Power Plan

A place to discuss all things involving power and lighting. Generator tips, alternative energy, lighting your camp/bike/art/self and more.

Power Plan

Postby kmatthews812 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:32 pm

I'm a first timer, so take it easy on me if this is a dumb question :)

Our camp of about 12 people is trying to figure out how to power our stuff. We need to power some christmas lights, camera battery chargers, and a laptop hooked up to modest speakers for music.

Because our budget and power needs are limited, a generator is out. Instead, we were thinking about buying a power modulator and hooking it up to a standalone car battery. The modulator provides regular plugs for the stuff we want to power, and the whole system will only cost about $150.

Here is the modulator we are thinking about: http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/4 ... verters/PR
D~0111870P/Motomaster%252BEliminator%252B300W%252BInverter.jsp?locale=en

Has anybody tried this before? How long do you think a car battery will last? Is this a good idea?

Our other option would be to get a solar panel, but I think that will not be strong enough to power a laptop + speakers for our music. Am I right about that?

I guess the final option is to get a bunch of Duracells to power some ipod speakers, some solar lights, and hope some of our neighbors let us charge our cameras using their RV?? Probably not the best way to go....


Thanks!

Kev
kmatthews812
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:29 pm

Postby ygmir » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:43 pm

it would seem, your budget is a little low, for what you're trying to do........

"a" car battery, will last differing times, depending on so many factors you don't address, it's hard to make a clear guess.

battery condition and type
total load in watts, on battery, and, for how many hours.
loss to inverter, depending on what type inverter

More batteries, long service.
and, if you want to re-charge, you could conceivably hook jumpers to your vehicle and let it idle and charge......or, as you say, see if a neighbor will let you charge stuff.

the link you provide says they're having tech difficulties.....

but, you also need to know how much load, related to how big your inverter is.......you don't want to run it at max output, especially in that heat and dust.

I found a 1KW generator, in Reno, for 120 dollars last year......super quiet, had 110V and 12V outlets, runs 5 hours on a gallon of gas.

There is a lot of info on eplaya, if you do some searching, relating to your exact query. You might try doing your own research, for specifics.

good luck
YGMIR

Unabashed Nordic
Pagan
User avatar
ygmir
 
Posts: 25992
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:36 pm
Location: nevada county
Burning Since: 2017
Camp Name: qqqq

Postby mudpuppy000 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:55 pm

You can calculate how long it'll last depending on the battery. (it's rated in amp-hours) I'm not sure how much power those DC/AC inverters use, but if at all possible, try and get stuff that runs off DC. You'll waste power converting the DC from the battery to AC, just to have the laptop plug convert AC to DC again. :)

I found a combination solar array/battery on northern tool that I'm going to try out this year for charging stuff. It was pretty cheap (~$110).

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/ ... _200422034

I'm also thinking of getting one of those Etón FR160R radios to charge small stuff. It has a solar panel to charge the battery, as well as a hand crank.
User avatar
mudpuppy000
 
Posts: 1207
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Burning Since: 2009
Camp Name: Orphan Endorphin

Postby ConnieH » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:03 pm

Power is something we've been thinking and talking a lot about lately, too...if you do christmas lights, go for LED, they use much less power than regular incandescent bulbs.

What kind of cameras do you have? Could you buy extra battery packs so you wouldn't need to recharge? My battery lasted all week, but I didn't go picture crazy this year.

Solar lights are awesome, I picked up some solar spotlights ($15 for 2 at Harbor Freight) that are really bright with 3 LEDs in them. I also have a solar rope light, it's a little weak, but I'm going to add an extra battery to brighten it a bit. Solar yard lights are really cheap right now, $3/each I've found, and you can take them apart and turn them into all sorts of things (we are making them into hanging "flowers"). I also have a solar lantern that I got at Harbor Freight last year, I believe there are at least 15 LEDs in it - it's awesome and lasts for several days even if I forget to put it out in the sun.

If you could solve your lighting and camera issues without battery use, then all you'd have to run off the battery would be your sound system. Or the iPod dock you could run with rechargable batteries and possible get a second set that you charge with the battery while the others are in use?
ConnieH
 
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:41 pm
Location: Idaho

Postby kmatthews812 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:25 pm

Thanks for the answers, everybody.

