Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wrapping up the year

While I try to recover from the big vet bills of November, I've been looking at other options for my cabin and I'm seriously considering a geodesic dome. The metal framed one, not the wood one. I like the aesthetics a lot, but the round-ish shape is a bit difficult for cabinetry and furniture. Domes are also extremely strong in high wind. I also looked some more at yurts, but I really don't care for the way they look on the inside.

I ordered some bolts for my batteries that I think will work. If I didn't mention it before, the batteries I bought didn't come with the bolts that you attach wires to, and it took me forever to figure out what I needed to buy. Hope I got it right :) I'm hoping the bolts will come next week. Next, I need to figure out where to buy the cables to hook the batteries to each other. Then see about the rest of the gadgetry to charge them and use the power. My house here is surrounded by really tall trees except on the north, so sunlight is scarce, but I'd like to get something going anyway just to get the hang of the system.

Christmas day was off to a good start, then my foster greyhound girl made the mistake of arguing with Tara (the boss dog) and got her ass handed to her. She's at the UGA vet school where she got stitched up and is spending 2 days there with a grenade drain in her chest. They expect to release her tomorrow. Tara got a few cuts on her face and has been pretty subdued since the fight, but seems ok. I will be keeping them separated while the foster dog recovers.


Bustednuckles said...

Happy Holidays from a complete stranger.

The little short cables you need to hook your batteries together can be found any where there is a major Big truck supplier.
They are quite expensive though.
You can also go to your local NAPA store, buy the cable in bulk and get the ends you need, then ask them for some solder tablets to match the size of the cable.

Cut the cable to the lenght you want, strip a half inch of insulation off the ends, put the cable end that you are going to hook up to your battery into a vice.
Drop the solder pellet in and heat it up with a propane torch u8ntil it melts, there will be a little thing in the middle that will pop up.
Then jam the end of the cable in it and it will almost instantly harden and there ya go. If you want to spend a few more bucks, you can get some heat shrink tubing and slide it up the cable until you are done, slide it down and heat it up with the same torch and away ya go.

It is not as hard as it sounds but you can do four of them for what you will be paying for one already done..

Best of luck, Busted.

Just Me said...

I'm with Busted. Buy ready-made cables only if you have an excess of funds you're looking to waste. Check local auto parts stores (or better, go out to J&J Flea Market this weekend) and look for heavy jumper cables. I recently found 20' 4-gauge jumper cables for under $20 at an O'Reilly parts store in Midland. Get the largest cables (smallest number gauge) you can get.

Did you read the discussion on tffnguy's blog a month or so ago about wiring battery banks? Very minor differences in wiring can make huge differences in how the power flows are balanced and therefore battery life.

If you build a dome, maybe you'll inspire me to get mine finished. It's a beautiful steel framework, 3-frequency, 24' diameter, 5/8 dome with windows & a door frame but no covering. I cut the pieces from steel water pipe and re-bar when I was still in GA and assembled them after arriving in TX.

You'll be missed at this years New Year's Eve party. Hope it's not too long before you get to visit out this way again.

Abby said...

Busted, I don't have the items needed to make my own - my tools are all geared to working with wood, not metal. Good advice, though, and I thank you :)

Just Me: Yes, I did read that post and I have also bookmarked a few pages on wiring battery banks. It's a whole new world to me, and it's been challenging to find really super basic simple instructions that assume no knowledge at all on the part of the reader (me). And that don't go into so much detail that I get brain-lock trying to absorb it all, lol.

If I do the dome, I'll start with a frame kit and try to set it up here to decide where exactly I want windows and how to arrange stuff in it to determine where any plumbing and wiring will need to go. I'm still undecided on size - I want to keep it as small as possible, debating between 16 and 18 foot. Would like to do some earth berm a couple feet up, and figure out a good hard shell and insulation for it.

Yeah, I really wish I could have spent the week or two out there over the holidays :( My next chance will most likely be Memorial Day weekend.

Abby said...

Those? One set of positive, one set of negative, right?

Littlefoot said...

Bigfoot here...Grainger is a great supplier, but very pricey. $48 for a 8" finished cable? Ends are $2-3 each on ebay, solder pellets $2 ea....and you can find 2/0 (large) stranded copper welding cable at pawn shops..and on ebay for a couple bucks a foot. Only tools needed are a small vise, a handheld propane torch/bottle, and ....all available from Harbor Freight (cheap prices for so-so quality short term use tools)

YOu want the battery connecting cables to be as large as you can afford (reasonably) for getting most from the batt bank to the inverter.


Abby said...

Ends @ $2 x 10 = $20
Solder pellets @ $2 x 10 = $20
Welding cable $2/ft X 10 feet = $20
Vise $13
Propane torch $15

Total: $88 + shipping and possibly tax

So... would the ones from Grainger work? ;)

Abby said...

Oh, those prices from Grainger are for 5 cables, not each. I have 6 batteries.

Just Me said...

What voltage are the batteries and what voltage system do you want to have?

Abby said...

12v batteries, 12v system.

Just Me said...

Abby, assuming the 8 inch length is sufficient for your wiring scheme, jump on those cables from Grainger! I was thinking they were 2 AWG, but the description says they are 2/0 which is MUCH heavier cable. (I wish they'd still call this "00" instead of 2/0.) Actually a very good price. If you happen to be a member of Farm Bureau you can get a small discount. I just went ahead and ordered some for myself at $43.65 per set of 5 with free shipping. Aside from the money I save on car insurance, Farm Bureau just saved me another 10 bucks :-)

Abby said...

Thanks, Just Me! There's a Grainger a few miles from here - I'll call and see if they have them in stock tomorrow. And that will be another thing crossed off my list...

Abby said...

Oh, the batteries are the tall skinny ones out of a cell tower. 150A @8 hours, which I guess would be closer to 170 @20 hours. So 8" cables will probably force me to separate the batteries if anything. They're only about 4-5" wide, with the posts on the fronts instead of the tops.

Just Me said...

Thanks, Abby, for talking me into upgrading my cables and pointing me to a good buy on those heavier cables!