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Old 09-30-2016, 07:38 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi Guys
re wind power
I thought of doing a 'paddle steamer' type rotary back end for the bus, so as you drive down the freeway you get volts...
Any thought re this?
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Old 09-30-2016, 08:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by HJS26 View Post
Hi Guys
re wind power
I thought of doing a 'paddle steamer' type rotary back end for the bus, so as you drive down the freeway you get volts...
Any thought re this?
I believe you'd have a negative return in energy spent in resistance vs energy gained from the rotary.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:43 AM   #13
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Hi all!

My bus is solar so I think I can share a bit with you. I'm still converting but I've had solar connected now for months and working great. I made some mistakes and did a lot of homework to get to this point.

I think I can sum up the most important stuff:

Shadows turn off solar power! Really! If you look at a solar panel it is made up of a bunch of squares (cells) all connected in series (there are some new panels that are series/parallel but most are not). Those cells can be thought of as light activated switches... now stay with me here. When the sun shines on those cells they all turn on like a bunch of switches in series. But if you take two playing cards and cover up one of those cells you turn off that switch and the whole panel essentially TURNS OFF! You will still measure a small bit of current coming from the panel but not much. So first lesson is... placement is important. Anything taller than your panel that can cast a shadow across ANY cells can have a significant impact on your system! I can watch current go up and down with the thinnest of clouds passing overhead. A leaf on your panel will have an impact on output. Im not that worried about a leaf but if I need to recharge in the fall and leaves have fallen on my panels I'm gonna move the bus and clean them off. Installers screw this up all the time on big rv' with air conditioners and vents and dish antennas. It's crazy. Watch out for shadows.

Wire size. Low voltage with high current requires large wire sizes to prevent significant loss of performance. High voltage low current can use smaller wire gage. If you put panels up in series then the system voltage is the sum of each of the panels in series. If they are in parallel the the system voltage will be the same as one of the panels. Learn about minimum wire gage with respect to voltage and current and then go one size larger or more. Don't loose all of your power through the wires!

MPPT charge controller or standard charge controller? If your solar system voltage closely matches your battery voltage then you don't really need MPPT. But keep in mind... Solar won't charge your batteries until your solar array voltage rises above your battery bank voltage. You need 13 volts and more to properly charge a 12volt battery bank. In the early morning when the sun is low in the sky the voltage of your array may be significantly lower than later in the day. If you have an array that outputs 16-18 volts during the day, it may only output 10-12 in the early morning. That's not charging your 12 volt bank. In contrast, I have two 48 volt panels in parallel charging my 12volt bank. In the early morning they may only output 18 volts but that's still enough to start charging the batteries! And because my solar array voltage does NOT closely match my battery bank voltage I require an MPPT charge controller. The MPPT controller is essentially a DC to DC converter that drops the incoming solar voltage to a usable charge voltage for my battery bank. I have two "house size" solar panels on my bus for a total of about 480 watts. I went this way because house panels are generally less expensive per watt than rv (lower voltage) panels. Way less expensive. And the higher voltage panels start charging my batteries earlier in the day and keep charging later into the evening. I recommend higher voltage systems in concert with a decent MPPT charge controller. Be careful to choose a controller that will handle the voltage and current coming from your array.

Batteries. 6 volt golf cart style batteries are old school and still hard to beat. They're rugged and can take some punishment and keep going long after others fail. That said... you would be wise to limit deep discharges on your battery bank. If you regularly discharge your bank to half charge (half of the total bank amp/hr capacity) your batteries may not last but a couple of years. But if you only discharge to 70% or so they might last ten years! Two things kill batteries... Hard or deep discharges and improper charging (most of the time it's because they don't receive a full charge). Batteries should be topped off regularly and it takes higher voltages than most chargers attain. Learn about proper charging of batteries and purchase a charge controller that allows you to adjust charge voltages and time.

Oh... and there is another reason batteries fail... Lack of electrolyte. Batteries need to be watered. If the water drops below the tops of the cells the batteries can be damaged. If you can't get to the batteries easily to top them off monthly the consider getting a watering system that will make it easier. Then set a monthly reminder on your cell phone.

Battery monitor (fuel gage). This is a must have. If you don't know how much power is left in your batteries then your always guessing their state of charge. You're gonna spend a couple hundred dollars on this monitor. Anything less probably won't do. Get past the expense... you need it. I also have a cheap gage that was a $30 accessory for my charge controller. It's crap. To properly read the state of charge on your batteries you must connect the monitor and current shunt (that comes with the monitor) directly to the battery bank, not some distance away. The gage is reading current and voltage. A voltage drop across wiring of 1/10th of a volt can greatly affect the battery monitor readings.

