*Alternative Energy*

My battery bank & stuff

By Eli/JW

21 February 2003

Today’s world relies on power. Whether it’s electrical or mechanical. In the case of politiks, power revolves around who’s richer, more important and…nah, ain’t gonna get into that. ;o)

Before you start buying batteries and wiring stuff together and hooking up inverters & solar panels or generators you need to at least understand the basics of electricity. If you don’t and screw something up, well…you might see some dead relatives. You might come home to ashes. If you hook a generator into your house and push power back out into the lines, you might cause a lineman’s living relatives to come see him. Bad juju all the way around!!


Anywhoooo, most things today run on electricity. Telephones, radios, computers, lights, stoves, reefers, and security systems…the list is endless. What happens when the power goes off? When those little electrons stop flowing, the appliances they allow to operate stop working. How long is the power going to be off? Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or longer??? Are you prepared to live w/o grid electricity?


Power center during construction

What do I need to power?

I’ve bought batteries as I could afford them 2 here and 2 there and started building a battery bank. With battery bank "A" completed, I have 805 amp hours @ 12VDC. Battery bank "B" is in the future plans.

Where to put your power center-

Your DC wire runs need to be as short as possible and with the correct size wire. My power center is 22’ from where my solar panel location will be. Due to cold weather, my panels aren’t on the roof, but can be temporarily set up outside. As soon as the cold weather breaks, those puppies are going up hopefully before the end of March. (another article) Currently I’m using a regular battery charger for primary charging.

I needed a shelf to set batteries on. A cheap metal shelving unit Wal-mart special that’s rated @ 250lbs per shelf ain’t gonna cut the mustard. Metal around batteries isn’t a good idea either. If a metal shelf collapsed onto a row of batteries, bad things are going to happen. Things are going to get really HOT and right NOW!! I’m not willing to take that risk

Power center Words of Caution

As you can see my shelf is made of wood. 2x4’s, 2x6’s & plywood. It’s held together with carriage bolts and suspended from the ceiling. A Trace C-40 controller, shelf, quad AC outlet, radio disconnect switch & the dump valve switches (see "Make the most of your extra power" article) are mounted to the plywood.

Some more pics of the construction phase

JW brags cuz he’s in most of the pics…I think he’s got a camera user phobia ;o)

Bolting the uprights to the floor stringers

Junk shelf where ya put things and lose ‘em

2x6 for the battery shelf

Cheap effective Washington Cty level

Making toggle switch fit- always use proper tool for the job

Doggonit it fits NOW!



The communications gear is all 12VDC. My computer is not. I borrowed Taper1’s Vector 1000watt inverter and cured that problem. Hopefully I’ll be able to buy my own soon. The water pump is 220VAC. My generator is used for that.

Having a battery bank is great, but it needs to be recharged. A battery charger works well as long as there’s grid power, but without grid power it’s useless…DOH. (purpose of the battery bank anyway…right?) That’s when the temporarily hooking up the solar panels shuffle comes into play. When my charging system is completed, I’ll be able to charge off the grid & off solar at the same time.

For charging-

There are a couple of different options. Solar, wind, generator and water (get creative). If you live next to a stream or river, why not build a water wheel?


My generator is 4000 watts. It needs gas to run and it burns about 1 tank full per 1.5 hours.


So…here’s "some" gas

A FIRE EXTINGUISHER is mounted on the wall opposite the gas. Can’t be too careful. I don’t recommend storing gasoline inside, but just because I don’t recommend doesn’t mean I don’t do it.

Well, that’s pretty much the rundown of my alternative energy so far. Of course as time & $$ allow and more ideas arise, more will be done.


Eli/JW a.k.a Boo-boo & Yogi

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