2015-12 A Recycling Story

December 7, 2015

A Recycling Story

This update is not about cruising – it’s a story about our house batteries and an interesting project where they found new life.

Some of you may recall that back in May we replaced our house battery bank (see the video here). These are the batteries that power the boat when we are at anchor, away from shore power, and not running our generator. We have 16 Lifeline AGM GPL-8DL batteries which provide 2040 amp hours of power when charged, enough to power the boat for about 18 hours between charges. However, our batteries were five years old, not lasting as long as they used to and taking longer to charge. So we decided to replace them.

Each battery weighs 156 pounds and each can be sold for re-cycling at about $30 per battery. But these batteries weren’t completely used up – they still had some life in them. So I decided to see if we could find a better use than sending them straight to the re-cycle facility. This ended up taking some time, and in the end I got only marginally more for the batteries than I would have by sending them to re-cycle, but I found good uses for the batteries and met some interesting folks in the process.

To start, I took several batteries to the local Intersate Battery store where I had them tested to determine their Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). They all tested out just fine – not like new, but still plenty of power. So this was some confirmation that the batteries should have some life left in them. Then I posted an ad on Craigslist and got several responses from people who were interested. In the end, two people purchased our used batteries. First was Billy, who has several boats he uses to take his grandchildren out and needed some engine start batteries. He wanted three of them. He couldn’t afford to pay much and lived 2 hours south of Beaufort. But I had a trip planned to Southport and was going to pass right by where he lived. So I was able to deliver them to him on the way!

Then there was Luis. He lived in Charlotte, a four-hour drive from where we were in Beaufort, NC. Luis has been working on a project to install a solar farm at his home. He needed a large battery bank that would provide power when the sun was down, but could not afford the cost of these batteries new. He was willing to drive four hours each way to pick up eight of them.

Solar panels on left side of house

Solar panels on left side of Luis’ house

He arrived with a small SUV and we loaded the eight batteries on board. We could hear the SUV groan, but it made it back to Charlotte where Luis installed and tested them.

I still had five batteries left and Luis called back a few days later, saying he would like to drive back to pick up 4 more! They turned out to be perfect for his project. So back he came and he took the remaining five – they need to be installed in groups of 4, but he took the additional one as a backup.

I asked Luis to provide some more details of his solar project and here’s what he said:

There are 20 Unisolar PVL-136 flexible solar panels in two sets (10 to the left and 10 to the right) connected in pairs to make them 48 volts 4.13 amps. Each side is independent and produces 72volts at about 20 amps. The two circuits go to a 60amp dual pole disconnect switch next to the panels and from there to the garage using 6 AWG PV wires.  

In the garage the two lines go to two 30 amp DC breakers and from there to two 1200 watt Power Jack grid tie solar inverters; the output of these inverters is then combined and goes outside to a main AC service disconnect switch and back in to the house main breaker box. 

Garage setup - breakers, marine inverter and solar inverters

Garage setup – breakers, marine inverter and solar inverters

The inverters pump around 2kwatts per hour into the grid and this covers for just about everything we use during the day including the Trace Voyager 2500 watts marine inverter with 3 stage 120 amp battery charger that charges the very nice GPL-8DL batteries courtesy of my friends at Shear madness.

With the help of an external automatic relay, when there is sun light the inverter goes into charge mode when the sun goes down. It assumes that there is no power and it takes over the load on the house till sun is up again.

As of Dec 1, the batteries are working great! They are now working 24/7 and running 70% of the house and being charged by solar power. They hardly go to 30% discharge over night and reach full charge by 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I’m extremely happy with them! 

So there you have it, a modern recycling saga!

  1. #1 by Bob on January 4, 2016 - 7:18 pm

    The solar setup looks professional. Luis obviously knows his stuff and takes the time to do it right the first time. Very cool. My brother is very into alternative power sources including solar. I’m sure he will find this interesting as well.

