RE: [hreg] Workshops and threads
- 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?
From: James Ferrill [mailto:jferrill@...]
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 3:14 PM
Subject: Re: [hreg] Workshops and threads
Chuck Wright wrote:
> James Ferrill wrote:better
> > That's how my solar lawn equipment project got started. I needed to make
> choices, and invent them if necessary.Hey Chuck,
> Nice to have this interaction going on! Tell us more about your
> solar lawn equipment project...
> Chuck Wright
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
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
down. How to answer the question, "How do you implement use of solar power
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
emits, it's a sickening feeling when you walk outside on a weekend and see
neighbors mowing, edging, and leaf blowing with poorly maintained, dirty,
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
including my wife. That kinda makes it personal because I'm using the same
I knew that the only things I would have to buy are a standard cordless
charge controller, and solar panels. That's it. The mower can be something
cordless Black and Decker CM1000, 5 hp, mulching mower which is in stock at
Depot. The other two items are also stock items that I can order online from
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
attract attention too :-)
After I started working on this, I decided to expand the project so that my
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
exterior lights, and have a demonstration system that people could come and
solar is utilized. My old physics teacher lives in my neighborhood, and I
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
etc. And the best thing I want to put on there and update on a regular basis
amount of time this mower has been running and a list of how much pollution
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
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
answer any questions they might have. I had sent a similar letter to Greg
TXSES to host the web site and domain, and it didn't sound like a problem. I
would tackle this project in phases:
1) Acquire the lawnmower and research it's internal circuitry to see how the
be alternately powered.
2) Acquire and install an hour meter and connector for access to the
3) Build battery cabinet for the shed. I already had 4 golf cart batteries.
4) Acquire the solar panels and install on the shed roof.
5) Acquire a charge controller, 1500W inverter, and related hardware. Create
distribution board to mount these components.
6) Create circuit to recharge mower or simply run power cube off of inverter
7) Create web site using documentation and notes kept as project has
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
runtime on the mower so far. I talked with David Shaver in Canada, the man
designed the electronics in that mower for B&D and he gave me details on how
Based on the strict current limited requirements of that small internal
decided first to charge it normally using the original power cube running
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
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
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
There's some serious framing in this cabinet since 16 batteries would weigh
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
4). I've been taking pictures of each step as I build/add something new, and
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.
Best friends, most artistic, class clown Find 'em here:
- Chuck Wright wrote:
> This link has several papers about oil. I looked at the first one,Thanks for that info, Chuck. I downloaded all those pdf files and read them
> and it is most interesting.
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 :-)
- "Ewert, Mike" wrote:
> Q: When you say "Based on the strict current limited requirements of thatThe charge controller I bought was almost the same one on that electric car, a
> 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?
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.