Thomas Allen Schmidt's posts

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Dec 13, 2009 11:23 am

#31 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls
Wow! This is the first time I have seen a picture posted on the forum thread its self. How'd you do that? Anyway.
Here is different option.
I thought that, with your steel fabricating and welding company this option might appeal to you. Not many things attract attention quite like a water wheel in motion, with water flowing from it and well, you'd be getting electricity taboot!
I for one would love see a picture posted here of which ever system you choose after its installed. I can't wait. This is going to be great!

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Dec 13, 2009 10:58 am

#32 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Wiring multiple windmills
Oh! There is this other discussion board you might be interested in if this one cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction.
Scroll down and you will see a link to their discussion board.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Dec 13, 2009 10:53 am

#33 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Wiring multiple windmills
My first question is: Is your site on or off grid?
If on grid I might suggest looking at grid interactive wind genny systems with VAC outputs. But if there is a desire to have battery/inverter back up power, then recharge the batteries from the grid or, if the genny's happen to be producing power but the grid is down, the wind genny's using 120 VAC or 240 VAC input battery chargers.
If off grid then I might suggest still going with VAC wind genny's with step down transformer/rectifier, regulated charging systems. A system such as this might also require a "dump" or "diversion" load.  These would be things to discus with any prospective wind genny manufacturer seller and or installer.
Another question I would have and, just out of curiosty really, is: Why multiple wind genny's and not just 1 - big one?

Really the best advice I feel that I could give you would be to chose a perspective wind genny manufacturer such as Bergy, just for example, and call them on the phone, ask for a tech. rep., tell him or her your concerns and go from there, they might be willing and able to help you or the may just refer you to someone else, ether way, knowing what products each manufacturer has available is a good place to start.
Good luck!

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Dec 8, 2009 05:35 am

#34 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Propane refrigerators
I have lived off grid for over 30 years. Our first "cooler" was the creek beside our house. From there it was an old used Kelvinator LP that actually performed well for its age. There have been at least 4 others since then. All  Dometic or Servel and all used. As of 2 years ago its been an EZ Freeze and it has been reliable and very efficient so far. A couple of the things I wasn't very impressed with about the EZ Freeze are 1- the battery powered light. I wish they had just wired it contemporary so that I could make the choice of voltage and ac or dc. 2 - The only problem I have had with mine was the door dropped and it lost its absolute seal. The fix was simple. I made a disc out of a high density plastic, removed the door, placed the disc on the lower hinge and replaced the door.
There is one other thing but its not really a problem. I built the spot in my kitchen where the fridge goes so that its back side is isolated from the interior. Outside air moves up and across the back and exhausted up through the roof. This helps a lot in the summer time to keep heat out of the house and keep the fridge colder. But in the winter time if I don't close off the lower air vent, the fridge works to good!   
Here is a web store Lonnie that deals with alternative appliances.
But you know Lonnie, one of the most basic fundamentals of any alternative is just that. Finding new alternatives. An alternative is not always best but there is almost always a better alternative. Its a matter of perspective really. One may have to give up one aspect in order to gain another. I relate this to gear ratios in rear axles of automobiles. Do I hang gas mileage go tall to get the launch or do I go short and get more mpgs. I guess in the case of refrigerators it would cubic foots and how much LP in a 24 hours day. I mean if I can get one fridge/freezer with 18 cubic foot and it burns the same amount of LP in 24 hours as one with 8 cubic foot, even though it costs the same as two of the smaller units, I am going for it 'cause there are four people in my household and the stores a long way away. Here are a few other alternatives in refrigeration. If your interested.
Well, I could go on and on with the links.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Dec 5, 2009 07:55 am

#35 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: a little help
I have lived off grid with PV power for many years.
Knowing the wattage that a PV array is putting out while recharging a battery bank? I don't get it.
I would rather have a battery monitor showing me amphours in and out as well as battery state of charge.
But thats just me.

Say! By the way how is construction on the,
Trans Texas Corridor Superhighway coming along?
I guess it won't be long now that we can all say goodbye to the U.S.A, and hello to N.A.U.? Oh well, freedom was nice while it lasted. I used to think that it was really bizarre how so many people could be duped by so few but not any more. I guess all it takes is one word and its all going to be ok. I mean, as long as the word America is in there somewhere. To think that, just by keeping or removing that one word could be all it would take to make people see what is really going on in the world today and how the events of today will affect the not so distant future, or not see it.