Let me add some more detail to my question. First, here's the fixed link for the inverter: http://tinyurl.com/25lfrdh We just found this on a quick search. We could buy any other inverter that turns car power to household power.

As for the specific battery, I was hoping to get away with a standard Die Hard for a sedan, much like this one: http://tinyurl.com/ctk4kq Again, I'm flexible on the exact battery. I just want a setup that works and keeps costs to a minimum.

I don't see the amp-hours rating on that battery though, so it's still tough to guess how long it will work.

The camera batteries we use are the standard Canon batteries for point and shoot digital cameras. Nothing too fancy.

I'm starting to think that the best way to go is to get a big solar panel like mudpuppy suggested, then supplement that with Duracells and solar lights.

Worst case, we can deal with darkness, but at least we'll have music.
kmatthews812
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:29 pm

Postby Just_Joe » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:02 pm

kmatthews812 wrote:I don't see the amp-hours rating on that battery though, so it's still tough to guess how long it will work.
<SNIP>
I'm starting to think that the best way to go is to get a big solar panel like mudpuppy suggested, then supplement that with Duracells and solar lights.


I'm not a battery geek, but if it doesn't list amp hours, then it's probably not what your looking for. A basic normal size deep cycle battery "group 24" battery has about 85 amp hours (I think) of juice. A group 27 battery is about 2 inches longer and has ~110 amp hours. When considering storage capacity of batteries (amp hours), you should only drain them halfway before recharging, so... a group 27 battery has about 55 amp hours of usable juice.
My 200watt inverter uses 5 amps when powering my 19"LCD TV. With my battery, I can watch Oprah for 11 hours (55 amps) before needing to recharge.

Solar- I recently purchased a 110 watt solar panel on ebay. It provides ~6 amps of charge, so If I get 9 hours of sunlight(9x6=54), I've recharged my battery and can now watch another 11 hours of Oprah. The Solar panel was a "new factory second" that I paid $230. In addition to the panel, I had to buy a battery charge controller @50 and another $20 or so in wiring/misc.

FYI, once you have a battery and an inverter, It's fairly easy to measure amps of stuff in use with a cheapo meter (ammeter).

I'll now leave it to the electrical pros to tell me where I'm FOS :)
User weather man is now Just_Joe
User avatar
Just_Joe
 
Posts: 468
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:04 pm
Location: Nevada
Burning Since: 2017

Re: Power Plan

Postby dragonpilot » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:05 pm

kmatthews812 wrote:Because our budget and power needs are limited, a generator is out. about that?


Generators are not allowed at Burning Man anyway...except for the one in my RV... :D
Don't bore your friends with all your troubles. Tell your enemies instead, for they will delight in hearing about them.
User avatar
dragonpilot
 
Posts: 1389
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 12:53 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
Burning Since: 2005

Postby kmatthews812 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:26 pm

Thank you weather man!
kmatthews812
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:29 pm

Postby Token » Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:18 pm

Power and cheap are not compatible.

Camp lighting. Have you considered an old school liquid fuel Coleman type lantern. Cheap, reliable and available everywhere.

Lugging a laptop to just run tunes? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Bring a cheap portable MP3 player ferchrists on a stick.

For tunes, get a small boombox that runs on eight D cell batteries and has a 12V input. Get some alligator clips to use on a car battery as a plan B but otherwise ger D alcalines as primary.

If you want cheap go cheap. If you want fancy solar you will be out a half grand easy. Might as well get a generator.
User avatar
Token
 
Posts: 2302
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 2:55 pm
Location: Gold Country, CA
Burning Since: 2001

Postby AntiM » Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:20 pm

Yeah, the laptop thing made me smile. Laptop + dust + heat = paperweight.
These are not my fuckos.
User avatar
AntiM
Moderator
 
Posts: 16391
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 6:23 am
Location: Top O' the World, Ma!
Burning Since: 2001
Camp Name: Anti M's Home for Wayward Art

Postby bm_cricket » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:19 pm

AntiM wrote:Yeah, the laptop thing made me smile. Laptop + dust + heat = paperweight.

Edit--"Expensive paperweight."

