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Re: [hreg] Workshops and threads

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  • Chuck Wright
    ... Nice to have this interaction going on! Tell us more about your solar lawn equipment project... Chuck Wright
    Message 1 of 9 , May 11, 2000
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      James Ferrill wrote:

      > That's how my solar lawn
      > equipment project got started. I needed to make better choices, and invent them if
      > necessary.
      >

      Nice to have this interaction going on! Tell us more about your
      solar lawn equipment project...

      Chuck Wright
    • James Ferrill
      ... Hey Chuck, What I have observed is that although solar technology has advanced, no one other than a few interested people have actually made use of solar
      Message 2 of 9 , May 12, 2000
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        Chuck Wright wrote:

        > James Ferrill wrote:
        >
        > > That's how my solar lawn equipment project got started. I needed to make better
        > choices, and invent them if necessary.
        >
        > Nice to have this interaction going on! Tell us more about your
        > solar lawn equipment project...
        >
        > Chuck Wright

        Hey Chuck,

        What I have observed is that although solar technology has advanced, no one other than a
        few interested people have actually made use of solar energy in a practical way. If I
        went to my neighbors and poured my guts out all day about why they should be doing more
        with solar, the conversations would always end up focused around 2 questions, "How much
        will it cost?" and "Where do I get the stuff?". This is where the equation always breaks
        down. How to answer the question, "How do you implement use of solar power for XXXXXXX
        in a suburban environment?".

        I've reasoned that I need to start by doing a small project that everyone can relate to
        and that would make a difference that mattered to my neighbors. The project I came up
        with is a solar recharged lawn mower. If you know how much pollution lawn equipment
        emits, it's a sickening feeling when you walk outside on a weekend and see all your
        neighbors mowing, edging, and leaf blowing with poorly maintained, dirty, polluting
        equipment in Houston (which is now the pollution capital of the US, it seems). What made
        it so important to me is that I know a number of people and friends that have asthma,
        including my wife. That kinda makes it personal because I'm using the same bad
        equipment.

        I knew that the only things I would have to buy are a standard cordless lawnmower, a
        charge controller, and solar panels. That's it. The mower can be something like the
        cordless Black and Decker CM1000, 5 hp, mulching mower which is in stock at any Home
        Depot. The other two items are also stock items that I can order online from any number
        of vendors. I'm going to put an hour meter on the mower so I can log how much time it
        has spent mowing. Maybe I'll paint it gaudy colors and stick on solar stickers to
        attract attention too :-)

        After I started working on this, I decided to expand the project so that my shed and
        everything in it or plugged into it would be solar powered. This way I would be able to
        power my weed eater and leaf blower as well as the lawnmower, run the shed interior and
        exterior lights, and have a demonstration system that people could come and see how
        solar is utilized. My old physics teacher lives in my neighborhood, and I envisioned
        being able to let him bring students over to see how solar can be used for real and not
        just read about it in a book.

        After the equipment is built and tested for a time, the project needs to go on the web.
        I want to start with a domain name like suburban-solar.org or .com and make it a base of
        information of my journey to put solar energy to use at my suburban home. Along with the
        main page, I want to have a page for each project. I can put all the information on this
        page that anyone could want, like specs, runtime, charge time, principles of operation,
        etc. And the best thing I want to put on there and update on a regular basis is the
        amount of time this mower has been running and a list of how much pollution has been
        eliminated in detail. I can get people to visit the web site to see what can be done. I
        think it would really make an impact on my neighbors to see and realize just how much
        NO2, CO, CO2, SO2, and VOC's that they and everyone else are spewing into the air and
        into their kids lungs. I can provide a link for people to email me so that I could
        answer any questions they might have. I had sent a similar letter to Greg about getting
        TXSES to host the web site and domain, and it didn't sound like a problem. I figured I
        would tackle this project in phases:

        1) Acquire the lawnmower and research it's internal circuitry to see how the charger can
        be alternately powered.
        2) Acquire and install an hour meter and connector for access to the internal battery.
        3) Build battery cabinet for the shed. I already had 4 golf cart batteries. Expand as
        needed.
        4) Acquire the solar panels and install on the shed roof.
        5) Acquire a charge controller, 1500W inverter, and related hardware. Create a power
        distribution board to mount these components.
        6) Create circuit to recharge mower or simply run power cube off of inverter as needed.
        7) Create web site using documentation and notes kept as project has progressed.
        8) Spread the word.