Oops! Sorry about that. I just watched a documentary called Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement, and it was still fresh in my mind. Wild stuff. You all have gotta watch it. It makes Al Gore look like a figure puppet. Anyway -   

340 watts from a 750 watt PV array doesn't "sound" good to me at all but there can be so many variables. Does that Flexware 500 show what your battery state of charge is? Or amps in from PV? Are your batteries fully charged when it shows that 340 watts? Without knowing more about Flexware and its charging parameters I'd hate even speculate about it. Get yourself a battery monitor, something like the Bogart 2020. Even on the most basic on/off PV charge controller, "wattage" could be all over the place through out the day.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Nov 29, 2009 01:18 am

#36 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Brilliant minds
You may have heard this question before.
Do brilliant minds think alike or, do they think for themselves?

If this isn't enough of a work out for your brain you could try Schizm: Mysterious Journey.

Its like they say "no pian no gain."

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Nov 29, 2009 01:00 am

#37 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: LED Lighting
Q - "Someone has suggested the Morningstar Prostar Ps-15M but i am considering the 30 as it is not that much more expensive
anyone have any suggestions?"

A - Well, actually I have some questions of my own.

Q - You say "200 watts at most." How long of period of time, at most, will this 200 watts be on?

If on, for example, 4 hours then that would be a total of 800 watt hours or .8 kWh's (kiloWatthours) or at 12 vdc nominal, 67 amphours. To replace that with PV in one day, one would have to know "the number of hours of equivalent full rated charge from a PV module for your area". (I really wish somebody would come up with an acronym or something for that phrase.) So I guess that would raise question number 2.

Q - How many hours of equivalent full rated charge from a PV module can you expect at your site?
If I were to assume 4 hours of "equivalent full rated charge" then you would need a 200 watt PV array and at 12 vdc nominal that would be 16 amps. If I assume 2 hours then a 400 watt PV array at 33 amps. Which leads me to my last question.

Q - Do you see where I am going with all of this?

As for all of the other bells and whistle you put on your list, all I can say is research all of the prospective charge controller thoroughly. Don't rely on advertising alone. Go to manufactures website and pull up specification sheets and manuals and all. There is virtually nothing that can't be done with electricity well, except to bring someone back from the dead. Oh! It has been tried mind you. The fellas name was Frankenstein. The last I heard he was getting married. Can you believe that?

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Nov 29, 2009 12:12 am

#38 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Hybrid System
Q - "It looks like I need to have 2 separate chargers, is this the case?"
A - Possibly.

Q - Or is there a product specifically for this purpose?
A - Yes. But insure that maximum wattage or amperage guidelines as set by the manufacture of the charge controller are not exceeded by your pv or wind.

Q - Can I put 2 chargers on to 1 battery bank?
A - Most definitely. 3 or 4 even if, for example, you want to add hydro and or an ice (Infernal, I mean Internal Combustion Engine) genset. Or maybe another wind genny and or more pv. The important thing is not to exceed the charge controllers, manufactures maximum wattage or amperage input. Research products carefully and all should go well for you.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Oct 26, 2009 12:17 pm

#39 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Do I need to charge a new battery before I install for a PV system?
You will definitely want them to be fully charged and, if flooded cell lead acid, equalized before you start to use or discharge them.
I would use both. Use the "battery charger" at night and low sun days and/or the PV during sunny days.
Be sure you know the exact type of batteries you have and the manufactures suggested charging criteria.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Oct 23, 2009 03:50 pm

#40 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: PV panel on wheelchair
I am just as die hard as the next guy, maybe more than most. One of the reasons I like to watch auto racing from time to time is to witness the crashes. Its not the reason but they will and do happen. Whats so fascinating about it isn't so much the crash but the fact that so many drivers are able to walk away from a crash that looks so lethal. Of course I am looking at it from the viewpoint of what that crash would be like in a civilian model vehicle not the viewpoint of a professional that designs race car safety features, who anticipates those type of crashes.
Its always been my understanding that anytime one modifies something for enhanced performance that safety is important. (This is where possibilities and probabilities come into play.) Take the picture above for example. I've done that whole down hill on a skateboard thing in my day. Nothing like what that boy is contemplating but I do know that all it takes is one little pebble the size of a pea and that skateboard stops on a dime but the rider doesn't! He keeps on going at 25+ miles per hour. It didn't take me long to get some protection. It was too exhilarating to just quit but there is no joy in road rash either. 

