Power - charge controller or - charger

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I don't wanna hear how late it is,

My finances changed drastically, and I'm SERIOUSLY considering a genny to charge a couple deep cycle batt's and running things from an inverter or two. We are able to do for third priority stuff now.

Ref charging the batts. Do I need/want to go for a seriuos charge controller or simply a couple std battery chargers and manually watch the critters.

When I worked for an outdoor/fishing place we used standard chargers for our trolling batteries and they seemed to last VERY WELL with multiple cycles per week (typically 10-15).

If I DO needto do the charge controller thing, where might I want to go considering that the order won't get placed until 12/27. (the change in status doesn't happen until the 25th)

Input anyone??


-- Chuck, a night driver (rienzoo@en.com), December 20, 1999


Ppsst, we could use some of this finance change drastically upward stuff. Any tips on how to change financial status muy pronto mucho gracias ;^)

-- hey we resisted the 1st threads (allaha@earthlink.net), December 20, 1999.

Go for the charge controller. Without it, your battery life and performance will suffer. I've got a *small* Exide charger with a built in controller, and I can tell just from watching the two LEDs that it's treating the batteries *very* differently from how a regular charger treats them. It gives *exactly* the amount necessary to bring them to full charge -- at the proper rate (tapers off towards the end, which you can observe via the LEDs), and then "blips" them just enough to keep them topped off.

Unfortunately, *our* finances haven't changed (except for the worst). But, the old house *may* sell shortly (sudden potential buyer, sounds serious) but I can't realistically see it closing prior to EOY. But, I guess it's possible, since he'd be self-financing.

Anyway, we've got no massive battery packs, much to my chagrin. I *do* have two lunker UPSs and one on the way. You can get *very* high quality constant-duty 1000-1500 Watt UPSs for a song if you don't mind rigging up new batteries for them. A thousand watt inverter *with* a very good charge controller, *and* an automatic transfer switch for under fifty bucks? Hard to resist.

So, I picked up a bunch of sealed lead-acid batteries for a song, and I plan on using one UPS to keep the furnace pumps working, one for lights (one compact flurouescent in each room), radio, etc., and leave one on the computer.

I'll fire up the generators as necessary for water, cycling freezer, and charging batteries.

If I had the bucks, I'd get a pile of fork lift batteries, and a few of those Trace inverters with the built in "everything" controller. They can fire up the generator when the batteries need to be charged, and, they can also fire it up when the demand is greater than the inverter can pump out. When the generator comes on line, the inverter phase-locks with it, and they run in parallel for greater amperage.

If you've got the bucks, *that* is the way to go!

-- Ron Schwarz (rs@clubvb.com.delete.this), December 20, 1999.

Check out the catalogue for Real Goods Co. They shipped immediately. We recieved half our order in two days (today) and the rest is coming tomorrow. Pam.

-- Pamela (jpjgood@penn.com), December 20, 1999.

Real Goods has a webste and great customer service.They ship fast and had comparative pricing. Their engineers will answer any stupid question you can come up with and they don't laugh about y2k.

Guess where we purchased our system from?

Good luck and watch out that DC voltage will knock the #### out of you!

-- Johnny (jljtm@bellsouth.com), December 20, 1999.

I second / third Real Goods, and Sunelco.com. A solar panel to a controller to a battery or battery bank...even two deep cycle batteries is the way to go. Unless you need the genny for more juice if necessary...if you can go all 12 volts systems, lights, tv etc., you do not need an inverter. Go to the rv stores. On the other hand, if you need an inverter, you will need more batteries, but damark.com had some statpower inverters that work just fine on our system...including this new computer. Hey, chuck, thanks for all your posts over the 18 months I have been following this board.

-- Mary (CAgdma@home.com), December 20, 1999.

In most parts of the country there should be some kind of local alternative energy dealer- there are more of them out there than you realize. You might find a nearby dealer who has batteries, inverters, and controllers (and lots more) on hand, ready to pick up. I think that some of them keep a good inventory on hand, and may still have equipment left. Lots of them advertise in Home Power and have web pages.

-- JIM (jiminwis@yahoo.com), December 20, 1999.


Two important things the controller does are
sends a pulse charge to the batteries to improve
their ability to take a straight current charge
like from solar panels and pelton wheels; the other
is to stop drain back from the batteries to the
solar panels. If your not using panels the only
thing it might do is make sure your batteries
aren't overcharged. The battery chargers already
produce a pulse and taper charge.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), December 20, 1999.

Mr. Chuck;

I'm no expert on electronics. I took up the charge controller question with people who are experts. They were in agreement with Ron Schwartz: get the charge controller.

I picked up a sealed gel battery. The manual specifies stringent restraints on charge rate that would be tough to satisfy without a charge controller.

