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How to Make Your Own Emergency Home Battery Bank.  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Check out Steven Harris's complete step by step video on how to make your own emergency home battery bank!



I remember Paul and crew talking a LOT about this sort of thing in the Solar Powered Homestead Podcast and I remember it being really hard for me, someone who has no experience AT ALL in this area, to know what they were talking about without being able to actually see it. So this is really awesome in my opinion.


Anyway, he covers battery selection and selection of everything else you need for that matter.





He shows you how to set up your battery.






He show how to hook up the inverter.





Last but certainly not least, he goes into step by step on how to make a mobile version of this battery bank for a pickup truck and I also go into explicit details on hooking up a solar panel to the battery bank (home or mobile).





Steve has been building and using these for over 20 years. There are 3 videos in this purchase and they are ALL in 720P HD Video format and are a total of 4.5 hours in length. So, obviously it is very detailed. There will be NO DOUBT in your mind on how to make a battery bank when you are done watching these videos.


 
paul wheaton
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I bought the videos about a year and a half ago. Not only do I think they are great, but I've watched them twice. Further, the stuff in these videos was made into part of our recent solar workshop.

The key is: these are TRUE how to videos. Every little step is covered in extreme detail. Including the "why" for doing it this particular way. The great thing is that if you want it to go faster, fast forward.


 
R Scott
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This is also the basic setup I helped spec for missionaries in Haiti and other places with intermittent power.
 
Ty Morrison
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I spent way too much time here today.

All of this stuff is true, and I wish I had read/seen/heard it before I started down this path.

Steven saves you a lot of time and money.

Remember, this only works if the Zombies don't set off an EMP before they go down!
 
Robert Reid
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Steven explained on TSP that the radius of an EMP from a nuclear blast is rarely larger than the heat wave, so you shouldn't worry EMP breaking battery powered equipment.
 
Laura Jean Wilde
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I purchased the video set via scrubbly but cannot seem to get them to download properly. I have been trying for 28 days; different browsers, different extensions, different OS, nothing seems to work. any one else had this problem?
 
paul wheaton
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Laura Jean Wilde wrote:I purchased the video set via scrubbly but cannot seem to get them to download properly. I have been trying for 28 days; different browsers, different extensions, different OS, nothing seems to work. any one else had this problem?


I contacted Ian over at scubbly and he says he has already talked to you - everything peachy?
 
Laura Jean Wilde
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paul wheaton wrote:
I contacted Ian over at scubbly and he says he has already talked to you - everything peachy?

Thank you for your help
We are working on a solution. He is very helpful
not peachy yet, but working on it
 
Nick Kitchener
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Just a note about emergency electricity, and how important it is...

We have all hopefully read the rather dire stats on the probability of a CME taking out the global grid in the next 10 years (12%):

Talking with someone I know who has more than a passing interest in this sort of thing raised a point that has gone generally unreported, and that is the stats of a smaller event effecting the globe regionally (like what happened in happened in Quebec in 1989) are in the region of 35% over the next decade.

Having a backup electricity supply could literally mean the difference between life and death depending on where you live.

Not only that, but this friend of mine clarified a point of confusion in this field and that is that a solar flare definitely has the ability to trigger Compton Effects, which describes the mechanism by which nuclear EMP weapons wreak so much havoc on electrical grids and all electronics.

Since we both live in the far North, we discussed the implications of this on the gas supply (as it provides the only source of heating to millions of homes), and apparently, the grid compressors utilise older generators without engine computers, and there is a large stockpile of fuel stored up for when this happens.

Unfortunately, most domestic furnaces have electronic ignition systems. It is expected that the metering systems for energy supply will be fried and will take months to replace (in a regional scenario), so free gas for all. But the downside is that your furnace will most likely be fried too.

Anyway, my point is that an emergency battery bank is a great idea, and we need to shield the electronics when in storage, so that it works when required.
 
Marianne Cicala
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How unfortunate that in this day and age we need to be aware and proactive of self preservation/preparedness and how fortunate that you have made this available. THANK YOU Steve and you too Paul. I've shared this everywhere I could think of.
M
 
Mat Smith
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Marianne Cicala wrote:How unfortunate that in this day and age we need to be aware and proactive of self preservation/preparedness

I actually think that it is a good thing.
Most people hand over the responsibility for so much in their lives, then blame someone else when it goes bad.
I think the GFC and hurricane Katrina woke a lot of people up in the US and further abroad, and we are now getting back closer to where we should be.

In Brisbane Australia, I talked to people at work a few years ago about how much food they had at home - most had nothing and when asked what they'd do if there was a natural disaster they just shrugged and said "I'll go to the shops and get more food". Then when asked "What if the shops run out?" they would just laugh with responses like "That will never happen" or "the government will fix it".

