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FW: solar lawnmowers

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  • Ewert, Mike
    ... From: Kevin L. Conlin [mailto:kconlin@solarcraft.net] Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 12:59 PM To: Ewert, Mike Subject: Fw: solar lawnmowers Hi Mike, Please
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 2000
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Kevin L. Conlin [mailto:kconlin@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 12:59 PM
      To: Ewert, Mike
      Subject: Fw: solar lawnmowers

      Hi Mike,  Please forward a copy of this to james and your group, I tried but it came back. Keep up the good work!
      ----- Original Message -----
      To: hreg
      Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2000 6:27 PM
      Subject: solar lawnmowers

      james and mike,
      I've been following your dialogue on the solar sheds and lawnmowers with interest.
      I've talked to black and decker many times over the years about using solar, esp. in the context of lawnmowers because I think their unit is basically poorly designed.
      I own one also, and don't like the idea of having to store it near an electrical outlet, which means in the garage.  I'm sure a lot of people with a garden shed would like to keep their rechargeable mowers there, after all, that's what they bought them for.
      I've talked to Dave Shaver in the past, he is a helpful, informative person, and knows rechargeable technology. Unfortunately, Black and Decker follows mainstream trends, is not interested in solar, and, in fact, builds horribly wasteful chargers for their Versa-pak tools and others.  Their 12vdc adapter for the Versa-pak batteries wastes about 70% of the input power as heat, and is therefore not very solar friendly. And as you have already discovered, their mower accepts an AC input, not DC, and is the only wall pak I've ever seen that has an AC output for recharging lead acid batteries.  This sure make solar more difficult.  There is a simple, less expensive approach for anyone wishing to just recharge the mower, as opposed to building the large system James has undertaken.
      In the Houston area, two 5watt panels will recharge the mower in a week for most people, the exception being a fully discharged mower and cloudy weather. If you remove the top shroud (6 screws) you can gain access to the batteries. Tapping into the positive on one and the negative on the other gets you around all the battery charging electronics. Tie a simple 24V solar voltage reg with temp comp to these terminals and mount it close to the batteries, but under the shroud.  I would recommend a regulator that is encapsulated, since it is a harsh environment under there. Come off the input side of the reg with a polarized 2 conductor SAE connector (think boat trailer) and bring it outside the shroud.  The diode in the reg should make this a "dead" connector electrically.  Wire your two 5 watt panels in series with the mating connector and keep it plugged in all the time or the quiescent draw of the regulator will slowly drain the batteries. The whole system should cost less than $200, and is a little more practical than the solar playhouse James is building..
       I'm saying that facetiously because I've given serious thought to building a small solar power system that converts a standard garden shed into  "Dads Playhouse"  I've often thought that you could justify it with the intentions that James has, then add the small refrigerator, TV, and satellite dish later. We all know that most men can never have enough toys to play with, this one happens to have some practical uses as well.  James, I hope I'm not getting you in trouble right now, if I am just hit delete.
      On a serious note, I would caution against building a two tier battery enclosure out of wood when using "wet" batteries.  Battery acid, spills and even fumes will really destroy wood quickly unless it is coated in fiberglass.  The insidious thing is you can't see it, the wood looks fine, but slowly deteriorates from the inside until it will literally crumble in your hands.  Rubbermaid makes some pretty tough outdoor plastic cabinets that will work well.  I suggest putting the batteries on a concrete pad or prefab AC pad for stability.  And don't believe the myth about storing batteries on concrete, that hasn't been true since WW2.
      Please send a photo of your system when it is finished, and keep up the creative thinking!
      Best regards,          kevin conlin
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