David Baillie

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since Jan 07, 2016
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Builder, tinkered, gardener, charcoal gasification enthusiast, solar design, all things energy related.
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Central Ontario
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Recent posts by David Baillie

Riley Summerton wrote:Can I connect this to the solar pannels? Can I use the energy right away?


If I buy this kit, can I connect other solar pannels to it?


Is it better to buy something more expensive for better quality, or with inflation is it not actually better quality?

Would it be cheaper or better quality if I buy the supplies separately from the panels/turbine?

Anyone have product recommendations? I'd like to get solar and a wind Turbine this week for less than 300. I'm doing it for both emergency preparedness and to prep for  off grid living in the future.

A review of the solar kit looks like it runs into the con of solar kits not matching well as described in this site:

For every 12 volt panel out there being sold there is at least 20 higher voltage panels produced. This makes the cost per watt much higher for 12 volt panels. It does not matter if you are only ever going to hook up one or 2 12 volt panels but if you want to grow the array you should invest from the start in a Mppt charge controller. I have used this one as an entry level unit.  https://www.amazon.com/EPEVER-Controller-Lead-Acid-Batteries-Discharging/dp/B0811F75H3/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?crid=1ZVJYKIT40SL5&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.1cFRLoNJjsb3ctbeZzZAidYVvgixfE0PlzTBljByzClxwhpIy9BJaACRnMPA_GnwagYA8_a3mWYoPCSESMxSuTGKOpIbAu0H66GIpoUeyQPUkR8Mf35uhZjNWvPtAtGJOr1w2j3kHDm5_hd9DQ0qp1mkkAtPMdlPxwsgGdNHGy8RxlYxtcpLfGkHS-x50WpRb2vOYY9MsDa5ttoqlTgYJQI6p6rVHbiOpFKBtm7AXu0.qgb92AdPzvfe3oGbQZyvVEuV4JjHzOP1tUg6fCwEKmc&dib_tag=se&keywords=epever%2Bcharge%2Bcontroller&qid=1718025834&sprefix=epever%2Bcharge%2Bcontroller%2Caps%2C138&sr=8-2-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGY&th=1
this will allow you to do a single panel, grow to up to 30 amps worth (360 watts) either as 3 of the expenseive per watt 100 watt panels or the larger utility panels and switch to a 24 volt system if desired down the road. For small wind  that looks like not a bad option but a single utility solar panel will outperform that wind turbine in all but the best wind locations at one third of the cost.
Enjoy the journey...
Cheers, David
1 week ago

Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:We're in south central TX.  We could probably live without heating, but A/C here is a must.  We're on a fixed income and cannot afford to replace the forced air HVAC unit for $17,000.  I know there are small units usually mounted high on the wall.  Are there other affordable options?

We have a couple window units, but not enough to cool the house.  Ceiling fans in most rooms, and a couple small desk fans.  We also run 3 dehumidifiers constantly.  It is very very humid here.  

We are retired, in our mid-60s.  My husband is not permie minded nor is he allowed to play with tools.

I would strongly suggest getting a second and third opinion. $17000 is excessive. Good luck on your hunt. Mini splits work best for room by room applications.
Cheers,  David
1 week ago

Aaron Yarbrough wrote:Thanks Jordan,

They are are Rolls except for the one Trojan(I melted a terminal a couple of years ago and that was the only replacement I could find on short notice). I check the specific gravity and top of the water of the batteries about every 3 months as well and usually the readings are pretty close.

Equalization is sort of going out of fashion since solar arrays are getting bigger and bigger. Equalization was much more common when people had large battery banks and small arrays and most bulk charging was done fast and by generator. That kind of charging leads to differences in specific gravity over time which required an equalization session to balance out. As long as your Specific gravities are close you are good. I do mine once a year now but I dont push the bank much. Usually you should have done an absorb charge before  equalization for full effect. At this time of year I would do a bulk charge early in the day and allow my charge controller to do absorb and equalization. If your array is not big enough you would need to do bulk and absorb with the genny then equaliztion with the solar. You might have trouble pulling it off since the rolls and the trojans have different equalization voltages.
2 weeks ago

Daniel Schmidt wrote:Thank you! I know there are some quirks and a few things about the manual that don't seem to line up, but it's been working well for me. My posts tend to get very long-winded, and I do that in hopes that people who come across them through searches can have as many details as I can give. I'm going to gather more notes about the setup and organize them into slightly more digestible chunks.

Sadly with all of the different connectors and proprietary setups, it likely won't be 'plug and play' to connect this to just any ebike. It can be made to work in a lot of cases if you are determined enough. I currently have XT-60 connectors on all of my 36V batteries, and will likely move up to XT-90 connectors for higher voltage packs to avoid any mistakes, as well as making use of the higher current handling capacity.

I'm hoping to eventually get to a point where I have a 48V electric trike that doubles as a power source using an inverter. As an individual who has spent a lot of time minimizing my personal power consumption, it's usually the occasional task requiring a bunch of power tool usage that eats up more energy than almost anything else in my life. For me it makes a lot of sense to have a cargo trike with an oversized battery that can occasionally haul stuff, go on a longer trek, or act as a power source that I can roll wherever I need it. With it being a secondary form of transportation, it can sit around for a few days and charge up slowly. As I keep moving forward I will update things and make more threads to show what I have going on. There are lots of ways of going about using ebikes and solar power. My successes can probably help other people with their goals, and maybe it can spark a few ideas that can be shared back to the community.

you might wan to consider a voltage converter to step down the trike voltage to 12 volt. There are a lot of cheap options in the small 12 volt inverter range.  Small 48 volt gear is limited and more expensive. Just a thought. Enjoy.
cheers, David
3 weeks ago

Daniel Schmidt wrote:There is an interesting boost converter style of solar charge controller that I have seen a number of people use and I had been wanting to test this out for a while. The brand is Elejoy (although I see some for sale with the brand name removed) model number: EL-MU400SP. The 400 meaning 400 (ish) watts of power with 200W and 300W versions also available. Since the price tends to fluctuate wildly at times and the higher power model is often not significantly more expensive, I went for the high power handling model.

To give a good idea of what I have, here is a page from the Grin Technologies Ebike website:


I need to point out first that this is a boost converter, meaning it takes a certain voltage input and bumps up the output voltage. Because of the way this operates, you need to have at least a couple of volts difference between the input and output. If the voltage of the solar panel is 23V, then the output would need to be set at ~25V or above. I believe it has protection to stop it from attempting to charge when the voltages get too close, but I haven't exercised that part of the device yet. In the future I will go over the manual and some of the finer details of how this thing operates.

I picked up a pair of 100 watt panels for under $120 and can use them in parallel with my 36V nominal battery (42V fully charged, or commonly referred to as 40V for tool batteries). If I move up to a 48V or 52V system, I could put the panels in series. This would allow for lower current at the same given power, which means less voltage drop between the panel and the charge controller. Given that it boosts the voltage, if you need to have a longer run of wire for whatever reason it might be better to lengthen the output side of things. That being said, you also want to protect this from rain or being overheated by the sun, so having the option to use a higher input voltage can certainly be useful.

There is another important point I want to bring up about boost converters. The way they operate is to charge an inductor and then shut off the charge. This causes the inductor to deplete itself as fast as it can, causing a reverse voltage spike. The circuit controls how fast it can charge and deplete. Since it is made for solar panels with blocking diodes, this works fine. I saw some online threads and YouTube comments of people attaching their boost convert to a bench power supply and destroying the power supply, or to a battery for the input and having issues. Myself and a number of other people have had no issues using a solar panel for input as intended, so I would strongly recommend using it with solar only. I'm putting this here both to save anyone down the road some grief, as well as to address anyone who does a search and sees someone claiming to have X years experience and are upset they let the magic smoke out of an expensive power supply.

One last important quirk to mention is that this (and likely other) boost converter style charge controllers are powered by the solar panel. If solar isn't connected, or doesn't have sufficient power to operate the controller then it will shut off. It isn't powered by the battery, so it isn't broken if it fails to light up when a battery is connected to the output. It holds the settings so when solar power resumes it can pick up where it left off.

I will have to come back to this another time and go over more details, but my favorite feature is being able to dial in the voltage. I have always been a fan of not pushing my cells to the extremes of 100% or under 20% charge when I can. I have to charge all the way to top balance the cells occasionally, but not every single time. This has been a huge problem with my wall chargers, as they have no built in way to stop charging where I want them. I have also had issues with them cutting out before the BMS could balance the cells and the first pack I built had one cell drift a fair bit away from the rest. This is a huge topic that I will have to dive in to another time, but I can choose to stop it around 80% or I can measure the voltage at the cell and perhaps dial in 42.2V or 42.3V to make up for the voltage drop and get a full balance charge. Even if the cells reach 4.23 volts a couple times a year, it wouldn't be overcharged to the point of being dangerous, and the lower charge between balancing will greatly extend the battery life. I have had great luck with used cells in the packs I built and little loss of capacity after years and a few thousand miles on them. This charge controller can help me step up my charging game and further extend the life of my batteries while using the sun for power.