Then we had some bad floods a couple of years ago and lots of shops ran out of food, and electricity was off for a day or 2 in some areas.
Now when I ask people they tend to respond that they have canned food as backup or a big tub of rice etc, and quite a few more people now have generators!
It has actually been really great to see how much more open people are here to being prepared now, even after a relatively small disaster.

Mat
 
Dj Wells
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What does Steven think about the super expensive long lasting batteries that are available? Are they worth it in the long run?
 
Dj Wells
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I've heard about building your own solar panels. Do you think that is practical?
 
Steven Harris
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In regards to the Nickel Iron Batteries the "super long life expensive batteries" you mentioned, not only did Paul do a post to this form that I wrote about the batteries many months ago, but I'm doing a panel answer this week on the survival podcast on Friday about it in detail. The short of it is, 5x the life, 9x the price. does it make sense ?? No.

...and its NOT worth it to make your solar panels.

Steve
 
Troy Rhodes
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Ten years ago, if you were very handy, it was theoretically possible to build a functional solar panel at less than the cost of commercial panels.

These days, it's just not true. And home built panels have had relatively short lifespans in many cases.

If you shop around, you can get name brand panels for a dollar a watt, or pretty close:

http://energyinformative.org/cheapest-best-value-solar-panels/



Solar panels have become so inexpensive (relatively speaking) that even wind (which used to be the less expensive option for home energy) really can't compete in most situations. Never mind the horrendous cost of a real wind turbine tower...


troy
 
Nick Kitchener
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Nick Kitchener wrote:Just a note about emergency electricity, and how important it is...

We have all hopefully read the rather dire stats on the probability of a CME taking out the global grid in the next 10 years (12%).

Talking with someone I know who has more than a passing interest in this sort of thing raised a point that has gone generally unreported, and that is the stats of a smaller event effecting the globe regionally (like what happened in happened in Quebec in 1989) are in the region of 35% over the next decade.


Case in point:
 
Nick Kitchener
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Troy Rhodes wrote:Ten years ago, if you were very handy, it was theoretically possible to build a functional solar panel at less than the cost of commercial panels.

These days, it's just not true. And home built panels have had relatively short lifespans in many cases..


I have heard out of the financial / investment community that there is a major problem with solar panels. The price drop in recent years has resulted in an associated drop in manufacturing quality, which has shortened the lifespan considerably, with many panels failing after only 5 years.

Does anyone have any experience with this? If it's true, then panels manufactured from 2008 should be showing signs of decline by now.
 
Troy Rhodes
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The name brand panels generally come with a 20 or even 25 year guarantee.

I would be cautious about cheapo generic chinese panels, eg Harbor Freight.


Any time an industry doubles every few years, we expect some bumps in the road in terms of achieving a good balance between quality control and price point.


While it sucks to get a defective panel that doesn't last, you get to claim the moral high ground for helping an industry progress and mature to the point that

it's going to making meaningful gains in saving the planet.


troy
 
Steven Harris
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Troy, the planet does NOT need to be saved. you could not save the planet if you wanted to, you could not hurt the planet if you wanted to. There have been 2474 Nuclear tests, above and below ground, since 1944. Yeah.. over 2000, including a 50+ megaton above ground test by the Russians. We're still here, we are going to still be here and the earth just laughs at anything man does. The earth laughs at the pyramids, for they too will be gone some day and the earth will still be here.

Steve
 
Sean Henry
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Nick Kitchener wrote:It is expected that the metering systems for energy supply will be fried and will take months to replace (in a regional scenario), so free gas for all. But the downside is that your furnace will most likely be fried too.


The gas meters should work without a problem since they are mechanical unless your area has a smart meter and is using an ultrasonic meter see. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_meter
 
Steven Harris
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A CME is NOT going to fry electronics or take out your furnace. Its not going to melt the power lines or anything else. That is just over blown internet hype and crap. What it will do is induce a voltage into the power lines and that will 'trip' the generators off line. the safety systems will trip, and that will bring down the grid until the power stations can be restart. note... its not a simple thing for a power station to restart, majority, if not all of our nuclear plants CANNOT 'cold start'. They actually have to have the grid up and going for them to do a start up. They can't start up and bring the grid up themselves.

Steve
 
Nick Kitchener
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I'm going with the guy who owned a company developing EMP weapons for the DOD on this point. I asked him specifically because of the confusion on the net. I figured that if anyone knows it would be him.

Either way, it can't hurt to store the emergency power backup in a metal box...
 
