The 3 Best Batteries For An Off-Grid Energy System

It’s the question that anyone interested in off-grid energy inevitably asks at some point…

What are the best batteries for an off-grid energy system?

Because of the falling prices of renewable energy systems, more and more people are looking to use alternative energy sources as a way to:

  • Save money
  • Become more energy independent
  • Break their dependence on the big energy companies

However, installing a renewable energy system, in most cases, requires you to make a considerable initial investment that you won’t get back for several years.

One of the biggest expenses associated with alternative energy systems is the batteries in the battery bank.

So choosing the correct batteries for your off-grid system is crucial (and keeping the batteries alive as long as possible is also critically important)!

You Don’t Have To Buy New Overpriced Batteries

Before we tell you what 3 batteries we recommend for your alternative energy system’s battery bank…

It’s important to first note that you don’t have to buy the 3 batteries we recommend brand new.

Instead, you can use the EZ Battery Reconditioning program to:

  • Get old or used batteries for free (or dirt cheap)
  • Recondition them back to “like-new” condition
  • Then use those reconditioned (like-new) batteries in your alternative energy system’s battery bank INSTEAD of buying new overpriced batteries

Doing this will will save you a considerable amount of money when building a battery bank and it helps make alternative energy accessible to those with a tighter budget!

But that still leaves the questions…

What are the best batteries to use in your solar power, wind power, or other off-grid energy system?

In this blog post we’ll try to answer that question in a very simple and straightforward manner.

Here’s what we’ll go over:

  1. Lead Acid-Batteries VS. Other Battery Technologies in a battery bank
  2. Deep Cycle vs. Shallow Cycle Batteries in a battery bank
  3. Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries (FLA) VS Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries (SLA) in a battery bank
  4. And finally, which 3 Batteries we recommend for your residential off-grid energy system (based on the criteria we go over in this article)

 

Lead Acid-Batteries vs. Other Battery Technologies

Many of the batteries that are used in renewable energy systems were originally designed for other purposes. The most prominent example of this is the lead acid battery which has dominated the industry for a long time.

Deep cycle lead-acid batteries have proven to be one of the best (and most affordable) battery types for alternative energy system battery banks for these reasons:

  • They’re able to withstand frequent discharging,
  • They’re cheaper than other kinds of batteries,
  • They have more rugged durability,
  • They deliver more consistent performance than other batteries.

The fact that they are widely produced also means that they are relatively easy to replace if a battery in your battery bank needs replacing.

It should be noted though, that as of late, lithium ion batteries for residential alternative energy systems, like Tesla’s Powerwall, have been gaining ground – but the initial investment into lithium ion batteries is still much more than the initial investment into lead-acid batteries.

The Powerwall may eventually change this but at the moment deep cycle lead-acid batteries are the cheapest and most practical solution for a home battery bank.

 

Deep Cycle vs. Shallow Cycle (Car) Batteries

Back when the renewable energy industry was still picking up steam, people that wanted to go completely off the grid would often have to improvise and make do with car batteries. However, car batteries were never built for this purpose and shouldn’t be continuously drained and recharged (which is what they need to do in a solar panel or wind turbine system).

Car batteries are supposed to be used only for starting and ignition. If you take a look inside one, you will see that they have a large number of thin plates.

These plates have a big total surface area that can facilitate a large number of chemical reactions. When you start your car, these reactions produce the sudden burst of power that is needed for ignition.

Deep cycle batteries on the other hand, have thick lead plates that don’t give much room for chemical reactions. Though they produce less current, they are designed to do so for a much longer period of time.

In essence, car batteries are “shallow cycle” batteries that will quickly burn out when used as storage for renewable power.

 

Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries  (FLA)  VS  Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries (SLA)

Before telling you what three batteries are best for alternative energy system’s battery banks, it should be made clear why flooded lead-acid batteries (FLA’s) are better for renewable energy than sealed lead-acid batteries (SLA’s).

One of the reasons that some people favour SLA’s is because they require little maintenance. Unlike FLA’s that need to be checked regularly for water level, SLA’s that are used properly can be left alone.

However, sealed lead-acid batteries have two big flaws: they are sensitive and wear out quickly. So if you’re planning on using your solar panel or wind power system every day, this will eventually pose a problem.

So, here are the categories of flooded lead-acid batteries that are best for an off-the-grid power system:

 

The 3 Best Batteries

So now that we know we want a lead acid battery, that’s flooded (FLA), and also has deep cycle properties …here are our 3 favorite batteries for an off-grid system’s battery bank:

1) Golf Cart Batteries

Golf cart batteries are the most widely manufactured batteries on this list.

They also work great in an alternative energy system application. So it’s no surprise that they’re one of the most commonly used batteries in battery banks for renewable energy systems.

Even though the five to six year life span of golf cart batteries may seem relatively short, golf cart batteries more than make up for their deficiency in this area by being extremely durable and cheap.

In addition, golf cart batteries can also be found almost anywhere, making them a great choice for battery banks.

If you really want to build a high quality but inexpensive battery bank one of the best options is to:

  1. Get old or “dead” batteries from golf courses or golf cart shops for free …or dirt cheap (just call them and ask if you can have their old batteries probably lying around and cluttering their shop)
  2. Then recondition those batteries to like-new condition with the EZ Battery Reconditioning program
  3. Use those reconditioned batteries in your battery bank

 

2) Industrial or Forklift Batteries

A battery bank that uses one or more industrial batteries follows the opposite philosophy of a golf cart battery bank. Instead of relying on multiple strings of smaller batteries, you use a few or even one battery to store all of your energy.

Because these batteries aren’t usually manufactured to standard dimensions, you will have to have one made that is just right for your needs.

Or you can try to find an old industrial or forklift battery that’s the correct size for your system and use that.

