Batteries used for energy storage are necessary for any off-grid homestead or cabin. For experienced off-grid homesteaders, managing power storage from renewable energy sources is something they become good at, and over the years, the choice of batteries for experienced homesteaders like Allan Sindelar, a licensed electrician, and homesteader who has been living off-grid for more than 25 years, he still prefers deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries (FLA) for the job. “Few off-grid installers have been selecting, installing, and maintaining batteries long enough to learn from entire battery life cycles,” said Sindelar in his article The Best Batteries For Your Off-Grid Battery Bank that was published in Mother Earth News. “Without much long-term data, we tend to use what has worked previously, rather than trying new and possibly expensive approaches.”
Sindelar recalls when early homesteaders were using two car batteries 30 years ago, but once the FLA batteries became more affordable, off-grid homesteaders settled on using the L16 FLA batteries for their performance and reliability. “These are well-sized for small-to-medium systems and are available at a relatively low cost.” Sindelar also says in his article that experienced homesteaders are often better at performing routine maintenance which can lead to FLA batteries lasting greater than six years or more.
With other battery types trickling into the off-grid industry, Sindelar believes the data isn’t there to determine if they are a better solution over the long-run. “While tremendous advances are taking place in battery development, most are based around increasing a battery’s performance and energy density per pound, that is, lightweight, high-capacity batteries for electric vehicles and portable applications,” says Sindelar. “In homestead systems, weight isn’t a key factor. For most homesteaders, conventional flooded lead-acid batteries still fit this bill best.”
The appeal of batteries with no maintenance is big among new homesteaders, but Sindelar believes there are drawbacks. “Sealed batteries are substantially more expensive and more susceptible to damage from overcharging,” says Sindelar. “They’re well-suited to homeowners who don’t want to perform their own battery maintenance, as the charge for professional service several times each year adds up. This group might include many newcomers to off-grid living, who value the benefits but don’t desire the DIY involvement of earlier generations.”
As battery technology increases Sindelar believes it’s a good idea to use tried-and-true flooded lead-acid batteries until the various choices of batter types become clear in this form of use. “Homesteaders may want to consider waiting through one more set of batteries before trying lithium or other emerging technologies. Superior technologies are coming, and prices will drop as PV module prices have dropped in recent years, but we’re not there quite yet.”
U.S. Battery introduced its mobile app earlier this year. This powerful tool allows users to access exclusive U.S. Battery content from their Apple or Android device. Here are a few ways that the app can be useful to you.
Battery Application Guide
When it comes time to replace one or more of your deep cycle batteries, selecting the right one for your application can be confusing. Battery powered vehicles and equipment often operate under different voltages and run-times, which makes selecting the right deep-cycle battery particularly important.
U.S. Battery Manufacturing created its mobile app to help you make the correct battery selection. The included Battery Application Guide makes it easy to find and select the right battery for a variety of applications including golf carts, floor machines, aerial work platforms, and more. By selecting your machine’s manufacturer and model, you can determine the batteries best suited to ensure your machine’s optimal performance.
Access to Product Spec. Sheets
From the app, you are able to easily access the most up-to-date spec. sheets and product information for all of U.S. Battery’s Flooded Lead Acid and AGM batteries.
Learn about new products you might be interested in as soon as they are announced. Users can create a login and get notifications on new products, events, articles, and videos that are customized to their particular interests.
This boat owner and blogger pieced together a simple solar system to efficiently re-charge his deep-cycle batteries
Mark McMaster wanted to add a solar charging system to provide efficient power on his 34-foot, 1983 Tollycraft Series II boat, and reduce the need to run a noisy generator and conserve fuel. “We don’t have an onboard generator, and we hate the noise in quiet anchorages,” says McMaster.
Being in the Equipment Business, especially related to golf courses and parks, McMaster was familiar with battery powered products and 12-volt deep-cycle batteries. “We supplied these machines with a variety of brands of batteries, but hands down, the best overall performance has been with U.S. Battery Products,” said McMaster.
It didn’t take long for McMaster to install a bank of four US2200 XC2 6-volt deep-cycle batteries in 2013 to his boat. Once he decided to go solar, he added a second set of four batteries and began the conversion. McMaster added four 100-watt flexible panels from Amray Solar and attached them to the bimini for the time being. A Victron MPPT charge controller was also used along with LinkPro battery monitor. The system allows McMaster to monitor the system via the Victron app and with the four solar panels, has so far managed to keep the batteries fully charged.
“The system works great so far, beyond expectations,” says McMaster. “We’ll get a better test of the entire set-up once we head out for a two or three-week trip. My only wish is that I should have taken better care of the batteries when I started. I should have performed an equalization charge on them on a regular basis and not let them get down to the 55-percent discharge range. I might replace them next spring and we’ll definitely use U.S. Battery products.”
You can see the entire solar system upgrade and other upgrades he’s made to his boat, on the Tolly Rodger blog: https://tollyroger.com. More information on U.S. Battery deep-cycle batteries for marine and RV applications can be found on the U.S. Battery Manufacturing website at https://www.usbattery.com.
