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Batteries for the next 25 years or so?

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Blackjack, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    First Question, be gentle ;)

    So I know I can run just about everything in the world with solar power and batteries...... House, car, tiller, even a full sized tractor, appliances etc.

    But what about having good batteries 25 years or so after the crash? (yes I'm a peak oil believer )

    Lets say the batteries that the solar garden tiller uses http://www.freepowersys.com/suhorse.htm

    Can you buy spare batteries and leave them dry for the next 25 years, and then have them ready to go like new. How do you guys plan on maintaining battery power over an extended period of time?

  2. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Yes....you can buy batteries dry, and the acid separate, and I believe they'd be good forever that way.

    I'm setting up some solar this year, and I plan to buy some 'dry' batteries also.

    You'll have to find a battery dealer to do this.
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Most batteries stocked by auto dealers (for example) are shipped dry and are wetted and charged at the dealer's shop. There are usually a few around ready to go, but if he is reputable, there won't be many. Reasons are a safety issue in the shop with acid lying around (it is often shipped dry also) and also (mostly) because of warrantee issues, which start on date of purchase. If it's been wet for a while, the warrantee is more likely to be called. Sealed cells are different somehow, can't tell you anything about them.
  4. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I'd guess dry would indeed last forever.
    You are wise to look at replacements as once put into service, The clock starts ticking.

    I have sat on the Alternative fence for a long time now. I have a Waterfall in the back yard that drops about 100'... Been thinking Hydro would solve all my needs. The sticking point has always been the Battery bank needed to run the house and the subsequent need to replace the batteries every 5 yrs or so. Gets expensive to run now and then has a finite life Post SHTF.

    I did just research some direct drive 110 Hydro turbine systems. Cuts out the battery bank and also gets rid of the line loss problems associated with DC. Well, to a point... but would work for me.

    Now I just need to get someone to tell me my flow is enough to run the turbine and I'll go with it.
  5. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The last time I bought batteries for a four wheeler that is the way they came. Dry.
  6. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

  7. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Thinking batteries again, it might be worth the research into deep discharge cells rather than automotive batts. There would be some advantages in lean solar periods.

    So far as waterfalls go, the calcs are easy. Whether DC to batts or direct ac is another story. From here and without knowing more about the stream flow characteristics, dc would be a better bet with an inverter for the ac loads. DC line loss is limited by oversizing the conductors, and it would not be significant in a small distribution system as in residential sized.
  8. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    But, My Waterfall is a good 450 to 500' from the base to my house.
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Almost too short to worry about. I don't think you would have a problem. The cost of the wire is going to be small compared to the rest of the setup when all is said and done. And, you could set it up with the inverter at the hydro plant, and transmit AC. That'll keep them nasty batteries away from the house critters (not to mention the vented hydrogen when charging.)
  10. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Battery banks are most important in systems with solar recharging, where you have to have three or four days worth of storage capacity. Because your waterfall will provide continuous voltage, neither your battery size, or generator size needs to be as large. Your batteries would handle peak load, which would be more than your generator capacity.
  11. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Couple of things about DC over AC generation.....

    1. You have to size an AC generator to match the lowest flow of water.....or you'll be out of power in drier times of the year......this may put you short of needs all year by having to size it to the lowest common denominator. Peak loads at your house will kill you here....you wil only be able to use the lowest amount of generation at any time, and be wasting generation when you're not using that much. AC likes nice even generation and loads.

    2. The battery bank solves this. A DC generator you would still size close to the lowest flow of water, but since it generates 24/7, and you likely aren't using power at 2am like you are at 7am or 5pm, your excess gets stored in batteries, then called out for "peak" times.

    With care and good batteries, you can get a lot more than 5 years.....it's based more on the number and depth of discharge than time. The key is never DEEPLY discharge the bank.....wire in a small generator with auto start ( many inverters or battery charge controllers have an auto start feature when batteries reach a certain level of discharge ) in case you draw too much. Battery life is cut about in half if you discharge much under 50% regularly.

    Wanna see some REALLY COOL batteries ?

    Check these Submarine batteries out !! They've changed their page, at one time it had the specs on them.....they're about a zillion amp hour or something....ahahahahaaaaaa

    ( Scroll down when you get the page )

