Episode-1040- Steven Harris on Battery Back Up Systems Part 2 of 2

Steven Harris – CEO of Knowledge Publications

Special Note – Steve put all of the info in these two shows and more into over 5 Hours of professionally produced HD Video that walks you though every single thing about batteries and back up systems you could even want to know. For all TSP Members these videos are available for only 24.95 at Battery1234.com.

Steven Harris returns to TSP this time to discuss battery back up systems. As is typical with Steven he did so much research and prep that we had to break this into two episodes. Today we cover everything you will need to know to build a battery back up system from the most basic to a highly powerful vehicle mounted mobile system.

Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.

Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.

Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception. The work that went into these two shows took over a month of work and an investment of over 3,000 dollars. Every item mentioned was purchased, tested and personally used by Steve to insure all the systems he teaches you about will preform as expected.

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK and you might hear yourself on the air.

141 Responses to Episode-1040- Steven Harris on Battery Back Up Systems Part 2 of 2

  1. Great Show!
    Thanks Steve from a guy who followed you from your book group to the TSP!

  2. Ronald Kleinow

    AWESOME SHOW GUYS!

  3. Radicalized American

    4 is more !

  4. Everytime I hear Steven, Im digging out my inverters, clips, 12v LED’s, topping up my 30 odd SLA’s. I go into instant squirrel mode

  5. I have the Schumacher 1200a, which is fine for my purposes

  6. In the mobile battery power system, would it be advisable to add some type of insulation around the batteries? There is a good portion of the continent that gets decently cold temperatures in winter.

  7. First………Great show!!

    I haven’t been listening long enough to know for sure why Steve doesn’t like solar panels……but my experience is that they are great for small scale systems.

    1) Those little solar lights (with 4 AA rechargeable batteries in side and a tiny panel on top) that you can stick in the ground in your yard……… will go for ever and ever even when abused and neglected, and the little spike is broken off and they are laying on their side.

    2) About 12-13 years ago I purchased a 1978 camp trailer. It came with two Interstate marine/RV deep cycle batteries. (I don’t know how old they were). After about two years I had to replace them. I’m not good about taking them off the trailer and bringing them inside and keeping a charger on them in the winter.
    When I bought two new Interstate marine/RV deep cycle batteries to replace them I order a elcheapo Harbor Fright 15w solar panel with 7amp charge controller. Put the panel on the roof of the camper and hooked it to the batteries.
    These batteries get charged buy the alternator when towing, and buy the solar panel all the rest of the time.
    This camper does not get plugged into grid electricity EVER when camping (parking in a camp ground with electric and sewer is not camping, and I only use this trailer to camp). It only gets grid electricity to get the fridge cold before loading it to go. Doesn’t have an on board charger or inverter anyway (it’s a 1978 model).
    So the batteries run lights at night, the water pump, and sometimes the blower on the forced air furnace. I have hooked an inverter up on occasion to run a small fan or computer.
    10-11 years later I am still using the same batteries. They stay mounted on the hitch year around thought the 100 deg. Summer days and the -30 winter days and nights and everything in between.
    Once a year I check / add water, bring my battery tester home from the shop and test them. They have never failed me once are always charged and ready to go.

    3)I have been powering my Ham radio station (100w HF up to 75W Vhf) for over a year now on two Blue top Optima marine deep cycle batteries that I purchased used ~ 5 years ago, for $50 each from my Interstate battery dealer. (How I wish he could get me some more for me at that price!)
    These batteries are charged only buy a (if I remember correct) 60W, used, solar panel that came with a slide in pickup camper that I no longer have…….. I kept the solar panel as it was the best part of that entire deal.
    These batteries are in a portable (heavy but portable) box with the charge controller and an inverter.
    The panel has a long cord that plugs in at the box so the panel can be ran outside when the battery box is in the basement Ham shack, or put wherever when taken somewhere for portable use.
    This was set up to be a portable camper power system / off grid Ham shack power system / portable Ham station power system.
    I use it at least once a week for a local 2 meter repeater net, and a little HF operation now and again.
    I have not tried to calculate how long it SHOULD run my 100w HF station. And my operating habits are such that I spend a lot more time listening than transmitting so have no ideal in practice how long I could run my station at one time, say for emergency comms.
    But so far with only a solar panel as a charger, every time I power up the station the batteries are fully charged and ready to go.

    So I am a big fan of solar charging my batteries…………….. on a small scale.

    I’m in Montana and get a good amount of sun……..big +.

    • Modern Survival

      @Wayd, it is kind of a running joke, he doesn’t and does hate solar at the same time. He mostly hates to see people spend lots of money on it while ignoring all the more practical methods many fail to see. Like the 35,000 dollar generator in most American homes, hell most have two, we call them cars and trucks.

      He hates to see a person spend 2500 on a rip off so called “solar generator” when a 159 dollar cheapo generator and 200 bucks worth of gas along with 200 dollars of batteries and a 100 dollar generator will crush it from a performance stand point. Steve is all for solar in off gird scenarios and places where getting a cord in isn’t practical etc.

    • YUP Modern… you said it 100% PERFECT…. . I want people to have 1 month of food and water stored away before they even think of ANYTHING solar even in the smallest form.

      …and yes…its started to become a running joke. :)

      Steve

  8. I bought the video yesterday and watched part 1. Great video I strongly recommend it.

  9. “Brent in PEI”

    “Four is the beginning of more”

  10. Soaking it all up & taking notes… Thanks, gentlemen.

  11. VERY clever using a SunForce Solar Charge Controller as a combo battery isolator and intelligent charger.

    And, as a bonus, you can hook up a solar panel for battery maintenance. Love it.

    Going to build one of these in my truck box.

  12. Raymond "Shorty" Butler

    I would like to add that Steve Harris will be on Zello @8 eastern.

    Shorty
    Backwoods Trooper
    Zello Moderator

  13. A solar charge controller between the front battery and the rear batteries. That’s amazing! I would have never thought of using that!

    Great two shows!

    Regards

  14. I purchased the video package, and all I have to say is WOW!!!

    Finally… All the info that I needed to know in one place. Yes, this information is out on the internet, but this stuff is spoon-fed to you in an easy-to-understand way. (Great production quality).

    I salute the great Steven Harris for a job well done. Guys, this will be the best $25 you’ll ever spend. Why? Because all those battery mysteries will go bye bye… Support this man.

    -BigDaddy

  15. Adrian the nerd

    I picked up a used pop-up trailer earlier this year, and soon after found myself camping with a dead battery (it came with a used battery that didn’t have much life). After bumming a charge from someone with a generator, I realized I would like to have a high amp charger so I can quickly recharge or top off a battery from a generator or inverter (ended up with the Schumacher 1500 and two new marine batteries from Costco).

    At the same time I also picked up a programmable outlet timer (ASIN B0035GAXA8) with the assumption that it would be preferable to leave my batteries on trickle for X hours per week rather than 24×7. When Mr. Harris mentioned burning out the fan in a charger it occurred to me that this lower duty cycle of use might extend the life of the charger.
    My intention is to run the charger for a while with a kill-a-watt hooked up and observe how much current it pulls once it believes the battery to be charged. Then turn the charger off for a week, and turn it back on to see how long it takes to bring it back up to full. One page listed an approximate self-discharge rate of 4% over a week, so I’m guessing maybe a few hours.
    My question is – anyone have a regimen like this that they follow for their stand-by batteries?

    • I’ve tried but haven’t had any luck keeping up with turning the charger on and off, and sooner or later the charger gets left off or unplugged.
      I had a cheap battery maintainer completely discharge a battery when it got unplugged from grid power but was still hooked to the battery. Granted it was not a battery charger, and the quality was not great.
      This is the convenience of solar that makes it worth the extra money, especially on my camp trailer were it is winterized and parked more months than it is used.
      I can just leave the batteries were they are, and don’t have to have an extension cord running to it. The batteries are being maintained, it has 80# of propane on board. If worst comes to worst and the power is out. My camper has lights, a furnace, a 4 burner stove, and an oven that all work just fine.

      It would be interesting to see a cost analysis of maintaining a battery bank full time with a battery charger and grid power vs. solar. Probably still cheaper with a battery charger even if you burn up a few chargers over the expected life of a solar panel.

    • I’d leave the charger on ALL the time and depending on the temperature outside, lead acid batteries can loose 4% PER MONTH… not per week. Unless its really cold or really hot.

      So far I killed the fans on the vectors after about 4 years, I’ve not killed any schumacher chargers yet…but its not something I would ‘worry’ about. By far better to have a fully maintained battery.

      Steve

    • Adrian the nerd

      As I posted in response to someone else on this page, I ended up measuring the draw of a Schumacher and an Exide charger with my kill-a-watt. The Exide draws 6 watts, with brief pulses to 30 watts a few times per minute. The Schumacher draws a continuous 30 watts. I ended up hooking them up with my outlet timer and have it set to run for 1.5 hours each Monday morning. I also have an alarm on my phone at that time so that I glance in the garage to see that they are working properly. Running the Schumacher continuously comes out to about 260kwh per year to maintain a fully charged battery, versus a very rough estimate of 20-60kwh when using it on a timer for 1.5 hours. My marginal electricity cost is about $.10/kwh, so an annual savings via timer of around $20 per battery. Not a fortune, but I’ll take it :)

  16. Jack, episodes 1038,1039 and 1040 are top shelf TSP. Keep up the good work Jack and Steve.

  17. @Modern Survival

    Got ya.

    I’ve got 4 of those other “generators” and no were near $35,000 into them all 4 combined!
    And one has a spare deep cycle Optima in it all the time, charged and ready to go.

    I agree on the solar “generator” scams.
    I’m a low budget guy whenever I can be.
    My solar “generator” w/ the two batteries, panel (all used), charge controller, and inverter (both bought new) is just under a $1000……….IF you figure the FULL price that I paid for the camper that the solar panel came on, used two or three years, took the panel and gave the camper to my dad. If you figure I got any money worth out of using the camper, it is less.

    Yes solar panels are expensive battery chargers. But there is a level of convenience there that is worth something, if you can afford to pay for it, or find it used for less.

    Thanks for the great work you guys are doing.

  18. Awesome show guys!!!

    Has anyone heard anything about newer model electric blanket controllers not working on modified sine wave inverters? 1500 watt inverter. My batteries are charged. Blanket works fine on generator & house power.

    Any help would be appreciated. Including the make and model of a blanket that will work. Mine is the Fleece Heated Blanket that Walmart sells.

  19. Alt-E store has a year end clearance on solar. They are 24v however, but for .98 cents a watt, a good deal

    http://www.altestore.com/store/Solar-Panels/Suntech-STP240-20Wde-240W-20V-Solar-Panel/p10446/?from=suntech240_carousel120412

  20. For outdoor lighting I use a 12V DC timer on a battery hooked up to an AC inverter that is in the ‘on’ position, the DC timer has less drain on the battery than leaving the AC inverter hooked up directly to the battery all the time

  21. I’m a realitively new TSP but I have listened to both of these shows twice and cant wait to try to set something up, probably going to get thevideo today as I’m a very visiual learner. Great shows! Thanks

  22. I have worked as a electrican for 17 years and now as a industrial electrical designer for the last 22 years. Steve information is solid and can be trusted. Many times electrical advice is vague at best which can be dangerous. Steve not only gives out solid electrical info but also solid safety info. Jack thru the couple of years that I have listened gives good electrical advice also, “if you don’t know what you are doing hire an electrican.

