What battery do I need?

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What battery do I need?

Postby Andrei » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:07 am

So I know nothing about deep cycle batteries and need some advice.

1). I want to be able to plug in 12V staff that you plug in the car as well as regular appliances like laptop or boom box or lights. (I hope to use it off playa after)
2). I want to be able to charge the battery from my car. How can I do this?

What battery do I need?

I know there are Flooded, Gel and AGM. Which is better for running for long time? what about speed of charging?

Also, I was concerned as some batteries I seen online did not have the plug-ins (or I missed it) for where you can plug in your electronics. Is this the case for some of them? How do you deal with that?

Thank you for the advice, please recommend any options that you think would suit me.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Trishntek » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:18 am

You could just invest in a 500 watt, or maybe less power inverter to plug into your cigarette lighter in the car. If you plan to run your car to charge a deep cell, you might as well run it to charge your car's battery instead. You can get a small power inverter which changes your DC power supply to AC so you can do the thing of which you speak.

Deep cell batteries are on the expensive side and lead acid (flooded) are the cheapest. A small 12V deep cell will run you $100 and you would still need the inverter. The inverter will run you somewhere between $20 and $40 depending on how many watts you want.

You would need an extension cord from your car to your tent or wherever and possibly a power strip if you want to plug in more than one thing at a time. Recharging you car battery would generally require 10 minutes of engine running time for every hour of inverter use.

AGM and SEALED batteries are much more expensive than LEAD ACID. They are more versatile for transporting and use in closed spaces because they do not present the risk of spilled battery acid and flammable gasses like the lead acid batteries.

Basically, to determine what you would need, look at all the lights, boombox and other electronics you plan to use. Check the labels which will tell you how many volts and how many amperes (Amps, mA) and multiply the volts times the amps for each piece of equipment. This provides the number of WATTS that particular piece requires. Now, determine how long you intend to use each piece of equipment and multiply the number of hours by the number of watts determined earlier. This will provide you an educated guess at the number of WATT-HOURS you require each day.

Deep cell batteries have an "Ah" rating on them. This is how many hours of a given amperage it is capable of storing. If you multiply this number by 12 (for a 12 volt battery), this provides you the number of WATT-HOURS the battery is capable of providing if it is fully charged and working proficiently.

Compare how many WATT-HOURS you require daily with the number of WATT-HOURS the battery is capable of providing. Ideally, you battery should be able to provide TWICE the number of WATT-HOURS you would need. If you discharge a deep cell more than half, it is much more difficult to recharge it to full power in an equitable period of time by running your car.

Personally, if I were planning to run a boombox and lights for my personal tent, I would go with LED lighting running off AAA batteries and a boombox that runs off of 'D' cell batteries. You could buy the equipment and a shit-ton of disposable batteries for the money you would put into a deep cell battery and an inverter. Consider what it would cost to run your car for an hour each day too.

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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby nixiebunny » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:22 am

You can just use your car battery as your power source, since you already went to the trouble of bringing it to Burning Man.

As long as you don't plan on discharging it very far at night, and you connect it to a solar panel for charging every day, it'll be fine. I did this one year with no trouble. I stuck a 75W solar panel on the roof with 45 degree angle brackets for best angle. I used a 10 amp charge controller, and connected it to the car battery with big battery clips.

You would be OK discharging it perhaps 45-40% of its capacity. Most full-size car batteries are rated at ~50 amp hours. So you can use perhaps 20 amp-hours per night.

That translates to two 15W fluorescent bulbs, lit up 'til 2AM.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby BBadger » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:21 am

nixiebunny wrote:You can just use your car battery as your power source, since you already went to the trouble of bringing it to Burning Man.


Holy shit the blind bunnies leading the blind. Don't use your car battery as a power source. That is stupid advice.

Starter batteries are designed for high power density, not capacity, and you'll be dramatically shortening the life of your battery's thin lead plates if you're using it for the WRONG PURPOSE--especially at those deep discharges (40-45%??!), which are not a good even for deep-cycle batteries. You don't want to be stuck out on the playa with a dead battery because you wanted to keep some fluorescent bulbs glowing while you weren't there.

...regular appliances like laptop or boom box or lights.


Those are not "regular appliances", and why would you even bother bringing a laptop? To look at porn? It might be worth the time to haul out those batteries if you simply had to power a refrigerator, or maybe a big sound system (no, a boombox does not qualify), but I'd go with Trishntek's advice: if you're using something like a boombox, or some LED lights, you don't need lead-acid batteries, inverters, etc.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby nixiebunny » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:33 pm

Sheesh! it's not that big a deal to use your car battery as a storage battery a few nights a year.

You can quantify the lifetime shortening of various discharge depths, by doing a bit of research...
http://pvcdrom.pveducation.org/BATTERY/charlead.htm

Given that the car battery will experience seven cycles in the course of the week it's not going to suffer a perceptible shortening of its life. You could discharge it to 50% a couple hundred times before killing it, and that's just not going to happen by using it one week a year.

So please relax a bit. This isn't spacecraft, it's Burning Man!