  12. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Submarine batteries are designed for deep discharge. I've forgotten the % remaining that we were allowed, but we monitored to check to just before cell reversal. The same principle applies with boat batteries used with the likes of trolling motors. They were rated by cycles , full to discharged, and had to be discharged fully now and again to limit "memory" effects. This, I think, is what you need for complete isolation from the utility. I would go with two banks so that you could isolate one as reserve while doing the deep discharge maintenance. (Leastways, that is what we did on the boat.) Yeah, they are BIG cells, and HEAVY. :D
  13. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    OK, I'll play devils advocate here and bring up the down side on this. I just have to ask, if you have the stuff set up to provide power for say 20 years after a total colapse (where it could no longer be had from the grid) then the ability to produce power is likely to outlast the need for the power. How many light bulbs do you have stored to replace the current ones when they go dead? How long do refridgerators and freezers and other appliances last? My basic point being that haveing the ability to provide your own power say for a as much as 5 years or so in order to give things time to come back or not and to put you ahead of the learning curve by giveing you the ability to say refridgerate or freeze things and so on while getting used to not haveing refridgeration and doing things in other ways gives a big advantage and some time to kind of 'ease' into the new way of life, but electrical appliances like refridgerators, freezers, lights and so on have a limited life as well and radios and TVs and such would become useless once no one can transmit signals, so after say 5-10 years (especialy with any low voltage problems and such that shorten their lives) you most likely wont have anything to use the electricity for. Also its my understanding that even without things like say hail storms or anything destroying them, solar pannels dont last indefinatly and eventualy have to be replaced, Im could be wrong on that but thats my understanding that they only last on average of say 20-25 years or so.
    That said I think there is an article on here someplace about one of the guys I thing in Europe who uses a composte pile for electric, hot water and heat. It has coils of tubeing through it that water flows through collecting the heat produced then carries the heat to the house to heat it and also can be run out the taps in the house. It also has a tank in it that contains some of the compost and is sealed and has lines run from it to some innertubes to pressureize the methaine generated by the rotting compost and is then used for cooking and running a small generator. I think his refridgeration was propane converted to methane. Anyway something like that might be an option to consider and propane refridgeration with a different oriphus to convert it to natural gas (i.e. methane) as IIRC thats a lot more efficent than burning it in a generator to make the electricity to do it.
    Another thought might be to have a motor set up that was converted to run on alcohol that you could brew in a still thats pretty simple to make, in its most basic from from nothing more than a pressure cooker and some tubeing that will clamp to the spout. You could then conect the motor to an alternator and have a 12 volt battery bank with the inverters on it (or 12 volt apliances in the house) and if gas is no longer available then alternators should be plentiful and easy to come by if it needs replaced as would anything for say a mower motor other than the carborator for running it on alcohol.
    Just some other things to think about on the subject if looking at it for a long term post SHTF solution. [beer]
  14. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member


    That's why I didn't buy a Generator pre-Y2K... How much Fuel was I going to store?

    Here's my outside the box thoughts on keeping things running if the lights go out and I have Hydro... Light bulbs? THey are worthless to every other home that does not have power. Lot of extras to be had. Same goes for appliances and all manner of small parts needed to repair anything that breaks down...

    I've always viewed a SHTF to be a shortterm situation. Total collapse for 5-8 yrs max.
    If it lasts longer, then anything that I have still running will be of transitional convenience.

    I do have stocks of lots of things that many may not think of. I like to buy multiples of things and set them aside. If they are never used... My great Grandchildren will have one hell of a "Vintage" auction on Ebay... :lol:

    It's not a forever thing but the Hydro really has me thinking. My current Utility bills average $350 a month. If I spent $21,000K on a Hydro system, It would be paid for in 5 yrs with the rest free.

    I also know that small items like radios, flashlights etc will not last forever... THat's why I have NIB backups to the backups as well.
  15. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah, for me the main thing I would REALY be worried about electricity for would be refridgeration and I think if they set for a long enouph time the refridgerant may not do so well so while it would be good for transitional time for me at least Im not to worried about how to deal with lights if things stay bad for more than a couple of years. I could ABSOLUTELY see major benifits for present time and short to mid term SHTF situations though from produceing ones own electric for the money saveings and simply not haveing to count on anyone elses stuff working in order for my food not to spoil or fans to work.
  16. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

    I don't know about your area melbo, but in CT, the utility company is bond by law to buy from individuals, any unused power they generate from an alternative source. That's why so many places put in energy capture systems. Heck, even a YMCA in a neighboring town generates power.
  17. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah have known folks to do that and worked out well for them. Hook up a power generation system and still be on grid (maybe with a small battery bank for power outages) and they would have it set up so that as long as the batteries were charged then all extra power produced fed back into the grid and then at peak times they would use from the grid whatever their system didnt produce. At the end of the month if they used more than they produced it just lowered their bill, if they produced more than they used then they got payed or at least a credit with the utility company and if the power went out they had a breaker between the battery bank and the grid so they could use from it without trying to feed a down grid to run some of the main stuff (probably not AC and suck but the main lights and fridge and thermostats and so on.
    Basicly makes it so that you dont have to worry so much about haveing a big bank for peak use times and also get payed for any excess you produce.
  18. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    same here
  19. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Utilities have always HAD to buy back surplus power if you generate, under federal law....but they only had to pay whatever the wholesale rate was for them.....

    But under the new fed energy bill of last year, net metering is required of all ultilities....that means the consumer gets credit for at least the amount they use each month at retail rates.

    And many state and local utilities go farther than that.....

    TVA here has a program that pays about twice the going retail rate for any solar, wind or micro hydro power generation, catch is the local power distributor has to sign on for it.

    Ours just recently did, since myself and several others have been ragging them over it......

    I'll probably be the first one to set up on the deal with solar.
  20. duanet

    duanet Monkey+++

    Here in New England all of the 1700's factories and early 1800's were water powered. Always wondered how so much was done with such little streams in the rural areas. Talked a lot with one of the last oldtimers who had run the mills power. They only used the power when they needed it. They basically had dams on the headwaters and let the water out as they needed it. The gristmill here started a 6 am, 4 miles down the river the cotton mill started at 6.30, the next cotton mill , located 12 miles down stream began at 7.30 and such. The water was shut off for lunch and at night. The local dam could hold 1 or 2 hours water at optimum drop, after the head was lost and the efficiency decreased. The local saw mills often only sawed when the snow melted in the spring. Got the logs out in the winter and farmed in the summer. They often only run 3 or 4 weeks a year. The same thing could be done with a battery bank and a house. You don't need lights in the daytime, cook and heat with wood and sleep most of the night. Other than a refrig and a freezer and wood or metal working tools, you would need very little power most of the time, solar or water.
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