Looking For “Greener” And More Efficient Methods To Reduce Your Energy Costs And Flatten Power Curves? Visit U.S. Battery Manufacturing’s (Booth #3232) At The 2018 SPI Show in Anaheim, CA. To Find Out How.
U.S. Battery Manufacturing will be showcasing its line of RE-Series deep-cycle battery products, specifically designed for energy storage, at the 2018 Solar Power International (SPI). The show will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA, September 24-27th, where U.S. Battery Manufacturing will have the latest information for optimizing energy storage for a variety of commercial and residential industries.
The SPI show is one of the leading trade shows for the Solar Energy market and allows U.S. Battery to offer a better understanding of how energy storage with the company’s RE-Series of batteries can provide one of the best solutions for reducing energy consumption and flattening power curves for streamlined efficiency.
In addition, U.S. Battery’s RE-Series batteries can offer SPI attendees the benefits of improved battery cycle life with the company’s unique features offered on RE-Series batteries. With a recycling rate of nearly 100-percent, U.S. Battery’s deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries are also one of the best environmental choices for long-term energy storage. For more information, visit U.S. Battery at the SPI show in booth #3232, as well as online at www.usbattery.com.
Traveling Troy outfitted his Astro Van with a solar system and U.S. Battery AGM batteries for energy storage
Not many of us can pack up our van and head out onto the open road for extended periods, but Traveling Troy is a blogger who converted his Chevrolet Astro Van into a camper and is now enjoying the van life. “From the beginning of the build, I knew I wanted to be unplugged from the grid as much as possible,” says Troy. “I knew solar would be my main source of power, but we (my Dad and I) also installed the ability to use stored power and a battery isolator for those rainy days.”
Troy had no idea how many solar cells and batteries he would need, so he began listing all of the electronic components and how often he would use them. “To determine how many watts of solar and the battery size needed, I listed all the power consuming items I planned to use while traveling,” says Troy. “This included my laptop, cellphone, gadgets, fridge, and others.” U.S. Battery has an Interactive Energy Chart that helps determine battery storage requirements on the U.S. Battery websites. “We took the estimated watt usage from each of these items and determined how many hours or minutes a day I would use them,” he says. “This gave us an idea of maximum daily consumption.”
Realizing how much power he was going to need, Troy says he figured to utilize as much of the van’s rooftop for solar panels. “It was decided that we would go as big as we could go with the limited space,” says Troy. “That ended up being 300 watts of solar panels on the roof of the van and two 6 volt batteries with 210 amp hours inside the van.”
Troy decided to use U.S. Battery AGM deep-cycle batteries because of their compact size and because he wanted something maintenance-free. “We knew space was going to be limited in the small Astro van and every inch mattered,” says Troy. “The battery compartment was no exception. We chose U.S. Battery AGMs because we wanted a deep cycle battery that was reliable, maintenance free and spill proof. The plan was to install the batteries in the back corner of the van and build around them. The area above the batteries and around the batteries was valuable build space. Two years later, and the U.S. Battery AGM batteries are still going strong.”
The solar system installed in his camper van is a custom build, but many of the pieces are readily available. “Our solar systems consist of Three Renogy 100 watt Monocrystalline solar panels run in parallel to a Renogy PMW solar controller which charges two 6-volt AGM 2000 batteries from U.S. Battery,” says Troy. “All the components are neatly packed into our ‘Power Center’ which uses what would normally be wasted space around the back passenger wheel well of the van. Some of the components include a 200-watt inverter, 12-volt cigarette plug, shore power breaker and shore power battery charger.”
So far, the system has worked well and Troy has had enough power to live out of the van and explore the country. “I’m in the third week of a 3-month road trip and it has been really amazing being on the road full-time and living out of the van, off the grid,” says Troy. “My plan is to explore Arizona and visit the Grand Canyon for my birthday. Then I’ll be exploring Southern Utah and the Mighty Five National Parks. Finally, I’m hoping to meet up with my dad and step-mom in Colorado while they’re on a road trip.”
Troy chronicles his trips and the continuous build-up of his camper van on his social media pages, travelingtroy.com. Additional information and videos on the camper van build are on Troy’s YouTube page. www.youtube.com/c/Travelingtroy.
Home Developers Gear Up For A Surge In Solar Panels And Battery Storage
In May of 2018, California passed a law requiring new homes to have solar power. While the law won’t take effect until 2020, builders are gearing up for what may be a surge in solar panel and equipment sales. While consumers fear the added solar systems will cause housing costs to skyrocket, advocates say that the extra costs will more than make up the cost in lower energy builds.
In a New York Times article, (California Will Require Solar Power for New Homes, May 29, 2018), sources say that the state is looking for alternative ways of energy production, which raises many questions as to how much of the solar energy collected will be put back into the local power grid, and how will rates change for solar and non-solar homes.
