Sue Reeves

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since May 10, 2019
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Recent posts by Sue Reeves

I dont remember having to do anything special on changing set points for the Aquions.  That said, maybe I did but just dont remember as it was a couple years ago.  

But, the solar people realy should not have a problem, or be more open minded, as they are easy batteries -- do you have their spec sheet ? If not go online as it is likely still up on their old web site.  So, they are 48 volt batteries... When I bought them, I just checked the specs myself from their data sheet and my charge controllers/inverter.  But, we do have the same problem out here no "solar install people" will give me the time of day as it is an old system that they did not install.  I just talked to the Tech's, by phone, at Real Goods store, hopland CA, for advice, and they had sold me the Aquions. and then had my local electrician, who does not do solar, hook up the batteries to new inline fuses and to the existing combining box I had, there was alot of room.   He is better at fat wires than me, has all the tools, and is old school enough to not be fazed by new things or worry about it.  It is just another electrical connection, after all.  It was pretty easy to see that instead of strings of 12V batteries in series I moved to 48V batteries in parallel.  

The thing about the aquions is there is no maintanance or equalizing cycles.  So, they work or they dont.  The solar people should be able to hook up a meter to them, same as any other battery, if they suspect a problem, they can check if there is a charge etc... same as any other battery.  

Good luck.  I also do get frustrated that unlike any other household system I have, there arent just solar people you can call.  I can call a electrician,  plumber, etc....  When we reroofed 12 years ago, and had to take the panels off then on, I also COULD NOT get any local solar company to come out.  The roofers took them off.  Then I had a friend that worked back office of a large install company who asked 2 of the guys if they would re-put mine on, off book on Saturday, I paid them of course, so they did.  But, the company would not do it at all.  

I have had solar and batteries for 21 years now, which is why the new companies are not who put mine on.  Mine were put on professionally, although if you are comfortable on roofs, and have a stron friend or 2 who also are, you can do it yourself
3 days ago
I could use 2 fig cuttings, that way at least one would live.  I do not have any plants started, but it is bare root season and I can take cuttings from : Glenora grape;  Apples: hudson golden gem, newton pippin, fuji ; Hichiya persimmon; Comice pear; green gage plum

I believe brown turkey fig does well here, we had one for years before gophers killed it.  Others might too would have to look up

Mail, as I am in Calif
3 days ago

paul wheaton wrote:Is there anyone in this thread that has read my community book "permaculture thorns"?

You still need a battery bank to store the electricity.  You still need to charge the batteries.  You still have every other part of the electric car

So, then you are realy asking, first, is it more efficient to:

use the electricity from the battery to turn an electric motor                                            

battery--> electromagnetic effect  (motor) --> turns which turns axle ( wheels)

or, use the electricity from the battery to make heat to turn a stirling engine motor          

battery -->electric heat element --> stirling engine (motor) --> turns which turns axle ( wheels)

generally speaking, each time you convert energy from one form to another, you have conversion losses, and a regular electric motor, electromagnetic effect, is very efficient.  Losses are due to the physical act of turning, friction, which the external heat driven engine ( stirling engine) also has.  

the second thing you are asking would be difference in materials, so rare or environmental differences.  Again, both would use the batteries, which are the main problem component.  

What is in an electric motor ?  Copper windings ?  What is the parts that you are concerned about ? Electric motors usually have no permanent magnet, as current thru coils can be used instead, or they might have a few permanent magnets.  Thare are many ways to make an electric motor, I think you do not need to have rare materials magnets, although they may be used for space/weight or other considerations.

a third, potential issue to compare the 2 motors, electro-magnetc or stirling effect, would have to do with suitability to drive the load.  I dont know if a stirling engine is suited or not, but that would be a consideration.  

5 days ago

Cristo Balete wrote:The saltwater batteries are pretty new, and apparently the company is going bankrupt.  From their website....

"Thanks for reaching out to Aquion Energy. As a former customer of the company we are sure that you read in the press release dated July 21, 2017 that Aquion has “emerged” from Chapter 11 restructuring and bankruptcy. We have prepared this short FAQ in hopes of providing a clearer picture to our former customers.

"When can I buy Aquion batteries again?

"Rebuilding after a chapter 11 filing can be difficult and time consuming. There will be a period of time needed in order to regroup, rehire, and requalify the manufacturing process, supply chain, and sales pipeline. There are also improvements to chemistry and form factor of the battery which will take time and effort. All of these efforts will result in a better product for a future market."

They went bankrupt.  And were bought by a chinese company right after that blurb you quoted was written, so a couple years ago.  The technology is no longer made here, it is overseas.  Hopefully it will be sold here again.  You can buy it in other countries. There are people from all over the world here.   I said they were no longer available in the USA, and hopefully they will get back to our market soon.  SO, I already said this, do you read what I write ? The technology is great.  They did not have enough funding.  They were extremely popular with the off grid homes in Northern CA, and other places I'm sure, but they did not have enough capitol, had a cash flow problem, decalred banktrupcy and had all assets bought out by a chinese company to be built overseas for the overseas market.

These are the most amazing batteries, for non-mobile uses, I have ever had.  They are maintanance free, they do not outgas at all.  They can be drained down to nothing, I have done so, and when they get power again, they just charge back up, no problems.  There are no equalizing charges needed, etc....  They would not work for mobile applications, like a car or cell phone, due to size, weight and that they give up the amps slower that others, which works great for regular grid type electricity uses.  


Updated: Aquion as a saltwater battery is no longer available in North America having moved to China after being bought out. But we've heard about a Dutch company who are starting to commercialize something similar - subscribe to the EcoHome newsletter here and be the first to find out when salt water batteries are available for sale again in USA & Canada...."

so, the only reason to mention them is that the technology does away with many of the concerns you mentioned, even though we cannot get them in USA right now.  Maybe used, hopefully new sometime soon, no matter which company... it will be a different company name
5 days ago
I think you mis-read what I wrote !  I said if I had nickel iron batteries, they would need to be in a lean-to shed outside of the garage, due to fumes.  Which is still a very simple thing to do, doesnt need a full seperate building.  The advantage of nickel iron is the longetivity.

I used to have "regular' batteries, lead acid, and they were inside the garage, in a plywood box against the exterior wall, with vents to the outside, and this worked very well, they do not need an additional structure built for them, if vented.  The venting was not powered, just upper and lower, one at either end, round holes in the plywood box with flexible duct to hole in exterior wall, and screen on outside of wall to keep out vermin.

I now have Aquion Batteries, and they do no vent any gases.  At all.  They are sitting right under my inverter and electronics in the garage.  At this time, you cannot buy these here in the USA, but hopefully they will return soon.  They were bought out by a chinese company.

I dont no anything about the person who wrote the article you quoted.  I dont know if he has any other motivations to say such things, it seems he is very liberal with that word "most" without giving any details.  The main disadvantage to nickel iron is the cost, even though that cost is actually not high when ammoritized over the life of them.  I would have bought them, they totally would work with my system, I have actually never heard of incompatibilities, so I would recommend that a person looking to buy batteries talk to the manufacurer and check this out for their own situation.  I didnt buy them as the Aquions were available at the time I was in the market and the aquions worked better for me at this time, mostly due to my strength issues.  Likely the Iron Edisons would have been a longer lived battery -- hard to second guess these things
5 days ago
I have had a different experience running a normal household on solar, for example

Cristo Balete wrote:C. West, "normal" depends on where you are.  Solar is about location, location, location.    There are a lot of threads here to look at, we've discussed this a lot.    If you mean completely off grid, there's a lot to know beyond whether it's sunny or not.

Solar equipment is expensive, and it needs to be maintained.  Deep cycle batteries are very expensive, and if you know what you are doing you might....might make the best ones, the most expensive ones last 8-10 years, then they have to be bought again, all at once, because one battery that isn't new will drag the others down to its level, that's a tragic waste of money.   10 years ago we spent $2500 on 8 batteries for a small system.  We just replaced the same batteries for $3500.  So that's $1,000 more than we paid the first time.  It's an expense that won't be the same, and it's quite high for a repetitive household expense.

You had lead acid batteries, There are other options for batteries, for example, for longest life, nickle iron based batteries.  "....Nickel Iron batteries use Nickel plates and an alkaline electrolyte, they don’t experience the plate degradation and short life of a lead plate in acid. It is common to see 50+ year old Nickel Iron batteries still in service today, with some dating back to the 1940s! ..."

At some point everyone using battery power, including electric vehicles, will find out that nobody actually recycles batteries.  Batteries have a few of the internal parts that can be recycled, but there are only a few places that do that, and it takes freight to get them there, which is expensive.  The last time I looked there was only one company in Germany that dealt with the other, more toxic components of a dead battery, and shipping it there by dirty, diesel-spewing fuel doesn't seem very green, and I don't think other countries do that.   Maybe this will change when the world has a lot more batteries to recycle, but as of now, when we hand off 8, 10, 12 old batteries, or large electric vehicle batteries for recycling, odds are the worst parts of them are just dumped somewhere very unfortunate.

They DO recycle the lead cores of lead acid batteries.  Then, there are ones like the ones I use that are totally recyclable, non toxic materials,  Aquion batteries

It's very important to understand DC and AC electricity, the difference, and what to do when things go wrong.  Birds cling to wires with their feet and damage the wire coating, or rodents eat wires coming from the panels if the wires aren't in something protective.  If the panels are on your roof, you have to go up there and clean them, wash off pollen, leaves, pine needles,  tip them at different seasonal times into the sun as it lowers and raises off the horizon.  I prefer to have them on the ground, but they have to be in the sun for a minimum of 6-8 hours a day, no trees, no building shade during those hours at any time of year.

I have never changed the tilt nor washed off my solar panels on my roof, way too much trouble.  Yes, sometimes they have pollen on them.  Eventually the rain washes it off, still get plenty of power.  But, yes, you want to eliminate or minimize shading.

Knowing the difference between a 12 volt, 24 volt, 48 volt system is important.  If it's just installed and they walk away, you will need to know how many circuits you have, how many appliances can be on at one time, and what to do if the alarm goes off on the inverter.  We have yet to find an electric company that wants to work on a solar system that has a problem.  We just had a really good inverter break down, and there's no one to fix it.  I really, really don't want it to go into a landfill somewhere, so I'll probably end up shipping it, expensively, somewhere, if I can find a place.

It's very important to know the wattages of all appliances and how much they will use on a daily basis, including all of the high-wattage appliances like a vacuum, coffeemaker, dishwashers use heaters to dry, printers running for any length of time, hot water pots.  An electrical hot water heater did not work for us in our situation, it just took the batteries down too much when it had been overcast.  We had to have a backup system for hot water, and what's the point of two hot water systems?  An electric dryer runs on 220 volts, instead of the regular 125 volts, and that's huge for a solar system with a special 220V circuit.  I wouldn't even attempt it.  

Most appliances these days look like they are off, or turn themselves off, but there is something called phantom power, they are taking trickles out of the system to be up and running sooner when you push a button.  This is not good for a solar setup.  Trickling power out of batteries when there's been overcast is just using up very expensive batteries.  All of our appliances are on power strips and everything is off overnight, except the refrigerator.  They also act as breakers and protection.

Companies that sell the panels want to tell you about your yearly solar number of hours, and that that somehow fits on a chart for what works.  We live day by day in the real world.  In the winter there are fewer hours that can have sun on panels, yet it's the time of year when we need more power, lights are on sooner, we cook more inside and for holidays.   So the kinds of solar totals they try to sell you on may be questionable, unless you live in San Diego where it rains something like 3 days a year and is sunny the rest.

Two shed expenses... there has to be a shed for the batteries separate from a shed that has the controlling equipment in it because the batteries off-gas hydrogen and sulfur dioxide, which can eat the wires inside very expensive electrical components.   The batteries need distilled water once every 1 month to 6 weeks, and should be added in a dry location, not with rain blowing into them, or snow or dust, blowing sand....a real shed you can stand up in to work on them, and several gallons of distilled water on hand.  You'll need of storage space for corrosion spray, broom, paint brush for dusting them off, a funnel for the water, paper/pen to keep track on, manuals, tooth brush to clean off corrosion....

Well, the shed thing depends on what type of batteries.  When I used to have lead acid batteries, I had them in a plywood enclosure inside the garage and had venting to the outside, but it was never a seperate building or shed.  When I got the aquion batteries, I took out the plywood battery box as the Aquion batteries do not have any discharge, and they are out in the open in the garage, directly under the inverter and electronics.  If I had Iron Edison batteries, I would likely have them in a lean 2 right on the outside of the garage and just pass the cabling into the garage as they need more venting.  But again, not a bunch of buildings.  

You definitely want to conserve electricity and change how you do things before installing solar.  For example, myself and most people I know, especially including the ones with solar just do not own a clothes dryer and hang clothes up to dry.  

6 days ago

D Nikolls wrote:

Sue Reeves wrote:Art Ludwig, who wrote the books on grey water use in Gardens, is also the one who developed the Oasis biocompatible laundry and dish detergents.  Because Salts build up in soils and kill plants.  In California, at least, as there is no rainfall at all for at least half the year, so 6 months or more straight, normal condition, and then water restrictions where people are often left with nothing but the greywater to go to the plants.  In conditions like this, where the only water is full of salts, you get build up that will kill the soil.  The soil microorganisms do decompose wonderfully, but even they will be killed by too much salt build up.

Am I understanding correctly when I interpret this as meaning the Oasis products would not lead to salt buildup?

Rainfall is a big consideration with buildup; in the PNW, I can could on a very thorough flush for 8 months of the year...


And, this is important in many parts of California, and I believe Ludwig is from the more southern part of this state, I dont remember, Santa Barbara or San Louis Obispo area, in any case not only do those areas not get any rainfall for more than 6 months straight,  they overall do not get that much annualized either.  

Places where the soil is flushed more often and that do not have much product used overall for the area getting the grey water, well, that is why the plants are still alive using the standard products that have salts.  

The Oasis products do not cause salt build up, and they actually biodegrade into plant foods.  This was by design, the Oasis products were specifically designed to not only cause no harm but to benefit the plants getting that water.   It is no more expensive, overall, than anything else as it is concentrated and you dont use much.  Where I live, they carry it in the local natural foods stores, but you can buy it on Amazon at the same price.  I love the idea of the homemade clothes washing detergents, but all of those recipes contain borax, which I now know kills plants here. I have seen it happen.  
1 week ago
Art Ludwig, who wrote the books on grey water use in Gardens, is also the one who developed the Oasis biocompatible laundry and dish detergents.  Because Salts build up in soils and kill plants.  In California, at least, as there is no rainfall at all for at least half the year, so 6 months or more straight, normal condition, and then water restrictions where people are often left with nothing but the greywater to go to the plants.  In conditions like this, where the only water is full of salts, you get build up that will kill the soil.  The soil microorganisms do decompose wonderfully, but even they will be killed by too much salt build up.
1 week ago
-This morning it was rolled oats, organic that I buy in bulk, cooked with raisons that I dry out in the sun here from my Glenora grape vine and a bit of milk.  Also, Black tea ( store bought in bulk) .  Right now, the milk is local, bought.  But, One of my goats should kid in the next few weeks, so hopefully I will have fresh milk again soon

- Dinner last night, and what will be lunch and dinner today is a butternut squash soup, butternut squash, garlic, apple, rosemary and onions grown in the garden here.  This is a creamed soup, and then grated cheese added, alot of cheese, about 1 ounce of cheese per 2 ladle bowl fulls.  It is very filling.  Last night I made a piece of toast to go with it.  The cheese is store bought in bulk also thru the co-op ( azure standard) as last year the goats did not take breeding and I ran out of home made cheese last month.  My go-to cheese is manchego, what is in this soup is a cheddar.

Last week I made other various soups/stews like lemon lentil, with garlic, lemon juice ( freezer), wild fresh Malva and potatoes all homegrown and store bought lentils. There was an African butternut stew which had chunks of the butternut, homegrown, plus the homegrown onions and canned homegrown tomatoes, store bought garbanzo beans, this was served over store bought rice.  There was also a "light" vegtable soup, no heavy protein inside it, which was mashed butternut, onions, canned tomatoes, dried kale, all home grown, various curry spices.

There are whole persimmons hanging up all over to dry, I froze alot of persimmon pulp and made persimmon cake to snack on.

Yes, there is a theme right now as I harvested alot of better butternut squash and persimmons ripened late, right before christmas.  
1 week ago