Browsing "Electricity"
Mar 3, 2013 -

An Offer I Hated Refusing

Last night, L, Caroline, her husband, and I headed back out to the Indianola Fishing Marina for burgers and a little live music. We had prepared to freeze, but the marina is well sheltered, so we were comfortable and hung out for over two hours.

The marina has a new cook who completely messed up everyone’s orders. L had ordered well before the rest of us and had to remind the kitchen that he’d ordered something. My chicken ranch bacon burger with lettuce and tomato was lacking bacon and tomato and when the manager got wind of this, she offered me a free appetizer. So I got to assuage my curiosity as to what ‘crab poppers’ are (spicy hot and delicious!).

I’m glad we had a chance to hang out since Caroline and her hubby are thinking of leaving today and L is leaving shortly. But we will all see each other again soon as the path through Saskatchewan is straight through their respective cities.

When we got in, Caroline’s hubby asked if I wanted to plug into their generator. We had done that the night before and also a few days ago. The night before, I only needed about 10A to fill the bank, but the computer was discharged, so I was thankful to plug in for a  few amps so that I could start with a nearly full battery in the morning and a full charged computer.

But last night, I had to refuse the offer! I came in to 12.8V, which is FULL, and my computer also had a full charge. There was really no point even though I ended up running the furnace and electric blanket for a bit.

I woke up to 12.59V (99.5% according to the battery monitor) and COLD again, so I’m running the furnace this morning since I have tons of propane. Yesterday, I ran the furnace mid-afternoon for about a half hour, which I’m pretty sure is the only time I ran the furnace during the day this winter. That said, I did run an electric heater almost full-time in Hampton Roads.

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Batteries, Countries, Electricity, Nice Folks, Restaurants, Social, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA, Weather    2 Comments
Feb 28, 2013 -

Low Batteries Are No Longer Scary

I never did get to recalibrate the battery monitor since the big winds the other day because I’ve needed to use an inordinate amount of juice to keep the office running this week. I’ve been keeping an eye on the amp hour count up and down and the voltage at the end of the evening to make sure that my battery levels are at acceptable level until I can get a full charge.

All would have been well if we had gotten the sun we were supposed to get today, instead of a low cloud cover, which meant I drained almost 30A today. When the solar charger clicked off tonight, I unplugged my fully charged computer, and looked at my voltmeter. The reading was 11.9V, which is about 40% capacity, but I didn’t freak out because I know now that within an hour of unplugging the computer, my voltage creeps back up a few points as the batteries get to rest.

Regardless, I was low and I was pretty sure I’d have to run the electric blanket tonight as I should have done so last night and I ran the furnace for a full hour this morning! So I turned on the engine while I made dinner.

To my delight, a steady 17A began to flow into my batteries! It’s true! If you’re below 80% capacity, your alternator charges more quickly to bring you up to that 80% mark! It didn’t take long for the amount to slowly taper down and I cut the engine at 10A coming in. I’m now sitting at about 12.46V, which is about 80% capacity. Not great, but we should be getting sun tomorrow, plus I have errands to run so I can take some load off the house batteries by charging the computer in the truck.

So I now know that, really, there’s little point to running the engine to get a charge if I’m above 80% capacity, but it is totally worth doing so when I go below that.

I’ve been boondocking for over a month now in okay weather and it keeps getting better and easier as I slowly figure out how to use all the information available to me to manage my power use. The new solenoid has been a big help, as has been able to borrow a generator twice, that’s for sure, but they’re just a tiny part of a much larger puzzle I’m putting together.

And with that, I’m off to plug in my electric blanket. It’s going to be another coooooold night.

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Boondocking/Dry camping, Countries, Electricity, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA    3 Comments
Feb 26, 2013 -

A Little Restraint Needed

I woke up to a decalibrated battery monitor that claimed I was at 100% capacity and pulling in 13.0A. Both it and the solar array monitor claimed that I was at 10.5V.

My first thought? Damn, I need to do some carpentry.

I went outside and, sure enough, the batteries had shifted a little from all the wind yesterday (bad enough that I felt so queasy I went to bed at about 9PM after taking a Gravol to help me sleep!!!). The shift was enough to loosen one of the top butterfly-type nuts on the batteries. These are the ones that keep giving me grief, so I need to find a better option for them.

Anyway, the batteries were sitting at about 12.4V and a quick flick of the wrench got everything nice and tight again. I didn’t use much power yesterday and we will have sun today, so I’ll be able to recalibrate the battery monitor shortly.

After installing my new batteries in Suffolk, I restrained them the way I did my old pair, but I removed the wood when I got here to make it easier to keep tweaking the setup. I’ve now learned that it really doesn’t take much to move those heavy suckers and that they should be restrained at all times.

We’re supposed to have sun all week, so I am seriously considering taking the batteries out completely and moving the fuse and shunt to a more accessible location for checking connections. The hiccup is that I am severely limited by the length of my cables and I put the fuse and shunt where they are because there was no more obvious place to put them. So it might just be exercise for exercise’s sake, but I’ve conceded that my battery bank setup is never going work for me and will continue to cause me grief.

Anyway, not a huge deal this morning, especially since I’m very well rested. 🙂

 

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Electricity, Solar Panels, Technical    5 Comments
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