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#150128 - 09/25/08 06:00 PM Re: Another 12v Power Question [Re: CAP613]
BobS Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 924
Loc: Toledo Ohio
Originally Posted By: CAP613
I was reading back a little insted of a wooden box for the battery perhaps a cooler would be better, it would help keep the battery warm in the winter, and being somewhat air tight would help keep any out gassing under control.

Off gassing is a byproduct of charging, it can be reduced by a lower amperage charge (a solar panel is a low amperage charge) and special battery caps to reduce the venting even more. But it canít be stopped 100% and the last thing you want to do is seal up a deep cycle battery (ok to do with AGM & gel-cells) and let the gas build up.

Iím almost 50 now, but when I was 17-years old (give or take a year) I was working on a ford car in the yard, the hood was up and I was putting a new start solenoid on it. The solenoid was about 6-inches from the battery and I did not disconnect the battery first. It sparked and ignited the hydrogen gas and blew the top off the battery and acid flew everyplace. My face included. I had glasses on so it saved my eyes and I ran to the house and washed it all off very fast. Other then a little stinging and a bad taste in my mouth for a while there was no harm done (thank god I had glasses on) If the gas can travel in an open yard with the hood of the car up, it can do it even more so in a closed up and wind protected area. Be careful.

Since this time I have had a more then health respect for battery off gassing and acid.

Itís not something to do Ĺ way. Do it right and follow all safety procedures.

Edited by BobS (09/25/08 06:26 PM)
Edit Reason: Spelling

You can run, but you'll only die tired.

#150163 - 09/26/08 12:07 PM Re: Another 12v Power Question [Re: BobS]
CAP613 Offline

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 87
Loc: W. PA
I was thinking in a more inclosed enivroment, useing the cooler to control the spred of the gas then a vent to get it to the out side, sorry I did not explain that.

#152278 - 10/18/08 04:11 AM Re: Another 12v Power Question [Re: CAP613]
NorCalDennis Offline

Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 61
Loc: Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I thought I would chime in with a quick update on this solar system.

After a couple of weeks the lights seemed to be dimming and after a day and a half of overcast the battery crashed. What I realized is that I purchased the battery from an autoparts store, hooked it up, and left it alone. I had no idea what kind of charge the battery had when I installed it, nor did I know how much power we were getting from the Solar each day.

So, I purchased a battery charger (which I needed anyway) and a battery minder volt meter which I attached near the battery. Since the battery was given a full charge, the solar is keeping the battery at a full charge (not lower than 12.8v in the AM {after the timer had lights on starting at 4:30AM} and a finish charge at sunset of 13.25v). And, this is occuring while I am still using the 8w incandescent bulbs, the LED's should be here in the next few days - and that will certainly reduce the load demands by 75%. I am guessing at this point, but the LED's should allow the system to work well through several days of cloudy weather and not need the battery charger.

All in all, I am very happy with the system - it is working as it is supposed to, and our chickens continue to lay eggs after the Autumnal equinox (which they didn't do last year). Having ample light in an area that didn't have power before is also a big plus. Provided the battery is able to keep a decent charge from the Solar, the system is pretty much maintenance free (well, occasional battery fluid checks).

Thanks again for all your input - it really helped me along with this project.

Edited by NorCalDennis (10/18/08 04:14 AM)
Edit Reason: grammer - as usual
While I have long believed that I will never get old, I have come to the realization that sooner or later there will be more people younger than me.

#152462 - 10/20/08 12:06 PM Re: Another 12v Power Question [Re: NorCalDennis]
SirJoel Offline

Registered: 05/15/06
Posts: 39
Nice update, I was just about to bump this topic and ask how it was working.

Please be sure and let us know how the leds work out.

