Browsing "Electricity"
Feb 22, 2013 -

Thank Goodness For the Battery Monitor

I’ve been holding steady here these last few grey days, never going below 87% battery capacity. I’ve only used the alternator to get a voltage boost during the day for office-related matters, with the 10A or so I’d get out of it being a nice bonus. The solar has performed beyond all expectations, sucking an average of 4 to 5A out of the swirling dark grey mass above us.

Last night, the battery monitor claimed that I was at about 93% and down 16.8A. Guess what all my volt metres were telling me? That even with the fridge and a light going, I was between. 12.58 and 12.61V. Which meant that with everything off, I’d be above 12.6V, which is considered a full charge.

But I knew better because my amp meter is calibrated properly. Without the battery monitor, I would have gone to bed smug and pleased that I got to a full charge last night and would have just run them down today as though I was starting over.

Imagine if I kept doing that over the lifetime of my batteries, just getting them near, but never at, full charge. That would eventually kill them. With the battery monitor, I know that they need just a little more charging them.

Voltage readings do matter and have a use; I’ll be doing up a post about that. But I don’t know how anyone can do any serious amount of time off the grid without a battery monitor because they really are the only way to know exactly where you stand.

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Electricity, Solar Panels, Technical    No Comments
Feb 19, 2013 -

Two Good Electrical Days In a Row

Today is another day with more sun than expected. It’s chilly, but I’m not complaining!

I’m going to have the computer on charge all day since I’m in major backup mode. My MacBook Pro keeps crashing, so complete hard drive failure is imminent. I just need to decide on a new drive and order it; the choices are a little overwhelming. I want to make sure I have several recent Time Machine backups and two different bootable backups. It’s likely way more than I need, but with the current drive being only good for the dump, I want all the chances I can get to be up and running perfectly about four hours from the new drive making it here.

Power right now is at 88% and holding. I’m actually getting 7 to 8A in, so I’m breaking even. The more the batteries are depleted, the more efficiently the alternator charges them, so I’ll wait till about 4PM and then run the engine for a bit to make sure I’m at at least 90% capacity tonight and then I’ll aim for 100% tomorrow.

In other news, R and S from Colorado are back, so a beach party is imminent!

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Inverter, Nice Folks, Social, Solar Panels, Technical    3 Comments
Feb 18, 2013 -

Thoughts On Idling My Triton V-10 To Charge My RV Batteries

I don’t like to idle my vehicles, not even in cold weather. Idling my motorhome’s Triton V-10 engine for about an hour to charge my house batteries has just about been giving me hives, enthused as I am by this new-found charging ability.

Knowing that a little education goes a long way to calming my nerves, I did some research about the Triton V-10 engine and I now feel much, much better.

You can find Triton V-10s in buses, ambulances, and other service vehicles that frequently idle for long periods of time. I’m not saying that idling is good for the V-10, but it’s an engine that was built to withstand it.

Another thing that I should point out about my engine is that it has only 98,000KM on it (60,900 miles) and I have only put about 26,000KM (16,000 miles) on it in five years. There is no hope in hell that I will ever run see the end of the lifespan of that engine unless something really dramatic happens.

So the noise and the exhaust are going to still bug me, but I’m not going to let the alarmists freak me out anymore about idling my rig a few hours a week at about one gallon per hour.

As L said over lunch yesterday, that few hours a week won’t kill my engine and at about $3.50/gallon, I’d have to idle over 100 hours to get to the price of an additional solar panel. My stop gap measure to get the 5 to 15AH I’m missing on cloudy clouds¬† is just fine until I get a better and more efficient charging solution.

One thing I realised tonight, though, is that I can only use my engine to charge during the day because no one in the boondocks wants to be blinded by my running lights! I don’t even know if the running lights can be disabled and I wouldn’t want to anyway, for fear that I would forget to hook them up again.
Today wound up being a bigger power use day than I would have expected because of the computer kerfuffle. We wound up having a lot more sun than expected, too. So between the solar panels and about an hour of alternator charging total today, I’m at 93% battery capacity, which is just about where I was this morning.

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Batteries, Electricity, Technical    16 Comments
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