Like golf cart batteries, there are sometimes ways to get free or cheap forklift batteries.

One way is to call up or visit industrial companies and see if they have old or “dead” forklift batteries. Offer to dispose of it for them or pay them a little bit. If they agree, you can then recondition the battery and use it instead buying a new pricey industrial battery.

But if you choose to get a new custom made battery instead, you should expect to pay quite a bit. But the good news is these types of batteries are typically built to last 15 to 20 years.

Other thing to consider are:

  • These bigger batteries will be heavier and more difficult to move around.
  • There may be advancements in battery technology that could make the battery obsolete in years to come.

But if you don’t mind making a significant investment upfront (anywhere from $2,000 to $10,00) and are alright with spending time keeping your batteries in top condition, then industrial batteries might be right for you.

 

3) L16 Batteries

If you want batteries that have a little more capacity than golf cart batteries but don’t want to spend on industrial batteries, L16 batteries are a good middle ground.

These flooded lead-acid batteries were originally designed for supermarket floor scrubbers.

The good thing with these batteries is that they last a bit longer than golf cart batteries – about six to eight years. However, they are often twice as heavy and the 6-volt models can be twice as expensive.

 

Conclusion

Different homes will have different power requirement and will need battery banks that are sized accordingly.

If you build a battery bank using any of the three batteries mentioned above, you should be able to create a battery bank that is just right for your needs.

There are some exciting new developments in the battery world for alternative energy. These new products should be entering the market over the next couple years, like the lithium ion Tesla Powerwall. But at this time, our three favorite batteries for residential off-grid, alternative energy systems are golf cart batteries, L16 batteries, and industrial batteries.

And if you’re interested in saving money on your battery bank, you can use the EZ Battery Reconditioning program to learn how to:

  1. Get old or “dead” golf cart batteries, L16 batteries, or industrial batteries for free or dirt cheap
  2. Recondition them back to 100% of their working condition
  3. Use those “like-new” batteries instead of buying new overpriced batteries to save a lot of money!

Good luck with your battery bank! And Happy Battery Reconditioning!

Basics of Geo-thermal Power

There’s a very simple reason the “experts” suggest installing a wind/solar energy hybrid system, especially for off the grid living. Historically, in the United States, weather patterns fluctuate, summer … strong solar … weak winds. Winter … weak solar … strong winds. This fluctuation provides reliable green energy year round. There is another year round energy source.

Simple Geo-thermal theory explanation: The United States experiences a wide spectrum of weather conditions from blazing heat to frigid sub-zero cold, Most times in the same city or state. However, just a few feet under the earth’s surface the ground temperature remains relatively the same regardless of surface temperatures. This constant 45/7 to 75/21 degree F or C, is the source of heat we will tap into in order to create a Geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

Geo-thermal – Benefits

Geo-thermal energy taps into the earth’s sub-surface to harness the earth’s natural heat, thus creating a renewable and literally zero green house gases. How can that be? Geo-thermal systems heat and cool the home with for all practical purposes, virtually no electrical power, no need to create large amounts of electricity means no carbon footprint, making the process extremely Eco-friendly.

As a Geo-thermal unit maintains @50% relative indoor humidity they are effective in all environments, from humid Florida to bone dry Arizona.

Geo-thermal heat pump systems are extremely flexible and can be designed to be installed in both new and retro fit construction.

Something most people overlook, whether in new construction design or retro fit, is the space required to house a conventional HAVC system. It is substantial especially if space is at a premium. The equipment required for a Geo-thermal system is quite small freeing space for alternative uses.

Perhaps the most important aspect, especially for the average homeowner, is the durability and reliability of the system. Geo-thermal systems have very few moving parts, and those that do move are located inside the house away from the elements, requiring little to no maintenance. Additionally, the system is so quiet no one at home will know when it’s running.

What Next? Evaluating Your Home

A brief description of Geo-thermal variables

Although a Geo-thermal system can be installed literally anywhere in the world, there are variables that will greatly effect the type and degree of difficulty required to install the unit. If your contractor doesn’t agree … fire him before you hire him.

Geological factors, such as the properties and composition of your soil may have a large impact on the type of geothermal system you choose to install. Soil with good heat transfer properties will require less piping than poor heat transfer soil. Areas with extensive rock content or incredibly difficult to trench may be forced to install a vertical loop system instead of a horizontal ground loop system.

Hydrology refers to the surface water availability which affects the type of Geo-thermal ground loop to use. Factors such as depth, water quality, volume and surface area can be imperative in deciding if an open loop system, or a repository for coils of piping for a closed loop system is possible.

The size of usable land can dictate your system. Horizontal ground loop systems are the least expensive to install, but existing landscaping, sprinkler systems or underground utilities may force the installation of a vertical loop system.

Types of Geo-thermal Heat Pump Systems

Unless you are familiar with Geo-thermal you are probably quite sick of hearing about looped systems you have no concept of. We will now delve a little more into the complexities of these different systems.

There are four basic types of ground loop systems, horizontal, vertical and pond/lake systems which are known as closed loop systems … the fourth is an open loop system. Any of the four can be used for residential or commercial use, but climate, soil conditions, land size and local labor cost will dictate which would be the best for the particular installation.

Let’s begin with the Closed Loop System

Nearly all 98% of closed-loop heat pumps circulate an anti-freeze solution through specially designed plastic tubing, which is buried underground or submerged in deeper water in a closed loop system. This antifreeze is run through a heat ex-changer that transfers the heat between the anti-freeze and the heat pump.