Mr. Dinion, if I offended you, or you Mr. Lyle by taking Mr. Lyle's safety into consideration I humbly apologize. I would sincerely like to know how it all turns out for you though Mr. Lyle. Please, write back after a while and let us know? I am sure there are a lot of folks on a fixed budget that would love to be able to increase the range of there stock electric personal mobility vehicle with PV modules. It might even prove to be of benefit to you at energyallover Mr. Dinion.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Oct 11, 2009 12:13 pm

#41 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > the Age of Aquarius
I am sure a lot of have heard the lyrics to the song, "this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius" but how many of you know what the really means?
I'll get back to that in a moment. Without going down that never ending road of quantum physics and all its myriad branches and beliefs, I think we can all agree that the Earth's Moon, our Moon, has a physical affect on our Earth and quite possibly on us. The tides for example and, as well, it has been reported that domestic disturbance calls to law enforcement, raise and fall with the phases of our Moon. I am sure the list goes on and on but I'll spare you all. Can we all agree though, (without the burden of semantics that many of you love) that our Moon has an affect on the world as we perceive it and that has an effect on us in turn?
Good, I thought we could.
Now expand your mind beyond the Earth and its Moon. Reach out farther. Farther, all the way to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, our Galaxy and believe that it has an affect on our entire solar system, including our Sun in much the same way as the Moon to the Earth, only instead of daily tides or harvest moons we have??? I am not sure I know. Do you? It seems like it has something to do "house's" and "ascentions" or something. Oh well, lets get back to the Age of Aquarius.
Its no longer "the dawning of", we are in the Age of Aquarius. But what does that mean and what does it have to do with renewable energies? My reply to that might be, "what does anything have to do with anything else" but thats going down that long road of quantum aspect again. Why don't I let these fine people teach about the Age of Aquarius instead?
I'll warn you now, you'll have read a bit to get to the answer(s) but for some of you not afraid to take yourself on a journey through the mind, it will be an enlightening. If its not then some of you went into the "rabbits hole" with a parachute, pulled it too soon and snagged on a root. Too bad.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Oct 3, 2009 07:33 am

#42 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Showing voltage over disconnect breaker when off?
Wow! Reading some of these posts I began to realize that "talking" and "writing" electrical can become a language all on its own. The English language may not be totally adaptable to electrical language. Kinda like if someone were to read musical notation over a telephone to someone else. For example, A minor, C, A minor, B, but, one can't here the music over the phone. You would need a musician with a musical instrument. But you know this. You know you need an electrician or at least would like to have an electrician check your work.
Even among electrical workers there can be miscommunication. There have been several occurrences here at this forum. For example, I mentioned in one that #12 awg copper is good up to 20 amps. Which is primarily true but depending on the circumstances under which it is used it may only be good for 5 amps or less. But it doesn't stop there. There are so many different fittings and conduits and conduletts and all in many different sizes, it can get very frustrating. Even an electrical schematic, a lot of the time, is a typical rendering and may leave one with questions concerning a specific problem to overcome on a particular adaptation. I had a master electrician tell me that it was code that utilities power must go on the top lugs of a transfer switch and the back up power on the lower lugs with of course the load on the middle lugs. Horse pucky! There is no such code in the NEC. It maybe the most popular concensus among licensed electrical contractors and electrical inspectors, but its not a code.
Now we start to get into the nitty gritty of it all and thats if, you could put it all into a pot and boil it down to its trace minerals what you would be left with is, money! Or in some cases, a lack of money! Someone spends their time and money to gain an education in some genre or other because they want to use it to earn a substantial income. Ok, most people but not all.
The internet is changing that in its own way but that in its self still takes a certain amount of self education and hands on experience and even a little trail and error. The error typically meaning money spent to learn a lesson and as Jame's pointed out it could cost one the ultimate price where electrical is concerned. I mean, how do we know that the first person to invent gunpowder was really the first? The first one may have blown themselves up in the process with nobody the wiser for it. This is starting to get lengthy I know, so I'll move on.
I am sure you have read many books and magazines on the subject of electrical wiring but what you lack is confidence that what you know and what you have installed is correct. Am I right? Doubts pop up and you would like a second opinion. Your not alone Ann Byers. This happens to everybody in every occupation, even the learned ones. One thing that make electrical frustrating sometimes is the language. Phrases like LINE and LOAD are agreed upon. LINE is the power source and LOAD is the device using power. Although LINE typically goes in at the top of a breaker and LOAD out off the bottom, its not always the case. So its typically referred to as just LINE and LOAD.
You have full voltage on the LINE side of your breaker at all times, but only on the LOAD side when the breaker is in the CLOSED position. LOAD is lost when the breaker is in the OPEN position. LINE should be considered eternal even though we now its not. Makes no difference if its a battery, PV module or, 120/240 vac from a pole mounted utilities transformer. OK!
If I assume you meant to say that you were getting;
(A) some voltage - or
(B) full voltage  (which one?)
on the LOAD side of the breaker with the breaker in the OPEN position, would this be correct?
If (A) some voltage - then how much and what is the nominal voltage? You might be reading resistance from a device (load side) through the negative. Your meter could be acting like a partial conductor, almost but, not quite, completing the circuit just enough to give a reading on your meter.
If (B) full voltage - you might have a bad breaker or polarity is reversed somewhere.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 27, 2009 01:42 pm

#43 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: PV panel on wheelchair
Make sure the PV module is 12 volts nominal as well. Be sure you have an easy and convenient way to disconnect the PV module from the battery as well as a way to protect the wire from PV to battery and a way to see at a glance the battery state of charge.
The main concern here is your safety.
If for example the battery is already fully charged and you happen to roll out into full sunlight and stay for a considerable length of time there is the possibility the batteries might get over charged and explode. Not a pretty picture. This why you need a disconnect and a battery state of charge indicator. An automated high voltage set point disconnect would be highly advisable. What if you were not able to disconnect it manually, say, if you fell asleep under those condition stated above?
 Remember that, the wire will not only be carring power from the PV to the battery but all of the power stored in the battery can be unleashed all at once if the wire falls prey to a dead short causing a fire. Not a pretty picture either. 