Furthermore... even if you manage to reduce the lifetime of your car battery by a whole year, you've only wasted $25 of battery capacity in that time, whereas if you spend $150 on a deep cycle battery and use it on week a year, it's only going to last for 3 or 4 years unless you meticulously maintain it, so you're out $150 over 4 years instead of $25.

So if you can make a case for it being more economically feasible to buy an expensive deep cycle battery to use one week a year, I'd like to hear it.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Andrei » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:10 pm

Thanks for good advice. You could be right about me being able to use car battery. Really I only want to power this
http://www.kooleraire.com/ , maybe a swamp cooler too, and to charge my ipot. The rest of staff I can use regular batteries for.

Originally I thought about being more compostable having a portable battery and maybe charge it from a car with jump start wires. (I read about that on this forum) But I might not need it.

BBadger wrote:
...regular appliances like laptop or boom box or lights.


Those are not "regular appliances", and why would you even bother bringing a laptop? To look at porn?


As I mentioned in my original post, I was not going to use "regular appliances" on playa during burning man. Rather I hoped to be able to use my battery after burning man in my everyday life if I do decide to invest in it.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby maladroit » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:26 pm

That ice-based cooler will fuckin destroy your wallet as you'll become way too familiar with Arctica. Just plan on an evaporative cooler, and double your water budget.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Trishntek » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:34 pm

Okay, now that we know what you are really up to, let's take your cooler for an example of required power supply.

It consumes 45 watts. If you want to use this in your tent or van for cooling during the burn, you will have to run it continuously during the day in order for it to be effective cooling. So you run it from 10AM until 6PM which adds up to 8 hours. That is 360 watt-hours of energy per day. Divide that amount by 12volts for the batteries capacity and we have THIRTY amp hours minimum. That means you need at least a 60 amp hour battery.

To recharge this battery with solar, you would need at least a panel capable of producing SIXTY WATTS per HOUR. Prime sunshine is 6 hours per day. That is assuming it is cloud-free and otherwise clear sunshine for optimal performance.

To recharge this battery with your car, you would need to run your engine almost an hour per day.

That is a huge PITA for producing something easily accomplished with some solid shade and a spray bottle.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby BBadger » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:38 pm

Starter batteries have about TEN deep cycles when charged by an alternator because your alternator is not a smart charger, but rather is designed for topping off batteries--not restoring them from deep discharges. They can over-charge your batteries, and couple that with high temperatures, you're asking for a nice dead battery, a lot of wasted gasoline, and all the trimmings. I doubt the OP would even know what level of discharge the batteries are even at, and probably run them into the ground.

A better solution? Don't bring superfluous (e.g. laptops), power-hungry devices unless you have the equipment to run things properly. If the OP simply must run some "appliances" a pre-built AGM "power pack" or something of that nature would be better, and avoid the inverter, standalone deep-cycle batteries, charging circuit--or killing the vehicle's battery.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby nixiebunny » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:41 pm

I agree that the cooler you're looking it is not Burning-Man friendly.

There are cooler designs that use a small 12V fountain pump and some cooler pad material in a 5 gallon bucket that work reasonably well, and don't use ice, which is a silly thing to use for a cooler in 3% humidity.

Better yet, shade and a bit of perspiration is all you need to keep cool. (I'm in Tucson, where we relish June, in which the swamp cooler works well in the dry dry 105 degree heat, and suffer in August, when the 50% humidity renders it useless.)

Besides, the nice thing about Burning Man is that you can spend the day hanging out in someone else's shade, drinking their margaritas, during the hot part of the day from noon-4PM. So you don't need an air cooler.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:44 pm

nixiebunny wrote: So you don't need an air cooler.



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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Canoe » Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:59 am

BBadger wrote:Starter batteries have about TEN deep cycles when charged by an alternator because your alternator is not a smart charger, but rather is designed for topping off batteries--not restoring them from deep discharges. They can over-charge your batteries, and couple that with high temperatures, you're asking for a nice dead battery, a lot of wasted gasoline, and all the trimmings...


As said, car battery is not designed for what you want, and if you do, the charging circuit in the vehicle isn't designed to recover it.

maladroit wrote:That ice-based cooler will fuckin destroy your wallet as you'll become way too familiar with Arctica. Just plan on an evaporative cooler, and double your water budget.

And you'll go through a lot of ice. And wait in line for it. And pay for it.


Assuming you need more than shade and a spray bottle, make a swamp-cooler.
Run it with a deep-cycle battery.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby incubus_pantomime » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:44 am

Trishntek wrote:Okay, now that we know what you are really up to, let's take your cooler for an example of required power supply.

It consumes 45 watts. If you want to use this in your tent or van for cooling during the burn, you will have to run it continuously during the day in order for it to be effective cooling. So you run it from 10AM until 6PM which adds up to 8 hours. That is 360 watt-hours of energy per day. Divide that amount by 12volts for the batteries capacity and we have THIRTY amp hours minimum. That means you need at least a 60 amp hour battery.

To recharge this battery with solar, you would need at least a panel capable of producing SIXTY WATTS per HOUR. Prime sunshine is 6 hours per day. That is assuming it is cloud-free and otherwise clear sunshine for optimal performance.