Steven Harris
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YES IT CAN HURT, because you are doing something that you do NOT need to do, and even if there was one, your little metal box would do no good. Its like saying it does not hurt that I seal my boxes with blue duct tape. Its much to long of an answer for this forum so I'm reposting a panel question I did for TSP for Jack on EMP. Its NEVER going to happen. MP3 file is below. Preparedness is all about mindset and knowledge and lastly tools and physical items, and having the wrong mindset will get you dead in many survival scenarios.

http://www.Steven1234.com/harris_emp.mp3

Steve
 
Nick Kitchener
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OK well this is off track somewhat so this will be my last post on the subject.

I assume you are familiar with the 2003 / 2004 congressional report on EMP weapons and it's position on HEMP in particular.

According to this keynote speaker in Feb 2014 a modern HEMP weapon has the ability to lay down a 100KV per square meter field using a 1-2 kiloton payload.

I agree with you that your experiment in the mp3 wont work. That's because you have to earth a Faraday cage. If it's floating electrically then it is totally ineffective.

I also agree that the likelihood of an emp attack is so small that I personally don't consider it a practical risk (I'm more likely to be hit by a bus), but the effects of a solar coronal mass ejection is real and significant.

I'm pretty sure that if I don't take action to protect my emergency power backup then it will experience damage. I'm also pretty sure that if I do take precautions then there is an unknown, yet real possibility that my equipment will not be damaged.

If a person is more interested in system resiliency over economic efficiency, then to me it makes sense to break out the tinfoil and coffee cans (remembering to earth the containers).

Anyway, enough of that. Back to emergency backups. Great point on the Nickel Iron batteries by the way. Unless of course you have them deployed in a very difficult to get to location, or an environment that has big temperature fluctuations where the battery freezes often.

Like so many things in Permaculture, the answer is it all depends

 
Steven Harris
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a CME is NOT going to fry your electronics, there is enough energy there. It affects long wire systems, that's why it'll put a voltage, but low current, into the transmission lines and TRIP the generators..... the damn thing in Quebec in 89 that everyone always bitches about lasted only 12 hours, and it did not fry any electronics. Your electronics are FINE... leave them alone and like you say, go prep for what is really going to happen.

Steve
 
Mat Smith
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I have to say that I like the simplicity and the 'plug and play' configuration of this Emergency Home Battery Bank. Makes it very easy for someone with very little knowledge or skills to get something effective up and running with the minimum of time, effort and $$$
 
James Burnette
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Everyone should have a battery backup. I built one on my website a while back. DIY Battery Backup
It only tool a few minutes. Eventually I need to get a bigger inverter. Nice to stay on the internet when the power is down.
 
Steve Jackson
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My question is, even if the electronics are safely tucked away in a faraday cage what effect would a CME or EMP have on the PV panels?
 
Will Holland
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hopefully somebody can help me here- I bought the Scubbly download of the DVD, and got part 1 and part 2 to download OK, but I can't get part 3 to download properly. I've tried 4 or 5 times. the video cuts out about halfway though. also, on the last attempt, every time i open my downloads folder, or try to click on the file for #3 directly, my computer crashes. I'm so frustrated because it takes like 8 hours to download just one part!!! I would have rather just bought an actual DVD.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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A CME is NOT going to fry electronics or take out your furnace. Its not going to melt the power lines or anything else. That is just over blown internet hype and crap. What it will do is induce a voltage into the power lines and that will 'trip' the generators off line. the safety systems will trip, and that will bring down the grid until the power stations can be restart.


From NASA science:

To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm, and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with "water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on."


So some electronics would be fried, especially large transformers. I read that the copper windings in them would melt.
 
Ian Ring
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Hi Will,
I think you may have already contacted me by email, but it's useful to post a reply here for others to benefit.

When downloading really large files from the www, even a momentary interruption of wifi or connectivity to your ISP can screw up the download. And an incomplete download means the video is either cut off half way, it has no sound or some other impairment, or it just won't play at all. It's immensely frustrating. Especially if it took 8 hours to download the damn thing.

One solution that has worked for many people is to use a "resumable" download tool. I use one for Firefox called "DownThemAll", and there are similar plugins & extensions for other browsers. Scubbly supports resumable downloading. Instead of grabbing the file as one continuous stream of stuff, the file is requested in tiny chunks which are grabbed separately and then stitched back together into the whole. That means if the download is interrupted or your connection is dropped, you can start it up again and it'll keep knitting where it left off. Resumable downloading also grabs bits from the beginning, middle, end simultaneously, so the entire download can go quite a lot faster. I often see improvements of 2x to 4x faster using one of those tools compared with a download done as a simple HTTP request.