Be sure voltages are compatible.
A means of manual disconnect as well as high voltage automatic disconnect.
The correct size wire well protected from physical damage and fused properly.
A means of knowing exactly what the battery state of charge is.
A one way diode of the correct size will help keep power from the battery escaping to the PV module during low or no light levels.
Be sure that all devices wired inline are rated for open circuit PV voltage.
A 5 watt PV module at 12 volts nominal might produce as much as .65 amps under the right conditions.
Also, get to know your chairs battery pack. The type it is, probably a sealed cell, what its amphour rating is, and most importantly its charging criteria, what is its maximum charging voltage and all. Here are few websites that might be interesting to you.
Maybe a bit extreme but maybe interesting too and some cool weblinks as well.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 26, 2009 02:36 pm

#44 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Firewood vending- convert to solar
Oops! It appears that I made a huge blunder in one of my calculations. I happen to think to myself while I was at a snack machine a while ago waiting for my Fig Newtons to drop, "who would want to wait 15 minutes at a vending machine for their treat?" Then it hit me, Duh! You stated that the machines motor runs for 15 seconds while delivering the bundle and in my hast to simplify the math I used 15 minutes.
Sorry 'bout that.
So, instead of an 805 amphour battery bank and a 2,000 watt PV array it should have been more like a 110 amphour battery bank and a 254 watt PV array assuming all of the other circumstances used in my last post. The lights would use more power than the motor in terms of kWh's. Getting its power from a battery and inverter assuming a 15% efficiency -
The lights = .504 kWh's per 12 hours of on time during the winter.
The motor = .03 kWh's for every 15 seconds of run time, 4 times in a 24 hour period.
So .507 kWh's or 507 watt hours divided by 24 vdc nominal is 21 amphours times 5 is 106 amphours.
507 watt hours divided by 2 hours of equivalent full rated power from a PV module during the winter months is a 254 watt PV array.
That sounds a lot better huh?

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 26, 2009 10:42 am

#45 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Firewood vending- convert to solar
One of the most frustrating things about figuring up an RE system are the amount of variables there can be in calculating the load and supply, as efficient as possible to minimize expenditure.
One device that can help is a simple plug in kiloWatthour meter/recorder. See Alt-E Store.
I would think that, in a campground setting, firewood bundles would be a cool weather (spring/fall) treat as opposed to a hot or even cold weather (summer/winter) treat. But given the nature of PV I always use winter time insolation as the base point for figuring - how many hours of equivalent full rated power from a PV module - when sizing the PV array and battery bank.
A 110 vac motor that "draws" 6.7 amps would of course be 737 watts but at 24 vdc nominal that would be better than 31 amps that the inverter would draw. Roughly 35 amps at 15% inverter efficiency. Now we have to convert that to amphours which would be difficult to do because we don't know the frequency at which wood is purchase, averaged out over, a year??? If we assume 4 times a day/night (24 hrs.) averaged out over a year it makes the math easier but not so accurate. (Please read my next post) You could pull that information from how many bundles are sold in a year. But I will assume 4 times 35 which is 140 amphours.
3 - 13 watt lamps "burning" for 12 hours (winter) at 110 vac would burn 0.36 watts (plus 15%) times 12 hours making that a total of .504 kWh's. At 24 vdc that would be 21 amphours.
Using just those two factors only the total would be 161 amphours. I like to multiply that by a factor of no less than 5. This helps to keep the draw over 24 hours from the battery in the top 20% depth of discharge. Now we have at least 805 amphours at 24 volts nominal battery bank.
Now, to replace the 161 amphours used each 24 hours.
24 vdc times 161 amphours equals 3,864 watt hours or 3.864 kWh's. I would round that up to 4 kWh's. If where this machine is sees the - equivalent of 2 hours of full rated power from a PV module in the winter months - simply divide 4,000 by 2 and you would have a need for a 2,000 PV watt array.

