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jim musser

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since Jan 22, 2016
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Recent posts by jim musser

From the system description, it sounded to me like the hydro power is always electrically connected and they manually open the water valve to start generating power (up to 6A but usually run the flow to generate about 2A) and vice versa. If the water valve were to get stuck in the on position from the failure in an automated water valve, it wouldn't destroy the hydro unless the load (i.e. the battery) were also electrically disconnected, which they don't ever need to do except when they don't want the voltage produced by the hydro to flake out the solar panel charge controller (i.e. when the sun comes out and they want to gobble up as much of those solar rays as possible). Rather than consider disconnecting the electrical power of the hydro (to remove this charge voltage), consider to simply automate turning off the water to the hydro to both stop producing this charge voltage (on the battery from the hydro) and to stop the water flow on the hydro (to save the bearing life) at the same time. That way the battery voltage can drop (with no charging source), be identified by the solar charge controller, and allow the solar charger to work alone. This solution doesn't make the multiple power source work together (15A solar and 2A hydro), but it does keep them from fighting with each other (15A solar or 2A hydro) without having to spend your days hanging out around the water valve looking at the clouds.

As an aside, I saw that you could trickle charge a 500Ah lead-acid battery with up to 5A continuously (much higher than the typical 2A from your hydro) to maintain the battery at a fully charged state without overcharging (i.e. 5A is a low enough charge rate for the recombination reaction).
5 years ago
I'm envious that you have a hydro system to play with. Disclaimer: I don't know much about what can break them; however could you simply turn off the water automatically when the sun comes out (and leave the hydro system always connected to the battery through the reverse voltage diode)? If so, you could turn the water on/off with a drip irrigation controller (Lowes, THD, Amazon, etc.) managed through your smart phone (i.e. manually turn water on/off just not physically turning the valve), or rig up something through a dusk/dawn outdoor power outlet (for Christmas trees) that automatically cycles power on to the valve when the sun comes out and opens the water valve when it goes away. Maybe you can find a drip irrigation controller that has a solar cell in it to tell when the sun is out. If it were mine, I'd run the solar cell and the valve controller (and probably some other gizmos) through an Arduino controller to manage this automation, but it'd likely cost 5x as much as it needs to do your job. This doesn't take advantage of the water you have when the sun is out; however from your description of the problem, you're more concerned about missing out on the sunshine when you get it.
5 years ago