  23. Would it be possible to get a 220v inverter and power a submersible well pump from the battery? Is this a bad idea? My Honda generator is only 120v so was wondering if this would help me cheat to be able to get water during an outage.

    • most well motors are very high power levels… 1HP on the low end and 5HP on the high end… these generally are NOT suited for batteries and 220 volt inverters are EXPENSIVE.

      I’m going to have to suggest that you get a 240 volt generator to do this correctly. I’d have something to store the water in though… run the gen, fill up 55 gallon drums, then use water from those.

      Steve

      • My question was more along the lines of why not wire the batteries isolated from each other and use a 12v coiled relay to turn on the backup charging side only when the alternator is running. Then you let the alternators charge regulation handle the charge load as needed and your backup battery system is totally isolated from the car battery. Then your not pulling voltage off your car battery when the ignition is turned off, taking a chance on killing it from over use of the backup system. The solar charge controller doesnt know wether its getting voltage from the battery or the alternator. Atleast thats the way Im hearing it. I still need to watch the videos.

        Then your in business for a bit less money and simpler parts.

    • Your Honda generator will power a step up transformer just fine. Realize that you lose a bit of power because the transformer is not perfect. Also note that 1 amp on the 220v side of the transformer will be 2 amps on the 120v side.

  24. Im curious of the method of charging with a 200 dollar charge controller. I need to email you it for a feedback question.

    Off to draft it up! …. after I get home from work.

    • my 30 amp sun force solar charge controller, that I am using from the truck to the batteries, not on a solar panel, was $99 and its at
      http://www.Battery1234.com

      the 10 amp one (that I actually use on a solar panel) was only $30, its at the same location or you can search the net.

      Steve

      • My question was more along the lines of why not wire the batteries isolated from each other and use a 12v coiled relay to turn on the backup charging side only when the alternator is running. Then you let the alternators charge regulation handle the charge load as needed and your backup battery system is totally isolated from the car battery. Then your not pulling voltage off your car battery when the ignition is turned off, taking a chance on killing it from over use of the backup system. The solar charge controller doesnt know wether its getting voltage from the battery or the alternator. Atleast thats the way Im hearing it. I still need to watch the videos.

        Then your in business for a bit less money and simpler parts.

        • 12.7 volts on car batteries will NOT go through the solar charge controller to charge 12.7 volt batteries in the back… solar charger is not a miracle machine… it needs a LOT higher voltage to charge the batteries in the back and that ONLY comes from the alternator, so it will never, ever suck power from the batteries in the front.

          If you put in a relay to do as you described you’d have to have damn thick cables, 2 or 0 awg costing $3+ per foot because if one set of batteries was LOW… it’d just suck power through the and you’d have too high of a current flow..the solar charge controller does NOT take any more than 30 amps so I can get away with 6 gauge wire which is only $1 per foot and 30 amps is plenty enough.

          Steve

      • Ok. Cool.

        Also, why is the negative ran all the way back instead of tying directly to the frame?

        Thanks for your thorough work on this stuff Steve!

        • LOL… yeah….that’s a funny one….use the frame as a ground…ha.

          because I want a 100% connection that I can bet my LIFE on..something that is going to WORK when I NEED IT and I KNOW that it will work… a car frame is a hodge podge of metal and various connection, plus you are trying to put a connector on painted metal, or rusting iron, or iron that will rust, or that you’ll get ‘electrolysis corrosion’ from having a copper connection on an iron frame with rain or winter salt and then the same thing at the other location in the back. 2 six gauge wires, from FRONT to BACK. 100% Guaranteed connection. I even take extensive time showing you how to solder 0 and 2 gauge wires to copper lugs in my video… that is how important it is. This is stuff you are betting your life on, not a radio that you are hooking up in your dash or a pair of fog lamps. In fact… the metal tool box is not even ground… there are no connections to it….the batteries are sitting in it in free space and the tool box is sitting on the top of my bed that has a rhino coating on it. Last darn thing I need is a whole metal box that is ground and have something touch the positive post of the battery and then touch the box.

          I hope I gave you a thorough answer !!

          Steve

    • Another watershed show! In Steven Harris fashion, I have procured a 4k Onan generator from an RV in a junkyard for $50. It only shows 120v outlets, but if Steve could lend his thoughts, if its only drawing power from one set of fields, chances are I could snag the other field to get 240v? The generator is from the late 70s. My well pump is 240v, only reason I need it. (girlfriend thinks clothes dryer is necessary , too…but thats another normalency bias due for a shock..lol).

      • if its a 120 only generator, its a 120 only generator..no amount of wishing or tinkering will change that.

        Your only option would be to get a 120 volt to 240 volt tranformer and they sell these on ebay and other places for people who have 120 in a 240 world or 240 in a 120 world… make sure it goes ‘both ways’ and it will do you fine.

        IF you can find one big enough for your well motor… and you are NOT going to find one big enough for an electric cloths dryer.

        Steve

  25. I decided on a single, AGM marine battery as my first “battery bank” system. I’m considering this battery, which is available locally:

    http://www.sears.com/diehard-platinum-marine-battery-group-size-31m-price/p-02850131000P?prdNo=1&blockNo=1&blockType=G1

    Seems like a high-quality battery that would be good for my purpose.

    Steven — any thoughts on whether this is a good choice or not?

    • yeah… its a great battery…but the one at Sams Club is $100 cheaper !! The Duracell AGM Battery. A group 31 Optima is cheaper on amazon on battery1234.com !! and you can probably find an optima group 31 locally cheaper as well. $279 for one AGM battery is a lot of money… but if its the only one you can get your hands on…its a quality battery for the money.

      Steve

  26. Thanks! Is there a severe loss in using a transformer?

    No, I never dreamed of using the dryer, thats the girlfriends pipedream..lol.

  27. Question about sump pumps.
    I saw your 1/4 hp sump pump (460 watts), on battery1234.com. Forgiven me from lack of technical knowledge, but will this be able to connect to my existing discharge pipe? and will it be able to push the water up the vertical (10 feet?) needed get it out of the house through the discharge pipe?

    I looks like it yes for both questions, but wanted to confirm.

    • ignore that question….
      amazon says:
      1: suggests parts for connecting to discharge pipe
      2: states “Can lift water up to 25 feet vertically for versatile use”

    • Hootie..yeah.. it will do all of that…but really I have it up there as a backup to your existing sump pump… this one comes with adapters to hook up to a garden hose so you can drop it in the sump and power it off a smaller inverter if your sump pump is too big for your existing inverter, this one will work off an 800 watt inverter easily, and at $48 its pretty affordable as a backup especially when you are considering how serious it is to have a sump pump overflow in your basement.

      Plus it’d be awesome to move water from a creek, river or lake into barrels in the back of your pickup truck…that is why I really have it listed is for all of these reasons.

      Steve

  28. can I put a battery inside a mini van and sleep next to it with no safety concerns? I car camp in parking lots sometimes.

    • sure…why would there be a concern ??

      Steve

      • Just making sure. Thans

        Btw, must be cool to be helping people change their lives so much. Congrats on that.

    • Jack taught me a LOT about teaching to change peoples lives. I’ve done a lot with prep, a lot of prep teaching, a lot of military teaching, but it all paled in comparison until I met Jack and TSP and the enthusiasm of this entire audience is like chewing crack… you just just take it, and run with it, and do it, and then send us photos of what you did and I had people emailing me photos from hurricane Sandy that they typed out on their iphones. For me..that just fuels my fire and I just end up doing more, and you love it more, so I do it more and you love it more… its a positive feedback reaction. Its because of YOU, and your comments, and what you guys are doing, that I do this with you guys. Jack is the true visionary about reaching people and giving them what they need to help themselves.

      Steve

  29. Steven Harris: you mentioned the Schumacher battery tender, what do you know about this product?
    http://www.eastwood.com/batterysustainer-plus-12v-2-10a-battery-maintainer.html

  30. Steve Harris is ALWAYS a must listen ! Thanks for your investment time for those of us in TSP, Steve !!

    V/r
    RK

  31. I haven’t seen anyone mention the whole EMP thing in relation to the chargers and other electronics in this back up system. Is this a concern? If so, how would you protect a home system?

    • Modern Survival

      @greg because doing so is like worrying about peak oil in relation to your car. Tell you what, when you have 6 months of food, medical supplies, a means of defense and training to use it, a bug out plan, no debt, back up power systems, large fuel reserves, then you can look at EMP protection.

      Remember always order of probability. Start with what you are most likely to need and move to what you are least likely to over time. EMP is way down the road and if I told you the truth about it you likely would not believe me. In essence here is the truth….

      The good – in most events man or solar in origination it would not be anywhere near as bad as people think.

      The bad – if it is a “perfect strike” either by luck (CME) or plan (EMP) nothing you do is going to matter.

      I’ll do a show on grounded protective structures and faraday cages and such but it will be far less practical then these shows Steve just did with us. More for knowledge and entertainment.

      Steve I think has done some research that confirm this.

    • @greg Modern Survival could not of said it MORE PERFECT. You hear me piss and whine about solar because its a huge distraction. Once you have a month of food and water then you MIGHT THINK of getting 1 REAL solar panel to help with the small electronics, and that is after you have 30 gallons or more of fuel stored for your car or generator setup and you’ll never consider going off grid until you had a YEAR of food and water, and then you are only doing it for Energy Independence, its NOT going to save you money in CONUS.

      My end point.. EMP is a poison that will consume you and stop you from doing all the stuff that is going to hit you rock you a hurricane, a blizzard, a high wind storm, a tornado, a flood, a power outage like the blackout of 2003 (free copy of the book at http://www.Battery1234.com – See the pop-up). Its like worrying about the boogy man… its just not there and its not going to come.

      So be more concerned about your children than you are about taking the perfect crap in the morning. Teach them, love them and raise them right. Protect your children, family, parents and neighbors with food and water and basic medical supplies, learn new talents like the 13 skills challenge, have backup energy, communications and light and have fuel stored of some form, GET OUT OF DEBT !!! and do all of this stuff before you start to put on a tin foil hat. There is one thing you can’t do with all the money in the world and that is buy more hours in a day… every second your are distracted by a 1 in 1 million possibility like EMP is a second that you are taking away from your family and real stuff you can be doing to improve yourself, learning, helping or prepping.

      EMP is even more of a distraction that moves people into inaction and false priorities and false sense of securities than solar does.

      EMP is just like what Yoda Said….”Once you start down that path forever will it consume you.” Its a poison, it’ll rot you from the inside, you won’t buy a $20 inverter because its not emp proof, you won’t buy LED LIGHT because they are not emp proof, you wont buy condems because it does not say EMP proof on the box…. it just goes on and on and on and all it does is it moves you into inaction and helplessness… then you get flaming assclowns (can I borrow that term jack) like you see on doomsday preppers who thinks because he has an aluminum siding house, that if he puts in metal window screens he’ll have a full faraday cage and be safe from EMP…. nothing could be farther from the truth.