        Phases 1 and 2 have been completed. I cut two holes in the lawnmower shell and mounted a
        small digital hour meter and connector to the internal battery. I have 2.4 hours of
        runtime on the mower so far. I talked with David Shaver in Canada, the man that actually
        designed the electronics in that mower for B&D and he gave me details on how it worked.
        Based on the strict current limited requirements of that small internal battery, I
        decided first to charge it normally using the original power cube running off the
        inverter and work on a direct DC-DC charger later.

        Phase 3 is 80% completed. I'm over-building the battery cabinet so that it's capacity
        can easily be expanded or the voltage changed from 12 to 24 volts. I've used 1.25" x 1"
        buss bar and 2/0 battery cables to minimize loss in the system. Two small fans in the
        bottom push any fumes or hydrogen produced during charging out a 2" PVC vent at the top
        to the outside. The box is 5' tall, 3.5' wide, and 2.5' deep, with two levels that can
        hold 8 golf cart batteries each for a total of 16 batteries max. Starting out with 4
        golf cart batteries will provide 220 Ah @ 24V or 440 Ah @ 12V. I'm designed enough
        headroom in there so that a larger, better battery can be used later, such as the Trojan
        L16's or equivalent. They're the same size, just taller than my current batteries.
        There's some serious framing in this cabinet since 16 batteries would weigh 1280 pounds.
        I can see my shed sinking into the ground already :-)

        I bought 2 Solec 90W panels and a Morningstar Sunlight series charge controller 3 weeks
        ago. After I finish the battery cabinet, they will be mounted on the shed roof (phase
        4). I've been taking pictures of each step as I build/add something new, and these will
        be scanned in later for the web site. If I get them scanned sooner, I'll email out some
        samples. That's where the project stands right now.

        James Ferrill
      • Chuck Wright
        This link has several papers about oil. I looked at the first one, and it is most interesting. http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/web/html/matt.asp?thispage=simple
        Message 3 of 9 , May 14, 2000
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          This link has several papers about oil. I looked at the first one,
          and it is most interesting.

          http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/web/html/matt.asp?thispage=simple

          Cuhck Wright

          --
          Chuck Wright
          http://www.chuck-wright.com
        • Ewert, Mike
          This is fantastic James! You definitely deserve an atta boy from HREG. We ll reward you by electing you secretary/treasurer at the next meeting (A little
          Message 4 of 9 , May 15, 2000
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            This is fantastic James! You definitely deserve an 'atta boy' from HREG.
            We'll reward you by electing you secretary/treasurer at the next meeting (A
            little selfish on our part, I know).

            Q: When you say "Based on the strict current limited requirements of that
            small internal battery", do you mean that a normal charge controller set on
            either sealed or flooded would allow the voltage to go too high or low?

            -----Original Message-----
            From: James Ferrill [mailto:jferrill@...]
            Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 3:14 PM
            To: hreg@egroups.com
            Subject: Re: [hreg] Workshops and threads


            Chuck Wright wrote:

            > James Ferrill wrote:
            >
            > > That's how my solar lawn equipment project got started. I needed to make
            better
            > choices, and invent them if necessary.
            >
            > Nice to have this interaction going on! Tell us more about your
            > solar lawn equipment project...
            >
            > Chuck Wright

            Hey Chuck,

            What I have observed is that although solar technology has advanced, no one
            other than a
            few interested people have actually made use of solar energy in a practical
            way. If I
            went to my neighbors and poured my guts out all day about why they should be
            doing more
            with solar, the conversations would always end up focused around 2
            questions, "How much
            will it cost?" and "Where do I get the stuff?". This is where the equation
            always breaks
            down. How to answer the question, "How do you implement use of solar power
            for XXXXXXX
            in a suburban environment?".

            I've reasoned that I need to start by doing a small project that everyone
            can relate to
            and that would make a difference that mattered to my neighbors. The project
            I came up
            with is a solar recharged lawn mower. If you know how much pollution lawn
            equipment
            emits, it's a sickening feeling when you walk outside on a weekend and see
            all your
            neighbors mowing, edging, and leaf blowing with poorly maintained, dirty,
            polluting
            equipment in Houston (which is now the pollution capital of the US, it
            seems). What made
            it so important to me is that I know a number of people and friends that
            have asthma,
            including my wife. That kinda makes it personal because I'm using the same
            bad
            equipment.

            I knew that the only things I would have to buy are a standard cordless
            lawnmower, a
            charge controller, and solar panels. That's it. The mower can be something
            like the
            cordless Black and Decker CM1000, 5 hp, mulching mower which is in stock at
            any Home
            Depot. The other two items are also stock items that I can order online from
            any number
            of vendors. I'm going to put an hour meter on the mower so I can log how
            much time it
            has spent mowing. Maybe I'll paint it gaudy colors and stick on solar
            stickers to
            attract attention too :-)

            After I started working on this, I decided to expand the project so that my
            shed and
            everything in it or plugged into it would be solar powered. This way I would
            be able to
            power my weed eater and leaf blower as well as the lawnmower, run the shed
            interior and
            exterior lights, and have a demonstration system that people could come and
            see how
            solar is utilized. My old physics teacher lives in my neighborhood, and I
            envisioned
            being able to let him bring students over to see how solar can be used for
            real and not
            just read about it in a book.

            After the equipment is built and tested for a time, the project needs to go
            on the web.
            I want to start with a domain name like suburban-solar.org or .com and make
            it a base of
            information of my journey to put solar energy to use at my suburban home.
            Along with the
            main page, I want to have a page for each project. I can put all the
            information on this
            page that anyone could want, like specs, runtime, charge time, principles of
            operation,
            etc. And the best thing I want to put on there and update on a regular basis
            is the
            amount of time this mower has been running and a list of how much pollution
            has been
            eliminated in detail. I can get people to visit the web site to see what can
            be done. I
            think it would really make an impact on my neighbors to see and realize just
            how much
            NO2, CO, CO2, SO2, and VOC's that they and everyone else are spewing into
            the air and
            into their kids lungs. I can provide a link for people to email me so that I
            could
            answer any questions they might have. I had sent a similar letter to Greg
            about getting
            TXSES to host the web site and domain, and it didn't sound like a problem. I
            figured I
            would tackle this project in phases:

            1) Acquire the lawnmower and research it's internal circuitry to see how the
            charger can
            be alternately powered.
            2) Acquire and install an hour meter and connector for access to the
            internal battery.
            3) Build battery cabinet for the shed. I already had 4 golf cart batteries.
            Expand as
            needed.
            4) Acquire the solar panels and install on the shed roof.
            5) Acquire a charge controller, 1500W inverter, and related hardware. Create
            a power
            distribution board to mount these components.
            6) Create circuit to recharge mower or simply run power cube off of inverter
            as needed.
            7) Create web site using documentation and notes kept as project has
            progressed.
            8) Spread the word.

            Phases 1 and 2 have been completed. I cut two holes in the lawnmower shell
            and mounted a
            small digital hour meter and connector to the internal battery. I have 2.4
            hours of
            runtime on the mower so far. I talked with David Shaver in Canada, the man
            that actually
            designed the electronics in that mower for B&D and he gave me details on how
            it worked.
            Based on the strict current limited requirements of that small internal
            battery, I
            decided first to charge it normally using the original power cube running
            off the
            inverter and work on a direct DC-DC charger later.