Another variation is called a direct exchange, that does not include a heat ex-changer, but rather pumps the refrigerant through copper coils that are buried in the ground, either horizontally or vertically. There are some complications with this system, as a much larger compressor is required, costing more to run and maintain. Additionally the soil must have a high moisture content which may require adding a sprinkler system. Lastly, certain soils, such as a high content of limestone, are very corrosive to copper increasing the chances of a leak being created.

heat transfer diagram

This type of installation for residential homes is preferred due to the cost effectiveness of the installation. It requires the excavation of trenches, one minimum of four feet deep, for 1 pipe to lay in, the second at least six feet deep for the second pipe. A variation of this installation is to dig a five foot deep by 2 foot wide trench, and lay the piping in a slinky method, looping the tubing. This has several advantages, for example it reduces the size and amount of trenching as the slinky method allows more pipe to be placed in a smaller area, which may allow this less expensive method to be used when originally thought there wasn’t enough usable land available.

Vertical System

vertical

Large commercial buildings and schools will nearly always utilize a vertical system because the amount of piping required would demand extensive trenching over a large tract of land, which is normally not available or very expensive. Vertical systems can also be used when there isn’t enough soil over bedrock for deep enough and proper trenching. Installation requires a trench to be dug to hold a horizontal pipe, known as a manifold which connects the vertical piping to the equipment stored inside the building. Depending on the requirements, four inch diameter holes are drilled to 100 to 400 feet deep and 20 feet apart. Pipes are inserted into these holes, with a U-bend connection which redirects the pipe back up the hole to the manifold.

inapondWater-source System

The pond/lake system as its known is by far the cheapest of all installations and is ideal for a cabin or vacation home, although it can be utilized for a full time residence. Installation is simple, a trench is dug from the house to the water source, beneath the freeze line, a pipe is inserted and covered with soil. The pipe will be fished into the water source, how far out depends on the size of the pond/lake, and must be coiled and sunk to a minimum of eight feet beneath the surface. Caution: You must monitor the depth of the water if there is any doubt that lack of rainfall could create an unsafe water level.

Open Loop System

This system, which in my opinion is the least desirable, uses well or surface water as the heat exchange fluid that circulates through the GHO system, then returns to the well or to a surface discharge. This option can only be used when there is an unlimited amount of clean water and groundwater discharge is not a violation of state or local rules or regulations.

Geo-thermal heat pumps (GHP) are not a new craze, they have been in use since the 1940s, of course there have been huge technological advances as with any other technology. Going “green” is a personal choice, but sometimes its largely dictated by cost, and that depends on how you describe cost. The Geo-thermal system may cost as much as 3 or 4 times a traditional HAVC system, however the reduced costs of operation may pay for itself in as little as 5 to 10 years. The system’s expected life span is 25 years for inside components and 50+ years for the ground loop.

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Insulating Windows With Bubble Wrap

I think most people, except the wealthy, have at one time or another lived, either owned or rented, a place that had lousy windows. They were difficult to open or close, but they especially were for all practical purposes non-existent as far as insulating you against the elements. They were ice cold to the touch, wind whipped in around the seals creating a wind tunnel that blew the curtains around like a ghost pulling on them. I wish I had known this trick of insulating windows with bubble wrap.

In my younger day we would cut plastic sheeting, the roll type you would use to prevent paint from ruining the floor while painting, and some type of tape, painters tape or duct tape, to cover the interior side of the window. You wouldn’t cover the outside of the window because it looked tacky from the street. We were poor, but we still had our pride.

Then the new fandangled thin plastic sheeting and double sided tape was introduced, currently still sold. This cut to window size thin and flimsy plastic was designed to put an air gap between you and the window, same theory as double pane glass. Installed with the double sided tape, included, and shrunk tight by heating it with a hair dryer after attaching, it was clearer than the paint plastic and made for a prettier installation.

I recently read a blog post by Gary Reysa of BuilditSolar.com that I thought required re-posting. Wish I had thought of it years ago. Thanks Gary

I’ve used bubble wrap on windows for two three+ years now, and I’m amazed how quick and easy it is. This year, we are even covering the windows in the guest room — we just take the bubble wrap down when guests come, and put it back up when they leave — 15 seconds a window.

This is a simple technique for insulating windows with bubble wrap packing material.  Bubble wrap is often used to insulate greenhouse windows in the winter, but it also seems to work fine for windows in the house.   You can use it with or without regular or insulating window shades.  It also works for windows of irregular shape, which can be difficult to find insulating shades for.

 Its been five years since I put this page up, and I’ve heard from MANY people who are quite happy with using bubble wrap for window insulation.

The view through the bubble wrapped window is fuzzy, so don’t use it on windows where you need a clear view.  But, it does let plenty of light through.

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Installation

  • Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane with scissors.

  • Spray a film of water on the window using a spray bottle.

  • Apply the bubble wrap while the window is still wet and press it into place.

  • The bubble side goes toward the glass.

  • To remove the bubble wrap, just pull it off starting from a corner.  You can save it and use it for several years.  It does not leave a mess or stains on the window glass.

If you have trouble with the bubble wrap separating from the window when the film dries, you can try adding a little Glycerin to the water, but this probably won’t be necessary. 

 A few small pieces of double back tape can be helpful on really stubborn windows.

 The bubble wrap can be installed in the fall, and removed in the spring.  Judging by how mine looks after a year, it may last quite a while.

When you take the bubble wrap down, put a small number in on the upper right corner of each piece of bubble wrap, and write down which window that number goes with on a piece of paper.  Save the paper for the installation next fall.  This tells you instantly where each sheet goes, and which way its oriented.