Oh, and someone else already said it about Christmas lights but I wanted to chime in too. Get LED Christmas lights. Avoid the old style bulbs we all grew up with.
)'(
User avatar
bm_cricket
 
Posts: 577
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:06 pm
Location: My mind is on the road to BRC
Burning Since: 2008

Postby Popobumm » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:34 pm

I ordered these lights:

http://www.extremeglow.com/Merchant4/me ... Code=SOLAR

They look like exactly what you guys are mentioning and are solar powered. I'm not sure if $25 for 35 ft is a good price or not, but I went ahead and got a couple mainly to line our hexayurt stakes and ropes so people can see them at night.
Popobumm
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 5:34 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Postby gyre » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:39 pm

There are battery powered LED sets for $6.
Quality does vary.

The plug in set I have of philips with the wide diffusion covers are about $12 on sale at target.
Much nicer than the cheapos.
User avatar
gyre
 
Posts: 15346
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:01 pm
Location: ΦάÏ

Postby ygmir » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:24 pm

yeah, I want to get a ton of l.e.d.s this year, 110V is ok.......anyone got a lead on the best deals?
YGMIR

Unabashed Nordic
Pagan
User avatar
ygmir
 
Posts: 25992
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:36 pm
Location: nevada county
Burning Since: 2017
Camp Name: qqqq

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:31 pm

First: You're looking at the wrong battery. If you want to use it for powering camp stuff like lights and sound, you want a "deep cycle" battery rather than a car "starting battery". Both look the same. Deep cycle batteries are designed to put out low power for long periods of time, starting batteries are designed to put out very large amounts of power for short amounts of time (like starting a car engine). Either will physically work, but if you're going to buy a battery, buy the one that's gonna work better.
The $120 "quiet" generator story... all I can say is - did you hear it running, or believe a claim? Is it a set you'll ever find parts for? That whole issue has been beaten to death, but it always boils down to there's no such thing as a good, quiet, cheap generator. Yet.

The advice about NOT running all your stuff through an inverter, then back to DC was good advice. If I were you I'd get a boombox and an iPod, some LED lights, and keep everything 12-volt if possible. If your battery gets low, you can hook jumper cables to a car and run it a while to charge. Bring some extra gas. This might not be the most efficient system but it will work and it's cheap.
Bring a battery charger and several hundred feet of extension cord (a 50-foot cord seems long at home, but it's nothing on the playa, especially when trying to reach over to another camp - you can't bring too much cord!), and good cocktail mixing supplies. Chances are VERY good someone nearby will let you charge from their generator, particularly if there's a margarita or good beer in the equation. Or maybe some steaks. Bribery can be extremely effective!
"Whaoomph! Whaomph! Burbbleburbblepattpattpattpatt... WHAAAAAaaoooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa........!!!"
Top fuel dragster, by Elliot Naess
User avatar
Captain Goddammit
 
Posts: 4506
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Location: Seattle, WA
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: Camp I'm going to Hawaii Instead

Postby gaminwench » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:20 pm

I wouldn't worry too much about personal music, the ambient soundscape is an ever-present & interesting part of the experience... and following 'that sound' to whatever's going on is half the fun...
User avatar
gaminwench
 
Posts: 1720
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Shangri-la
Burning Since: 1999
Camp Name: DOTA, EoD, OBOP

Postby gyre » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:14 pm

ygmir wrote:yeah, I want to get a ton of l.e.d.s this year, 110V is ok.......anyone got a lead on the best deals?

Deal extreme had the battery strings.
They have some AC lights too.

The philips I bought have a round globe that is diffused and a half inch in diameter.
Almost 360 degree dispersion.
Most cheap LEDs are very beamy.
60 to a string, I think.
Worth the money.

Consider also the side diffracting fibre optics with a luxeon or cree source.
Can be tricolor with infinite color shift.

If you're interested, I can help you set up a colored HID set with 175 to 1000 watt metal halide.
Or amber in low pressure sodium, many times more efficient than LEDs or anything else.
These work especially well when bounced off a surface, playa or whatever.
User avatar
gyre
 
Posts: 15346
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:01 pm
Location: ΦάÏ

Postby gyre » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:22 pm

The advice about deep cycle batteries is generally true, but I have had better luck with very high capacity starting batteries, as long as I haven't run them too low.
The best one was an exide commercial truck battery, tough as nails.