I wrote a blog post about it, explaining in more detail:
http://www.scubbly.com/blog/2012/12/16/download-problems-and-how-to-solve-them/

The other problem that affects large downloads is throttling. Residential ISPs are not "net neutral" - they will watch what you're doing and whittle your bandwidth if they see spikes in consumption. At the office where I have a fast broadband connection, I never see throttling happen - I can download those home battery bank vids in about 20 minutes. At home I have a residential connection from a cable company, where a download will start at a fast speed, but after about 45 seconds (approx) the speed suddenly plummets down to a few Kbs and the "time remaining" says 20 hours or something ridiculous. And yet I can stream from NetFlix all night with no problems. It's not a conspiracy, it's just what they do.

I'm sorry to say I have no advice about throttling problems. Sometimes those really huge files take a long time, even on a supposedly fast ASDL fibre or Cable broadband connection. I did have a customer once tell me they bought a bunch of pay-as-you-go minutes on a 3G data plan and downloaded files by tethering to their phone. I was like, say what? Isn't that really expensive? But it worked, so there you go.

I'm around to help you with downloading problems at Scubbly - just send me an email. admin[at]scubbly[dot]com.

Cheers
Ian Ring
Administrator
Scubbly.com
 
Will Holland
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Thanks for the reply. I think I finally got all 3 parts to work but it was really really frustrating.of course, I still haven't found time to watch the videos so I can't be sure they're all there.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The way I have things set up at the cabin,  lack of electricity does not constitute an emergency.

Cooking, heating the building and heating hot water, are not reliant on electrical power. There is no one in the house, who requires electrical medical equipment and I am not the prime minister,  so the world can live without my electronic communications.

This battery pack that I bought at Canadian Tire, allows me to charge my phone,  have light,  television,  radio and an antenna booster to facilitate the posting of this message. Without it, I would have to find something else to do. I have $275 Canadian or about $225 American in the power and antenna systems combined.

My need for electricity is not great, since conservative use has reduced my daily need to less than half a kilowatt hour. Lack of electricity, would be an inconvenience at at most. I would have to walk out to the truck and sit in the cold, to do these things.
20150111_102016.jpg
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Laura Sweany
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Hey, Dale - both my husband and I DO use medical equipment daily - we both use CPAP machines for sleep apnea. Mine is not actually life-threatening, but my husband's is - he can no longer sleep if not plugged into his air pressure. We have a marine battery that we use when the power goes off occasionally, or when we go camping overnight. We can both use if for about 2 nights before it's drained. Would the device pictured above help us recharge the battery enough to get several more nights of dual use?

General question for forum readers: I'm a dummy when it comes to electricity, so how do I begin to estimate how large my system needs to be for 2 CPAPs and 1 husband who likes to game on computer for 6 hours at a stretch? Would the DVD set mentioned above help me understand how to assemble a system? Any help offered will be much appreciated.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Your cpap machines use electricity at a certain rate, that's watts. So does the computer. You need those numbers.

There might be a manufacturer's name plate that states that number right out--easy.

Or...they might list amps instead. OK, that's an easy conversion, amps x volts = watts.

example: your machine very likely runs on "normal" wall socket voltage, 120 volts.

If the nameplate says 4.5 amps, just multiply it out like so:

4.5 amps x 120 volts = 540 watts


Ok, worst case scenario, your machine says nothing about amps or volts or watts. You can buy a device called a

Kill-a-watt, and it will measure watts for you. Amazon now sells them for $16:

http://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electricity-Usage-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU


You plug the Kill-a-watt meter into the wall, you plug the device of interest into the meter and it spit out the number, watts or amps or watt hours.


Now you're almost there. The 540 watts is your theoretical cpap energy use RATE.

If you multiply the RATE time the time, now you have the total AMOUNT of electrical energy you need to run your device for whatever length of time you need.

example:

540 x 24 hours = 12,960 watt hours

This is kind of a big and almost cumbersome number now, so we might change it to 12.9 KILOwatt hours.

Once you know the kilowatt hours, you can compute how big or how many batteries you need.

A more or less standard trojan T-105 golf cart battery can store/provide 1.35 kilowatt hours if you discharge it completely.

But that's hard on it. It's much nicer on the battery and it will last much longer if you only discharge it 50 or 60%, so realistically

each T-105 can hold 0.8 kilowatt hours. In round figures, those are $165 each.


So, make a little list of every electrical device you want to run, and how much each one eats, and how long you want to be independent of the grid, and

total up the watts, and then the watt hours and bingo, you know how many batteries you need.

Then we can talk about inverters and so on.

