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Author Topic: Backup power for black/brownouts  (Read 757 times)

Offline htr44

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Backup power for black/brownouts
« on: May 08, 2020, 02:00:37 PM »
I’ve seen some posts about this topic but none that speak to this specific situation. I'm trying to help a family way out in the provinces with backup power during very frequent black/brownouts (almost daily, sometimes even more, averaging about 2-8 blackouts a week). Outages usually last 1-2 hours but sometimes 8-24 hours. The home is very modest and they don't have much, and don't need much, when the power is out. They don’t need to power a fridge, TV, microwave, etc. All that would need to be powered would be: 2 floor fans, 4-5 cell phones, the internet router, and--the kicker--a small wall unit aircon in the baby's room (not sure how many watts--probably 1000, but possibly 1200. (It’s very small, though).

I’d really like to avoid gas generators for at least the following reasons and possibly a few more that didn’t occur to me (though these concerns may not be as significant as they seem to me at the moment. Myth-dispelling welcome if warranted): Too much hassle/danger. Fuel is a fire hazard. Have to mix/change out fuel periodically. Have to have easy access to the right fuel—not a certainty deep in the provinces. Has to be stored outside, so subject to the elements, which probably means building a shelter to protect it, not only from the elements but from kids, animals, thieves, etc. Have to go outside in rain/wind, middle of the night, etc. to fire it up. Noisy. “Quiet” inverter types very expensive.

Ideally, I'd just like to get a "big battery" that charges on the grid (or from a portable solar panel), and can be stored and used inside the house, so they can plug things into it when needed. The Philippine Solaric company used to sell them (calling them “macho boxes”) but has discontinued the line.

I don’t think the family’s power needs are really enough to warrant a rooftop solar array plus battery backup since their monthly bill is only like 2000 pesos (was less than 1000 before they put the aircon in for the baby). I’d consider it, but I’ve heard that those batteries have a relatively short life and need to be changed out every few years, which is expensive. Again, myth-dispelling welcome if I’m not right about that.

Honda’s generator website has a load calculator that estimated their starting/running power needs with just the 2 fans, 4-5 cell phones, and Wi-Fi router would only be 800/150 watts. But with the addition of a 1000 watt (1 hp) aircon, it shot up to 3600/1500. And with a 1200 watt (1.5 hp) aircon to 4500/1700.

I was wondering if anyone has any input on what good options might be. Thanks.

Offline Peter

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2020, 06:01:41 PM »
I have used a small 12V DC/AC convertor, also known as a Power Inverter, off a 12V battery. The one I have is rated at 300W continuous (600W peak) which was enough to run a couple of phone chargers, 4 LED light bulbs and a small fan for a few hours, last time we had a "brown out".

Something like this < https://tinyurl.com/y8ch823e  > is available from Lazada. Obviously you'll be looking at a larger capacity model.

The downside is, as they use a 12V battery as the source, a battery charger would have to be obtained to top up the battery when the electric is back on. If they have a vehicle (12V of course) they could charge from that.

HTH's.

Stay safe.

Peter



Noli nothis permittere te terere.
Virtus autem corruptibilis est,
summa virtute prorsus corrumpitur,

Offline htr44

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2020, 06:58:52 PM »
Thanks Peter. Something like that would at least keep the internet on and the cell phones going, which is important. That might be something to get in the short term.

Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2020, 11:41:35 PM »

...

Ideally, I'd just like to get a "big battery" that charges on the grid (or from a portable solar panel), and can be stored and used inside the house, so they can plug things into it when needed. The Philippine Solaric company used to sell them (calling them “macho boxes”) but has discontinued the line.

I don’t think the family’s power needs are really enough to warrant a rooftop solar array plus battery backup since their monthly bill is only like 2000 pesos (was less than 1000 before they put the aircon in for the baby). I’d consider it, but I’ve heard that those batteries have a relatively short life and need to be changed out every few years, which is expensive. Again, myth-dispelling welcome if I’m not right about that.

Honda’s generator website has a load calculator that estimated their starting/running power needs with just the 2 fans, 4-5 cell phones, and Wi-Fi router would only be 800/150 watts. But with the addition of a 1000 watt (1 hp) aircon, it shot up to 3600/1500. And with a 1200 watt (1.5 hp) aircon to 4500/1700.

I was wondering if anyone has any input on what good options might be. Thanks.

I have no experience with small systems, such as contemplated here, but I can offer a little bit of insight.  They might manage with a small solar system with charger/inverter and a single Trojan-type battery.  But maybe charging off the grid source they already have would be more practical, even if their solar source was a single panel moved outside as needed.  Because even that kind of system would probably cost about P40,000 or so to set up.  The battery would be darn near half of that.