 Payoff – Insulating Windows With Bubble Wrap

The bubble wrap has a short payback in cold climates.  About 2 months for single glazed windows, and half a heating season for double glazed widows.  Details on payback:

For an 7000 deg-day climate (northern US), and single glazed windows, the bubble wrap increases the R value from about R1 to about R2.  This cuts the heat loss from the window in half.
Heat losses with and without bubble wrap for 1 sqft of window are:
    Heat loss w/o wrap = (7000 deg-day)(1 ft^2) (24 hr/day) / (1 ft^2-F/BTU) = 168K BTU per season     Heat loss with wrap = (7000 deg-day)(1 ft^2) (24 hr/day) / (2 ft^2-F/BTU) = 88K BTU per season If you are heating with natural gas at $1.50 per therm (100 CF) in an 80% efficient furnace, then the saving for 1 sqft of wrap for the season is:     Saving per sqft = ($1.50)(168K – 88K)/(100K*0.8)  = $1.65 per season per sqft of windowThe bubble wrap cost about $0.30 per sqft, so the payback period is about 2 months — not too badIf you repeat the numbers above for double glazed windows, the saving is $0.60per sqft per season, and the payback period is a about one half heatinseason. If you use a more expensive fuel like propane, fuel oil, or electricity, the savings will be correspondingly more.

Does Bubble Wrap Help In the Summer? (added March 2016)

There have been a few questions on whether bubble wrap is effective in reducing unwanted heat gain in the summer. The answer is that it does help some, but there are probably better approaches.

The bubble wrap adds insulation, so just as this added insulation helps to reduce heat loss from the warm room to the cold outside in the winter, it also helps to reduce heat gain from the hot outside to the cool room in the summer, and that is good and helps the room run cooler. But, heat gain also comes from the sun shining right through the window and the bubble wrap and then being

Some places to get bubble wrap:– Save up bubble wrap packing material that you and friends receive – Check places that sell larger items like canoes or furniture — bubble wrap is often used for packing these.– Check for wholesale suppliers of packing material in your area — these places will often sell a roll to the public. 

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Double Bubble (added Nov 15, 2007)

I thought it might be worth a try to see if two layers of bubble wrap might be used. 

This may be going a bit far, but it does seem to work.

 I applied a 2nd layer of bubble wrap over the first layer in exactly the same way as the first layer was applied to the window glass.  That is, spray the first layer of bubble wrap with water mist, and while its still wet apply the 2nd layer of bubble wrap to it and smooth it out.
For both layers, the bubble side face the glass.

It has been a couple days since I did this, and it is staying in place OK — not sure if it will stay up with the added weight in the long term or not.

 The two layers of bubble wrap fuzzy the view a bit more than one layer, but it still seems to transmit quite a bit of light.

The surface temperature on the 2nd layer is higher than the surface temperature on the first layer, so it is adding some insulation value.absorbed when it hits a surface in the room. In the winter, this direct absorption of solar radiation is a good thing in that its free heat gain — its one of the nice features of bubble wrap that it allows the sun to shine right through it and get beneficially absorbed in the room. But, in the summer this direct absorption of solar radiation in the room is a negative and its a big part of summer heat gain for windows that get a lot of direct sun.

For summer heat gain with windows that get direct sunlight its really important to prevent the sunlight from shinning through the window and into the room. The best way to do this is to stop the sunlight outside the window by shading the window on the outside in some way. The shading can be things like shade trees or bushes, shade screen (which still allows some light into the room, but blocks most of the heat gain), or completely opaque shades on the outside of the window that block all of the sun. If its not possible to shade the window on the outside, than another approach is to place a reflective surface (like a shade) just inside of the window with the reflective side facing the window. This reflects much of the sun right back out the window so it is not absorbed and converted to heat inside the room. Surfaces like aluminum foil or a reflective white paint are good at reflecting sunlight back out the window.

Bubble Wrap Life:

Doug reports that bubble wrap that he installed 6 years ago has about had it.  He thinks the life is around 5 to 7 years.  In his application, the bubble wrap stays up year round.

 He reports that at the end of its life, it tends to stick to the glass, so replacing it before this happens might save some cleanup work.

The bubble wrap he is using was intended for packaging, so this still leaves open the question of whether the bubble wrap intended for greenhouses will last longer.  The greenhouse bubble wrap we installed is on its third winter, and is still doing fine. 

The article may have gotten a little too much in-depth, but learning how to insulate windows with bubble wrap is a nice pay off.

 

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Solar: Basic Science

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When it comes to “personal” solar usage many people fail to realize the simpler the better. We have fallen into the “more complicated the better” mindset which, in my opinion, originates with the cell phone. There was a time being able to make and receive a phone call without being attached to a land line, was not only amazing, but quite efficient and solved the number one issue of being able to communicate from any location.

However, today if the cell phone, I-pad, smart phone, whatever, doesn’t take professional grade photos, emit music as if you were in a symphony hall or order you pizza by you simply thinking about it, its of little value and is about to be replaced by a newer version. Lost is the original intent of making and receiving a phone call.

With this mindset it’s sometimes difficult to remain on task when discussing solar energy, which is …. to harness the power of the sun to produce energy that we can convert to our use. That form is usually electric, but could also be heat-transfer for specific use, such as hot water heating systems.

Quick History Lesson: Solar photo-voltaic (solar cells)

Simply explained Solar cells also referred to as PV cells, convert sunlight directly into electricity. The PV term is derived from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), thus PV. This is not new technology as it was discovered in 1954 by scientist employed at Bell Telephone, who discovered silicon, an element found in sand, created an electrical charge when exposed directly to sunlight.

In the overall scheme of things a PV system is not really particularly complex considering its tremendous impact on our daily lives. Did you realize calculators and watches are powered by this system? First, panels collect the sunlight and turn it into electricity. The DC current is fed into an inverter which converts the DC into AC power, which is what powers your home. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to follow that logistic.

