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  • We bought a couple of SMA Sunny Island off-grid inverters! Wohooo! I ended up getting my hands on a couple of Chevy Volt batteries and a 3ft x 4ft Hoffman steel box.

    The Sunny Island inverters are capable of tricking my Grid-Tied inverter into thinking the grid is still active and getting them to make power when the grid goes down.

    So now, when we lose power, (3 to 5 times a year) instead of having to listen to a generator screaming all day, I just flip a couple of breakers, push a couple buttons, and the power comes back on like magic! The Sunny Island inverters draw power from the Chevy Volt Lithium Ion battery bank and energize the house with grid-quality power. After a few minutes, when the inverter on the solar array see's the power, it thinks the grid is back up again and it starts pumping juice into the home. If the solar array is making more power than the home is using, the Sunny Island will use the extra power to charge the batteries, and if the batteries are already charged, it can heat water or throttle back the solar array output.

    This thing works great. I can literally disconnect from the grid and run the home indefinitely like nothing was wrong. Well, at least up to the point where the batteries have been cycled to the end of their life span.

    If we get a long string of dark cloudy days or heavy snow and the solar can't keep up, we can then fire up the generator and feed it into the Sunny Island inverters. They will then power the home on generator power and charge the batteries.

    Best addition I have added so far!

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    • Very cool Murphy. What physical size and electrical size are those Volt batteries? Were they a junkyard find? any chance you'd share a pic or 2 of the entire set up?
      I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

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      • Originally posted by CountryGuy View Post
        Very cool Murphy. What physical size and electrical size are those Volt batteries? Were they a junkyard find? any chance you'd share a pic or 2 of the entire set up?
        The Chevy Volt battery comes as a T shaped assembly that is about 5 feet long and 36 inches wide @ around 400 lbs or so and with a voltage just shy of 400 volts DC max (360 nominal). When you disassemble it, it breaks down into individual modules. There are 9 modules inside, 7 of them are 48 volts, two are at 24 volts. So you combine the two 24v modules and you end up with 8 modules at 48 volts DC. These are bundled together (two in each bundle) but can be split apart into the 12cell @48v. Each weighs 48vdc unit about 45 lbs so its 8 x 45lbs total weight.
        Each bundle of two 48vdc modules is about 9 inches wide, 9 inches tall, and 19 inches long. I found mine on Craigslist.

        My unit is sitting behind a pile of prepper supplies and other crap as we are re-arraigning the basement. My stuff has been spread out over a dozen different kinds of shelving units. From those plastic home depot things to some home-built shelves, it looks kind of disorganized. I got my hands on a bunch of heavy duty retail Gondola Shelving and am transferring everything over so the basement looks like a bomb hit it right now.

        If you google Chevy Volt battery, there's a lot of information on them as well as a lot of youtube video's of people using them for off-grid solar storage. Most are messy do-it-yourself builds and not very professional, but they provide a good idea of how it works.

        The real magic comes from the Sunny Island system. Beyond my own solar system, I could actually cause other grid-tied inverters in the neighborhood to kick in and produce power in an SHTF collapse type of event. I know of two other solar homes within a 1/2 mile of me.

        Check out the video:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA0msd2ZQWI

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        • Thank Murphy. So in your opinion how do the Volt batteries compare to the deep cycle forklift and marine batteries people use in higher end battery banks, equal or better?
          I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

          Comment


          • Originally posted by CountryGuy View Post
            Thank Murphy. So in your opinion how do the Volt batteries compare to the deep cycle forklift and marine batteries people use in higher end battery banks, equal or better?
            Kilowatt per kilowatt, there is no comparison, the Chevy Volt battery wins by a long mile. But don't let that dissuade you from using an industrial battery if you can get your hands on one for a good price.

            Flooded lead acid batteries are high maintenance with limited life spans and are very sensitive to temperature. They do best at around 80°F, drop that to 50° and they temporarily lose about 30% of their capacity, run them up to 100° and they'll pump out lots of juice but it permanently shortens their life.

            My Chevy Volt batteries are in my basement and the basement can go down into the low 40's during deep winter freeze outside. Great for food storage, no so much for a Pb battery.

            Pb batteries need to be exercised on a regular schedule or they'll sulfate, even when fully charged. Lithium's are perfectly happy sitting on a shelf for years and years at half a charge.

            Lithium's have two considerable problems that have to be addressed.. 1) They like to destroy themselves if you abuse them and 2) They like to burn your house down. Pb batteries are not so sensitive to abuse. Pb batteries require nothing but a fuse or circuit breaker for protection, while Lithium batteries basically require a brigade of sensors, over-voltage protection, under-voltage protection, thermal protection, etc. My Chevy Volt bank has its own damn computer (called a BMS - Battery Management System) with USB interface, cell tap sensor wires, thermal sensors, and a 400amp relay that disconnects the entire thing from the inverter/charger if it misbehaves. Pb batteries require none of that.. just a fuse to protect the wiring.

            The good news with most of the electric vehicle batteries is that most of them (not Tesla), are prismatic pouches and are far less prone to catching fire than the cylindrical shapes.. The normally just hiss and produce a lot of smoke.

            I would strongly recommend an industrial fork lift batery.. wish I could get my hands on one of them but never that lucky. The other problem with forklift batteries is that they are ridiculously heavy. I know my 1070 John Deer tractor with loader won't pick one up, not even a smaller one. The 3point on the back might, but the loader wont.

            Pb batteries also vent acidic fumes and hydrogen so the have to have a fan or something to move those fumes away. I can set a sandwich down on top of the Lithium battery.

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            • i ordered these for when there's power outages. i should be getting them no later then friday.

              https://www.ebay.com/itm/Emergency-S..._dNuraRFeop7wA


              https://www.ebay.com/itm/900000mAh-D...YAAOSw8n5c-eJS

              be prepared,be worried,be careful..and watch your 6

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              • learned to make jerky from pork - the most likely my protein source in case of SHIFT. requires more seasoning and a bit longer smoke to be safe if possible parasites in meat . Otherwise as simple as beef. As with beef or venison I prefer to cut cross grain instead of with grain. Put up 16 lbs. 1/2 stored in Mylar bags with ox absorber. The rest is to be devoured by family.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by ZAGran View Post
                  learned to make jerky from pork - the most likely my protein source in case of SHIFT. requires more seasoning and a bit longer smoke to be safe if possible parasites in meat . Otherwise as simple as beef. As with beef or venison I prefer to cut cross grain instead of with grain. Put up 16 lbs. 1/2 stored in Mylar bags with ox absorber. The rest is to be devoured by family.
                  Hey Z, great to hear from you. So do you just do a cold smoke and then dehydrate it or do you have to hot smoke it to cook it and then dry it? Pork has always scared me to try dehydrating but with the bacon jerky out there now days I figured there had to be a method.

                  Thanks for the share!
                  I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

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