Now I think you can begin to realize how that kiloWatt meter/recorder might be a worthwhile investment. If your best sales for bundles is not in the dead of winter but in the fall, you can size the PV array for those months an so on and so forth.
I find this to be a fair assessment of - the equivalent number of hours of full rated power from a PV module. - Its pretty self explanatory. The nature of PV, if sized right, is to have; a surplus during the summer solstice, just the right amount during the vernal and autumnal equinox and, to just squeak by during the winter solstice. But again I would like to remind you that there are quite a lot of variables to this and "your mileage may vary." Chiefly speaking, the time of year the most firewood bundles is sold.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 20, 2009 10:50 am

#46 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: question about switch panel and fuses
Its amazing! I only searched for a total of 2 to 3 hours since my last post and, I could not find any book(s) about wiring a home or cabin for 12 vdc. Its not a common practice, that may be one reason why. Perhaps another piece of advice might be more practical for you would be to go to Alt E Store and research various items and there ratings. Things such as but not limited to fuse's and breaker's.
Knowledge is power!
I learned things about wiring a home for 12 vdc from The School of Hard Knocks, if you catch my drift. Theirs is not a structured, regimented curriculum but one of trial and error and ojt. My system started with a short piece of 10/2 UF wired directly to my trucks battery and hanging out of the grill with a 120 vac female cord end. From the house was 10/2 UF with the corresponding male plug. Just inside this went across one pole of a two pole 30 amp fused disconnect with a 15 amp fuse. The old glass screw in one time type fuse. From there NM-B 10/2 went to 3 different porcelain pullchain lamp holders each with a 12 vdc 50 watt incandescent bulb. This began my learning of the truth about cranking batteries vs. marine deep cycle batteries vs. true deep cycle batteries and how each has its own proper application. Theres that word again.
How did I know to use 10/2 as opposed to any other, with reference to voltage drop? I didn't. But I did know that #10 was good for 30 amps. The wire and the disconnect were all free, salvaged, all I had to purchase was the fuse and and male and female cord ends as well as the round nail up plastic boxes, lamp holders and bulbs as well as wire staples. Ohm's law told me that 50 watts at 12 volt equals 4.17 amps and that times three is 12.51 hence the 15 amp fuse. We learned eventually (and several cranking batteries later) how many and how long we could burn the lights and not have to push start my truck the next morning. This evolved in a system with an high output alternator on my truck with a battery isolator and a couple of marine deep cycle batteries and bigger wire (6/3 SO cord) with a 50 amp range receptacle and plug, a 60 amp fused distribution panel with 40 amp main fuses and a few more lights.
All of that has since been abandoned and removed.
Now battery recharging is all done with PV and household power is all 120 vac from inverters except for a few dc lights and a cigarette lighter type receptacle for recharging certain things. All sized and protected in accordance with the NEC I would like to add. I did have some advantages in the fact that both of my parents were/are knowledgable of of electricity and electrical wiring. I grew up hearing phrase's like Ohm's law and potential to ground. I myself have become an electrician in the fields of residential, commercial, and industrial. Mostly industrial motor control trouble shooting as a way of earning a living. PV is my main intrest though and I never stop trying to learn and gain experience in that field. But, with reverence to the immortal Luke Skywalker, if there is a bright spot in the PV universe I am in the place farthest from it. Unless you include my own private experience, a PV installation where (in my youth) I was an awning rigger installing the frame and PV modules (no wiring) to the side of a building, a 2 day workshop at the NCSU Solar House where John Wiles was the guest speaker, my occupation as an electrician, various books and magazines (self education), and the internet, I have no practical experience in the field of PV. Something I can only hope will change one day before I am too old.
And now you know, the rest of the story.
You know, it would seem that just living a life of various experiences and self education would make one eligible for an earned degree equivalent to a structured and regimented degree. Perhaps one day, when the acquisition of wealth and power are not the primary factors ruling our lives such things will be. As Syndrome put it, "When everybody is super powered, nobody will be."

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 19, 2009 04:14 pm

#47 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: question about switch panel and fuses
You know, I followed my own advice and checked Alt-E Store, and  even though they have quite an arsenal of knowledge in renewable energies, I could not find a book on wiring a home with direct current circuits.
Here is someone else take on the subject of wiring a home with low voltage dc power.
Keep in mind that the NEC is revised every 3 years.
PS. More to come as I find them.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 19, 2009 03:52 pm

#48 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: question about switch panel and fuses
"I am looking for advice on how to properly wire my lights into the battery bank."

At the risk of sounding somewhat anal, that word "properly" opens a door to all sorts of opinions and, like belly buttons, everybody will have one.

The word "safely" could even open that same door.

There is the National Electrical Code (NEC) however, which would most likely apply here because your cabin would be considered a dwelling.

Things to consider are; element (for example; copper, aluminum, steel) AWG. (wire size) and type of wire insulation and their voltage and amperage ratings, means of overcurrent protection as well as physical protection of the wire and, a disconnect means. One other thing to consider with low voltage dc that is very important is voltage drop.