Basic list of PV system elements:

Panels: PV panels, are your biggest expense as they can run anywhere from $2.45 to over $5 per watt. It can not be emphasized enough, proper placement and mounting is the single biggest thing that can affect the efficiency of the system. Poor location and mounting … poor performance.

Mounting equipment: As previously stated, it’s imperative the location of the panels, calculated to be exposed to sunlight the maximum amount of time over the period of a year, is checked and double checked. Once the location is verified, the real problem is securing the panels with enough integrity to remain in position for 25-30years. It does little good to sweat blood arriving at the utmost pinnacle of efficiency to position the panels, only to have them move due to poor installation techniques or material. Like buying a $100,000 RV with 1 gallon of gas in the tank. Looks good, but totally useless for its intended use of traveling.

DC to AC Inverter: This equipment takes low-voltage, high current signals from the PV panels and converts it into 120VAC (240VAC is also available) which makes it compatible to household appliances & etc. This equipment is the weak link in the system from the reliability standpoint, so don’t sacrifice quality for costs. You’ll regret it later.

 

Tracking Mounts: These mounts move the PV panels, mechanically, over the course of the day so they are directly exposed to the face of the sun, maximizing power production. Dual axis trackers change both azimuth and elevation, while single axis trackers only change azimuth. It depends on many variables which type would be the more beneficial for your use.

Azimuth is an arc of the horizon measured between a fixed point (such as true North) and the vertical circle passing through the center of an object usually in astronomy and navigation clockwise from the north point 360 degrees.” Webster Dictionary

If your like me … you really didn’t understand that explanation, but I include it because someone will.

Disconnect switches: Must be easily accessible and within reach of the smallest family member, and every member must know how to operate it. If any abnormal behavior occurs with the home’s electrical system, immediately disconnect the solar system. Why? Because odds are if something has malfunctioned and has created a safety hazard, it most likely will be the new installation, not the established house electrical system.

Utility power meters: Always notify your local power company that you are going to use a solar power electrical system. Why? Conventional power meters can spin backwards, but most companies will convert your power usage to a TOU (time-of-use) rate structure. It’ll save you a hassle of getting your electric bill correctly formulated.

Use Your Head:

Solar energy, although great, is too expensive to try the old trial and error method of design and installation. Don’t lose sight of energy efficiency being the most cost effective method of reducing the cost of heating and cooling your home. Do your due diligence and work with contractors who have demonstrated their expertise in building and remodeling to energy efficiency. This is especially true when switching to solar from a traditional power source. Get a Home Energy Audit before doing anything. It may offer options that will make conversion, for cost benefits only, unnecessary. It’s up to the individual, but installing any system that will require 30 years to pay for itself is a questionable choice.

basic-thermosyphon-water-heating-system

Basic Thermo – syphon system

Let’s assume you’ve had a Home Energy Audit performed and with a few changes to the homes windows and insulation, the cost of going solar is questionable, right on the edge of smart or wasteful. You want to do something. What about a solar water heater? Water heaters, especially older non-energy efficient types, are an energy consuming beasts.

How solar water heaters work: These systems are comprised of storage tanks and solar collectors, which use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid in a collector to provide hot water to the house. The most common system utilizes a well-insulated storage tank to hold and maintain hot water. There are two types of solar water heating systems; Active direct circulation which require circulating pumps and controls, and Passive, which don’t.

Direct-circulation systems circulate water through the collectors and into the home, which can be used in climates where a freeze is uncommon. Indirect-circulation system pumps a non-freezing heat transfer fluid through the collectors and into a heat ex-changer, which heats the water that then flows to the home. These are used in cold weather climates.

A Passive Solar Water Heating System is typically less expensive than active systems, but not usually as efficient. But … the passive system may last longer. There are essentially two basic types of passive systems.

Integral-collector-storage: These systems can only operate in fair weather environments where it rarely freezes, and there is significant sunny daylight.

Thermo – syphon systems: The collector must be installed below the storage tank elevation in order for the warm water to rise into the tank. They are normally more expensive to install than the Integral-collector.

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Storage Tanks & Solar Collectors:

Solar water heaters will require a well-insulated storage tank, which has an additional inlet and outlet connected to the collector. There are 2 tank systems which include a traditional type water heater, as the solar heater will preheat the water before being pumped to the traditional water heater tank.

***Note*** Nearly all solar water heating systems will require a back up system in order to compensate for unusual high demand or cloudy days.

Questions to Answer Before Purchasing a Solar HW system:

1. Arrive at a firm estimate of the cost and energy efficiency of the particular system. The last thing you want is a $1000 increase surprise in the middle of installation, or a system that falls far short of expectations.

2. Evaluate the site’s solar resources. Some building lots, or current home location, is just not suitable for enough exposure to sunlight to provide the energy required without expensive modifications or unchangeable natural hindrances.

3. Double check the required size of the system. Some contractors, whether by inexperience or by deceit, will offer a less expensive system claiming it’s plenty big enough to do the job, but is totally inadequate. It’d be like buying a car with a little bit of brakes. Not a good idea.

4. This may actually be the first step you need to take. Check local codes, covenants and regulations which may prohibit you from installing a solar system. Usually, other than the cost of building permits, local governments rarely pose a problem. However, belonging to a homeowners association, or something similar, may prohibit any “unsightly” additions to a property. That’s an ambiguous term which can create unnecessary headaches and legal fees.

Screen Your Contractor:

Few people realize that a “Licensed Contractor” simply means the contractor paid a fee to the municipality to do business within its borders. It is no guarantee the contractor knows what they are doing. Ask questions and expect plain forth right answers.

1.What experience do you have installing and maintaining solar systems? Ask for referrals or site locations of finished jobs. A contractor proud of his work will welcome the opportunity to display its workmanship.