When you say "those batteries have a relatively short life" I am guessing "those" batteries are the basic lead/acid batts, yes?  If so, they can live a long time if cared for and in the right environment.  Here, off grid on Canada's west coast, we have solar and wind power, charging a bank of 8 Rolls Surrette Solar Batteries, 6V, 1156 AHr.  They cost about $1,000 apiece, each weighs about 325 lb. and they have about a 20-year lifespan if given a good life.  That means they like to be kept cool, not possible in the Philippines.  It also means they dislike being significantly discharged.  Despite the "deep cycle" labels on some batts, discharging them is the enemy.  No lead acid battery should be drawn down to more than 70% of charge.  So that means you pay for a lot of storage you cannot use.  Treated incorrectly, a $10,000 battery bank can be reduced to scrap lead in less than a year.

I was talking to a local solar installer just yesterday on a trip to town.  He's enthusiastic now about the Tesla Power Wall as a storage medium.  That system can be routinely drawn down by 90% and not suffer for it.  He offered to hook us up with one for CAD17,000 (about P650,000).  We might go that route if our present batts crap out someday.  In just this past month we had to replace the battery in one of our trucks here.  The truck is a 2005 and the battery was the cheap factory original.  So 15 years not bad.  Our other truck that we keep here (not out "town truck") is a 2008.  Still the original battery.  But these batts see a lot of cool weather and are kept fully charged almost continuously.

I'll bet our resident do-it-yourselfer/inventor lost_in_samoa will chime in in the fullness of time with some ideas for you.  If you have no good sources to consult, I'll ask our local alternate energy guy about his thoughts, asking if he can think of a solution that would work for your application and would not cost the earth.  But my nose tells me that trying to run even a dinky air conditioner off a lead acid battery-based system for even a small number of hours with run the thing down and give it a very short life.  But heck, when I lived in the Phils, babies lived without aircon.  I guess times have changed. 

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2020, 05:34:43 PM »
Ideally, I'd just like to get a "big battery" that charges on the grid (or from a portable solar panel), and can be stored and used inside the house, so they can plug things into it when needed. The Philippine Solaric company used to sell them (calling them “macho boxes”) but has discontinued the line.

The problem is batteries.  More correctly the costs associated with them.

The loads associated with a window air-con are going to necessitate a system larger than you think.  That means more expensive and larger learning / maintenance requirements on the operators.

The cells you get here are gonna fail fast.  The average is about 16 months or so where I am at in the low hot flat lands.  You can ship in a fancy cell but the heat is gonna kill it at an accelerated rate.

Thinking outside of the box,  If I was gonna attempt what you want I would ......

Get a decent 12vc battery charger.  A smart one that has multi-rate charging ability.  Not too fancy.  All the extra bells -n- whistles just confuse folks.

Get a couple of quality car batteries.  Yeah I know they are not deep cycle.  They are gonna die in about a year, and the operators can pick up replacements just about anywhere.  Parallel those cells onto your charger so that you have a little deeper storage capacity.

At this point you can either get an inverter and take your power to AC, or stay at 12vdc. 

If you go to AC then your pretty much done.  Run a power strip off the inverter and plug in whatever..  Be mindful of your load.

If you want to stay with 12vdc, then scrounge up some cigarette lighter adapters appropriate to your phones.  Get some automotive fans -n- lights and wire them up.

Put a fan pulling from the shady side of the room,  onto the wee bairn.  Then another fan on the sunny side of the room blowing out.  Flow the cooler air and evacuate the hotter air.

Just don't run your cells down below 10.5 volts or they will die.

Air-con is doable, just not simple or cheap.  I hear there are some new fangled inverter compressor type cooling systems now that draw a lot less wattage.  I don't have experience with them and will let other more sage folks fill in.


Hope this helps

Offline htr44

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2020, 08:12:23 PM »
Wow. Thank you so much for the specific and detailed info. It's really helpful and very much appreciated. I'll try to digest it and then pass it on and see what they think works best for them.

In the immediate term, I like the fan pulling air from the shady side of the room.

And , Hestecrefter, I really like your pointing out that babies used to sleep without aircon. Kids these days... :)

Offline MotorSarge

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 09:38:42 AM »
Not sure..... but I like and use the Gel Batteries on our short no generator trips......slow charge/slow discharge.
If  solar is off the list for them...not many options other than mentioned.
Should be some Gell-Type battery options of buying around any marina areas.
Don't know where they are.....but what about a wind generator?
Got to weigh the options....Big Genny, Wind Power,  slow/fast charge batteries...(Solar),......rent a Yardboy on cycle genny.
Or the best option of a long term native resident is keep living the life you have lived and get disregard any expat ideas.