#153938 - 11/01/08 08:02 PM SPAM [Re: NorCalDennis]
georges Offline

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 6

Edited by Doug_Ritter (11/01/08 09:37 PM)

#154134 - 11/03/08 07:43 PM Re: SPAM [Re: georges]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Reminds me of the trouble we got into with our solar powered alarm systems out at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation a few years back. It seems that under the worst conditions (sub-freezing temps, overcast skies for days), the battery systems would deplete enough that the voltage on the control panel would crowbar the system into alarm mode. Imagine having to team up around the clock to run generators to batt chargers to bring the batteries in 35 remote systems back to life. Pretty bad when you have Rad alert sirens going off up and down the Columbia and all points in between. Can you say pucker factor?
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#154143 - 11/03/08 08:26 PM Re: SPAM [Re: benjammin]
Grouch Offline

Registered: 07/02/08
Posts: 395
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: benjammin
Pretty bad when you have Rad alert sirens going off up and down the Columbia and all points in between. Can you say pucker factor?

It gives the foil hatters something to talk about. wink

#155191 - 11/14/08 04:39 AM Re: SPAM [Re: Grouch]
NorCalDennis Offline

Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 61
Loc: Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Another, and probably last update on this set up...

The LED's did arrive, but I found their light output to be too dim. When I asked the folks at www.superbrightleds.com about this I was informed that the light fixtures can range from a 5 to 8 watt equivilent - It certainly appeared that they were much closer to 5 watts than 8 - the output was no where near the 8w incandescents that they were replacing. So I sent them back. I may look at different light fixtures at a later date that could handle larger LED bulbs.

I also spoke to my conact at Pacific Renewables group about the concern of loss due to the legnth of 10 guage wire from the panel to the charge controller (about 90+ feet). While he acknowledged that there is a decent loss at that legnth, their Solec panels are rated for 12v or 24v use and at the peak of the day are kicking out about 19 to 22 volts - so even with the loss I am experiencing with my 10 guage wire, it is not enough to keep from fully charging the battery - given my set up and needs.

We did have our first real storm pass through a week or so ago where we had no direct sun for about 36 hours and mostly cloudy days on both sides of the rainy days. The solar set up worked flawlessly through the whole four to five days. I never saw the battery minder drop below 12.6v, and there were mostly cloudy days where the battery minder was showing a charge coming from the panel (not a 14.4v like I see most sunny days, but 13.6v was sure looking pretty good to me). Our chickens continue to give us eggs every day, and having all that light in the storage shed and pig pen sure makes getting the pigs in at night a much easier task than fumbling around with a flashlight!!!

While I have never used their products before, nor do I work for them, I can't say enough good things about www.super-feed.com who provided the timer for the chiken coop lights and www.pacificrenewablesgroup.com for their solar set up. Both had excellent customer service to match what I am experiencing to be very good products. The folks at www.superbrightleds.com were very helpful too, and have a very good - no hassle return policy. When I look to do more LED's in the future, I will be contacting them first, and find fixtures to meet their lights.

Thanks again for all your input!

While I have long believed that I will never get old, I have come to the realization that sooner or later there will be more people younger than me.

#175399 - 06/28/09 07:51 PM Re: SPAM [Re: NorCalDennis]
comms Offline

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
Just bumping this thread to see if NorCalDennis can give us a post 1st winter update.
Don't just survive. Thrive.

#175637 - 07/05/09 12:42 AM Re: SPAM [Re: comms]
NorCalDennis Offline

Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 61
Loc: Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Overall the system worked very well - and served all of our needs for the area it is serving.

A couple of upgrades will be:

Change battery to a better quality, eg. two 6v golf cart batteries in series - possibly AGM. The bargain basement 12v one I purchased doesn't cut it very well - especially after a year of use. I've had to recharge the battery on a couple of occasions, and added distilled water to keep the levels up. I know it kinda general maintenance stuff, but it happened more frequently than I expected.

Add some conduit for wiring from the battery to the fixtures. It appears that the resident rat/mouse population chewed through a couple of the wires disabling the fans in the pig pen.

Change to better quality 12v light fixtures. A couple of the sockets shorted out (probably from the dust factor), and they are not good fixtures for LED replacement bulbs.

These were pretty minor improvments for an otherwise great winter. Lights worked when we needed them to, and the timer kept our chickens laying right through the winter.

If only it would power a 'predator eradication system' - NOW that would make it the perfect system. We had an ever present problem with coyotes trying to thin the flock.

While I have long believed that I will never get old, I have come to the realization that sooner or later there will be more people younger than me.

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