Lastly I suggest getting a Kill-A-Watt meter. You plug in appliances you plan to use into the meter to measure their wattage used over time. Name-plate amps and watts rarely give you an accurate representation of actual watts used by the appliance. Often the watts used is considerably less. Using this meter will help you get a feel for the wattage requirements of your appliances and help you determine what you need from solar and batteries.

Just a little more... Covering your bus with panels to charge a four battery bank is likely a waste of money. Adding a ton of batteries is equally wasteful. If you install your solar panels away from shadows, use heavy appropriate gage wire, good deep-cell batteries, a properly matched charge controller and use a good battery "fuel gage" to monitor usage you will get the most out of your system.

I hope this was helpful! A couple of pictures below:

Ross

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3...3M0R0pLX2pzbkU

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3...0o3WkFuOWIxUjQ

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3...GkxdkdYeGJPa2M
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Old 10-01-2016, 01:35 PM   #14
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Why can a person not take several brushless fan motors with blades and mount them inside PVC tube and mount them on the roof or under the bus? To create a wind tunnel when driving. To supplement solar.

Reason I ask? I've got 17 brushless motors with blades and several tubes of 8"ID PVC
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Old 10-02-2016, 04:52 PM   #15
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So I was looking at batteries for my battery bank.... and what I found kind of surprises me... I can pay 250-300 bucks for a 12v battery that *might* give me 120-140 amp hours.... or I can pay 200 for two 6v batteries rated at 220 ah, connect them in series to give me 12v @ 220ah. Repeat three more times, connect each pair in parallel for an 880 ah battery bank for less than $1/ah. Granted that the 12v are maintenance free and the 6v require maintenance.... the 6v maintenance free batteries are almost as much as the 12v ones so not sure it would be cost effective to go that route, get the less expensive ones and take 10 minutes once a week or once every couple of weeks to check them. Just would need to find a charge controller and enough panels to keep a battery bank that size charged up....

Do I have this worked out about right? (Not necessarily the size of the bank, but the overall setup)
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Old 10-02-2016, 06:39 PM   #16
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Here is a company that has online calculators to help plan and build your system.
Size Your Go Power! Solar or Inverter System | Go Power!

Unfortunately nothing is free, a motor that needs 1 amp to run will only generate a fraction of that in a power generation capacity.
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Old 10-02-2016, 10:03 PM   #17
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Look at the weight of the single 12v battery and compare it to the sum of the two 6v batteries. I suspect you will find a significant difference. The 6v golf cart style batteries are built for punishment with thicker plates and taller profiles which help prevent shorting out as deposits build up below the plates. Go with the 6v.

My two cents.

Ross
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Old 10-02-2016, 10:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warewolff View Post
In rereading this I made an error on the battery bank. Four 6v 430aH batteries strung in parallel would equal 24v 430aH. Can anyone provide a better solution to increase my battery reserves? 12v instead maybe in series/parallel for a compromise? With the 24v panels it is going to be expensive to match the voltage and preserve my aH reserve with 12v conventional batteries ... or should I quadruple up on my original 6v 430aH idea for durability? I'd need ...gulp ... 16 6v batteries for the same reserve. That's over 1600lb over batteries.
Warewolff - I think you should do a little more reading ! Four 6V batteries in parallel are 6V and >1600 Ah. If they are in series (+ hooked to - on the next battery) then they add up to 24 volts and 430Ah. They both will deliver the same amount of power total "P=I x E". I will try to get a drawing to you tonight but since I just started on this site I am not sure I can do that.
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Old 10-03-2016, 12:14 AM   #19
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http://s1064.photobucket.com/user/robert_haley1/media/batterycircuit%20001_zps9gvgnsac.jpg.html

I think you can copy and paste this, let me know if it doesn't work and I'll try something else.

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Old 10-03-2016, 08:54 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by rossfree View Post
Look at the weight of the single 12v battery and compare it to the sum of the two 6v batteries. I suspect you will find a significant difference. The 6v golf cart style batteries are built for punishment with thicker plates and taller profiles which help prevent shorting out as deposits build up below the plates. Go with the 6v.

My two cents.

Ross
I'll probably end up going with the 6v anyway, just for the $/ah factor. More power for less bucks. The savings in weight will just be an added bonus. Maybe I'll expand the bank to 10 to get 1100 amp hours... I'm probably gonna be doing a lot of boondocking which means I won't have power hookups, will be limited to generator and battery bank... generator will be too cost prohibitive to run for hours at a time which leaves batteries. So the more power I can cram in, the better. Will just need to find a solar array and charge controller that can keep up. Won't be too much of an issue at first but as the build progresses and more things are added that need power... well you can see where that is going.
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