      The truth is in a full EMP attack, which would be a 20 megaton nuclear device detonated above the van allan radiation belt, the type that would blow everything from maine to San Diego, you are royally screwed. No little faraday cage is going to help you. Go get an FM radio, turn it on and put the volume all the way up, put in on a station near 108 megahertz, wrap that in aluminum foil, put that in a cookie tin, put that in a large popcorn holiday tin, put that in a metal trash can and go find the FM station and walk up as close to the tower as you can with your trash can and see if you can hear the FM radio (its turned on FYI) inside all of that. If you can, then you’re screwed…because a 20MT soviet class weapon will give a pulse millions of times stronger than that FM station that you are standing NEXT TO…. and you think a little tin foil is going to protect you.

      Like Jack said…the good news. The ONLY people who can do something THIS big is Russia and the Chinese, and we are in such an interworld dependent economy no one is going to take down the USA that owes them 16 TRILLION DOLLARS. North Korea and Pakistan do NOT have thermonuclear weapons..they have fission devices, not fusion nuclear devices…those are a mountain of complexity over making a fission weapon. They have bombs that are 20 kilotons, 20 megatons is 20,000 kilotons.

      Worry about what you can DO TODAY… do what you can do today. Do tomorrow what you can do tomorrow…but don’t let worrying about what is going to happen in the future stop you from doing today what you can do today.

      Steve

  32. One thing that I would love to know is if you would recommend finding a way to plug your at home battery bank into your transfer switch that you have rigged for the generator. Would you just have to get a inverter big enough to handle the loads u wanted and just plug it in?

    • Brain… please put your light saber away. I went over in detail on the TSP Show as well as in the video that ONE marine battery is like the energy from 1 quart of gasoline put through a generator… and now you want to power your entire house from it.

      On the Q&A on zello… I had two people who wanted to power their furnace blowers (15 amps) on a battery bank and wanted to know what they needed. I did the math right there in front of them and found out that $600 in golf cart batteries ( 6 of them) would power your furnace for about 3 hours !!!

      …and now you want to hook up your battery bank like its a light saber to a transfer switch to your house and power the whole house. I was very careful in the shows to explain what a battery bank was good for powering and what it stunk for.

      Why do I sound a little pissed ?? Because I’m worried that after I took such great pains to make my words very succinct (thanks Shorty) and to be as articulate as I can as to what you can and can’t do with batteries, I’m going to have people run out and spend $1000 on stuff that won’t work and have false outcomes in their mind as to what they can do and what the battery will do. I’m really concerned about people NOT listening to what I said closely and going off and doing something with a lot of money that won’t give them a fraction of what they think it will…and that money could of been used for a lot better things for family and for prepping. Yeah.. .I know… its not my fault…I don’t control what you do nor do I control how you hear my words…but I do want everyone to do it correctly because when you do it right its really magical. If we had 100,000 people in Sandy with a small battery backup, that 100,000 would of been able to of helped a million of their fellow neighbors, with something as simple as charging their cell phone for them.

      Ok… .I’ve written enough… I think you get my point.
      Please listen to what I said carefully… it took me a long time to put together the show and the videos…. people never say to me, “What do you mean Steve.” I try to be very careful in what I say and how I say it.

      Thanks for taking the time to write in the blog Brian and thanks for being a TSP listener.

      Steve

    • Whoa there Steve my friend! Please don’t start feeling like you weren’t heard or that your time was wasted. I even bought the videos (although I haven’t got a chance to watch them yet).

      What you are dealing with here is an case of laziness and not ignorance. I am always looking for the convenience factor. I just figured if I already have the transfer switch installed and am running an awesome tri fuel generator of natural gas per your awesome instructions then wouldn’t it be great if instead of running extension cords all over my house then I could just use the infrastructure I already have in place. Plus the question also has me thinking in the direction of larger banks later on when I start looking into off grid options for a future property.

      No lightsabers here, although I am optimistic about supercapacitors later on down the road from companies like eestor. Although they have made a lot of promises over the years and haven’t delivered much so maybe I am being naive.

      Great work on the show and videos. Keep it up and don’t be discouraged by those of us in this audience that get a little excited and ahead of ourselves.

      • @ Brian – Steven “may” have mistaken our id’s after I apparently irritated him during an e mail exchange with questions about trickle charging/chargers.

        @ Steven, thanks for further explaining some of the electrical theory regarding charging, sulfation etc during these shows, things are clearer now.

    • Ok…. I can see that. IF you hooked up your inverter to your panel, in any form, you can power all of your little LED lights around the house and the fans.

      I get your point 100% now.. I understand and I have DONE THIS. I have fed my entire house with an inverter but what you do is you go around the house and you UNPLUG EVERYTHING FIRST…. especially the refrigerators and the freezers and anything that is going to have a heavy load. You unplug the washer and drying so its ‘phantom load’ of the electronics waiting for you to push the magical ON button does not take up power from you, and then you replace the light bulbs in your lamps and plug them into the wall. You can leave a small TV plugged in etc… it does beat running cords, but mind you… you gotta go and do a lot of unplugging…there is a lot of stuff plugged into the house that you don’t need to power. Clocks, INTERNET routers and modems etc… and then there is a load from stuff that you can’t unplug, like your smoke detectors and your furnace controls etc…

      Even if you do leave a few incandescent bulbs in some rooms, its nice to walk in, flip a switch, get what you need and walk out in 30 seconds and turn the light off. I’ve been there…have done it.

      Steve

    • Brian thanks for asking the question, I had the same question and also don’t expect a lightsaber (lol), but would like to avoid running extension cords all over the place, so why not energize the wires in the walls. Yup, granted, you have to run around & unplug a lot of things. I am not familiar with the switch you are talking about, and it sounds like maybe that’s because I haven’t listened to the generator shows (yet). This episode was awesome, but that (putting the energy into the house rather than extension cords) was the one question I was left hanging with, so thanks for bringing it up here, and thanks for your thoughts on it Steven.

  33. Steven,

    I purchased your videos and watched all 3… Amazing stuff… The best $25 I ever spent.

    2 questions:

    You mentioned that by keeping your batteries at a low DOD, you extend the life of the batteries. Given what you’ve prescribed, I would work hard to never bring the batteries down past a 70-80% charge. What if I’m in a situation that I actually need to run a sump pump, or some other heavy load… If I keep my truck running, will the simultaneous charging mitigate the draw off the batteries? Is this even possible? Apologies if I missed this in your videos.

    Also, while looking for 6V batteries, I stumbled upon forklift batteries with 420 aH. I assume these are just bigger, meatier, heavier versions of golf cart batteries… Is my assumption correct, or are these not advisable?

    Thank you!

    – BigDaddy

    • See… now you are getting overly concerned about the ‘life’ of your batteries, and I told you guys NOT TO. You can discharge to ZERO and back to 100% a marine battery a good 150 to 200 times and you are concerned about running your sump pump down with the battery…so the end result is you have a battery with more life, which… you’ll never kill during your disaster, but your basement is now wet because you were babying your battery.

      I’ve been trained to give answers that are short and too the point and with colorful language so that its not forgotten…however decorum prevents me from saying it here on TSP….but it might be something like… a battery is like a lady in a house of ill-repute. Use it for what you got it for.

      Got it ?? maybe ?? Your battery, USE IT !!! you are more concerned about a $100 for a battery than you are $10,000 in damage to your basement that your insurance won’t cover just so your battery will last 5 years instead of 4 years and 6 months because you took it down to zero 10 times !!!

      As far as batteries go…the general rule is …the more lead you have, the bigger the battery, the better you are….but I’m not sure how you think you are going to get those fork lift batteries into your house…without a forklift. :)

      Steve

  34. Hi guys, GREAT show! After listening, I have a couple of questions, the first one, is will this damage or shorten the life of my alternator in my truck, and the second one is could a small wind turbine be used to charge the batteries in the truck box instead of a solar panel? Then when driving down the road, the airflow through it would charge the batteries, and when parked, the wind could do the work for you. I am asking because I live in Kansas, and the wind is always blowing here. If this is possible, would you have a suggestion for a wind turbine?
    Again, thanks to the both of you, and will be ordering the video

    • Modern Survival

      Let me just say on the wind thing, if anything I might have a wind machine on my property but not on my vehicle. I might at times use it to charge the bank in the truck in some way, may be but not real likely. Wind is a stationary tech. The truth is when you are driving your vehicle you are generating plenty of power.

      Now a portable one that is something I am sure I would like and Steve might not. LOL.

      Steve isn’t fully on board yet I think with the concept of long term off grid bugging out, for good reasons too. He gets that doing so 90% of the time would be really dumb, I’ll work on exposing him to the other 10%.

      That takes me to the next part of your question. You are not going to harm your alternator or put any excessive load on it with this system, especially with the intelligent 30 watt charger Steve put in the mix. It is going to ask less and do so less often than the rest of your vehicles systems do.

      Try this, start a car, disconnect the negative battery terminal while in idol and turn on the radio, turn on the lights, rev the engine (remember the spark plugs are using electricity). Ask yourself with the battery disconnected what is running your computers in the car, firing the plugs, controlling all the systems, making the radio work, making the wipers go, pumping the washer fluid, etc.

      There can only be one answer. The alternator is doing all that work.

      What this mean is much as large generator is wasting energy when being used to run say a few lights and a fan, so is a vehicles alternator when just driving down the road. The vehicles systems take what they need as they need it but mechanically that thing is spinning its ass off whether you are using the power or not.

      Think of it this way a person with a generator at their house is still well advised to have a battery bank. So they can “run silent and deep” at times of low demand or for opsec. The big thing if the weather is nice and you are not running central air, only watching one TV and have chilled your fridge all day running a generator (especially a 5K or larger) at night is just burning gas. By using batteries to capture excess energy during the day you can reclaim it at night at a period of lower demand.

      With a vehicle mounted system you are doing the same thing. Actually this is exactly the way a hybrid car works. Cars are efficient but nowhere close to 100%, all that heat wasted energy, even the heat from braking. All we do with this system is harvest some of that wasted energy and use it later.

      You could in theory set up some stuff that is designed to always run on a vehicle system, stuff that only need run when you are home, come home and plug into that and cut your electric bill by doing so. While it would only be minor as heat and cooling are your big costs it would 100% work. Certainly it will do a shitload more then so called “solar generators”. Steve has a love hate relationship with solar, I actually 100% love solar, what I hate is the people who sell it as something that it simply isn’t.

  35. Great show. I recently built a portable battery/inverter power station to use at the site where I’m building a shop. I couldn’t stand running a 7000 watt generator just to run my cement mixer or make sporadic cuts with the skill saw.
    I found ‘blem’ T105s at Interstate batteries for $55 each brand new. Costco has T105s for $90 and the Grape 100 watt panels online for $189. I put everything in a truck box I had but I added skids to the bottom and I move it with my tractor forks on the back. I installed a high amp connector like you use for a winch or snowplow to the box and another on my car ,truck , and tractor so I can charge with any of them. I had some older 60 watt solar panels from an early array that I mounted to the shop roof and leave the power station there for charging/use most of the time. As a side note, my first off-grid system used two forklift batteries that I got for $100 each from a Safeway distribution warehouse. They replace them every 3 years but they have plenty of life left for a backup or off-grid system. The batteries are Heavy , about 500 LBs , and in a steel case. You must plan for equipment access when locating them.

    • >What happens to batteries if they are left sitting in storage and are not charged > at all over time?

      They die a very miserable death because of YOU….

      >If they are kept topped off all the time and yet never used is there any >significant deterioration?

      They live happily ever after….

