Who needs to go to the store for the Turkey? Just sent the great Camo Cat out to get one!
The purpose of this post is to address some things I see in forums and to confirm that what you have seen over the years in this blog are all true. You can read my early things and know that every time somebody reported any errors or if I found new information, I have edited them. There are several things still going on in the Solar industry that I find to be unforgivable. I want to address some of these here. I would appreciate it if somebody would tell some of the idjits on forums about this because I sure as hell am not going to bother trying to talk sense to them. I really was kicked off of forums for telling the truth and I am not the only one. The last time I looked, one of those idjits was still accusing me of lying and called me a Morningstar shill. Plus, I see that my favorite solar dealer is still pushing the brands of charge controllers that they make the most profit on, and now are on the Lithium band wagon, so I removed them from my Good Guys page.
If only people would do what I have and compare a few controllers side by side while in absorption, or take one down and put up another. I have a few friends around here who would tell you what happened when we replaced their “state of the art” controllers with Morningstar, so you need to stop believing what you see on forums. This is not about the maximum charging amps early in the bulk phase because all MPPT controllers are pretty much equal then. It is about what happens when the controller is regulating late in absorption and I have actually seen nearly double the amps with Morningstar than with a couple of the most popular things out there. I have taken $800 controllers down, replaced them with $650 Tristar’s and seen major improvements in charging and specific gravity readings, plus getting rid of noisy cooling fans. Morningstar is still the only company to fully trust when it comes to actually taking care of your expensive batteries, even though I am very troubled that they STILL do not have shunt based charge control and are now on the Lithium band wagon.
This is the home we have been building since 2012. It still needs a coat of tan color stucco and a bunch of landscaping before we can call it finished, but the inside is beautiful. It looks bigger than it is. We have 1000 sq ft of interior space. This home is totally off grid with no wires connected to anybody. We have a 10,000 gallon water cistern that is filled with the rain that falls on the roof. It over flowed during our driest year on record and this summer it has been full several times, working better than I ever expected. This morning it was running over from snow melt. We did fill the bath tub last night and we did water our garden this summer with the rain that falls on our roof. I even bought a pressure washer to wash the vehicles. No water spots when using rain! There is no well and we live a normal life, with solar provided electricity, solar water heating and a great portion of our space heating also coming from the sun. We do not use wood for heat. We burn less than 500 gallons of propane per year for cooking and heating, that we paid a buck per gallon for this fall. That is a lot cleaner than burning wood, as well as a lot less work. The eight panels on the shop are 2000 watts for electricity. The six on the house are 1170 watts that only heat water, being connected to the bottom element in a standard water heater, using a Crydom DC relay for control. I typically see close to 1000W on a meter I added there, so it DOES work. The satisfaction level here is through the roof.
The solar quilter is finally getting her machine set up! All of this was in storage for years, after being found used on eBay. We have more time than money.
The shop is the east half and it went up that in 2012. There is an early pic of that somewhere else in the blog. We parked our fifth wheel inside that winter and spent the next 5 winters in that cramped & dark place, moving outside during summer, while building the house as we could afford it. The only help we hired was for concrete and some muscles when the two of us couldn’t quite do things by ourselves. We moved into the house in October, 2017 and finally sold the old fifth wheel. I used the money from that and selling our old backhoe to buy a Jeep and snow plow.
We first called her “Lady Liberty”, but after busting snow that was drifted hood high without needing chains, I now call her “Zena, Warrior Princes”
Anybody who wants to know more about the details of this construction will need to find my email address in the RV Battery Charging Puzzle and ask. I will not be putting everything on a blog for the whole world to see and a book is not likely. I am 68 and still trying to finish everything. The current project is baseboards that were cut from the same logs our timber frame was built from. Planing and shaping them has taken a lot of time.
Worth the effort!
The Lithium Ion battery marketing BS and lies are totally out of control. Even Morningstar is supporting it now and trying to profit from something that is very likely going to fail. I find this to be very troubling. You can read about my solar system and what I have to say about Lithium batteries in earlier posts. Industry experts who are honest have confirmed what I said. It is time for people to wake up to the fact that this is all about money, just like the climate change hoax.
I know, I know, but pay attention to the latest news NASA has admitted to just this year. They have reversed the things they said earlier, but the fools on the left never look at the latest news. Anybody who thinks solar power is only for liberals has not been thinking. “Scientists” who should be honest actually have been massaging raw temperature data to back up their claims for many years and when that happens you cannot believe anything they say. The worst is that they have been claiming the vast majority of scientists agree…. It is actually about 20% of them. Use your brain. Two weeks ago we set all time record low temperature records in Montana. Last winter set all time record lows several times. This, while people are claiming the Earth is warming? Maybe we are heading into an ice age. Nobody knows. Are all of the world’s sea ports flooded and has Venice disappeared beneath the waves? These things actually were predicted. In fact, you can find a list of over 40 predictions starting back in the 60’s that have all turned out to be lies. Only those of us old enough to remember know the truth. They started out guessing and ended up lying to us with an agenda aimed at controlling us and taking our money. This should not be a political thing, but that is exactly what it has turned into. I am an environmentalist because we need to take care of our planet, but I am not a wacko environmentalist who cannot see what has been going on. We have cut our emissions in the USA while China and India just go on building dirty coal burning plants, so we are NOT the problem (even if carbon were the problem… It’s not).