MS

Offline David690

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 01:08:18 PM »
If it were me, based on my own experience of solar systems using expensive batteries, I would stay away completely and go for a small gasoline generator.  You can buy a 3,500W model for as little as P16,800.  All the faffing around with batteries, chargers, inverters etc is gonna be a pain in the ass for your family.  A simple basic petrol generator starts easy and runs pretty quiet.  Just keep it somewhere in the shade and it'll be good for a lot longer than any battery based set up.
Londoner at heart

Offline htr44

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2020, 05:34:37 PM »
Wow. Thanks again for some more really helpful tips. Much, much appreciated.

Hmm... I didn't know much about, and thus hadn't thought much about, gel batteries. They're about an hour away from a city with a marina. So it would be easy to check--after the lockdown is lifted, that is.

And thank you so much for the input on a gas generator. I said I welcomed myth-dispelling about my concerns if warranted. I will seriously consider that option.

Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2020, 11:41:00 PM »
Well, some interesting ideas here htr44.

I would say there is no "magic bullet" solution and there are choices, each with its own merits and drawbacks.  I know nothing of gel batteries, apart from the fact that they have never been considered a good choice for a large solar/wind system that we have in place.  But then, we have no grid power available at all and we run a fairly large house with conventional appliances - fridge, freezer, large-screen tv, a few computers always running, etc., etc.  So we need to have batteries and a charging system with will keep all that going through periods when there is no wind or sun.  Large, heavy, flooded cells work well and will last many years in our environment, with proper care. 

So, the gel batt suggestion might be worth a look.  Similarly, the gasoline generator.  I have not had great luck with gasoline gennys.  But that's just me.  I paid about P150,000 for a Yamaha 6.5 kw machine that was a pain in the butt to keep running.  The small, portable Honda units seem to enjoy a stellar reputation, but in Canada and US they do not come cheap. You pay maybe USD1,000 or more for one that turns out about 2,000 watts.  I draw that idea from this site in nearby Washington State.  Prices are higher in Canadian dollars from Canadian vendors.

https://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors-Outdoor-Power-Equipment-Generators/Honda/N-5yc1vZbx8lZ3le

I have never had a Honda generator, but were I ever to buy another gas genny, that would be my choice.  Maybe they go cheap in the Phils, but I would doubt that.  For our backup genset here, we eventually settled on a Kubota 7.5 kw diesel.  It cost a lot more than any gas burner and weighs over 1,000 lb., but it's very reliable and is by far a more fuel efficient choice.  We probably use about 40-50 gallons of diesel a year, using it to charge our batts or equalize batts as needed.

Another thing about generators is fuel.  Many of the ones sold here do not like the ethanol content in some gas sold here, so one has to be careful about where one sources fuel.  That might not be an issue in the Phils.  We have a small Honda water pump that has been in intermittent use for about 12 years (it was given to use and had been in use for who knows how long before that).  It's a reliable machine that is given ethanol-free gas, just like our Yamaha marine engines.

As for the suggestion of a 3.5 kw generator for as little as P16,800, it seems to me that some shortcuts have to be taken to make a machine like that at that price.  Usually with these things, you get what you pay for.  Such a genset might be loud, fuel inefficient and short-lived.  But I cannot say.  David690 offered that suggestion and maybe it's a good one.  Perhaps he has some long-term direct experience to share.


Offline MotorSarge

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2020, 03:36:20 AM »
I've operated and worked on dozens of types of gennies, gas, diesel, multi-fuel, turbine, commercial, military and personal.
Retired form the military and the contractor world now leaves me just with my personal gennies.
I got rid of the 3 High Decibel Craftsman's and only run now Yamahas and...…….yes Harbor Freights! ( I'll get back to HF)
IMHO I do believe that Onan and Honda make the best small backup generators, quiet, efficient and well built, a few extra pesos but well worth it. I run a private garage and a maintenance trailer so I buy many Chinese throw away tools form Harbor Freight for the trailers and those that wish to borrow my tools. I don't loan out my better stuff from the garage though. I'm a skeptic about generic brand items but will try anything once if I like it again and if I get reasonable use out of it for the value. So after reading all the good/bad reviews I went and bought a Harbor Freight Predator Super Quiet 3500 Inverter Genny at less than 50% (when on sale which is at least yearly) of the comparable Hondas, etc. So the predator has been running fine now running a 15,000 BTU AC every weekend between September and May for the last 2 years with no problems. Now the only issue is if you don't treat the fuel or run it out between seasons or non-use you will have issues with the carb. Being a mechanic I've cleaned thousands of carb jets, replaced baffels, gaskets or just told folks you can replace some carbs cheaper than rebuilding.

So I have to agree with other responses...a good little running quiet genny should the best bet.

Gotta go Moma want's the grill fired up for Mother's Day.