      Your batteries live or die because of YOU…

      Steve

    • A little off topic of the big battery bank, but is that true about NiMH AA & AAA batteries too? Should they be kept on a charger constantly, or is it ok to fill them & put them aside for storage?

      • Ideally keeping them in a good charger like the power-ex one I have on http://www.Solar1234.com would be the best thing. However the new NiMH AA and AAA batteries, the ones that say “PRE-CHARGED” on them have a very low self discharge compared to the older formulation of the NiMH batteries so these only loose a few percentage per month. So topping off your AA batteries every month or so would be a great thing to do… especially since there is so little to put back into them it’d only take minutes to tens of minutes for each one to be 100% charged, and the power-ex charger takes 8 at a time and charges each one individually…. so you don’t need to charge them in pairs.

        Also… the batteries I described in TSP are lead acid batteries, they have a significantly different chemistry to them… NiMH batteries are NOT going to ‘sulfate’ or form crystals.

        Steve

        Steve

  36. One thing I’ve notices as a trucker in buying and using 12 volt splitters, if you pull too many amps even though a fuse won’t blow the sockets will heat up and burn up even melt. By too many amps I mean your low amp stuff along with say a hot water heater or lunch box oven or 12v refrigerator (thermo electric type). So I recommend only using the splitters with small draw recharging or electronics and lights. Otherwise for higher draw stuff, that is if you use such an item wire in a single outlet to the batteries instead of using a splitter for that one item. Or possibly only have the one high draw item on the splitter with nothing else just long enough to heat water or heat something in a lunch box oven. 12v coolers need to be wire straight to the battery.

  37. A question for Steve Harris. The sealed lead acid are all gel cell? And do they produce any hydrogen at all? If so is it recombined with oxygen to make water which goes back into the gel? What kind of gel is this? I’m sure I could research this myself, but thought it might easier to ask. ha

  38. I haven’t had time to read everything here so I hope someone hasn’t already ask this. What happens to batteries if they are left sitting in storage and are not charged at all over time? I think steve said they loose charge but I mean is the damage worse than that in any way? Such as you can’t charge them back up after so many years or whatever. Or you can’t get as many amp hours or whatever. Which would ask if they loose storage capacity?

    If they are kept topped off all the time and yet never used is there any significant deterioration?

    • Ok well I listened to the pod cast again and realized I missed Steve’s answer to this one the first time. He said basically Hard Lead Sulphate crystals form after 6 months in storage and kill the battery. Normal charging will remove softer Lead Sulfate crystals that from as a matter of normal discharging. But months of no charging means trashed battery.

      • it means a slowly trashed battery, its a low motion thing, but it does happen. After 6 months, you can easily end up with a battery that is 1/2 of what it was when you started. You think its 88AH, but really it only has an active chemical surface area with the lead and the acid to be 44AH.

        Steve

  39. Hi Steve.

    Question on charging voltages. I bought two Golf Cart 6V 190AH AGM batteries from Sam’s Club (manufactured May 2012) and have them wired as one 190AH 12V battery. I bought the Schumacher 30Amp charger from Walmart. Before putting the charge on the battery the battery voltage was 12.59V.

    After putting the charger on, telling it that the battery is an AGM and using the fast (rabbit) charge, the charger indicated that the battery was 65% full.
    Ten minutes later it reported 75% full, the charger voltage, which had started at 13.5 V was now 16.45 volts and there was a distinct odor of battery acid. I immediately disconnected the charger.

    Isn’t 16.45 volts too high of a charging voltage for a 12V AGM?

    By the way, I bought the videos the day they came out. Thank you SO much for putting these together. I’ve been a ham for 35 years and so have some familiarity with electronics but your videos finally got me off my butt.

    73,

    Jim
    Michigan

    • First of all…. the % full reading on ALL of the schumachers and all battery adapters and testers and everything else SUCK. There is no real good way of telling what the State Of Charge (SOC) of a lead acid battery is by the voltage. Measurements to do this generally need the battery to be at ‘rest’ for a good 48 hours before taking the voltage reading…. so anything the schumacher is telling you while its charging is BS. I had it tell me my battery was 45% on my truck when it was so dead it would not turn over the starter. So ignore that number. However when it tells you the battery is at 100% that is not just based on a simple dumb voltage measurement. Its monitoring the charge status of the battery, how much current its accepting while its switching between charge modes. So when its at 100%, its really up there… other than that.. the numbers stink.

      I talked to the factory about the high voltages that I saw while charging, which I noticed because the inverter was screaming its head off because the voltage was too high, and the schumacher goes into that higher voltage mode for short periods of time as part of its automatic desulfuration. I really doubt that you were smelling anything from your battery, especially an AGM. Just because the voltage is high does not mean that there is a lot of current flowing, in fact in the desulfur mode there is not much current flowing at all.

      With the older Vector and Black and Decker 3 stage battery chargers I could use it as a 12 volt power supply on a battery and keep an inverter on all the time. The schumacher won’t do this, because it likes to do its periodic desulfuration cycle and the higher voltage makes the inverter scream, and then if you try to draw more than 2 amps from the charger for longer than 24 hours it thinks that there is a bad cell in the battery and its not going to charge to 100% so the charger errors out. So if you keep a light on an inverter with a schumacher, as shown in the video at http://www.Battery1234.com, you have to wait till its charged 100%, turn on the inverter, make sure its just a 2watt or 4 watt light bulb in there, and then switch the charger over to GEL, because gel cells have a much more gentle charging cycle and lower voltage so it won’t error out the inverter…yet on gel its still a lead acid battery so it’ll keep your flooded battery fully charged…. ah the things I do for you guys… :)

      Steve

  40. So, I already have three FLA Group 29 Deep cycle batteries I use in my boat in the summer and remove when I am not actually on the water, but they are not all the same age. Not even close live each one is a year apart. Should I go ahead and use them for now until I can afford two or three together or will I be doing damage? Also, on the Schumacher chargers. I luckily purchased one of these about 6 years ago but it doesn’t say “Microprocessor controlled” on it but it looks like a less sleek version of the ones in Wal MArt now. It’s a SSC 1500a. It seems to drop from the 15 amp charging to the 2 amp charging once the battery is charged up, and sounds like it’s “changing gears”. I would just be thrilled if I already have almost everything I need considering I purchased the inverter on your advice just before Sandy. Can I wire these batteries in series to keep them charged at least? Instead of switching the charger around all of the time? I bought the videos, so forgive me if the answer is in there. I haven’t had the time to watch them yet. Can’t wait though! Also, Would it make sense to have a single deep cycle battery, smaller schumacher charger, and a smaller inverter with some scaled down stuff in each of our cars, say in the trunk and wired sort of like the truck system you described minus the solar? I was thinking it would be nice to know the wife will never have to be cought needing a jumpstart if she can jump/charge herself. Also, you never know when that type of power could come in handy for what? $200 per vehicle or so. Like when I am at work and the damn power goes out. Your thoughts? One last thing. Does t make sense to put a deep cycle battery in my truck for use with my “power the home” inverter set-up?

    • So, I already have three FLA Group 29 Deep cycle batteries I use in my boat in the summer and remove when I am not actually on the water, but they are not all the same age. Not even close live each one is a year apart. Should I go ahead and use them for now until I can afford two or three together or will I be doing damage?

      use them how ??

      Also, on the Schumacher chargers. I luckily purchased one of these about 6 years ago but it doesn’t say “Microprocessor controlled” on it but it looks like a less sleek version of the ones in Wal MArt now. It’s a SSC 1500a. It seems

      its computer controlled.

      I need considering I purchased the inverter on your advice just before Sandy.

      Email me your story about what you got and what you did DURING Sandy !!!! I want to hear it. My email is on http://www.Battery1234.com

      Can I wire these batteries in series to keep them charged at least? Instead of switching the charger around all of the time? I bought the videos, so forgive

      its in the video… how to hook it up… its parallel.. NOT series !!!

      me if the answer is in there. I haven’t had the time to watch them yet. Can’t wait though! Also, Would it make sense to have a single deep cycle battery, smaller schumacher charger, and a smaller inverter with some scaled down stuff in each of our cars, say in the trunk and wired sort of like the truck system you described minus the solar? I was thinking it would be nice to know the wife will never have to be cought needing a jumpstart if she can jump/charge herself. Also, you never know when that type of power could

      NO… I don’t think you should put a 60 pound battery in the trunk of your car, I think if she gets in an accident its a great way to have a missile inside your car that will kill you.

      Steve

    • Ok, thanks for taking the time to decipher my awful choppy questions. No more responding/commenting after midnight!

      I use the batteries to:
      1. Run a trolling moter
      2. Start the engine and run electronics (radio, stereo, lights, etc…)
      3. One is just a back-up so we can start the engine/use the trolling motor if a battery or both go down.
      So, they do get a lot of abuse, and I am guilty of not keeping them charged. I really didn’t know it was that bad of a thing to do until I listened to your show. Thanks.

      I will e-mail you my Sandy story later today, but it’s not as impressive as others as I am in New Hampshire, and we were not hit that hard.

      Also, sorry, I meant parallel, not a series. I guess the real question is will it matter if I hook them together considering the age/prior use difference?

      Thanks so much, Steve and Jack. All of your energy shows have been amazing! Also, love the book “Sunshine to Dollars”. One of my 13 in 13 skills is the Solar Oven!

    • Duh, you meant use them not on the boat! I want to use them for a battery bank through the winter until I buy new batteries in the spring.

    • its NOT series, its parallel…screw that one up and you’ll be seeing smoke coming from a lot of things.

      Also…DO NOT PUT a battery into the truck of your CAR !!! NO NO NO… damn thing is a hunk of lead. You get into an accident its going to go through the back seat, go through the head rest of the front seat and take your head clean off….or at least made a damn good mess of it. ALL SPARE tires MUST be bolted down as well because they will DO THE SAME THING.

      Remember… I was an engineer at Chrysler 10 years… I know about these things and what we call ‘crash’. That’s why I used 2×12’s and 1/4″ 2.5″ long hex lag bolts to hold the batteries into the truck tool box in the back of my pickup truck, and that box is secured to the rails.

      Steve

  41. GREAT SHOWS, one question, hopefully i didn’t miss the answer.
    what size generator would I need to power the 30 amp charger? i have a little 800 or 900 watt one, or would i need a larger one?

    • Modern Survival

      @outburst402 the short answer is yes. Now I know this is a weak ass thing for a survivalist to say but it is raining and cold and I just don’t want to go out to my shed to get my charger and look at the power specs on it and online they only give the output specs not the inputs other then 120V AC, which we all know and doesn’t do me or you much good though Steve may use it to correct my math as we go from AC to DC conversions.

      But here is a very basic calculation if the charger is putting out 12volts at 30amps when in rapid pour it on mode that is about 360 watts of power. Now it might actually need a bit more or less but I would think it is in that ball park.

      In any event on either the back or the cord of any electronic device should be the watts drawn on any sort of high demand device you should see both surge and running watts.

      All I can say is when I run two charges on my 5500 watt generator it doesn’t even change the idle speed.

      Steve what is the watt draw on the AC side of the Schumacher Charger?

    • Modern Survival

      Update, went out to the shed and the schmucks at Schumacher just had to be a pain in my ass and not actually provide the watts of draw at operation so I had to do more math.

      The input is 3.9 amps at 120 volts which gives us 468 watts, my guess is that is the peak draw and it operates a bit lower then that especially when charging at the lower rates but I will let Steve be more specific on that one if necessary. So it looks like charging your battery/ies will suck up about half your generator capacity.

