ESPcat Solar Generator V3

My God this is exciting!  It’s almost as good as sex!  I just love a new lithium battery!  These ones are 50Ah or 185 Wh.  There are 7 cells for a total of 1,295 Wh.  Since you can only really use 80% of a lithium battery (compared to about 35% of a lead-acid battery) the real capacity of the battery will be 1 kWh.  I got so excited I cleaned up the workshop.  I think I’ve found God!  I accept that it’s not all that clean by some standards but even Gallagher says that it is so clean, I can now see enough to actually clean it, if I wanted to.

I’m building version 3 of the Solar Generator (SG1).  These new Lithium cells are slightly cheaper than the previous lot that I destroyed by connecting the solar panels in series rather than in parallel, thinking that my solar charge controller was a step down regulator when it is in fact a boost regulator.  Never mind.  It is a mistake that anyone could have made.  Ok maybe not.DSC_0385

Some might say after multiple failures that it’s time to give up.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for giving up on things but I seem to have missed my opportunity to give up on the Solar Generator.  It would have made sense to give up after the first failure or even the second but now I have so much time energy and money invested in this invention that I can’t afford to quit.  Some say I should just go out and purchase something off the shelf but the problem is that there isn’t really anything decent.  I want a solar power system that can run a domestic fridge and keep all the other boat cabin electronics running off solar.  I want a nice small, light lithium battery and a powerful inverter that can run something heavy like a skill saw if I need to do repairs.  I also want it to be safe and not set fire to my boat.DSC_0391

Never mind, I’m in too deep now.  It’s just like my jogging.  If I had given up 20 years ago, it would have made sense but now at age 73, if I give up folks wouldn’t understand.  Besides, I calculate that if I continue jogging until I turn 80, I will have run a distance equal to the earth’s circumference (40,075 km). In fact the next 7 years is the critical time for jogging.  At present, people look at me staggering up the road and they say “My God, just look at that poor old dumb bastard” or words to that effect.  If I carry on until 80 those same people (if they are still alive) will say “isn’t that old gentleman an inspiration to us all”.  Either that or maybe they will continue to say something about the poor old dumb bastard but anyway I’m not quitting and I’m not quitting on the solar generator either.

The design just keeps getting better.  I now have a rugged aluminium case made from an aluminium toolbox and inside that there is a smaller steel toolbox that contains the actual lithium battery cells.  The idea is that I would prefer that when one of the lithium cells fails, that it doesn’t set the boat on fire as some lithium batteries on boats have done.  Did you know that electrical fires are the most common cause of boat fires?  And, overcharging of boat batteries is the most common cause of electrical boat fires.  Overcharging occurs when the charging regulator fails.  I don’t want to frighten anyone.   I’m just saying. DSC_0393

I have also included an efficiency mode in the Solar Generator electronics so that the overhead power drain of the Solar Generator’s electronics is reduced to about 1/3 of its original.  The overhead is now only 5 watts compared to 15 watts for version 1. To put this overhead in perspective, my little 129L, under bench fridge uses 200 kWh per year which equates to an average power consumption of 22.8 watts.  A larger Samsung 255L fridge/freezer consumes 269 kWh per year giving an average power consumption of 30.7 watts.  DSC_0394

The typical household 250L refrigerator/freezer isn’t very efficient. It would use around 410 kWh  per year which works out at 46.8 watts.*  The 1 kwh battery of my SG1 Solar Generator would last only 21 hours at that rate which I don’t think is enough.  Hunt for an energy efficient fridge if you are going to run it on solar.  You don’t have to go wild but shop around for an efficient one.

I wonder if it will work!





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