2. Does the company have experience installing the type of system you want? Solar systems have a general operating principle, but no two systems are identical. Are they capable of handling unexpected problems, such as hitting rock 8 inches down where there wasn’t suppose to be any.

3. Years of experience is a factor to consider, but don’t let that stop you from hiring a newer contractor. The new guy may be excellent and has a burning desire to begin a reputation of quality service, while the guy with 5 years experience may have performed shoddy substandard work, skating from one scam to another. Check your BBB.

We have only scratched the surface of understanding the many types of solar systems available, and they improve and become less expensive as time goes on. I just wanted to expose you to a few basics of solar water heating and its principles.

strikepen-300x250-1  Click Here

“Brave”

I have watched with curiosity the Word Press daily blog challenge and considered submitting a post, but I was somewhat reluctant for a couple of reasons. One, the quality of the writings are excellent and although I’m not in a competition with anyone, one never wants to look inadequate.

Secondly, I didn’t know if it were proper to post anything on my blog that was not related to the blog’s intended content. Here’s this solemn serious blog about green energy and surviving the nuclear holocaust and … Surprise, here’s a post about using balloons to create little dogie figures. Kinda out of character.

Being a modern day man I begin my mornings with a cup of coffee and my computer. My wife reads the newspaper, the poor soul. I start at Yahoo, then AOL, then Bing, ending with Microsoft. A complete smorgasbord of news, sports and gossip. I’m not sure why I subject myself to the pain of wanting to know what happens in America every day. A morbid curiosity, a subconscious method of inflicting pain on myself as retribution for past sins, or a daily fix of one unbelievable event after another… I’m not sure which.

But today destiny reared its head, some may say coincidence, fate or my imagination, but whatever it was it struck and struck hard. Out of curiosity I read several articles about Trump telling the widow of a recently fallen soldier “that her husband knew what he signed up for.” Insinuating she should take his death with a grain of salt … hell, she should have expected it. What’s the big deal?

Disgusted, I shut the news off and signed into my Word Press blog and there it was … the day’s word of the day Brave. Perhaps my mind was fertile ground after digesting, rephrase that, trying to digest how terribly callous and uncaring America seems to have become. Problem is … I know Americans are loving caring people. What’s the deal here? I don’t understand. So I tried to think of what the word brave meant to me and to put pen to paper with my definition of brave as it should reflect on America, but is falling short.

You had to have been living under a rock the last year to not know the political turmoil our country is embroiled in. America actually reminds me of a typical family that fights within the group, viciously at times, but immediately band together to fight an outside force. Everyone knows that the civil war pitted North against South, but very few know that during the Revolutionary war the majority of Southerners fought with Great Britain against the colonies. Why? Cotton. The south was built on cotton and Great Britain was its biggest customer and they weren’t about to alienate their source of wealth.

I give this short history lesson only to provide a backdrop to our tendency to fight one another, yet come together in common causes, WWI & WWII for instance. We’ve worked through this type of dissent before. But how did we do it?

I’ll warn you now this may sound like a political speech, but it is not. Unfortunately everything in America is classified “Politics” so its impossible to not earn that label deserved or not. Take it for what it’s worth, but this is what brave means to me.

I totally understand how America could elect a man like Donald Trump as president. It wasn’t votes for him … it was votes against something. I really do believe only weak minded, desperate or wealthy & greedy people who actually knew his true intent, actually voted for the man. Okay, here we go. To summarize the last 9 months, we have elected a compulsive liar, thief, a person bankrupted of moral values, who has alienated every traditional American ally, divided the American people intentionally and has us on the brink of a nuclear war. Which by the way may totally destroy the world and mankind. (Your money won’t save you)

How could this happen? America doesn’t have brave people representing it in government. We have weak, greedy self serving people who only care about remaining in power. They really could care less about the American people, only their clique (political party). Why do I claim this?

If we had brave people they would call out the absolute unadulterated lies that trump spews on a daily basis. They’d remove the man if the lying didn’t stop.

Brave people would spotlight the laws that are broken on a daily basis, ethical, legal, moral violations which are totally sneered at with contempt. They would remove such a man from office.

Brave people would stop the plundering of the American people’s natural resources and destruction of clean air & water. There’s nothing wrong with reviewing regulations and standards from time to time. Things change … rules may need to change. But to subject our children to dirty air and contaminated water because a black man was in power when the rules were installed is craziness and maybe just a little prejudice.

Brave people would witness the continued slaughter of innocent people and demand change. They would tell the NRA to stick their money where the sun don’t shine and pass common sense restrictions on certain weapons and people who can obtain them. What’s wrong with requiring background checks? Why should known mentally unstable people be allowed to purchase weapons of mass destruction? Why would a hunter need a weapon that can discharge a 100 rounds a minute? Do you know what a deer or moose would look like enduring 50 shots from an AR15? There would be nothing left. And if you can’t hit your quarry with 10 shots or less, you don’t need to be hunting … you need shooting classes.

Brave people would not pass laws to chain children to poverty, hunger and illness. Only despicable people would doom the least fortunate to misery while showering the wealthy with more luxuries. Many of those taking from the poor have more money than they can spend in a lifetime, while kids go hungry.

To tell you the truth I’m going to have to stop now. I get so angry … so frustrated at times. I hate labels. I’m not a bleeding heart liberal, or a conservative, my way or the highway. I’m just an American who wonders where all the Brave people have went?

God Help America

This statement may sound rather crazy coming from a “Survival Guru,” … But I don’t know how the people of Puerto Rico are surviving.

To my knowledge there is no website, blog, Facebook page or any other media that details how to survive with absolutely no basic necessities of life, with over 3 million people competing for the very few scarce resources that are available.

