Running your home from a homemade solar set-up has become more popular as solar technology improves and becomes more affordable for residential use. Storing solar power used to be one of the major obstacles for home use and was a common deterrent. Now, with proper venting and safety precautions, making solar storage batteries is more accessible for the consumer wishing to get off the electrical power grid and make use of renewable energy resources.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Eight 6-volt golf cart batteries or L-16 traction batteries minimum
- Stable water source
- Four boxes baking soda
- Temperature-controlled workshop or garage with cement floor
- One shelving unit
- 12 feet of 10 or 12 gauge copper wire, whichever is easier to come by, more if needed
- One pair protective eye goggles
- One pair acid-proof gloves
- One pair medium needle-nose pliers with a wire cutter
Choose the amount of voltage that you wish to store for your homemade solar set-up. If you are storing solar power for running a small portion of your home usage, then choose as many 6-volt golf cart batteries as you require to meet your power needs. One golf cart battery will store enough energy to run two 50-watt incandescent light bulbs for 10 hours.
Use L-16 traction batteries for running more power in the house. These batteries are 350 amp hours as opposed to the golf cart batteries, which are only 220 amp hours. Being industrial, they are more difficult to find, but they are superior for storing solar power because they are made to handle deep charge and discharge cycling.
Designate a section of a stand-alone building, such as a workshop or a garage with a cement floor, for storing your solar batteries. Make sure that you can maintain a temperature between 10 and 26.7 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing 50 per cent of your stored solar power. This building should also have a stable water supply so that any leaks can be absorbed with baking soda, and then hosed down with water.
Place a shelving unit --- which can be made from wood or metal or can even be a boot rack --- in the corner of the building that has the greatest temperature stability and is farthest from any traffic. This will protect the batteries and any visitors to the building. Place all the batteries you have determined you need on the stand about 6 inches apart from each other.
Wire the batteries together with the copper wire to create a pack or bank. Put on the protective eye goggles and acid-proof gloves when you are working on the batteries. They are extremely volatile. Run the copper wire from the positive of one battery to the positive of the next and the negative of one to the negative of the next. Wrap the wire around the post using the needle-nose pliers and cut using the cutters on the inside of the blades, close to the handle.
Tips and warnings
- Be careful where you store your batteries. The smallest spark can ignite the volatile gas coming off the batteries and cause an explosion of acid and shrapnel, even without flame or smoke.
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