Most deep cycles are hopelessly crude and inefficient, while cranking batteries are getting more sophisticated.
I think this is the reason.
I haven't tried the industrial type at the higher end though.

Optima deep cycles use the identical design for deep cycle as cranking, just with thicker plates.
A good option with them is to use two deep cycle marine batteries and isolate one for cranking.
Important to match production date and lot with both batteries.
User avatar
gyre
 
Posts: 15346
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:01 pm
Location: ΦάÏ

Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:07 am

gyre wrote:
Most deep cycles are hopelessly crude and inefficient, while cranking batteries are getting more sophisticated.


You might have a point there, and I'll add that if you get a really high-capacity starting-type battery it'll work fine on the playa and then you can use it the rest of the year in your car/truck/whatever instead of buying it just to use that one week.
"Whaoomph! Whaomph! Burbbleburbblepattpattpattpatt... WHAAAAAaaoooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa........!!!"
Top fuel dragster, by Elliot Naess
User avatar
Captain Goddammit
 
Posts: 4506
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:34 am
Location: Seattle, WA
Burning Since: 2000
Camp Name: Camp I'm going to Hawaii Instead

Postby Token » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:27 am

The problem with Pb-acid batteries is the user craft needed to maintain them outside of the automotive scope.

Most folks are conditioned to the NiCd, NiMH, and LiON gizmos that are commonplace and designed to run 'till bone dry. This is how they were designed and benefit from full discharge cycles.

I'm the first one to admit guilt in this regard. Having forgotten more about bettery management than most folks will ever know (I designed power circuits for telecom equipment which runs on batteries, -48V stuff), I have killed countless deep cell packs from shear neglect, especially on Playa. Who has the time to dick arround with batteries out there?

In the long run, a Honda generator with an external fuel tank is worth it's weight in ... Pb? ... Err ... Au.
User avatar
Token
 
Posts: 2302
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 2:55 pm
Location: Gold Country, CA
Burning Since: 2001

Postby ConnieH » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:36 am

Popobumm wrote:I ordered these lights:

http://www.extremeglow.com/Merchant4/me ... Code=SOLAR

They look like exactly what you guys are mentioning and are solar powered. I'm not sure if $25 for 35 ft is a good price or not, but I went ahead and got a couple mainly to line our hexayurt stakes and ropes so people can see them at night.


I paid more than that for my solar LED rope light (100 lights I believe), and was slightly disappointed when I got it charged and up - it's a bit dim. So I opened up the battery pack and found that there is only 1 AA rechargable battery inside, not enough in my opinion to run that many lights. That was my first solar light purchase, and it spurred great interest in lighting/batteries/solar, etc... My point is, your string may work great, but since they don't tell you how many batteries are in it, you won't know until it arrives. My rope light is dim, but still works great for a "guiding light" on our playa home and does last all night.
ConnieH
 
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:41 pm
Location: Idaho

Postby bm_cricket » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:48 am

Token wrote:In the long run, a Honda generator with an external fuel tank is worth it's weight in ... Pb? ... Err ... Au.


You just made me smile. And chuckle a little.
)'(
User avatar
bm_cricket
 
Posts: 577
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:06 pm
Location: My mind is on the road to BRC
Burning Since: 2008

Postby jkisha » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:15 am

Popobumm wrote:I ordered these lights:

http://www.extremeglow.com/Merchant4/me ... Code=SOLAR

They look like exactly what you guys are mentioning and are solar powered. I'm not sure if $25 for 35 ft is a good price or not, but I went ahead and got a couple mainly to line our hexayurt stakes and ropes so people can see them at night.


We have never placed our stakes more than three inches away from the yurt. Impossible for people to trip on.

JK
JK
Image
http://www.mudskippercafe.com
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.
Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
User avatar
jkisha
 
Posts: 11403
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Burning Since: 2007
Camp Name: Mudskipper Cafe

Postby bm_cricket » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:32 am

jkisha wrote:Impossible for people to trip on.