-- Not Whistlin' Dixie (not_whistlin_dixie@yahoo.com), December 20, 1999.

Do I need/want to go for a seriuos charge controller or simply a couple std battery chargers and manually watch the critters.

Manually watch the critters. You don't need a controller unless you have solar or wind power and then only to prevent battery discharge through the charging source when the sun isn't on the panels or the wind is calm. The best way that I've found is to monitor the battery temperature and shut off the charging when the temp. rises above the ambient temp. The next best is to monitor the voltage when not charging. Fully chargeed batteries will be aroung 12.5 volts, depending on the ambient temp. A controller still needs to be watched and adjust the cut-off point because it will change.You don't want the batteries to boil. This is the way I do it and have had good results. Watch the battery water level, temp and voltage.

-- (herb01@prodigy.net), December 20, 1999.

Hi, Chuck. What is your budget for your set-up? You need to specify a price range, and that will determine your options concerning Power and sophistication. For example: the portable Trace 'Tiger' TS812SB 800 W AC out/ 12V 25 amp charger, sug. retail $595. Good for mobile applications. Or for a non-portable unit, the Trace DR1512. 1.5kva 12vdc input 120vac 60hz output 70 amp charger 30 amp transfer relay. About a grand. Perfect for resedential emergency use. Then you're going to need some good batteries. Here again , the budget rules. Sealed Lead-Acid (gel or absorbed glass mat) are the best, and most expensive. They don't gas, they don't spill, and you don't have to mess with them as you have to with liquid electrolyte batteries. You can keep them in the house, safe and warm. The biggest man-portable is the 8D size 12 vdc 255 amp hour. 158 lbs. About 400 bucks each. Or, you could get two 6v L-16 wet cells and have 350 amp hrs for about $260. But they gas, so you have to vent them to the outside, or you wind up like the Hindenberg.

You could spend lots more, or lots less. What's Mrs. Driver say?


-- Pinkrock (aphotonboy@aol.com), December 20, 1999.

Check this out:



-- Pinkrock (aphotonboy@aol.com), December 20, 1999.

Ummmm I said Improved I didn't say I had won the lottery!!!

Thanks all for the input. Some of you should watch your e-mail boxes.

And PR the anwswer was LESS!! The system you describe is effectively the second half of Ron's suggestion and is, IMO what I would have for an Alternative Power Wet Dream, if you pardon my french.

Johnny, I'm pretty familiar with DC (old friends as it were) having stripped and rebuilt the back of a couple ambulances and having put my fingers where they didn't belong once or twice with the battery switch in the wrong position.

MY personal fave is 240 Stoves with leaking grounds and dry skin. LOVE the tickle!


Not sure WHICH leg tapped me but the bruise on the BACK of the hand (bounced off the wall behind me, ONLY missing my face because of the way I was standing) lasted a week and a half.


-- Chuck, a night driver (rienzoo@en.com), December 21, 1999.

Go for a short term/long term solution if dollars are short - but, are they long for anybody?

Short term: (four-six weeks, assuming grid power is "irregularlly up and down as they try to fix things)

Get a regular 120vac/12vdc battery charger with a trickle charge feature PLUS a regular charge (15 amp at least) that has an "automatic off" cutoff. In the short time, the batteries will be okay (not perfect, not optimized, but okay), and you can recharge anytime power is back up. Figure 45.00 - 60.00 at a auto parts store. Obviously, the charger should be immediately available from many different sources locally available: important at this date. (Getting a recharger is more important (short term) than a minor impact on battery life.)

Long term (2-4 years battery life, extended by a better batter charge regime) - get a complete battery recharger with the full features.


My solar charge controller is from Solar Convertors of Ontario (certain styles of amorphous Si panels put out as much as 60 vdc - so you absolutely have to have a charge controller to charge 12vdc batteries - but the higher dc voltage reduces greatly the current losses, and lets you use much smaller (cheaper!) wires to the solar panels.) They are at, and appear to have chargers too.

Solar Converters Inc. C1-199 Victoria Road S. Guelph, Ontario N1E 6T9, Canada

Contact: Dan Pringle Phone: 519-824-5272 Fax: 519-823-0325


My invertor is from Statpower; a re-conditioned 1500 watt unit ProPower unit from them was several hundred less than other sites, and they do have a variety of "true" (permanently hooked up, not alligator clipped) chargers available.


---- (Shameless plug follows, since I have worked with this guy on the radio ...)

I have found a local source of completely built invertor+battery+cases+wires+recharger+(optional panels) power packs near me in Kennesaw. Couple of different sizes available - obviously, the bigger the system the more expensive.

If anybody wants a complete "plug-in-play" (portable or fixed) backup power system without the hassle of assemblying everything, get hold of Dave Stroub at 770-919-8955, or 1-800-805-9289.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), December 21, 1999.

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