      So with a generator of that size you have to pick and choose a lot of what you do and when you do it.

      This should also sort of start to drive home why Steve is all about generators over solar panels.

      Consider this, a charger like this on a 1000 watt generator running at rapid charge will take 3-7 hours to charge a fully drained (which we should not do) big deep cycle battery depending on exactly what we are dealing with. A 1,000 watt machine sips gas and is cheap to buy. While doing the charging it has say 500 watts of other power you can draw from it all while charging your battery. If we only take the batteries down to say 50% depth of discharge and even have a bank of 2 we can likely fully charge them in say 2-5 hours maximum.

      Now if were run a 1000 – 1200 watt generator for say 8 hours during the day it is going to take at most 2-3 gallons of gas. During that time we get a fully charged battery bank, we can run a one room AC unit for a while, we can chill down our freezer and refrigerator and have a nicely topped off battery system once the sun goes down.

      If we are willing to move up to a good 2K Honda or Yamaha everything just gets better, sure they cost about 4-5 times more but they are quiet, last longer and even more efficient on turning gas into electricity. With a 2K generator I still can’t go running everything at once but I can run a nice window unit AC all damn day in one room and keep it nice and cool, I can switch over to batteries when the sun sets and run a TV, computes, a cable or satellite box, fans, lights, etc. Up till bed time, I can run fans on myself while I sleep all night long and my bank will still be about 50% or better come morning, then I fire up the generator again.

      Say I am burning 4 gallons of fuel this way, keep in mind that is pretty heavy use because a EU2000i uses 1.1 gallons in four hours at a 50% load. So we are budgeting say 2x what we need. If I store 60 gallons or fuel at that rate I can go 15 days with no rationing. The reality is I can easily stretch this to 30 days and that should get me over most issues.

      I mean now this is in SUMMER time when my only way to really cool things is a high power draw. In winter I don’t have anywhere near the needs because if I am smart I am heating with propane, wood or kerosene. If it is really cold I can even store food outside if it comes to that, hey it is what they did in the old days. Hell I love when we get an occasional snow, snow chilled winter ales are just special. Food burried in snow won’t freeze, snow is ice, that means it is 32 degrees.

      I know this is more then you asked for but it lets us really THINK about what is practical. We have to ask how say even 600 watts of solar power would hold up against this and do a cost analysis on it. That is if we have both grid down and sunny weather which isn’t really common now is it?

      I don’t hate solar and I like it a LOT more then Steve does, I totally get the appeal, I know the tech is and will continue to improve but when it comes to back up power for a person who daily lives on the grid it BLOWS compared to a small generator, some batteries, some stored fuel, etc.

      Now the solar fan boy will say but add solar to that and you get infinite lonjevity. I totally agree but as solar is the least efficient specifically efficiency vs. cost component to such a system, it comes dead LAST. I hope this ramble makes sense.

  42. @ Steven – I’m sure that many of us have older chargers that don’t say “computer/microprocessor controlled”, rather just “fully automatic”, ref. mine is an Exide/NASCAR Select Mod 7067512. with 6v 12A manual,12v 2A & 12v 12A automatic selections & a little “% of discharge “meter. I’m sure the best thing would be get the newer ones ( 2 is 1, …) and the voltmeter but in the meantime – are those types safe to keep on the battery all the time?
    Thanks for another great show!
    Thanks

    • ooh heck NOO…..

      Steve

    • Adrian the nerd

      Brian,
      I ordered a Schumacher XC103 after listening to this show (the one with 30 amp capability), and I already had an old Exide/NASCAR charger. I’m not at home at the moment, so I can’t check if it’s the exact same Exide as yours, but the options and description sound the same.
      I ran both chargers with a kill-a-watt attached and observed the following:
      (1) The Schumacher continuously draws 30 watts after the battery is fully charged.
      (2) The Exide draws 6 watts after the battery is fully charged, with brief pulses to 30 watts every little while (maybe every 15 seconds, but I didn’t time it).
      I should go back and measure the actual current to the battery once they are both at this state, but it would seem to me that the Exide is doing a better job of keeping the battery topped off. Perhaps the Schumacher does a better job during the charging phase (I wouldn’t know). I at least like that that Schumacher can dump more amps in so that I can make good use of my cheap 1200 watt generator during the daytime.

  43. About the DVD pack offer for December, I did buy it but have to admit I had to give it some thought, even at the low price of $24.95 because of the financial demands of the holiday season. And it isn’t a month-long offer either, commencing halfway through the month. I wonder how many would really want to get this package but due to finances and the distraction of the holidays just simply are going to have to let it slip by. If this offer was extended into January it could go on the next billing cycle and customers wouldn’t have to make their payment until February. It would make it a whole lot easier for a lot of people, who probably haven’t heard or won’t hear about this generous offer until after the new year. Just a thought.

    • Jimmie… 1. its NOT a DVD, its an ONLINE HD VIDEO that you can also download if you so desire. DVDs are dead. Even redbox is going to a streaming format because they know their little red-boxes won’t be around forever. Look for one in a museum in 10 years.

      2. Nope…SORRY.. SALE OVER in December…. when its January its $34.95. I did a huge survey of everyone who bought it and they all told me it was too cheap. Some said they would of paid up to $100 for the video, one told me $300. Its 4 hours and 36 minutes of video, plus the 95 minute video on making bread from batteries and generators….

      If you can’t afford the video, then you can’t afford to make a battery system. You should do what Jack suggests… GET OUT OF DEBT, that is probably more important to your entire family then spending money on preps that give you anything more than 2 weeks worth of food and water. 2 weeks will get you out of most any problem…the rest of the money, pay off your debt and cut up your credit cards. DO NOT BUY MY VIDEO PLEASE.

      Steve

  44. Steven,

    I’m working on a biomass gasification project right now with sabbadess. We’ve built an imbert gasifier mounted to a trailer with a 7.5 kW generator.

    The reason I was asking about forklift batteries is because weight is not so much an issue… Having a mobile power station with lots of power is the primary objective. Right now, we’re thinking about 4 6v (420 aH) forklift batteries.

    When I saw your truck tool box solution, the bells started going off, because this is exactly something we could adapt to the power station. We have the room, and the toolbox could be mounted/welded on with some heat shielding considerations… It’s perfect.

    Here is a YouTube video of our unit… Yes, I know it still needs to be sand-blasted and powder-coated :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-5H_noFzu8

    BigDaddy

    • That is a beautiful little gasifier you got there… supreme work on it. However form what I can see on the video… you are way too short on filtering going from the gasifier to the generator. You really need 2 stages of filtering in there. A bunch of rough filtering and then some very fine filtering. You’ll tar that generator up especially when your gasifier is just starting up. One way to avoid tar is to use charcoal, this is the Australian way of dong a vehicle gasifier from WWII. I have an entire book on it at http://www.ush2.com/hydrogen_energy.htm its the 5th book down on the left and its called VOLUME 5.

      Putting some monster fork lift batteries on there would be cool but it would not make very much sense to put batteries on there THAT big… because the biggest charger you can get for about $100 is a 55 amp charger (on http://www.Battery1234.com ) so you can only dump about 660 watts of power from the generator into the batteries at anyone time. Smaller batteries would make better sense but if you can get the fork lift ones cheap…go with those.. you’ll just end up with a marathon feeding frenzy with the gasifier and keep it going all darn day and then run off the batteries for a few days…if you are in run silent run deep mode.

      Congratulations….most people don’t have the balls to go and make a gasifier. They’d just rather look at the books and the videos and the websites (the prepper porn) rather than do it. Way to go…keep me informed on how your gasifier comes along. Gasifiers are FAVORITES of mine…because the fuel grows on trees.

      Steve

  45. Steve, I was the guy earlier wondering about 120v-240v conversion of the generator, I found an up-down converter, 3000W continuous for $120. Should power the well pump (85 feet) long enough to refill tank. Thanks again!

    http://www.voltageconverters.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=VC2000W

    • > Also let me suggest the 12 volt electric blankets they sell at truck stops. These > are blue in color. They sell 12 volt bunk warmers as well. But the blankets are > well worth it. $35 and they draw 10 amps or 55 watts. I figure it would take 10 > hours to run down a 100 amp hour battery.

      LET ME NOT suggest those… they are not smart, nor computer or temperature controlled.. they are just plugged into a truck and they get warm. You have an infinite supply of power in your truck, drawing 10 amps for 10 hours on a 100ah battery would be an INSANE use of the energy. That energy could charge up over 300 iphones, could provide light for weeks and you want to suck it down like its a light saber in 10 hours for blanket heat.

      NO ONE SHOULD be relying on an ‘electric blanket’, a stove, a light saber, or ANYTHING physical for THEIR HEAT in a disaster. Your FIRST, most important thing is CLOTHING. You WILL have very warm clothing that will keep you warm. NO COTTON, NO FLANNEL, NO GOOSE DOWN EVER, not even damn wool… only 100% synthetic, all polyester, all acrylic all something synthetic and stay away from the expensive thinsulate and gore text materials… buy more of less expensive stuff with the dollar savings.

      Stoves, kerosene heaters, nat gas or propane heaters (not the 1lb bottle ones!) are all nice and good but ONLY after you have your Mobile Personal Shelter DONE and taken care of….and that would be your CLOTHING.

      Electric blankets and heaters and such CANNOT keep you warm outside, do NOT keep you warm working outside, do NOT keep you warm walking in the cold…. they all force you to be a stake in the ground in one location sitting there suffering and helpless.

      DO NOT rely on ‘gadgets’ for your protection and safety.

      ALL of that ‘trucker stuff’ you are suggesting is designed for plugging into a semi truck that is at idle and you have an infinite supply of 12 volts… NONE of that stuff… NONE OF IT.. is designed AT ALL for your personal battery bank at home.

      Just because its 12 volts, does NOT mean its low power at all !! Its at least 150 watts… and you want to power your light bulbs with an inverter, that are TWO watts each. A fan that is 8 watts, a portable TV that is 9 watts… an iphone that is 5 watts…. NO 150 watt stuff on your batteries !!

      Steve

      • ***QUOTE***
        NO COTTON, NO FLANNEL, NO GOOSE DOWN EVER, not even damn wool… only 100% synthetic, all polyester, all acrylic all something synthetic and stay away from the expensive thinsulate and gore text materials… buy more of less expensive stuff with the dollar savings.”

        Steve, I have to disagree with you on this. Merino wool is one of the best materials for cold weather gear. It does not stink, it wicks well, works when wet, its not bulky, also works nicely over a wide temperature range. Its expensive, but there are end of season deals to be had. Blends are also a way to save some cash. Merino wool is not the itchy scratchy army blanket wook that everyone thinks of….

        Synthetics in a cold weather jacket do not compare to down. Companies like Patagonia try hard to make a synthetic that performs like down but have failed (close but not quite).

        *Traditional* down looses its insulation value when wet, however modern down is treated with chemicals to help (but not eliminate) the issue of getting wet.