... Impossible? Remember who we are dealing with here...
)'(
User avatar
bm_cricket
 
Posts: 577
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:06 pm
Location: My mind is on the road to BRC
Burning Since: 2008

Postby Popobumm » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:04 pm

jkisha wrote:
Popobumm wrote:I ordered these lights:

http://www.extremeglow.com/Merchant4/me ... Code=SOLAR

They look like exactly what you guys are mentioning and are solar powered. I'm not sure if $25 for 35 ft is a good price or not, but I went ahead and got a couple mainly to line our hexayurt stakes and ropes so people can see them at night.


We have never placed our stakes more than three inches away from the yurt. Impossible for people to trip on.

JK


Ah good to know...that's pretty close to be safe I suppose. I can use these things for some other sort of decoration then :)
Popobumm
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 5:34 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Postby Homiesinheaven » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:06 am

i'm looking to do the same thing and it seems like buying a ton of D batteries for the Boombox and AAs for xmas lights will be far cheaper than the car battery, converter, etc., set up no?
User avatar
Homiesinheaven
 
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:22 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Burning Since: 2008

Postby phil » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:47 am

Louise and I have a couple of 100+ AmpHour deep cycle batteries. There are problems with lead acid batteries that should be considered. They weigh a ton. Our batteries weigh 70lbs each in a small package. You need a cover for the batteries - if you drop a wrench, screwdriver, or other metal thing on the terminals, you'll have flying molten metal coming at you and at your burnable goods.

Lead acid batteries are made from lead and acid. They eventually wear out, and you need somewhere to dispose of them properly.

Lead acid batteries go bad if you don't keep them charged. It's called sulfating. You need a trickle charger for the style of battery you're using. You need to keep it in charge and use it all year. Louise and I do more camping than Burning Man and we use them for ham radio events, so we have full-time use of our investments in lead and acid, and we can support the cost of a good charger.

If you can't use your lead acid battery year round, I go with the suggestion of using D and AA cells and recycling them when they're exhausted. It's easier on the environment, in my very humble opinion, then manufacturing a lead acid battery, using electricity to keep it charged year round, then recycling it. It's much easier with Ds and AAs if you _don't_ keep the lead acid battery in good shape and ruin it in a few years through sulfation.

Everybody's mileage varies. Louise and I use AA-powered LEDs on our shade, solar powered around our tent, and the deep-cycle battery with inverter to recharge our rechargeable AAs and our cameras on the playa. It's good to have an energy plan, but you need to keep in mind that lead acid batteries require year round maintenance or they fail early in life.
User avatar
phil
 
Posts: 2975
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Postby kman » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:23 am

I can heartily recommend the Solar LED Christmas light route. One less thing to have to think about powering. Set them up, and you're done for the week.

Harbor Freight has a 45w solar array with charge controller and 2 lights on sale for $160 (online only... in stores it's "on sale" for $250!). Not a bad deal at all. All a 105 amp-hour deep cycle marine battery from Costco (about $80) and you're getting into pretty good shape for $240 total (plus whatever you spend on the LED xmas lites). If you can run the boom box (or speakers) off 12v direct, and use an mp3 player instead of a laptop, you should have power all week no problem, without running a loud smelly cranky generator all week to do it (and lugging the fuel to feed it).

Check Amazon, they have a number of 3rd party chargers that will charge your digital camera batteries. Key point: Look for the ones that include a 12v car adapter. I found some for around $5 with shipping. Like these or these. Battery chargers that include 12v charging for AA and AAA can be found cheaply as well, such as this, which includes 4 AA NiMH rechargeables.

Pick up an inexpensive float charger ($20 or less) for the battery, leave it plugged in somewhere out of the way, and you're in good shape for years to come.
User avatar
kman
 
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:27 pm
Location: Studio City, CA

Postby gyre » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:52 am

Chargers vary in quality tremendously.
Smart chargers are better, some more than others.

Converting AA packs to D cell packs is an efficient approach.
And the battery packs with the cheaper LED strings are often considered low quality.
User avatar
gyre
 
Posts: 15346
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:01 pm
Location: ΦάÏ

Postby Homiesinheaven » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:14 pm

i would also like to add to be careful with Solar powered xmas lights. i spent $30 on two sets last year and one never fully charged and the other was way too dim to be any good. maybe the more expensive ones are better but my experience was a waste of time and money.
User avatar
Homiesinheaven
 
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:22 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Burning Since: 2008

Next

Return to Power & Illumination

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest