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Re: [hreg] Workshops and threads

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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