To give you an idea of what all that means.
NM-B 12/2 - Inner conductors are type THHN, rated 90 degrees Celsius, 600 volts. Solid strands. Outer jacket is PVC rated at 75 degrees Celsius. Ampacity of the product is limited to that for 60 degrees Celsius rated conductors per the National Electric Code Article336. Dwellings not exceeding 3 floors above grade. Exposed or concealed wiring. May be fished through walls, ceilings, and masonry blocks. Use for new wiring or replacement wiring. Only for use in normally dry locations. U.L. Listed. /2 = 2 Insulated Wires with Bare Ground. /3 = 3 Insulated Wires with Bare Ground. 
Romex NM-B 12/2 has a maximum rating of 20 amps BUT! at 12 vdc there can be significant voltage drop over, even over a short distance. As an example if this Romex NM-B 12/2 was used on a 12 vdc lighting circuit with one, 12 vdc 50 watt incandescent bulb that was 20 foot away, in wire legnth from the battery, there would be about a 3% voltage drop.
A lot of folks try to stay 2% or lower especially when power is coming from a battery that is discharging the whole time the light is on.
Switches must have UL listed ratings as well for use on direct current circuits. Those cheap alternating current switches at home improvement stores will not last and can be dangerous on dc circuits.

Think about how a conventional homes 120/240 ac breaker panel works. There is the main power supply (the utilities) going through a main breaker or over current protection device then all the branch circuit going out into the home from there each one protected with an overcurrent protection device sized according the wire size which is sized according the load.
You'll want to follow this example. There is the battery then a main and branch circuits. All overcurrent protection must be rated for use in direct current circuitry and be sized for the wire used which is sized and typed according the load and its location.

I could write a book on all of this, wait, there are allready books written on this subject. Psssh! Go buy the book. Smiley
Check Alt-E Store's, book store. You'd think they would have one for low voltage dc wiring. Oh! Check out
What the hey, here is one of my favorites.
It says it all at the end of the first paragraph.


Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 14, 2009 05:52 am

#49 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Mixing pwm and mppt to same bank ok?

"When once a man has made celebrity necessary to his happiness, he has put it in the power of the weakest and most timorous malignity, if not to take away his satisfaction, at least to withhold it. His enemies may indulge their pride by airy negligence and gratify their malice by quiet neutrality."
William Samuel Johnson.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 14, 2009 05:35 am

#50 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Solar Hot Water Panel Installation
I would agree with Dennis M. and Thomas A. but would also argue the point that, its not right for someone to suggest what you could or couldn't do with your Trendsetters based on information from just a quickly typed letter in a public forum. That would be like describing the world to someone else while looking through a straw. Forgive me for bring so critical Tony R.

So much depends on the specific applications as well as site specifics.

Obviously, two in series, could very well produce hotter mean temperatures on certain winter days and most assuredly produce too hot of mean temperature on certain summer days. (a matter of perspective) But! If there is a use for those hotter mean temperatures during the summer such as a pool, or steam sauna then its not really wasted. Even if these do not exist, there are ways to shade the collector during summer months. It could be plumbed with bypass making it either or. Where your panels will be mounted, may or may not be ideal. Specifics.

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind."
Leonardo Da Vinci

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 13, 2009 07:21 am

#51 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Mixing pwm and mppt to same bank ok?
This is probably a question best left to manufacture technical assistances.

But this would be my best guess.
(After reading the manuals for both charge controllers, I would have to say that, yes its possible but, there may be conflict between the two cc's from time to time do to a lack of communication between the two cc's. In other words if cc A ends its bulk setting before cc B and moves to float, battery voltage will drop and keep cc B in bulk charge mode which is a higher voltage than cc A's float voltage and that may confuse its programming and cause a fault.)

I would greatly appreciate it, if you would, share what you learn from this Keith?


Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 11, 2009 11:28 am

#52 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Battery bank generator
Just found this: Maybe it will help you make a good choice in hp.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 11, 2009 07:07 am

#53 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: solar panel
50 kWh's per day from a photovoltaic array.
If the prospective site for this array will see the equivalent of 4 hours of full rated power per day, as averaged out over the four seasons of one year and, this PV array is a flat plate collector angled at latitude all year... Then it will take a PV array of, at least 12,500 watts or 12.5 kW respectively.
Even if you could obtain this at $3.00 per watt that would amount to $37,500.00 not installed.
If you were to purchase this from the utilities at the going rate of $0.12 per kWh, that would amount to $6.00 a day or $2,190.00 per year. So, $37,500.00 divided by $2,190.00 would equate to a payback period of 171 years. Remember, that was not installed and your kWh's may vary. To the best of my knowledge PV modules are only warrantied for 25 years.