        Any jacket you wear is not going to be comfortable when wet, so one of your layers needs to be a rain jacket to keep your other layers dry. Like everything 2=1, 1=0 even when it comes to clothing. I understand the concern with down in this context…

    • @GomerPile your statements about ‘treated down’ and ‘marino wool’ are so beyond comprehension I can’t even begin to put a swear word to how stupid this is. People listening to you will end up dead or nearly dead. Treated down…yeah…right. There are several companies advertising the ‘dri down (TM)’ and the ‘down TEK (TM)” and this is just beyond stupid… you just use a real synthetic to start with. NOT a synthetically treated organic. These stupid idiotic companies are marketing these with the entire “ENVIRO” mode of guilt marketing because its not fully made from oil. Its a ‘natural product’ coating with products made from oil. What a load of crap..more enviro BS marketing to make you feel guilty so you buy an inferior product. I’m really known for being direct and to the point and cutting through the crap and I’m trying to be as nice and warm and fuzzy as possible, and sensitive, but I gotta tell you that when it comes to being warm and fuzzy that this enviro treated crap of coated down is beyond stupid. You are not going to beat synthetic hollow fibers or other forms of synthetics that allow water moisture to pass right through them. Again.. .its the same STUPID THING with WOOL…. because you have put the word “marino” in front of it and now its some stupid super wood because its got some retarded italian name in front of it. So now its some super wool that does super things only because of the name marino in front of it.. ALL WOOL SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS in comparison to modern synthetic fibers. Its year 2013 right now, NOT 1930. I have to address cold weather issues for people who are going to get exposed to weather that his minus ZERO F and not just someone having a cold night in Florida.

      I’m SORRY.. I have to be as DIRECT and BITCHY as possible because LOTS of people read this and people taking BAD ADVICE and advice based on some name of ‘marino’ or something else will lead to a sense of false security and then people end up DEAD. This is a LIFE and DEATH serious topic here. Life and Death. For me to be polite and silent means to allow a stupid statement to stand and others to take it as fact when its false.

      As far as the incredibly stupid comment that wool works warm when wet, or wood ‘ holds up to 60% of it weight in moisture and remains warm’ is beyond stupid and such a 1930’s comment because true synthetics are hydroPHOBIC… they can’t get wet even if they wanted to…they shed water…they do NOT ABSORB it in ANY WAY. There might be beads of water sitting on TOP of the synthetic if you DUNK it in water, but its sitting there as a bead of water like a basketball on a wood floor… literally shaking it off removes the water that is balled up on the hydrophobic surface… its not absorbed into the fibers AT ALL, the fibers are NEVER WET.

      PLUS, putting a water proof layer on TOP of all synthetic material is the kiss of death for that person. If you are in a rain environment, you go with a water proof material to keep the rain off of you and you from getting wet. If you are in a well below freezing environment you NEVER EVER put a water proof later on your body. Because moisture leaves your working body and it flows clearly through synthetics as a vapor (its called a heat pipe) and then it this the layer that does not allow moisture through it and that layers is below 32F and the water vapor instantly freezes and forms an ice on the inside of that cold water proof layer….and then more moisture hits that frozen moisture and forms more frozen moisture (known as ice) and there goes your moisture conductivity, and the second you loose your moisture conductivity you increase your thermal conductivity and then all of a sudden that nice heat your body is making is now leaving your body and trying to warm the entire planet, and it will fail to do that and you will become the same temperature as the outside environment and that means you are dead.

      Who the hell am I to say this… all of this. 1. I worked for AeroDynamics and Thermal Management in the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corp so I know a darn thing or two about heat transfer on a scientific and a mathematical basis, as well as on a material science basis. 2. I LOVED Snow camping… I’ve camped as low as -20F, and I’d of done it colder but it did not get colder than that easily in Michigan…but it got cold. I’d even camp out in my back yard when it was below -10F in Michigan to test new things.

      I’ve been cold weather hunting all of my life… including with grandpa who was a ‘wool fan’ and I’ve hunted in the cold with my more modern synthetics and I’ve gotten a lot of soaked foots with boots going through shallow ice and getting soaked with wool socks and with all synthetic socks…as well as other clothing and absolutely nothing, nothing nothing compares to modern synthetics, and I mean the cheap as hell acrylics you get at walmart, and NOT the thinsulates and the goretexes etc….

      My instructor in cold weather survival and technology was Jim Phillips, who is a legend and a genius of the cold weather field… and if you knew him, you’d know how ‘stupid’ layers are…but guess what… there is nothing available to you as a civilian other than ‘layers’, so you are stuck with it, and you’d better be going all synthetic, because its all about moisture control and that means moisture leaving your body and going out into the world.

      I’m VERY sorry for being so direct and blunt on this subject but this is a life and death serious subject and its a subject where these stupid stupid rumors, old sayings, and bygone traditions will end up getting you dead when your life in on that thin line of surviving the event and not surviving the event.

      Synthetics ONLY… NO super wools, no marino wools, no italians wools, no polish wools, no 3 legged sheep wools, no super downs, no treated downs, no magic beans, no fairy dust and ONLY just pure 100% synthetics and make sure its as thick as possible….. and if you are not even near a rain environment…dont’ you dare ever think of putting a water proof layer on top of everything.

      Sorry guys.

      Steven Harris

      • Ok Steve you have fun buying cold weather gear at WalMart, i’ll keep my Gor-Tex jacket and Merino wool.

        The main reason I brought it up in the first place IMO Merino offers great utility as prepper clothing. It is very durable and warm, dries quickly, does not get stinky even after many sweaty days on the trail. It also packs into very small spaces (like a crowded BOB). I would hate for people to dismiss it because you posted that it sucked without first trying it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merino

        There are very serious people on serious treks using Merino as part of their gear. Do your research people….

        • “100% synthetic, all polyester, all acrylic all something synthetic and stay away from the expensive thinsulate and gore text materials… buy more of less expensive stuff with the dollar savings”

          I have an awesome Patagonia 100% polyester sweatshirt that is my go-to synthetic pullover — I recommend this brand. In my experience it is quality stuff.

          Just throwing that out there for anyone looking to pick up some synthetic gear.

    • @gomerpyle Gomer… doing ‘treks’ in wool is far far different than doing cold weather preparedness or cold weather survival. 20F, 15F, 0F, -10F rather than some day hike. Gortex is a huge NO NO in cold weather camping, it allows moisture out but only allows less than HALF the moisture out that it really needs to. Gortex is NOT cold weather clothing. It has nothing to do with it. Gortex is above freezing clothing. .. again.. something you take on a HIKE where you know the weather for the next 3 days.

      I’m talking about damn serious cold weather preparedness for damn serious cold temperatures….not “hikes”

      I do know ‘merino’ wool…. I’ve had it, and it all sucks compared to all synthetic wear. I’m a scientist… I know a thing or two about material science. I don’t have to ‘try’ out using balsa wood as a hat material to tell you that it won’t work. You don’t have to ‘try’ every thing to say no this won’t work. I don’t have to make soup out of dog diarrhea to tell you that it won’t taste good.

      There are a LOT of people out there who are dead from exposure in gortex material…. and north face jackets as well. Lots of people get caught up in the marketing and the ‘material’… yet…another ‘gizmo’ with some dumb name attached to it, and they think its magic beans, and it works, and they use it for 5 years and it works, and then they do and do something and the limit of their clothing is tested, rather, it hits a solid wall, and then they realize they are in trouble long after they should of.

      This false sense of security along with the ‘belief in a name’ leads a lot of people into trouble and death.

  46. Steve talked about low watt fans. Here is a fan sold at truck stops that I think is great for home use too on 12v.

    http://www.globaltrucker.com/images/products/rpsc-857.jpg

    Its called a tornado fan, and it has a variable speed control if I recall correctly.

    Other highly recommended appliances that I have used in trucking are Lunch box oven which heats to 300 degrees, slowly of course. It cooks rice (without pasta) very well. It doesn’t do pasta’s well unless they are precooked in cans etc.
    Its great for heating up canned food and even some plastic containers that are for microwaving such as the Hormel or Denti More meals or Chef Boy RD or The soups in plastic containers that are meant to take heat. These are very reliable, I have bought only 2 or 3 of them. I still have 2 in working order.

    http://www.awdirect.com/product_images/zoom/tracker-lunch-box-oven0.jpg

    and the Smart Pot hot water heading pot. I only use this for water and not for reheating coffee or other liquids. I don’t want to mess with cleaning it. I have had trouble with the burners burning out. I’ve bought maybe 4 of these in 10 years. And these won’t catch fire if you let them boil dry. I think they shut off without water.

    http://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/server1500/79610/products/840/images/438/max_burton_smart_pot_to_go__97626.1289425902.1280.1280.jpg

    These can be purchased at any major truck stop chain usually. This is good advice from a trucker. I don’t really know what kind of watts those draw though.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_VyTCyizqrHs/SJcf6GAn8YI/AAAAAAAABCQ/ltcjdkJVjVs/s400/iglooTEcooler.jpg

    As for the 12 volt coolers (Thermo Electric type) They just don’t cool. If you have something that is cold and you put it in one it may keep it colder longer.

    I totally don’t like the small ones that are made for holding a few cokes or a whatever. The larger ones seem to work well. I had to replace a fan motor in one once. They do take a bit of time to cool off if you put warm items in them. For example if you buy room temp cokes and fill it with them it will take 8 hours to cool down. They keep the contents around 45 degrees cooler than outside temps if I recall correctly.

    • Also let me suggest the 12 volt electric blankets they sell at truck stops. These are blue in color. They sell 12 volt bunk warmers as well. But the blankets are well worth it. $35 and they draw 10 amps or 55 watts. I figure it would take 10 hours to run down a 100 amp hour battery.

  47. I can’t edit that, I meant small thermo electrics don’t cool from what I’ve experienced. I’m not sure why. The larger ones work fine but take time to cool off room temperature food items to frig temps. And thy will freeze if the outside ambient temps are low enough.

  48. One thing not talked about in this show was how to auto start/stop a generator based on low voltage in the battery bank. That’s something I’d be interested to know about. Maybe some generators do this automatically somehow.

  49. Steve,

    Thanks for the awesome information; I bought the videos and are working through them as time permits.

    I am choosing parts for a system using a single deep-cycle marine for use in an apartment. It’s a very small apartment, so it will be in the same room as me next to my desk. Am I correct about the Schumacher’s all have a fan that runs while it’s on (based on the Amazon reviews)?

    As you can imagine that doesn’t sound like fun to have going 24 hours a day. Searching around, I came across this 6 amp, 3-stage charger that I believe would be a good, fan-less and silent substitute: http://www.amazon.com/Marinco-Battery-Charger-2608A-Marine/dp/B000NI1BD4/

    In your expert opinion, is this an appropriate subsitution, or do you have a different recommendation for a silent, 3 stage charger? Thank you.

    • all through all off my testing and making the video, never once did I ever say, “Boy..that fan is noisy.” I just went and put my 10 amp schumacher charger on a battery, and the fan came on…but its not that noisy… if it will bother you or not, I don’t know… I’m getting the battery to 100% to see if the fan throttles… it did throttle between the time I turned it on to 10 minutes after I put it on, it got louder, and to start with, it was a whisper.

      You might be over blowing it a bit, but the again, I usually have heavy metal rocking out in my office so I’d never notice it if it was by me. My best suggestion, is to go to walmart and get one, its $29.95 for a 6 amp charger and your ‘quiet’ one is $70+ for 6 amps. If its too loud, you’re too old… er… I mean… take it back to walmart if its too old and then get the Marinco from Amazon. If you do get the Marinco… it is a 3 stage charger, so you are good to go there… the only reason it does not have a fan is because its got a metal case and it gets rid of its heat that way…. so make sure its not sitting on your carpet and getting insulated. Old commodore 64 power supplies had that problem.