I have no idea how I would attempt to handle the situation. How, as a parent, do you awake every morning not knowing how you are going to provide food and water for your children. We, as good parents, fret as Christmas nears, that we may not be able to buy the most popular toy that year before it sells out.

Oh, how disappointed little Johnny will be that he was the only one without the new toy.”

How about trying “Oh, how disappointed little Johnny will be he won’t be able to eat today.”

This ain’t no reality show … this is reality!

Rage would be the word of the day. I’d be enraged seeing a mountain of desperately needed supplies setting in trailers on a dock somewhere while U.S. government bureaucrats blame one another for not supplying drivers to transport the cargo to desperate citizens. “Give me the keys … I’ll drive the damn truck!” I may not know how, but I’ll get the stuff off the guarded dock to where people can access it.

I’d be enraged looking out at a Navy state of the art medical ship, with 700 highly trained medical experts waiting to treat sick and dying people, while watching my child lay in the mud with retching vomiting the result of eating spoiled food.

I’d be enraged exiting the hospital, where my 38 year old wife just died because the generator that supplied power to the life sustaining equipment ran out of fuel, and see FEMA employees milling about waiting for somebody … anybody in charge to direct them into action. Nobody seems to be in charge. “Give me authority … I know what needs to be done!”


Bewilderment may be the second word of the day. There are nearly a million, nobody really knows for sure the number, of people stranded in the wilderness areas that have had no contact to the outside world since the hurricane struck. There was a big deal made of the relatively small number of deaths incurred during the storm. Well, number one that number has increased and continually climbs every day, but politicians really have no idea how many perished in the immediate destruction. It could be hundreds of thousands!

The people isolated and cut off from the rest of the world must be bewildered. Did the hurricane destroy the entire world outside of our area? I mean … it’s been weeks with no sign of anything. They know, being American citizens, the U.S. Government is deploying every available asset, at lighting speed to rescue them. Where are they? We are dying.

Second Season of the Reality Show

The second season of this nightmarish reality show promises to be much worse than the initial drama of the hurricane destruction. How could it possibly be worse than the total devastation we are witnessing now? Because every death, every injury that becomes irreversible because it was too late to treat, will have been preventable.

It didn’t have to happen!

Children, and soon adults, are beginning to die from a water borne disease known as Leptospirosis, which is caused by drinking water that has been contaminate by animal feces. This is a 100% treatable illness. It is never fatal if treated, with known and readily available medicines. The key word here is … “Available.” Why isn’t it available? Why are people forced to drink contaminated water?

I’ll proclaim that any death from this day on October 12, 2017 … is blood on somebody’s hands.

I pose a question. “Does anyone really think had the same natural disaster occurred in the Hawaiian Islands that weeks later there would still be no electric service or potable drinking water for the people?”

No? Well, how come?

Well, obviously because there is a United States Naval base located there you may reply.

Okay, I’ll buy that. Much needed military resources available. The Atlantic Naval operations don’t have the same resources available as the Pacific fleet? Granted to mobilize the Atlantic resources and deploy to Puerto Rico may take as much as a week, but it has been far longer than a week. I hate to do it, but there is no other obvious reason for the lack of humanitarian efforts on the part of our government other than politics.

How can you say that?” You angrily snarl. “These are American citizens just like Hawaiians or somebody from Brooklyn or Lawrence Kansas.”

No they are not my friend. These American citizens can not vote. That is the difference. Without a vote they pose no threat to either political party.

I will not veer off the subject, which seems to be the MO of the current administration, misdirect and divide. NFL vs people dying in Puerto Rico.

Speaking from St. Louis, Missouri … right dead in the middle of the U.S.A .. gateway to the West ….

Please Help Our Citizens of Puerto Rico!”

By the way, since it seems to matter to some people … I’m not Latino nor am I black. I’m an elderly white male, middle class (although slipping backwards) 2 kids, a house with a white picket fence and I’m disgusted with the way things are going.

Our former military leaders could plan the invasion of Normandy. Can’t we plan the saving of Puerto Rico?

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Who Cares About Batteries? You Should.

 

Simple Question: What is the impact of batteries on humankind?

That’s not an easy of an answer as one may first think. There are many variables that must be linked together to view the overall “Big Picture.” Obviously there is both a negative and positive impact of batteries on humankind. The initial and basic positive impact is that life has been easier and filled with more options for humans. There are hundreds of activities that have been made possible for us through the creation of batteries, many of which we have grown so accustomed to we rarely think about them. For example:

Car Batteries: Without the invention of car batteries we would never be able to depend on a reliable form of transportation. The use of cranks to turn the engine over would not jell very well in today’s modern version of the automobile and I believe there is little argument the introduction of automobiles has made a hugely positive impact on human kind.

Monitors: Most people think of a computer monitor when they see the word, but there are hundreds of various types of monitors that are used today. For a lot of people the most important one is the standard hospital heart monitor. These monitors are an invaluable resource which are used to help keep people alive. They also provide a clear source for medical education, research and examination, which have developed into an incredibly vital part of the medical world.

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Watches: What’s wrong with winding a watch by stem like our ancestors did for 100s of years? Nothing. But what about the round black clock hanging in the workplace or the library. Without batteries we would never have portable clocks that can be used to easily tell what time it is. Although not a compulsory essential, sundials were used for a long time, watches and the ability to access time is essential in today’s modern world. Time and space are part of Einsteins “Theory of Relativity”.

Without a doubt our tech savvy children could name another dozen toys & games that are made possible because of batteries. Actually there are probably hundreds of other manufactured electronic creations that have been made possible by the introduction of batteries.

There is a caveat associated with these creations, which have formed a vital part in humankind development over the last few decades. Without the establishment of batteries, the mechanical world could not have progressed and reached the critical level that it has achieved, enabling huge scientific breakthroughs and discoveries.