According to the Times, the increasing use of “smart” meters will help calculate costs and control consumption rages, but many homeowners are also looking into utilizing battery storage to offset peaks and valleys during high use periods. Battery storage is a popular way to efficiently utilize energy from solar and wind systems in rural off-grid areas, where solar systems output more than enough power during the day and charge batteries for use at night. Businesses often use battery storage to level out times of high energy demand and have seen dramatic cuts in their electric bills.
Most developers such as KB Homes, say that new home buyers will have a choice between buying the system outright (average cost is about $14,000) or lease the system with a monthly payment (on average $70 to $80 a month). According to the California Energy Commission, the added cost of the solar system will add about$40 to an average monthly payment for a 30-year mortgage. While customers are offered an option, the overall hope is that the state can generate enough power for the millions of homes that are currently not on solar.
According to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. solar market added 2.5GW of PV during the first quarter of 2018. According to the report, that is a 13 percent year-over-year growth that is expected to continue to increase.
The SEIA reported that Solar PV accounted for 55 percent of all U.S. electricity capacity during the first quarter of 2018, accounting for more than two gigawatts of energy. “The solar industry had a strong showing in the first quarter,” said SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “This data shows that solar has become a common-sense option for much of the U.S. and is too strong to be set back for long, even in light of the tariffs. States from California to Florida have stepped up with smart policies that will drive investment for years to come.”
The increase in Solar PV systems has also lead to questions regarding energy storage. In a recent article in Alternate Energy Magazine, the use of Solar is a big challenge for businesses where Lithium Ion battery systems are extremely expensive and “loose storage capacity over time equating to roughly 20 percent after 1000 charge cycles. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, “Flooded Lead-Acid batteries remain as the best overall solution for storing energy and have the longest track record for safety and reliability. In addition, FLA batteries are completely recyclable so it also adds to a company’s efforts on reducing their carbon footprint. So when you combine this with the highest recycling rates on the planet, it stands to reason that this 150-year-old technology has definitely evolved into an energy source that’s hard to beat.” For more information on energy storage solutions, visit www.usbattery.com.
Off-grid blogger to build 7KW solar renewable energy system utilizing U.S. Battery RE Series deep-cycle batteries for energy storage
Heath Skinner, his wife Cedar and their five children decided to buy property in Franklin County, Idaho and live an off-grid lifestyle. One of their first decisions was to build a 7KW solar powered energy system that uses U.S. Battery RE-Series batteries for power storage. “We discovered the high cost to get power to the property and decided to invest in solar,” said Skinner. “The solar system is fairly large and should produce enough power for our home and outbuildings. To store the power, we’re using 16 U.S. Battery RE L16 XC2 deep-cycle batteries because they’re reliable and American made.”
U.S. Battery RE-Series deep-cycle batteries feature the company’s exclusive XC2™ formulation and provide the highest peak capacity and longest cycle life of any other deep-cycle battery on the market. Coupled with a rugged polypropylene case, heavy-duty lifting handles, and robust terminals, the RE-Series also features Defender Moss shields that guard against mossing shorts. The RE Series also utilizes Outside Positive Plates, a design that mitigates the effects of positive and negative plate sulfation. In addition, the batteries are designed with extra thick glass mat separators which help the batteries provide long-lasting performance.
Skinner is combining the batteries with Suniva solar panels and will update followers on the rest of the components used to make the system functional. “Because of the research I did, these batteries will be sufficient to live off of,” says Skinner. “U.S. Battery Manufacturing also has one of the best reputations in the industry and that’s why I went with them.”
Dutt Electronics, a manufacturer of alternate energy inverters for the OE market, found that U.S. Battery products were the best choice for energy storage for its new Energy Save power system, which has been nominated for the 2016 EnerTIC Award in the category of Smart Industry.
“We conducted a detailed study of existing storage technologies,” said Ramon Ugarte of Dutt Electronics. “Our Energy Save application required a mature technology and low cost. Initially, Lithium-Ion batteries would have worked, but for a quick return on investment and low cost for our customers, deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries were the best choice.”
The Save Energy system uses 36 U.S. Battery 185E batteries with XC2™ formulation and Diamond Plate Technology® which deliver more watt-hours per liter and watt-hours per kilogram than any other flooded lead-acid battery on the market. “There are plenty of battery brands available,” said Ugarte. “But we wanted to use U.S. Battery products because their technical characteristics were the best fit, and they offer the support of a solid company with more than 90-years of history.”
The Dutt Energy Save system is an integrated unit that combines a bi-directional inverter, monitoring system, and battery pack all in one unit. With autonomous operation, it balances power output between stored energy consumption and battery charging during peak energy hours to reduce overall energy costs.
For more information on U.S. Battery’s line of performance products, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit www.usbattery.com.
About Dutt Electronics: Dutt is an electronics manufacturer in Spain whose field of interest covers any sector that requires control and conversion of energy and/or power; such as solar, industrial, energy storage and more. The company has nearly 20 years of experience in providing OEM solutions for inverters and hybrid converters. Visit www.duttelectronics.com/en/site/solutions.