Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In depth look at our generator system....

Hi guys, last week I showed you some pictures of our original power system. Today I want to go a little deeper into how the power system actually worked.

We started our adventure with the homemade generator and 3 regular car batteries. We hooked them up and ran through a tank of gas, only to learn that the batteries had not charged.. ugh... so we went back to the drawing board. We learned that a simple parallel circuit can be used to increase the current and amount of power.. Duh! So we followed the parallel wiring guide and tried again. Amazingly enough.. it worked..... for 1 week!
We learned really quick that regular car batteries are not meant to be recharged as often as we needed them to be charged. What is the difference you ask?
Well the difference is this:
Regular car batteries are designed to provide a large amount of energy over a short period of time. A Marine or Deep cycle battery is designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time.....
Lets just say, we would have saved a lot of money if we had learned that to start with!
So we discarded the regular batteries and replaced them with 3 deep cycle batteries, and the games began again. This time we were a little more prepared. We had our power system, our batteries and a diagram that looked similar to the one below.

Notice that a battery bank can be set up in two ways.. Series or parallel. 

What is the difference?

Series battery banks adds voltage but keeps the same amp rating.
Ex: If two 6-volt batteries are joined in a series they will now produce 12 volts but will only have a capacity of 10 Amps.

Parallel battery banks increase amp ratings while keeping the voltage the same.

Ex: If two 6-volt batteries are joined parallel to each other they will now produce the same 6-volts but will increase the amp rating to 20.

Eureka.. we had power... but not enough of it.. so over the next few months we added more batteries until we had 6. 6 was a good number and generated enough power for us to run our lights, computer and TV for about 5 hours a night.
Example of a battery bank (not a picture of our battery bank).
No power system is complete without a way to access the power being created. This is where an invertor comes into play. An invertor is connected to the battery bank and then a cord is plugged in to access the power.

This is the actual brand and wattage rating we started out with.

We also had an invertor that hooked up to our car battery.

In an emergency we would connected this smaller invertor to our running car long enough to get our stuff done. Not recommended for long periods of time because you must keep the car running or the battery will drain and you will have to walk 2 miles to find another one (true story). Plus it adds nasty emissions to the air and wastes gas.

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