpp~12,A~Part+Number,N~2147384911-2147384722-2147384903,Nr~AND%28P_unique_id%3aUS+Battery+US+2200XC+GC2-XHD-UT%29


Tevin

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 08:23:46 AM »
With a $300 budget you're not going to have a lot of options. You would almost be better off spending that money on a small gas generator.

If it has to be solar, then look at one of these: http://www.solar-electric.com/spm040.html

Add a PWM controller (about $40-$50) and a decent battery ($80-$120) and you'll be at budget. For the money you have, it's about as good as it gets.

Wind power is out of the question for the budget you're working with. A decent 300 watt windmill runs over $1000, and you still need mounting hardware and electronics to go with it.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with poly (or multi) crystal solar panels. They are not as efficient as the monos, but not so much that it takes them off the list. It is very hard to find monocrystal panels in lower wattages anyway. Polycrystal panels are very well established technology and are an excellent "bang for the buck" I have 550 watts of Kyocera polys on my roof dedicated exclusively to running my ham station (including a 100 watt HF) and they are stellar performers. I have monocrystals too and there is no amazing difference between the two.



« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 08:25:31 AM by Tevin »
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asatrur

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2013, 02:01:21 PM »
I picked up a Werker 33ah battery am looking at some kits for building a 72w solar panel on e-bay right now. I have thought about gennies, but they are an unknown to me regarding what I might need. Some folks have said you can get a decent one for ~200, while others are saying at least 1K, so again I am not sure where to start on them.
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BTPost

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2013, 12:31:42 PM »
When it comes to Gensets, you can buy a USED Onan Genset, out of an RV, for way less that $400US just about any day of the week, on places like CraigsList & eBay. These units are usually 1800 RPM, and NOT like the BigBox Store Screamers that turn 3600 Rpm... There are still many Parts available to rebuild them, when they go over 15K Operational Hours. I picked up a couple of 3Kw Diesel Onan Gensets, for less than $400US, as few years back and they are still running strong, and are cheap on fuel. These older Onans are BIG, Heavy, and Solid as the "Rock of G". Keep to the routine Maintenance Sked, on LubeOil changes, and fuel filter changes and they will outlast your Grandchildren. Just Say'en.....
Bruce in alaska AL7AQ

Cindy

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2013, 12:13:33 AM »
I realize this isn't a fresh thread, but I wanted to share a few thoughts.  We used to install and maintain 9-1-1 radio dispatch facilities, then later take care of data center UPS systems...

The Schumacher (and other) automotive battery chargers are made for quick charges of low batteries.  They are not designed to maintain a battery long term.  If you leave this type, or even a "trickle" battery charger, hooked permanently, it will ruin a good battery in no time.  A solar 3-stage charger is designed to maintain batteries properly.  These can be used even when charging from an automotive system.  A solar charger hooked to a car or truck electrical system, on the supply side (instead of being fed by solar panels) will not discharge the vehicle battery when sitting, but will charge the auxiliary battery when the alternator is running.  This is because the idle battery voltage drops below the charger threshold, so it goes to sleep.

So, for a $300 budget, you can buy a good marine deep cycle battery (or two GC2 golf cart batteries), a solar charger (look for the MPPT type), and possibly a couple of surplus solar panels for the shack.  For "grab and go" take the battery and solar charger, with a cable that will tie into the vehicle electrical system instead of the panels. 

Later you can add a small inverter generator if you like, and more panels to the shack.  Using the batteries daily in the shack to power some piece of equipment will exercise the battery properly and keep it maintained.

Also, remember a battery's reserve amp rating is "total" discharge over 20 hours.  If you go there very many times the battery will be trashed.  Rule of thumb is not to discharge a wet cell battery below 50% and a gel cell below 65%.  So that 100 amp rated marine battery is only good for 50 amps of radio power drawn out over a several hour window.

-Cindy
Into Preparedness and Communications since 1987

unseenone

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Re: Off-grip power system
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2013, 07:00:05 PM »
Good stuff Cindy..

I need to revamp the boat charger, as well as add some solar capability.  Not much real estate for it though. I agree that the Golf Cart batteries do well, but are a lot of work to keep maintained.

On the vehicle, I use low voltage cut offs now, to ensure i don't over discharge the Yellow Top Gel Cell. I should add those to the boat as well, but the main issue on the boat is that I need to keep the batteries charged, but not over charged because there is always something drawing a little.