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RE: [hreg] Workshops and threads

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  • 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 1 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



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    • 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 2 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 3 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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