      Good question…good point. PLEASE post here or email me directly and let me know if you think the schumacher at walmart is too loud. We’ll put the Marinco up as a ‘quiet’ alternative charger.

      Steve

  50. Thanks to Steven for dropping by the survival podcast network channel on Zello.com for some post-podcast Q&A

    Despite Zello bandwidth issues, and some of his own minor power and ISP gremlins, Steven had toughed it out and given us further insights into his energy-driven mind. All to help us better prepare our emergency power systems.

    NOTE: Next scheduled visit from Steven on Zello is tonight Dec. 20 at 8PM EASTERN time.

    Login early around 7PM eastern to get into the ‘questioner queue’…

    Come into the Zello channel anytime to dialogue with the regulars. Even Jack stops buy from time to time. :-)

  51. halfassengineer

    If you use your backup battery pack to only power devices that require DC input power (5V for devices with USB plug, for example) you could get a DC to DC converter and eliminate the inverter and all individual power supplies. You’ll just have to get USB cables to connect to the output port of the converter.
    You might even be able to use a voltage regulator connected directly to the battery to generate required voltage.
    In either case you might be able to use damaged batteries in an emergency. If you have batteries with low voltage because of shorted cells that still have some charge on them they can be connected to get voltage above what is required by your converter/regulator. Those devices usually do not require specific voltage, they have a wide range of input voltages they can work with. (A step up converter converter would work with voltage lower then the desired output but let’s not make this too complicated. )

  52. First, I really enjoyed the show! Since listening to it I’ve been looking into this and wondering if it could be a nice side business, but I’m hesitant to think there are many people out there who would be willing to pay over $300 for a unit that wouldn’t run the freezer, refrigerator, hot water heater and other such things. I’m still thinking about it, trying to figure out how to make it work. One question that came up during my research was that I couldn’t tell the diff. between two batteries – aren’t they both absorbed glass mat batteries?

    http://www.samsclub.com/sams/duracell-agm-golf-car-battery-group-size-gc2agm/prod3870119.ip?navAction=
    vs.
    http://www.samsclub.com/sams/duracell-golf-car-battery-group-size-egc2/prod3590220.ip?navAction=

    Also, can I assume this is covered in the video Mr. Harris put out?

  53. Thanks for putting together the video. Well worth the money. Besides I think you saved me from ruining another marine battery by just letting it sit in the garage. Great videos!

  54. Hey Steve,
    Thanks for all the shows you do here at TSP. They are definitely must-listen-to shows. I was thinking about your mother’s battery bank setup and would like to suggest that you add an under-voltage relay so that once your battery voltage drops below a certain level the relay contacts would switch and depending how you wire it up, for example you could turn the always-on LED lights off in the hallway and turn on a different set of LED lights. That would be the indication for your mother to “call Steve”. I’m thinking that this could have saved you some money. Now, industrial under-voltage relays would be prohibitively expensive but a quick search of Amazon came up with this affordable alternative ($3.79)

    Unfortunately, I haven’t found a relay base for it (it is designed for mounting on a printed circuit board) but if you were to solder your wires to it and heatshrink over your soldered connections it would do the job quite nicely.

    • Coin,
      That is not an undervoltage relay, why they put that name on it, I don’t know…but the markings on the relay clearly state that its a 12 volt relay.

      and the relay does not get activated when the voltage drops, a relay modified WITH a circuit, like a voltage comparator, for such a purpose would get DE-activated when the voltage drops, and thus, it’d now be using the normally OPEN contacts that are now closed to use current to turn on a light to call Steve and this is being done from a battery pack that is now already low.

      I really think in a situation like this that the addition of more circuits to turn on a light when something is ‘failing’ is counter productive. Its just so much easier and KIS-S to have a light on all the time. That way when the power fails, there is a light on, that way when the battery unit fails, the light goes off and its immediately apparent. A 76 year old lady will see that the lights are OFF, lights that she sees every single day and know that something is wrong now, but if she see’s a light come on that she’s never seen before, a call Steve light, then she’ll not know what that is for and is not likely to think much of it or call.

      If you drive by a store at night and its not lit up the you know something is wrong. If you drive by a store and its got extra lights on, you think nothing of it. Its very much in our psyche to ask, “why is that light NOT on.” rather than ask “why is that extra light on ?”.

      So I love what you are trying to do to make it easier for my mother, but I don’t think that adding additional circuits to say the battery bank is failing, and then adding another circuit to say that the circuit monitoring the battery is not working is adding more complexity to the system.

      Best
      Steve

  55. I browsed the tree light sales on Monday and picked up a portable 150 warm white led string that will run off of 3 rechargeable D batteries. It has a timer on it so that it stays on for so many hours, or always on or off. We’ll use that primarily for inside the pop-up camper, or if need be in a power outage.
    Also got a led rope light that was unfortunately blue, but it was all that was left besides the multi-color and a flasher. We are using that now as an always on hall light. Both of these items were 1/2 off and with a coupon the total came to $6.32.
    On to WalMart where I picked up 2 – 4-packs of copperhead AAA rechargeable that were on sale and applied a $4 off coupon also.

    Another big storm down south and moving to the hard-hit Northeast. An opportunity for Amazon-Prime to come to the rescue.

    • blue light is better than no light and
      “Another big storm down south and moving to the hard-hit Northeast. An opportunity for Amazon-Prime to come to the rescue.”

      is one incredibly intelligent statement… I am so happy that part of the show that Jack and I talked about was not lost on you. You have to use the resources that you can that are available to you. Using what other people don’t understand and recognize is what makes the difference between you thriving and others who suffer. Way to go.

      Steve

    • That was a good example of stupidity. Why did I buy AA copperheads? What I needed was AAA and I should’ve gotten the Sanyo eneloop. The copperheads weren’t such a great deal. Lesson learned: don’t go into a store with a coupon, be dazzled by a fake sale price, and buy something you weren’t intending to get. Will I please learn that someday?

  56. The two strings of lights that I got for $6.32 would’ve come to $30 pre-sale and coupon. The copperheads came to $19+change.

  57. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your reply. You are quite right, the relay would be better described as a low drop out relay which is definitely not what I had in mind. However a commercially available under-voltage relay would typically cost just as much as your battery if not more.

    Sorry, I did a bad job of explaining it clearly. The relay I had in mind was a Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT) relay which essentially has changeover voltage-free contacts. This would mean that the positive terminal from your battery is wired via a fuse to the Common (C) contact of your relay and the positive terminal of your led lights in your hallway are wired to the Normally Open (NO) terminal of the relay and the positive terminal of the LED “alarm” light is wired to the Normally Closed (NC) terminal of the relay. The negative wire of both of these lights are connected to the negative terminal of your battery.

    Therefore when everything is okay, the system is charging and the battery voltage is healthy only one of these LED lights will be on all of the time – the “power good” LED light in the hallway. If the breaker trips on the charger or the charger stops working and when the voltage drops below the under-voltage trip level the “power good” LED light will turn off (i.e. relay de-energises) and the “alarm” LED light will turn on. Naturally, if both lights are out then this signifies trouble too.

    So the concept is to give you an early warning of trouble. Possibly, a little bit more complex than your original. Possibly if your microprocessor controlled smart charger has alarm outputs available it may be possible to do this on the charger. It is a shame that this isn’t available as an economically affordable add-on.

    Thanks for your patience, Steve. By the way, is there any chance that both you and Roy McAlister would do a show on TSP regarding hydrogen. If you could that would be really cool. Thanks and Regards, Colin.

    • An idea for you. Morningstar Solar makes a black box called the Sunsaver. Its basically has terminals for power in, power out, and a battery (super simple to hool up). It has low voltage cuttoff, indicator lights etc. Amazon is selling them for about $90 for the 20A unit.

      http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/sun-saver

      Obviously, this adds more complexity than you really need to make it work, but for that complexity you get a nicer “user interface” for non-tech folks.

      Be aware, they also make a much more expensive model which offers MPPT charging which (in simple terms) makes more efficient use of input power for charging your battery…you likely don’t need that.

      I’m building a second off-grid home and have been looking to upgrade my cobbled together power system (solar, generator, battery) to something a bit more hands off. I discovered that you never really use more than about 5-6 amps @12v so this kind of black box would work really well. My power needs are super slimmed down compared to a on-grid house needing emergency power so YMMV.

    • Forgot to add. In my cobbled together power system I use this low voltage relay:

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/12vdc-Low-Voltage-Cut-Out-ideal-for-Engel-Waeco-fridge-/350677208680?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item51a5fd8e68

      Its made by some place in AU…don’t remember where I got it online.

    • Colin,

      I like what you are doing but I do not want to add complexity to the unit. I don’t want to have another circuit on it and then if you have a monitoring circuit you have to have a circuit that monitors the monitoring circuit so you can be alerted if the monitoring circuit that is monitoring the battery bank has gone dead. Otherwise if that circuit does and the battery bank dies, how do you know ??

      All of this is taken care of by having a light on the battery bank. The light is kept on by the proper operation of the battery bank, as soon as its not properly operating, the light is off.

      Not to mention the old saying of, ” if you make something fool proof, only a fool will use it.” I want and teach that you guys look in on your battery bank, which is why I have the volt meter on it. One glance at the volt meter and looking at the Green / yellow / red LED line and seeing that its GREEN indicates to you that it is operational. Trying to make the unit more complex is not going to increase it reliability. I even showed you a battery bank in the battery bank video at http://www.battery1234.com that is buried in a garage back room and my friend moved the volt meters to the wall OUTSIDE of the battery bank room so he’d see the meters everyday as he came home and went to work through the garage. This is a true health indicator. You will get use to seeing the voltage at 13.49 volts…and when its not at 13.49 you’re gonna ask yourself… hum… why is the voltage higher or lower and you’ll keep an eye on it. That is a lot more sensitive than a low voltage drop out relay system.

      Now if you still want to do this, this is what PAPREPPER on the TSP channel on Zello.com would call a preper-entrepreneurial moment. Get yourself an arduino microcontroller chip from the people at makers magazine, and all over the internet, and its got A/D converters built in it, use it to monitor the 12 volts line, use a voltage divider, along with a bridge rectifier and a small filter cap to monitor the 120 volts AC ( at a lower voltage via the voltage divider) and watch the DC voltage and the AC voltage of the inverter closely. When one fails turn on an LED…. or a rotating strobe, or when the battery voltage goes below 12.7 volt, because the charger is not working, heck, put on some of the additional audrino modules and have it tweet you or email you daily what the status of your battery bank is… don’t forget to put a watch dog circuit on it, like having the chip output a frequency on a regular basis as the program runs and have a 555 chip set up to detect the loss of frequency and have that turn on an alarm when the audrino monitoring circuit takes a dump on you. Of course you could have 2 audronos monitoring each other and monitoring the battery bank and each one can tattle tale on the other if one fails or of the battery bank fails, and then you can still have the frequency enabled watch dog frequency chip monitoring both the audrino chips to make sure they are working. This is not hard to do with these chips with step by step instructions for newbies are on make magazine and makers shed and you can get the circuit boards made and you can sell the battery monitoring circuits to go along with the battery banks and people can get daily emails on the status of the battery banks on their iphones.