The knock-off Wago connector on the one side immediately broke, which worked out fine since I wanted to add a fuse and XT-60 connector. On the input I have a wire with MC-4 connectors to attach to the solar panels. On the output side I made a crude connection, but it works. The blue tape has electrical tape and soldered wires underneath. Heat makes the electrical tape adhesive ooze out and come unraveled, and I find the blue tape holds up much better when I need a quick semi-permanent fix.

a nice appropriate size project! Hope you post results as you explore the possibilities.
Cheers, David
3 weeks ago

Tina Wolf wrote:

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Please clarify -- is the bulb an above-ground "warning light" or a heat source?

Heat source.

Does your charge controller have a load controller option? What kind is it? They are a good way to control discharge on the battery to avoid killing it. As for temperature control there are a lot of cheap temp controllers. Manual or digital. I've used an ac electric baseboard thermostat before but they are not made for dc amperage. Usually they are derated 90 percent for running DC so about 1.5 amps. You could also use said thermostat to control a DC relay which then switches the light on and off... So first question what voltage are you operating at? Second what charge controller are you using? Third how comfy are you tinkering?
4 weeks ago

Leo Breydon wrote:We all know solar panels harness the sun's energy, but have you ever stopped to think about whether WHERE they're placed truly impacts their efficiency?

I recently came across some information suggesting that the angle and direction of solar panels might not be as crucial as we've been led to believe. This challenges the common notion that rooftop installations are inherently less efficient than ground-mounted systems due to limitations in positioning.

And the reason why I am interested in this is soon I will move to another city and I want to purchase some solar panels for my house, but I just do not know where to start.

So, I am now wondering:

Is the obsession with optimal solar panel placement overblown?
Do advancements in solar technology minimize the impact of placement?
Are we overlooking the potential of rooftop solar in favor of ground-mounted systems?

Do any of you guys could help me out with that, thanks in advance?

Well it depends on how important that power is to you and how much array you have. I am attaching a small theoretical array I put together with my software in my location is shows an array at 270 degrees, 225 degrees and 180 degrees. I have found with an Mppt charge controller within 15 degrees of true south the difference is insignificant. the same applies to within 15 degrees of ideal angle. the bellow charts assume a 1kW solar array for easy calculation. As I would assume it affects you far more in the winter when the sun is lower then the summer.  Hope this helps visualize things. The bar graph is daily production the chart is monthly.
Cheers,  David Baillie
1 month ago
So... why stainless steel sheets? do you already have them? Aluminum would be a far better choice. A scrap dealer would probably give you an even swap for them with maybe a little money thrown in. You could also pour just the heating wire in a thin layer of concrete to act as a heat transfer medium rocks and sand for the balance.
2 months ago

Jim Griff wrote:

larry kidd wrote:Lots of people playing with thermal storage now a days including me. lol Isn't it funny how such similar materials can have such different properties. You might want to try granite dust and or crush and run as a filler that conducts heat as well as mass for holding heat. Also cleaning those rocks of moss, mold or any foreign material as that is a barrier to good conductivity.  

Yes good point on cleaning the rocks! 👍 It was late after work when I gathered and placed them in the hole but most likely I’ll be pulling them out to place the stainless steel on the bottom.
I have thought about stone dust but couldn’t find any thermal info on it as well have read that it absorbs and holds a lot of moisture.
I might try a bench test on some. 🤔

I would imagine fastening the heat cables to the stainless would make heat transfer easier which would make transfer to the granite and sand easier. If the electric cable transfers heat easier then it reaches high temperature less so would last longer.
2 months ago

Jim Garlits wrote:I found this video yesterday on YouTube from the Canadian Permaculture Legacy channel. This man is a living, breathing throwback to when people were more resilient. He's a genius! The video is about an hour long, but as someone in the comments stated, it feels like a teaser. I want fifty hours of this guy just talking and showing his property.

Block out an hour and watch it. You won't regret it.

Paul, you need to get this guy to a future PTJ.


that was totally worth the time. He's really close to here actually...I'll have to look him up.
2 months ago