Check out the following report:
Back to batteries… My 16 batteries are more than anybody (including Crown) thinks I can charge with only 2000 watts of panels, but they have been working flawlessly now for over two years. The state of charge this morning was 60% after three days of snow and clouds. Voltage when making coffee with a 1400W load running was 22.4 (11.2 if at 12V) and everything is working fine. That is not too low, no matter what you hear elsewhere. The lithium people would tell you I have destroyed my batteries. It is going to take two days of sun to get them full, but I can tell you that these batteries have been run lower than 50% at least four times in the past two years and gone for as many as ten days between full charges. Every time, they act as new once fully recharged. Tomorrow will be no different.
These batteries are worth about $4K. The equivalent sized Lithium would cost 3 or 4 times as much. Go right ahead, but I don’t want to hear from people who have money to burn, especially after they are having problems.
Solar Power World called Tydrolyte the top emerging battery technology of 2019. It sounds promising. It is supposed to replace sulfuric acid as the electrolyte in lead acid batteries, but I cannot find any confirmation that it really exists. Does anybody know a thing about it?
One of the things that is bothering me is that the engineers at Crown are not changing their recommendations after all of my real world testing and feedback. I think they are afraid to buck the general consensus and come right out and tell people that you cannot succeed using a 50% daily draw down on batteries with solar power recharging them. That would have them recommending more batteries than their competition. Using less than 15% over night, with over sized batteries, is the only way for solar power to work and avoid generator time. Only during summer are the days long enough to recharge from 50% using solar power. During winter that is an impossibility. The further north you go, the longer the days get, but even here in Montana we end up with a five hour charging day in December and it just is not long enough. It takes me two days to recover from a 50% discharge caused by several days of clouds. They also seem to be afraid to confirm that the voltage must be increased in winter to overcome the short solar hours. The custom charging algorithm that I came up with and reported in my 2018 Warning is now running in four solar systems in Montana besides my own. I believe it to be perfect and no doubt there are “experts” at battery companies and charge controller manufacturers who will argue. Do any of them life off grid on solar power? The surprising thing to me was how much longer it takes to recharge in summer when the voltage is lowered due to temperature. That little extra drop in voltage that I put in there to protect the batteries really has more effect than one would expect. Still, who cares if it takes more time, as long as it happens?
Crown has just announced the availability of a packaged battery box and batteries. It drives me crazy, but I have to warn you that there is no cooling space between the batteries in that box. The batteries must be jammed right up against each other in order to fit in the box. This is going to lead to problems and they won’t listen. Go buy an infrared heat sensor and check for yourself if you don’t believe me. I put 1.5” of space between the batteries in my box because I saw that even the recommended .5” was not enough. Batteries that are warmer than others will accept more amps and then get even warmer and batteries that are up against each other on three sides will be warmer than the corner ones that are exposed to air on two sides instead of only one. Thermal runaway will destroy them. It may take a few years, but it will take years of life out of them. This is the voice of experience, based on measurements made on my own system.
I keep hearing from people who want to experiment with things like Victron because they can look at it in on their phone or Magnum’s BMK because some solar dealer uses it due to being easier to connect and program. It is a one stop shopping kind of thing. Gimmicks are not what is important to me. The Trimetric is still the state of the art in battery monitoring. Next, Puekert’s Law does not make a battery monitor more accurate. It is another gimmick. Ralph, the genius who invented the Trimetric, decided that Puekert’s really did not work on systems that operate with the wide variety of loads that we run in our homes. It might work on golf carts that always have the same load, but not in a home. What I have found to be more important is tweaking the charge efficiency factor. The Trimetric has a default of 94%, which is too low except for old and weak lead acid batteries. I am using 96% on mine and in most RV systems I used 97%. For AGM’s I found adding about 1% (98%) is very close. First, lead acid batteries actually do run at a lot higher efficiency than the old general consensus claims and second, AGM’s do not accept a charge much faster, only a tiny bit faster. Last, never use the rated amp hour capacity when programming a meter. You must consider the loss of capacity due to temperature. I have mine derated about 20%. Batteries hold their rated amp hours only at a perfect 77F. At zero F it is about 50%. You do the math.
These small things do not appear to be important, but having your meter accurate will prevent you from getting scared and needing a generator after just a couple of cloudy days. Take your pick. Run your generator all the time or learn to trust your meter. Most people do the former. Generators wear out and are the cause of a lot of repair costs. Mine is over two years old and has less than 40 hours on it and some were racked up just to power tools. Two people I know have had expensive bills this year due to over use of their generators. Electricity made with generator power is the most expensive kind.
The brain for our home. On the left is the weather station. Notice outdoor and indoor temps (the lower number is humidity). The upper right “Garden” is the air temp in the Trombe wall space. It is cloudy outside and yet we are not losing any heat through all of those windows. No charging is going on, but the batteries are at 92%… How will we ever survive?