      See what you’ve started Colin ??? :)

      Steve

    • @gomerpile Here is what makes this relay on ebay so nice

      “-Intelligent low voltage cut out microprocessor controller with pre- programmed settings for low voltage”

      Its smart…very smart, but the thing is, its cut off voltage is 10.7 volts. The battery is near death at that point. The inverter already starts to scream at 10.5 volts, some at 11.0 volts, so you already get a warning and the darn thing is about to turn off anyways and thus your monitoring light is about to go out.

      This is intended for an RV so one dead battery does not kill the other good battery… however… if something is drawing power from both and they both get down to 10.7 volts before the relay isolates one of them… its kinda a moot point…you MIGHT get a crank or two out of the starting battery at 10.7 volts but as you saw in my shows that if you have a starting battery down to 10.7 volts then you have already done serious damage to the battery….

      Steve

      • I found this part 3 years ago when I cobbled my system together. It was aimed at portable fridge users in RV’s or something.

        I put it inline with my main 12V feed just in case I accidently leave the lights on and the batteries are low (call me paranoid). Kind of a low voltage circuit breaker….better to shut off at 10.7v than 5! Its really not needed as I don’t run my battery bank down more than 10%.

        The Morningstar Sun Saver “brick” is a nicer solution with a LVD setpoint based on a combination of things. Had I known about it 3 years ago I would have probably used one.

    • @gomerpyle a 12 volt battery will NEVER get to 5 volts… its not like a bucket of water that it goes to zero inches of water in the bucket… for a battery, dead empty, 0 inches of water in the bucket is about 10.5 volts, actually, at that voltage the bottom of the bucket is still wet, at 10.3 volts, its bone dry dead and empty. So there is no ‘better than 5′ to be considered. Having a circuit cutting off voltage at 10.7 volts is not acceptable in my experience. You want a disconnect at a much higher voltage, and the you know what is going to happen?? You are going to be really using your battery, needing all of the energy and that low voltage disconnect is going to turn off your battery power at 3am in the morning while you are sleeping and its raining and your sump pump is filling up and you’ll wake up at 7 or 8am in the morning with a FLOODED BASEMENT….

      There really is a reason, and this is a classic reason why I do NOT like these ‘extra circuits’. YOU have to be responsible for your batteries and know what is going on. You cannot be reliant on an LED or a buzzer for the health of the tool that is helping protect your life.

      Same thing with putting a 200 amp fuse in line with the inverter. Its not needed, the only thing that is going to happen is that the fuse is going to blow when you need the inverter the most.

      Steve

  58. Steven Harris,

    Thank you for another great show. I have several projects planned because of you.

    Can your next show be on cold weather gear?

    • @jrace4fun…. LOL… nope…sorry. I’m not going to do a show on cold weather gear. I’m a content creator for doing energy stuff… I live eat and breath that all my life. I learned all of my cold weather gear stuff from someone else and then I did it myself for many many a night over a decade during the coldest times of the year in Michigan. When it comes to cold weather the guy who instructed me in cold weather makes my expertise in energy look like high school.

      He’s got a beautiful quote, “When you know how to swim, it does not matter how deep the water is. When you know how to stay warm, it does not matter how cold it is.”

      I’ve already talked to Jack about this man being a guest on TSP. I don’t know if it will happen.

      I had a real pissing match with someone on the forum over marino wool, and I’m sorry for that. I think you know how passionate I can get about something and how determined I am go bring you the best that I know, even when it was taught to me by someone else. So I’m sorry that a bit of urine got over the forum because of me. I made a bit of an ass of myself with that…or as Jack would say, an ass clown. I do have teeth marks on my shoes, it ends up in my mouth every once in a while.

      There is COLD, 25F to 40F, and there is cold weather, 0F-10F or colder, down to -40F. I’m kinda in the extreme camp and the very cold weather and often I might apply those skills to just what people associate with what is just COLD.

      So jrace4fun thank you for the nice suggestion of me doing cold weather, but I’m a little man standing on the shoulders of a giant when it comes to cold weather.

      Thank you,
      Steve

      p.s. If you get a free copy of my book, Surviving the Blackout of 2003 at
      http://www.Battery1234.com (it pops up after 45 seconds of being on the page) then you’ll see a photo of me in all synthetic gear snow camping with my buddy Dr Pat Kut. We were in the middle of a blizzard and enjoying the heck out of it. I remember it to this day. Being in ultra cold weather gear, able to take on any temperature, is like being in a space suit on the moon. You know you are in a hostile environment, even a lethal environment, but you know you are safe and you gasp in wonder at the environment around you that you are walking through this in complete comfort and safety. Its like being on the moon. You can see it all and experience it, but no one else can. I could literally sit down in the field in the blizzard, being covered in snow, and experience the whole thing, its a constant field of visual motion with the snow, like swimming with a school of fish under water in the Caribbean, and I can do this without fire or shelter. Truly one of the most beautiful experiences and places I have been.

  59. Excellent info, Mr. Harris. Thank you. I really appreciate all that you do. Just purchased the Battery Bank Video. Struck me as a killer deal. When it comes to technical areas that I’m not familiar with visuals go a long way towards helping me be a more effective student.

  60. The Schumacher battery charger in my Amazon cart just dropped from $39 to $32 free shipping with my prime account, is now on it’s way to my doorstep.
    I have 2 rechargeable battery chargers, one automatically turns off when the batteries are charged (I assume) the other one is on forever. I left the new copperheads in for over 24 hours and they were warm when I removed them. Does that damage them? Perhaps I should put that charger on a timer for 2 hours. Or leave them in the charger and have the timer set for 1 hour everyday? The larger, and nicer charger by the way I picked up at a garage sale with 8 AAA & AA batteries for $5!!

  61. Just received my Trent Mobile Battery Pack for phones per your sites recommendations. Its pretty sweet! Charging it now.

    Also got a Whistler 800 and a Harbor Freight 2000W inverter for Christmas. Purchased a Schumacher charger from Wally World a few weeks ago. Now Im looking into, and saving for, the batteries.

    Thanks Steve for the info and thanks Jack for hosting it!

    -Richard

  62. Just wanted to thank Jack & steven, 2 ‘men amongst men’, of yet another great show. I have built my home batery bank using steven’s info & advice & videos, and it rocks! still finishing the box [need a lid, and then will test of my ventalation is enough] & have to ad the solar panel connection still [i didn’t want to solder my own cable connection, so purchased one to go from the panel connector to wires & will connect to solar charger]. Awesome! Next project- to replace the 60amphour gel cell in my old battery bank with a 100amp hour agm battery.

  63. I’m late to the party with my comments, but work and family keep me so busy these days that I end up listening to the podcasts well after Jack releases them.

    Steve — thank you for the podcasts, excellent information. I purchased the videos as well and have been so busy I have only had time to watch the first 2 of them, but since I’m focused on the home battery bank for now that’s enough to get me started.

    One things I have learned so far . . .

    I bought a Diehard AGM battery from Sears a couple weeks ago, this one:

    http://www.sears.com/diehard-platinum-marine-battery-group-size-31m-price/p-02850131000P?prdNo=1&blockNo=1&blockType=G1

    Finally hooked it up to my Schumacher XC103 charger. After an hour or so, the charger displayed 100% charged, but the fast charge (rabbit) light stayed on, and the charger didn’t go to the maintain (snowflake) mode. After about an hour of 100% charge reading and still on the rabbit mode, I switched the charger to maintain mode (snowflake) and then the charge level dropped to 95%.

    I call Schumacher today; they told me that when I’m charging on fast charge (rabbit) and the battery reaches 100%, it will stay on fast charge for a couple of hours, and then should automatically go into maintain mode and the fast charge (rabbit) light will go off, and NONE of the mode lights (snowflake, turtle, rabbit, etc.) will be lit up, just the green “charged” light. So apparently, I just got impatient because I thought the charger would switch to maintain mode within a few minutes after reaching 100%. I am going to try it out again tonight to see if it works as Schumacher said it would.

    Just figured I’d throw that out there for anyone who notices the same thing.

  64. Steve – another question, if you’re still reading these comments . . .

    I think in your video #2, and here on these blog comments, you mentioned the following idea:

    “So if you keep a light on an inverter with a schumacher, as shown in the video at http://www.Battery1234.com, you have to wait till its charged 100%, turn on the inverter, make sure its just a 2watt or 4 watt light bulb in there, and then switch the charger over to GEL, because gel cells have a much more gentle charging cycle and lower voltage so it won’t error out the inverter…yet on gel its still a lead acid battery so it’ll keep your flooded battery fully charged”

    I just want to clarify whether this trick is acceptable to use with an AGM battery as well. It seems it should be from what I have learned, but since you specifically mentioned “flooded battery” I just want to make sure it’s OK to use this trick with an AGM battery as well. (If “flooded battery” applies to both flooded lead acid and AGM batteries, forgive the stupid question, but I an new to this and just not sure.)

    Thanks!

  65. One more comment . . . sorry I can’t seem to make this a “reply” to one of Steve’s earlier comments in this thread, which is where it would fit best . . .

    Steve — above in this thread there is some discussion of the use of electric blankets. I actually bought one recently after listening to some of the comments you made in your interview with Jack, where you were talking about ways to heat the person and not the space, which made sense to me.

    I bought a twin size one of these:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0041RQXPO/

    I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’m thinking that this might be something I can hook up to the battery bank for heat at night (I believe it uses ~82 watts). I understand that good quality clothing, blankets, etc. are more important and useful, and should be the priority. But for families with small children, elderly family members, or for anyone looking to provide that extra “comfort” in a cold weather grid-down situation, something like this might be helpful to also have on hand.

    I have propane and kerosene heaters, but I’m concerned about running them overnight. And I want to run silent & deep overnight, so the generator will be off and locked away. Something like this electric blanket might allow me to generate a little bit of heat/comfort for the family from the battery bank overnight.

    Of course, this requires enough fuel storage on-hand so that I can charge up the battery bank every day during the generator-on time . . . but that’s the plan anyway.

  66. Pretty late with listening to this series of interviews too, but they were extremely informative. One issue though, http://www.battery1234.com is (currently) redirecting to http://www.solar1234.com and I can’t find the links/stuff mentioned in the show and I can’t find the video anywhere.

  67. perhaps the best thing going with this podcast was that 12 volt electric heating pad. or should I say the 12 volt heating blanket which is been keeping me warm on these cold nights. operating on 12 volts DC I’m not worried about any type of magnetic waves altering my body. I thank you Steve Harris for giving me that opportunity of keeping warm safely

    • Got news for you, there is a massive electronic field associated with a DC blanket, its one constant big electromagnetic field and everytime something conductive moves near it (like your blood) you are inducing a current into it. That is how a generator works. It works on a DC field with a rotating armature spinning in it. Now you are the generator. Go find a tin foil hat to protect you. :)

      If you have swallowed the AC field stuff, then you better swallow the DC field stuff.

      Steve

  68. I got a lot out of these two episodes. I have hooked up a small system with 2×7.2 AH batteries and a small 4.5 watt PV panel. I am now keeping our mobiles/ebook readers/netbook charged up using it.

    I’m no stranger to electrical energy as I studied electronics many years ago. But I learned quite a few practical things and the show really motivated me to get some hands on experience. I’m looking forward to setting up a larger system with a marine battery and a 100watt panel.

    cheers

    john