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DIY Propane Generator Conversion

Mounting the regulatorConvert your gasoline generator to clean burning propane. We document the steps, and it’s a easy 45 minute process. See http://www.green-trust.org/ebooks/ for details

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DIY Generator Project

Our generator project is progressing. We have a 10hp B&S OHV engine, a GM 108 amp alternator, and are awaiting a bracket and pulley to be delivered. We are constructing a 3 stage charger to maintain our deep cycle battery bank, with appropriate instrumentation.

More info at http://www.green-trust.org/ebooks/.

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Want to charge your cell phone with solar energy?

Popular Science had an article on building a solar bag charger for cell phones and iPods. We believe the basics of that article can be expanded into many other similar projects. Check it out in our knowledgebase and participate in developing new applications and improvements. Larger pv panel, in-bag battery storage, power source for lighting, pumping etc. Great hiking or camping tool. The possibilities are endless.

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Comparing Battery Chargers

I have been using a Radio Shack Fast Charger to charge my NiMH AA batteries. Today I received a Energizer Fast Charger (CH15MN), reporting a 15 minute charge time. The Radio Shack unit takes 4 hours and gets the charger and the batteries very hot. The Energizer unit runs cool, has an integral fan, and showed the batteries charged within the 15 minute time frame. It also has a 11-16 vdc (5a) input on the side, so I can charge it in the car, with solar, or from my house batteries, without using ac. My digital camera confirms the battery status. With the 1GB SD card, I’m ready to take 1096 pictures tomorrow with the HP PhotoSmart 320 ;-)

The charger and four 2500 mah AA batteries (also charges AAA) was $19.95 at our local P&C grocery store.

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LED Headlamp

Ever need a handsfree headlamp to see what you are working on, or where you are going in the dark. We did, so we found a line of handsfree headlamps from Black Diamond. Being LED, they consume minute amounts of power, while being very bright. We use rechargeable NiMH batteries charged with a solar charger, so the electric is clean, and there’s no battery disposal issues (they last for many years in this application). Dharam bought us a Zenix IQ as an early Christmas present, based on his happiness with one of their earlier models. The company website has the following specs:

Smart lighting for the backcountry, the Zenix IQ provides non-fading, constant illumination in two modes: a collimated one-watt LED for a long-range beam, or two SuperBright LEDs for close-range ambient light. A single switch toggles between four settings for each mode—min, mid, max and strobe—and remembers the last setting you used. This lamp also supplies constant illumination and comes with a battery power meter and Find Me light.

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[Green-Trust Off Grid] Finetuning the Inverter Settings

After we lowered the charge rate on the Prosine to 100 amps from 120, to keep from tripping the 20 amp breaker on the generator, we found that when the pump kicks in while charging at a high rate, the whole house blacks out for about 5 seconds. The pump is pulling about 95 amps at 12vdc, and the charger is supposed to cut back on charge rate automatically, but the starting current of the pump is putting it well over the 100 amps maximum I have set. What I need to do is get the 240vac generator circuit to the charger, and use a balancing transformer to convert to 120 vac at 30amps, or setup a cistern with my 12vdc pump, and use the jet pump on generator to fill the cistern when rainfall has not been sufficient.


Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust Off Grid at 7/26/2006 07:04:00 AM

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Finetuning the Inverter Settings

After we lowered the charge rate on the Prosine to 100 amps from 120, to keep from tripping the 20 amp breaker on the generator, we found that when the pump kicks in while charging at a high rate, the whole house blacks out for about 5 seconds. The pump is pulling about 95 amps at 12vdc, and the charger is supposed to cut back on charge rate automatically, but the starting current of the pump is putting it well over the 100 amps maximum I have set. What I need to do is get the 240vac generator circuit to the charger, and use a balancing transformer to convert to 120 vac at 30amps, or setup a cistern with my 12vdc pump, and use the jet pump on generator to fill the cistern when rainfall has not been sufficient.

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New Xantrex Prosine 3.0

Our replacement for the blown 50 amp rv battery charger should be here this week. It’s a Xantrex Prosine 3.0, which provides 3000 watts of sine wave inverter power, 120 amps of 12vdc charging from generator, and a 30 amp auto transfer switch, all in one unit. This piece will also replace our 2500 watt msw AC Delco inverter and our 50 amp 220vac transfer switch. We got a fantastic deal on this unit, less than half MSRP, and will share more once it’s here and installed. Two recent donations from appreciative readers made this possible. Thank you Oren and Francisco. The next need is a Blue Sky Solar Boost 50 MPPT Charge Controller.

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Battery box built, batteries installed and charging

This morning we finally ripped out the old Trojan T-105’s and plastic battery box. We assembled the new battery box, installed the new L16H batteries, and finished all the wiring. We connected the solar array and are pumping 4 amps into the batteries even though it’s cloudy and rainy. Reconnected the 2500w inverter, and the 50 amp generator powered charger, plus the dc load panel. All is functional. More photo’s can be found in our photo album.

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The Off-Grid Home or RV battery bank

The heart of an off grid system is the battery bank. It needs to be sized properly to handle your expected electrical loads between recharge times. Green-Trust runs on a 675ah battery pack consisting of six Trojan T105’s, but for the budget minded, the Walmart Type 27 DeepCycle would also work. At $53 each for a 115ah 12v battery, 10 units would make a nice sized pack at 1150ah. This would give you a useful 575ah of power before needing to recharge. A good charger is critical to the health of your batteries, as well as not discharging more than 50%. One charger we recommend is the Vector 40amp charger. This is a bit undersized for our theoretical 1150ah pack, but is ideal for our 675ah pack. Since we run our VeggieGen more than 8 hours a day, it’s sufficient to do a full recharge of our batteries for overnight use. Our 90 watt PV array puts about 22ah’s daily into the pack as well.

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