    Like

  2. #2 by Renate on December 9, 2015 - 3:20 pm

    What a wonderful story! How about that for recycling. You have saved the environment much carbon emission in the process. Congratulations and Merry Christmas from Allan and Renate in Sydney xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. #3 by joan clark on December 9, 2015 - 7:52 am

    When you posted that you changed your batteries I. Wished I had known because we are looking for some for the house. Maybe we,ll get your next ones!

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  4. #4 by Ron Colby on December 8, 2015 - 11:02 am

    Two questions come to mind.  How does one lift these batteries?  Did he get any of his other equipment from Craigslist?  Ron  A miracle is not the suspension of natural law but rather the operation of a higher law. “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it is about learning to dance in the rain.”  The conversion of a soulis a miracle of a moment. I’m for the separation of church and hate. When the Power of LoveOvercomes the love of powerThe world will know peace. The growth of a saintis t he work of a lifetime.      

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #5 by edward stancil on December 7, 2015 - 11:30 pm

    DEAR JR. AMIGA:

    THANKS FOR THE UPDATES ON YOU GUYS AND ALL THE INFO; (VERY INTERESTING)! TAKE CARE, WE MISS YOU GUYS, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL. WE LOVE YOU, LAS VEGAS AMIGA AND EDWARD

    _____

    Liked by 1 person

  6. #6 by Neil Spencer on December 7, 2015 - 5:42 pm

    Hey Giday

    That’s a great story. I know you not here to live up to my expectations but I’m very proud of you guys taking the initiative and looking for an alternative to re-cycling SMs House Batts. It would have been so easy just to junk them; as a lot of people would have done. Really good effort. The world need to a change of mindset to secure the future for our children and you have set a great example.

    The next thing is to have politician provide for a feed back tariff for unused power that can be feed into a power company’s grid. This happen here in Victoria with 8 cents a kilowatt credited to your power bill for power that is generated from PVs on your roof (or a wind / water turbine) not used at the source and feed to the grid for other to use. It used to be 60c a kilowatt!! but that was unsustainable although it did kick off the PV industry un a big way. The use of batteries to store power is rare here, I guess mainly because of the feed in tariff; assuming of course that you are connected to the grid. Isolated farms are starting to do what your friend has done and with Eon Musk & his new power pack, that should really change the dynamics of the power generating industry. We use coal & hydro for base & peak power load so if a carbon tax is ever introduced then we should see more of a shift to large scale PV & wind, as they have in Spain. We have no nuclear generating capacity and most likely never will.

    One day I hope to be generating our own power and will keep SMs used House batts in mind! Yes, they are perfect for the job.

    Suzy & I are off to Auckland for a bit of Christmas cheer. It’s Tammy’s 50th birthday on Sunday and all the gang will be on Waiheke Island for a very large celebration; she is a much loved friend.

    All good over here in Kyneton. Kim stayed with us last night as he had a job to do at the refinery in Melbourne. We had a nice dinner & a few beers at the local pub. All good.

    We hope to be able to send you a Christmas greeting (yeah I know you don’t celebrate Christmas Bradley) with a photo as usual but we just have to stop running around all over the place and sort it.

    So, it case we don’t get a chance to wish you all the best for the holiday season;. This is it!!

    All the very best for 2016 you guys. We hope to see you at some stage soon.

    Neil & Suzy.

    _____

    Liked by 1 person

  7. #7 by Tom Hewitt on December 7, 2015 - 1:38 pm

    An interesting story.

    Tom

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  8. #8 by Peter Boer on December 7, 2015 - 12:44 pm

    Good story, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. #9 by Peter Le Lievre on December 7, 2015 - 10:14 am

    I work in the solar industry and the ‘dirty’ secret is that batteries in hybrid cars and off-grid solar can have a significant environemental impact, even though the primary use is ‘green’. So its GREAT to see recycling of batteries in this way as its so much better for the environment to repurpose them. I hope to do the same with my Lifeline 4D’s which are nearing the end of their life (6 years) on my Cheoy Lee 66. You have inspired me. Great story!! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. #10 by Bri on December 7, 2015 - 10:09 am

    I love this! Good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. #11 by Deb on December 7, 2015 - 9:40 am

    Awesome story!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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