To recharge this battery with your car, you would need to run your engine almost an hour per day.

That is a huge PITA for producing something easily accomplished with some solid shade and a spray bottle.


Thanks, Trishntek! I had planned to use the same cooler, and I now see that other options would be more suited to BM and my wallet. :D
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Andrei » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:32 am

Thanks to everyone for all the help, and a special royal gratitude to Trishntek!

Having said that I still wanted to run one scenario by you.

What if I pull my car battery out, use it, and charge it for an hour every day. (or how much do you think I need to charge it for?) if this would work at all?

I will have rental car, Toyota corolla, if that make any difference. Probably will run my cooling device for 6 hours instead of 8.
The power required is 0.39 amps
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Zhust » Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:11 am

Andrei wrote:I will have rental car, Toyota corolla, if that make any difference. Probably will run my cooling device for 6 hours instead of 8.
The power required is 0.39 amps


I was curious about the power requirement since it looks like it's just a fan that sits on top of a cooler (at first I thought it was a Peltier cooler which would be more like 50 watts.) 0.39 amps * 6 hours is 2.3 amp-hours. It would be like leaving the headlights on (5 amps) for a half-hour.

The thing is, out in the desert, the humidity is so low that the dewpoint is around 60°F (15C) which means that blowing air across water will make the air cool, approaching the dewpoint temperature. The device you're looking at would probably work as a swamp cooler: rather than ice, you'd just put a gallon of water on the bottom of your cooler and drape a thin towel so it's between the intake and the exhaust. Or just buy a swamp cooler. Or maybe just buy a replacement swamp cooler wick that would fit your setup.

And you know, 0.39 amps at 12V is only 5 watts, so a 5-watt solar panel could be used to run that thing straight, without a battery at all. It would only run when it's sunny (and at reduced power as the sun went down) but that seems like it would be ideal.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Canoe » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:11 am

Andrei wrote:...What if I pull my car battery out, use it, and charge it for an hour every day. (or how much do you think I need to charge it for?) if this would work at all?
I will have rental car, Toyota corolla, if that make any difference...

Depends.
Heat does not nice things to batteries, and then you're going to use it in a way it's not intended for.
Does the rental company have a service that will come to the playa to retrieve the battery if it's toast?
Are you driving home or rushing to catch a flight?
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Andrei » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:56 pm

Zhust wrote: Or just buy a swamp cooler.


do you know where I could buy one thats under $100? and runs off 12V
not shure they exist. swampy is way too expencive.

I dont know, maybe i will make one fron a bucket pump and fan in the end.. still deciding. The thing is I am flying in and would need to buy all the staff online, pick it up and put it together on playa, or SF hotel. I hope the cleaners will not report me to home land security if they see what i am doing.


And yes, I am flying home, but not immediatly, want to drive arround SF for 2 days. I also will have someone to jump my battery at BM if needed.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Canoe » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:48 pm

Andrei wrote:I also will have someone to jump my battery at BM if needed.

And if none of the battery's cells are shorted, you could run it until you shut the car off; then if it will hold a charge, you wouldn't have to boost to start again.
If the battery is shorted, you could boost with the battery out of the circuit, and don't shut it off until you reach your destination.
Kinda screwed for exodus pulsing.

If the battery has a thermal run-away, you might get cited by BLM for fireworks, contaminating the playa, or both.

Where in the city are you camping?
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Trishntek » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:57 pm

Solid shade and a spray bottle,,, honestly,,, get a friend with TWO spray bottles,,, have a fuckin' water fight if it's that hot!
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby ZaphodBurner » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:01 am

Do not use your car battery. You will destroy it. If it's a rental, it's still bad karma. I've been in this scenario at Burning Man and couldn't crank over by the time I refueled in Alturas on the way home because of the damage to our battery.

If you're going to need power, take the advice I should have: Buy a big-ass deep-cycle battery and try to use 12-volt appliances (truck stops have all kinds of cool shit). Inverters are only about 30% efficient and will drive a stereo or a few strings of lights for awhile, but they're designed to operate while the battery is getting a charge from the alternator, not standing alone.

OR, at the very least, bring an extra car battery so that if you nuke yours, you can still make it out of Exodus without needing a jump every time you start your car.

Laptops are a waste of Burning Man and the dust is brutal on them.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby maladroit » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:07 am

You don't need a whole spare battery if you bring one of those handy jump boxes. They often have a 12V accessory port, air compressor, and Ac inverter built in. You could recharge it with a small solar panel, or drag it over to Sno Koan.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby Canoe » Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:53 am

Aw.
I want to watch the thermal runaway.

I just don't want to be camped beside it.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby ZaphodBurner » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:37 pm

maladroit wrote:You don't need a whole spare battery if you bring one of those handy jump boxes. They often have a 12V accessory port, air compressor, and Ac inverter built in. You could recharge it with a small solar panel, or drag it over to Sno Koan.


Those handy jump boxes are okay for small cars but they don't recharge quickly enough to use very often. Speaking from experience. You'll want best you can get for that sort of thing.
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Re: What battery do I need?

Postby stephen2u » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:29 pm

:D
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