Potentially, a PV array of this size would be best located in a region of a continent that sees a high average amount of sunlight year round, as well as an area that sees unobstructed sunlight from the earliest sunrise to latest sunset as well as being installed as a pole mounted solar tracker "orchard." Not to mention that, the power made would have to negate the expenditure. In otherwords, be profitable. But thats just my opinion. For all I know, you could be planning to power a small community with all this power. There are so many variables and, you weren't very specific.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 9, 2009 05:45 am

#54 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Battery bank generator
I suppose one could say that, scientifically speaking, 1 horsepower is equal to 746 watts but there is more to consider, such as but not limited to, elevation above sea level. (deduct 3% for every 1,000 foot.) So, if we take your generators maximum output ratings of 24 vdc nominal and 125 amps we get 3,000 watts. Another consideration is, will this generator run at maximum output without self destructing in a matter of time?
Now that we have the wattage it is simply a matter of dividing 3,000 by 746 and that gives us 4.0 hp. Here is another consideration, will the engine run at maximum hp without self destructing in a matter of time? Other considerations may be engine rpm as related to the generators actual output voltage.  How the generators power to the battery bank will be controlled? Pulley ratios or direct drive?
Personally, I wouldn't consider anything less than 6.5 hp right from the start. Call it "gut" feeling. Besides, I don't want to take all of the fun out it.
There are lots of people out there on the internet sharing their experiences with projects more or less similar to yours. Here are a few just to get you started.
I really don't know what the fascination is with converting "lawnmowers" to "generators." Something portable I guess. Not that I think that this is what your doing. It sounds to me like you want something more advanced, what with choosing bio-diesel and all.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 5, 2009 06:57 pm

#55 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Best racking solution for wooden shingles?
Here. You might as have this as well, now that my plans for world domination using PV roof mounting sytems has been thwarted, I don't need it anymore.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 5, 2009 06:33 pm

#56 -  Renewable Energy > Technical Discussion: Other > Re: Best racking solution for wooden shingles?
I have often wondered why no one makes a J bracket from stainless steel or aluminium. The upright long side of the J would slip up under the shingle (wood or asphalt) and be lag bolted to a rafter. The bottom of the J can stand off the roof several inches for good air flow and module fastening. The whole thing would be about 1.5 inches wide. Then its just a matter of bolting on connecting rails. They could make hinged J's for ease of wiring or adjustable frames. Something as simple as a J. For that matter, a continuos length of extruded aluminum with a J profile and drain holes ever so often along he "bottom" of the J. That would seem to work best on new roofs while the shorter 1.5 inch wide J would make retrofits a little easier. Lets see, there would have to a way to fasten the PV modules to the rails... Why not a low profile "C-clip" with a set bolt.
Wait, whats this? Curses! My plot to invent something that would allow me to rule the world has been foiled again. One day, I will invent something that everyone will want to buy and then! Then I will have all their money and they will have nothing but a trinket or a bob-it while I! I will rule the entire planet! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 5, 2009 08:21 am

#57 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Profiting From The Energy Sector
Don't know about the rest of the world but here are some numbers from the good ole United States of America from 2007 as compared to 2006.
According to this, RE (not including hydro) is responsible for 2.5% of the electric power produced and sold to customers. Total earnings after expenses for the sale of electricity came to $30.7 billion. 2.5% of $30.7 billion would be $767.5 million. Of course this is from the retail sales of electricity made from RE in the U.S. of A. not the retail sales of the RE harvesting equipment. Which I am sure is in the hundreds of billions of dollars world wide.

In other news;
We could go on and on with this and that from all sorts of people and places but it all "boils" down to what each one of us as an individual entity believes. Me, I believe that this "energy crisis" that I hear so much about is just a symptom of a more complex sickness. Namely, the increase of 4.5 billion more people over the last 100 years. It took several thousands of years for world wide human population on the planet Earth to reach 2 billion people.
Of course we could go about our daily lives as if none of that existed. Floating along with the flow as one with the herd. Maybe the human race will make it. Maybe it will not. Either way I believe it will be a, pity about Earth.

When one makes a choice to believe in one thing as opposed to another, it is like changing the direction in which one is traveling, tending to a whole new destination other than the path that is discarded. You can believe what you want to believe.
Just because it wasn't canonized into the Bible, doesn't means it wasn't written, thousands of years ago. One could believe that the book of of Genesis is a sort condensed version of several books wriitten thousands of years ago. Not unlike a modern day Readers Digest.

Fact or Fiction.
If you really want to exercise your brain try this.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Sep 1, 2009 09:16 pm

#58 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Help for newbe?
Hi Folks,  I just discovered AltE and what a great company and this board is excellent info.  I'm planning a small off-grid system and need some help.  Basically want to use the system as back-up power and to reduce some power costs as well.  I want to start small and have room to expand.  This is what I have in mind. I already have a 2000w inverter and two large batteries in my motorhome which sits unused for most of the year, so I want to take advantage of them for now.  What I want to do is put 4 200w panels on the garage roof and use them to charge the batteries in the motorhome.  I plan on adding 2 more batteries in the bank later.  The distance from the roof to the motorhome is about 25'.  Should I put the MPPT controller/combiner in the garage and just run wire to the batteries, or should I put the controller in the motorhome and run wire to that from the combiner located in the garage? Does it make a difference?  Also what amp controller would be minimum for 1000-1400w of panels?  Eventually I want to expand to this capacity but not want to have to purchase another controller when I do.  Thanks.

Oh! I think I get it now. The mention of an "off grid system" threw me. So, the immediate plan is; the 800 watt PV array will be on the roof of the garage. The 200 amp hour? batteries will be on-board the RV with the 2000 watt inverter and during times of black out, a "drop cord?" will supply 120 vac power to a load in the home from the 2000 watt inverter on board the RV and you want to know where the best place for the charge controller and combiner box would be. 
Then eventually you will add more batteries (to the RV?) and more PV modules to the array on the garage.

(A battery monitor such as the Bogart 2020 is still a good idea to give you an interface with the system.)
Personally, I don't like the idea of having all those cords going to and from the RV and house. Its do-able but what you describe is really mis-matched taboot. Movable and non movable power sources and loads, inside and outside, 200 amp hour battery, 2000 watt inverter, 800 watt PV array, anyway.
If I had to do this, there was no other choice, I would set the combiner box and charge controller and monitor on the outside garage wall as near the to PV array as possible making sure its all Nema 4X and I would use GFP. I'd hard wire in conduit under ground from there to a box above ground near the RV, close to where the batteries are inside, and put a recessed male plug on both the RV and the box, both with in use covers and all of ample amperage ratings. I would make a cord with females on both ends to fit. This is because the batteries are "on" all the time and the PV array should be considered as "on" all the time. I would also want to be able to lock in and lock out everything so curious fingers can't find their way to live terminals. Essentially the same power transfer set up with the vac power minus the controller and all of course.  Whats going to happen with the PV power when the RV is logging milage? What would an electrical inspector have to say about it all? I guess there is no place to mount the PV array on the roof of the RV? Whats going to happen if the vdc cord is not removed and the RV drives off?

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Aug 23, 2009 08:22 pm

#59 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: Help for newbe?
I would tell you to forget about the RV.
Are you planning to turn your existing on grid home to off grid? If so, I say more power to you!. I think its a great idea. Its not going to be easy and its not going to be cheap. Look at your light bill. The national average for grid electricity is about $0.12 per kWh or kilowatthour so if your electric bill is $60.00 a month then your using about 500 kWh's per month or 16.6 kWh's per 24 hours. That 800 watt PV array you want might offset about 3.2 kWh's of that 16.6 it all depends on a lot factors. Namely, the number of hours of equivalent full rated charge you can expect from a PV module. Go here and enter; Average, Annual, Flat Plate Tilted South at Latitude then find your place on the map. If where you are shows a number 4 then that 800 watt PV array you want, might make 3.2 kWh's.
If you are converting your on grid home to off grid, the smart money is on reducing your dependence on electricity first. To give you an idea, I've lived of grid for about 30 years now. Only within the past 15 have I had the luxury of PV. We use about 72 kWh's per month which if I had to pay $0.12 for it would be about 8 dollars and some change. But I do have an LP bill that averages out to about $25 a month. There is four of us in the household. Sometimes five.

Is it your plan to turn your existing on grid home to off grid? Are you willing to give up air conditioning and outdoor lights that burn all night long? How will you refrigerate and pump water? These are all concerns when making a move to off grid living. Just how much electricity can you live without? Think about it. Oh! Get yourself a subscription to home power magazine. Learn about electricity in particular Ohm's Law and the National Electrical Code. Most importantly, scower the web looking for the best prices. Just when you think you have found a good price, lok again.

Posted by Thomas Allen Schmidt on Aug 23, 2009 02:53 pm

#60 -  Renewable Energy > RE General Discussion > Re: parallel panels via their junction boxes
Page 20 paragraph 3.5.1
But this does not take into consideration the manufactures assessment of its own PV modules to withstand more than the series fuse rating printed on the module label. Engineers are always a bit conservative, at least on paper. If I were to try 2 - KC40T's in parallel on 1 - 6 amp fuse, I would insure that both the pos. and neg. leads from each to a j-box where they are spliced into one set of pos. and neg. were exactly the same length. Of course there is a good possibility that I might be voiding any expressed warranties offered by the manufacture.

More fun with Possibilities and Probabilities.

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