            Phase 3 is 80% completed. I'm over-building the battery cabinet so that it's
            capacity
            can easily be expanded or the voltage changed from 12 to 24 volts. I've used
            1.25" x 1"
            buss bar and 2/0 battery cables to minimize loss in the system. Two small
            fans in the
            bottom push any fumes or hydrogen produced during charging out a 2" PVC vent
            at the top
            to the outside. The box is 5' tall, 3.5' wide, and 2.5' deep, with two
            levels that can
            hold 8 golf cart batteries each for a total of 16 batteries max. Starting
            out with 4
            golf cart batteries will provide 220 Ah @ 24V or 440 Ah @ 12V. I'm designed
            enough
            headroom in there so that a larger, better battery can be used later, such
            as the Trojan
            L16's or equivalent. They're the same size, just taller than my current
            batteries.
            There's some serious framing in this cabinet since 16 batteries would weigh
            1280 pounds.
            I can see my shed sinking into the ground already :-)

            I bought 2 Solec 90W panels and a Morningstar Sunlight series charge
            controller 3 weeks
            ago. After I finish the battery cabinet, they will be mounted on the shed
            roof (phase
            4). I've been taking pictures of each step as I build/add something new, and
            these will
            be scanned in later for the web site. If I get them scanned sooner, I'll
            email out some
            samples. That's where the project stands right now.

            James Ferrill



            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Best friends, most artistic, class clown Find 'em here:
            http://click.egroups.com/1/4054/0/_/58590/_/958162477/
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
          • James Ferrill
            ... Thanks for that info, Chuck. I downloaded all those pdf files and read them oldest to newest. Fascinating and scary at the same time. Based on the facts
            Message 5 of 9 , May 15, 2000
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              Chuck Wright wrote:

              > This link has several papers about oil. I looked at the first one,
              > and it is most interesting.
              >
              > http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/web/html/matt.asp?thispage=simple

              Thanks for that info, Chuck. I downloaded all those pdf files and read them
              oldest to newest. Fascinating and scary at the same time. Based on the facts
              they presented, it seems unlikely we would have an embargo of any kind, except
              from maybe Iraq. But if OPEC keeps the production down, we are basically
              facing demand exceeding supply, with prices going way up and probably gas
              lines again. One interesting fact that I gleaned from that report was the
              question of how do you enforce or even do gas rationing since many stations
              are totally automated with no attendant to enforce the rules. Answer: you
              don't, it's every person for himself :-)

              James
            • James Ferrill
              ... The charge controller I bought was almost the same one on that electric car, a 24V, 20A unit by Morningstar.. The two solar panels I have can charge my
              Message 6 of 9 , May 15, 2000
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                "Ewert, Mike" wrote:

                > Q: When you say "Based on the strict current limited requirements of that
                > small internal battery", do you mean that a normal charge controller set on
                > either sealed or flooded would allow the voltage to go too high or low?

                The charge controller I bought was almost the same one on that electric car, a
                24V, 20A unit by Morningstar.. The two solar panels I have can charge my battery
                bank at 5.25 amps at the most. For maximum life, you limit the maximum charge
                current of a lead-acid battery to the C/20 rate, which is the amp-hour rating of
                the battery divided by 20. My set of golf car batteries have 220 Ah, so the C/20
                rate is 11 amps and thus cannot be overcharged by my panels. But the internal
                battery of the mower is 17 Ah, with a C/20 rate of .85 amp. So connecting the
                same controller/panel setup would result in shortened battery life and probable
                battery failure due to overcharging. The solution is to limit the charging
                current, which is why they selected a power cube for the mower with a max output
                of .8 amps. It limits itself. For the time being, I'll just use the factory
                power cube and run it off of the inverter.

                James
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