MS

Offline MotorSarge

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2020, 06:51:39 AM »
LIS,

I run and the only reason I run GEL type Batts is due to occasionally being located in very desolate remote parts of the desert globe...and prohibited to fire up the gennie for particular applications. Gel Batts will not start the AC but will run most low power start up pieces of equipment longer than lead soaked in sulfuric acid type batts.
In addition for those needing to fire an AC with maybe insufficient power you can buy and add on additional start up capacitors but still need a half way decent start power source.
Also Gel Types batts handle high temps better than liquids.
Keep in mind anything off the main grid (gennies, windmills, cycleboy, fuel runouts...etc) is considered dirty power (spikes, total drops, etc) can damage some equipment or drop data.

Pros and Cons= where you are, what you can't get, what you got, what you don't got, what you can get, what can be shipped and will it work in this environment, type, constituency and grade fuel needed or available, parts and available service suppliers if your uncapable .

Got to love the PI...sometimes living there is just like a never ending camping trip for some.




 
The problem is batteries.  More correctly the costs associated with them.

The loads associated with a window air-con are going to necessitate a system larger than you think.  That means more expensive and larger learning / maintenance requirements on the operators.

The cells you get here are gonna fail fast.  The average is about 16 months or so where I am at in the low hot flat lands.  You can ship in a fancy cell but the heat is gonna kill it at an accelerated rate.

Thinking outside of the box,  If I was gonna attempt what you want I would ......

Get a decent 12vc battery charger.  A smart one that has multi-rate charging ability.  Not too fancy.  All the extra bells -n- whistles just confuse folks.

Get a couple of quality car batteries.  Yeah I know they are not deep cycle.  They are gonna die in about a year, and the operators can pick up replacements just about anywhere.  Parallel those cells onto your charger so that you have a little deeper storage capacity.

At this point you can either get an inverter and take your power to AC, or stay at 12vdc. 

If you go to AC then your pretty much done.  Run a power strip off the inverter and plug in whatever..  Be mindful of your load.

If you want to stay with 12vdc, then scrounge up some cigarette lighter adapters appropriate to your phones.  Get some automotive fans -n- lights and wire them up.

Put a fan pulling from the shady side of the room,  onto the wee bairn.  Then another fan on the sunny side of the room blowing out.  Flow the cooler air and evacuate the hotter air.

Just don't run your cells down below 10.5 volts or they will die.

Air-con is doable, just not simple or cheap.  I hear there are some new fangled inverter compressor type cooling systems now that draw a lot less wattage.  I don't have experience with them and will let other more sage folks fill in.


Hope this helps
MS

Offline lost_in_samoa

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2020, 11:56:48 AM »
Keep in mind anything off the main grid (gennies, windmills, cycleboy, fuel runouts...etc) is considered dirty power (spikes, total drops, etc) can damage some equipment or drop data.

{mock social justice on}

I don't know MS.  That sounds kinda racist to me.  Your not an Offgridaphobe are you?  Quick someone alert the diversity adjudicator!

{/mock social justice off}

where you are, what you can't get, what you got, what you don't got, what you can get, what can be shipped and will it work in this environment, type, constituency and grade fuel needed or available, parts and available service suppliers if your uncapable .

That's the real issue.  I don't see it getting better.  What with all of the turmoil in the world right now.

We can debate the convenience or mtbf of genny's, batteries, inverters, or whatever.  It's all kinda becoming moot. 

The western lifestyles that we all have ordered are no longer part of the catalog offerings.  They were on back order, and now will not be restocked in the foreseeable future.

So, for my family, the questions are .......

1.) I can see insuring for basic lighting / cooling / communications.  But why invest to slow or inhibit a youngster from acclimatizing to the region in which they live in?

2.)  Could that investment be better used?  Invest for the child's future?  Produce non-sullied necessities?  Tool up a revenue generator?  Start a biz?  Improve the hovel?  Fortify defenses? Relocate to better environs?


But hey, who am I to disturb the wa by peeing in the Cheerios?


Offline MotorSarge

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2020, 12:48:19 AM »
Lol...I meant a LawnBoy...you know those ol green machines.

Too bad they sold out to Toro and stopped making true LawnBoys with 2 stroke motors anymore.....them bad boys were lightweight, powerful and smoky as hell!

Your right..why waste the money...turn off the fans and fire up some boiling Sinigang and close any windows or doors you may have!
Most homes and businesses I visited in PI did not have ACs...but lighting is a little more of a necessity which needs very little power source/storage.

Got to agree with ya on the world, most of us are going to make it but change is imminent just like 9/11 was. How, when, where & what extent? None of us really know but I believe it will be a matter of evolvement from the daily sum of the COVID19. 
MS

Offline MotorSarge

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Re: Backup power for black/brownouts
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2020, 01:10:24 AM »

Things have slowed and some things stopped here in the Land Of The Big P/X but I would send any member much of anything reasonable that is direly needed that is no longer available over there.

Keep in mind I said reasonable......that means if a Filipino can live without it so can a Kano!!

Take care and never throw away used birthday candles.
MS