I'll help you, and double check your math.
 
Laura Sweany
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Oh, Troy, THANK YOU! You are a godsend.

I ordered my Kill-A-Watt from Amazon today. I've heard of these things, and know I need one.

Okay, looking at the bottom of hubby's CPAP, and it says: 12V 4.16A Mine says: 100-240V~50/60Hz 1.7A
So I multiply his 4.16 amps x 120 volts = 499.2 or 500 watts? Then mine: 1.7 amps x 120 volts = 204 watts? Together they are 704 watts, times 10 hours (we both sleep a lot) = 7040 watt hours, or ~ 7KW? This can't be right, since we can both sleep using the marine battery for at least 1 night, and you are saying that a golf cart battery can only supply 1.35 KW.

I'm also surprised that mine uses less than 1/2 the power his does, if I'm reading that correctly. How can that be?

When I asked hubs about how much juice his computer uses, he says that a friend of his says "2-4KW". Per hour? Per day? He doesn't know. I'm guessing it must be per day.

I know "load", or amount of things working at the same time, can be important...I am sleeping while he is playing.

Now I'm stuck again.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Hi Laura,

Let's just do a little double check. If hubby's machine is 12 volts, and 4.16 amps, that's:

12 x 4.16 = 49.92 watts only. That is assuming it uses 4 amps AT 12 volts. If it's 4 amps at 120 volts, that 480 watts, very different...


Yours is 120 volts x 1.7 amps = 204 watts.


So, just on yours, 204 watts x 10 hours is 2040 watt hours, or ~ 2 kilowatthours.


The Kill-a-watt is often more accurate than the nameplate ratings. Sometimes nameplate ratings are for initial or start up current, which is often much higher than "running" current.


Different golf cart batteries can have different ratings/capacities. If you run it totally flat till the device quits, you can get twice as much juice out, but the battery will die an early death.


Let's say 204 watts + 50 watts = 254 watts

254 watts x 10 hours = 2.5 kwh or kilowatt hours. Some golf cart batteries will give you that if you run it dead...

Do you know what exact battery your using??

I look forward to your kill-a-watt readings for the computer and cpap machines.
 
scott romack
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Please check out the battery that never fails.
I said never...

http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com/
 
Brad Vietje
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Very Basic Info On Off-Grid Battery Banks:

Marine "deep cycle" batteries are adequate (and far more affordable) for many very small systems, but they are not true deep-cycle batteries, but rather a compromise between auto/truck starting batteries (give a brief, but huge pulse of power to start a cold engine), and true deep-cycle batteries (designed for a smaller load over a longer time period).

For systems powering household items like a refrigerator, furnace fan, or other larger loads, real deep-cycle batteries like Trojan T-105, or L-16H (and many other options) will work better.  These are often used in 6V units instead of 12V, though really big systems are often designed with 4V or 2V batteries, strung together to achieve 24- or 48-volts to the inverter.  BTW:  for systems larger than tiny ones, and those using AC power (inverter systems, instead of 12V DC), if you have the option to use a 24-volt inverter (or 48 volt) there are advantages in efficiency and wire costs if power needs to travel over long wires.  You have to configure your batteries to match the inverter voltage (so you might need to trade in 4 or 8 batteries at a time), but for full-time off-grid living with medium loads, there is often an advantage to this.

BUT -- to achieve the staying power of true deep-cycle batteries, you usually need to perform routine maintenance, including replacing lost water, checking specific gravity, and equalization (and venting the fumes and sopping up messy acid spills).  For a decent almost maintenance-free alternative (at much higher cost per Ah), you can consider AGM batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat).  They don't need water added, don't spill, and don't need to be vented, but you'll spend 2x as much for 1/2 the capacity to get there.  For AGM batteries, you'll need a charge controller with at least enough sophistication to have settings for the different charge rate of Gel, AGM, or flooded batteries.  Cheap-o controllers can shorten the life of some batteries, and for flooded batteries, usually don't offer an EQ charge (not needed for Gel or AGM).

I've advised most of my off-grid customers that if you live there full time, year-round, you need to get a good MPPT charge controller, and you should consider getting the messy flooded deep-cycle batteries, if you can deal with the maintenance.  If only for summer use, or a low latitude (lots of sun and not much cold) you may not get much benefit from the MPPT controller, which really earn their keep in colder conditions.    MPPT stuff:  Cold ambient temps => higher voltage from the solar array, which is converted to higher amperage at a voltage just above the battery bank for fastest charging.  Extremely useful for cold, cloudy places, where you want to get the very most out of every minute of sunlight.

Clear skies,

Brad Vietje
Newbury, VT
 
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