The Caveat. Although batteries have been a crucial component in facilitating a large range of discoveries and activities, they also have a negative impact on mankind.

One of the most prominent negative impacts is the dependency on electronic appliances. Beginning with a very rural society we have grown into a mechanical industrial world highly dependent of technology, of which one large element included is the battery. As one of the foundation blocks of society, communities have not only become largely dependent on batteries for necessities such as transportation and work, but also for less essential activities including entertainment and leisure.


What is the impact of batteries on the environment?

Unfortunately the effects of batteries on the environment are nearly entirely negative.

As batteries are used they actually burn, vaporizing and releasing toxins into the air. If you have ever seen an industrial bank of batteries being recharged there is always an exhaust ventilation hood to capture and disperse the toxins outside the work area.

When they are dumped into the ocean they pollute our seas, killing or contaminating sea life, the very fish we consume. Heard of fish too high in mercury to safely consume? Where do you think the mercury came from?

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When batteries are thrown into “dumps,” their toxic ingredients seep into the soil causing massive and devastating damage to our natural Eco-system. The toxins in these batteries that are leached into the ground can contaminate plant and animal life, and have a devastating effect to ground water for up to 50 years.

The affects on humans when they consume these toxic chemicals, either through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water are extremely detrimental. Children are highly affected by this process, and are most susceptible to damage. Often the results of this ingestion are upset central nervous systems, psychological deficiency and learning disabilities. The exposure to these dangerous chemicals has a prolonged effect on the environment.

This is the very reason the EPA was created in the United States. This agency is being dismantled by the Trump administration, but that’s an issue for another time.

Bottom line is: any chemical or metal is potentially dangerous and should never be deposited in the ground.

Only through the adequate and proper disposal of batteries, can we successfully build up on a healthy ecosystem. Some experts claim that every single battery that is disposed of in an incorrect fashion will end up in leaching into the ground effecting and entire chain of being – ultimately effecting yourself.

Batteries are designed for specific purposes; therefore each battery is different in their characteristics and is suited for a certain task, making no one “best battery.”

For example, a lead-acid accumulator in a car could not be used in a torch like a nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydroxide battery. Although some batteries may be more powerful in terms of current or resistance, it is only because the use of that battery requires those qualities.

In terms of environmental and human impact, it seems that all batteries are harmful if not disposed of properly and safely, although some may be more harmful than others depending on the toxicity of the metals involved in manufacturing it.

Science Be Damned

I was a jock in high school. Played football, defensive corner-back, wrestled, 133 lb. Class (ain’t seen that weight in many a year) and baseball, second baseman.

My grades were middle of the road, wasn’t too concerned about being a nerd, big mistake by the way. But as a whole I wasn’t a bad kid, mischievous at times, but nothing drastic. As long as I could comprehend class lectures and do a little homework I was fine. But … give me a class I had to buckle down and study for … it was easier to make excuses for not being in the top of the class.

Science was one of those classes, Biology to be specific. The teacher hated me, looking back I can see why, and I just couldn’t see the sense in learning what’s inside a chicken that makes it tick or whatever else nonessential information learned then forgotten for lack of use. I didn’t have the time or energy to partake in this charade.

Then something changed. I saw a Tadpole turn into a Frog. Let that one sink in for moment. You must remember when I was a kid there was no such thing as satellite or cable TV. No History, Animal or National Geographic channels which provide an infinite amount of information in a very entertaining and easily understood format.


I didn’t walk miles to school, uphill both ways, or study by candlelight, but by today’s standards it was quite elementary. Therefore, the actual witnessing and documenting the transformation of a tadpole to a frog was, for some reason, mesmerizing.

That normal, classic lab experiment, something kids born in the rural areas of course took for granted, wasn’t in any frogs in the city, rats, but no frogs, was an eye opening experience for me. It demonstrated how something could start out as one thing and morph or develop into something entirely different.

Why Tell This Story?

As I told everyone creating Ziva’s DIY Battery Restoration was a two fold project. For starters I wanted to try and supplement my social security and meager pension income by attempting, big on ATTEMPTING, to become an affiliate marketer. (Don’t believe “it’s so easy a child can do it”) Although I have nearly cried like a baby trying to figure out Facebook, Word-Press, Keywords and a hundred other things I know nothing about.

Sorry, a little pity party just erupted.

While researching a product to sell I ran across Battery Restoration, which seemed to exceed all my criteria. It offered a chance to make a few bucks, helped people who bought the program save a bunch of bucks, was a blessing to the environment and offered Home Based business opportunities for anyone interested.

I have been diagnosed a person with a compulsive personality. Now that ain’t all bad as it has at times, served me well in the past. I happily endured 100’s of hours fielding ground balls, building a back yard shed turned into a western town of several buildings and I could go on and on.

Due to this mental demeanor I dove head first into researching everything I could about batteries. I scoured the internet, researched my county library, anything to acquire the most information I could to pass along to my customers and readers.

What I Discovered

Batteries are but a segment of the overall picture of renewable energy, green energy, environmental issues, the whole big gambit of Energy. As I continued to research I realized this was a huge topic with huge issues swirling around it.

I also realized there were many ways, probably half I never heard of, to save and/or create electrical energy through various ways. Some avenues are monstrous and expensive, but many are simple and cost effective. And as I delve deeper it’s obvious I’m just scratching the surface.

Summary

The bottom line is: Ziva’s DIY Battery Restoration will transform or morph, just like the Tadpole to a Frog, into a Green Energy Resource. I will be exploring many many avenues of how to save, store, create, etc, etc energy. I will pass my findings along to you for your consideration. No high pressure sales pitch. Check it out … like it … buy it. Don’t … continue to explore and discover.