Off-Grid Solar and
Tip #6 Micro VS Macro -
? Hint: - Micro battery banks are the answer
My findings in more than a decade of experiments show that the mainstream
battery bank is simply not the answer (on so many levels).
It's been found that a large battery bank is also potentially dangerous
when the ah (amp-hour) rate is increased exponentially.
There is a better way.
Once upon a time, I followed all the advice I could get my hands on
concerning solar, wind, batteries, controllers, inverters, the science of
wire distance/drop, ad infinitum and nauseaum. So just like EVERYBODY
else, with only one view that regurgitates itself all over the Internet, I
built that large battery bank of more than 40 over-priced 6v batteries.
This did NOT
work for me.
I tried 12v banks, 24v banks, and 48v banks. I tried using different gauge
wire, building a couple of solar trackers, and more.
Still, garbage results.
Here's what works. In the same
instance that you would never park the battery to your flashlight at the
other end of the house, is the same reason I'll give toward credence that
preferable over macro
Micro-battery banks work better because
they're basically item-specific! The lessened number of
appliances and task-oriented hardware ensures a healthy battery in time of
The first micro battery bank made here
was created and/or discovered by accident. After moving a bank of
batteries that no longer were expected to be needed, I became busy with
other projects. Having left two solitary 6v batteries in series created a
solitary 12volt "battery" because of the series connection; also left were
two lights connected to the battery (12v 16.5' strip lights). I was
pleasantly surprised that weeks later, the single battery (6v x 2 = 12v)
was showing exceptional results (unlike the other larger battery banks
which were by morning leaning to the 12.2v mark).
Having the lights and solitary battery had suddenly become appreciated
because I needed light within the location at the time.
So I left that bank and those lights alone (figuring I'd get to them when
That bank has been running on maintenance-free auto-pilot for years now
without ever a hitch!
Consider those micro battery banks as your insurance. If ever needed, it's
an easy task to pool your resources; and if that day should arrive, you
know your batteries will be healthy and fully charged due to their load
being light (no pun intended).
The voltage following each night at that first micro battery bank was the
highest of all the other battery banks when checked pre-dawn. Whereas the
other battery banks range around 12.1v or 12.2v or 12.3v (under loads) by
dawn, the micro-battery bank showed higher!
This is my 2018 Advice to any prospective off-gridders out there:
When a battery bank can go a week without sun or other power input, that's
a "done" battery bank, now leave it alone and go build another
This is advice for Ohio climes.
In Florida, Arizona, Southern California, etc. only a few days are
requisite for reserve power due to the lower States possessing more hours
of reliable sunlight.
When you finally get to the point where that load amply takes care of
itself, walk away.
It is better to have
a fully charged battery that is barely used,
than to have a battery over-used, and short-lived.
Whereas a large battery bank, although still leaps and bounds safer than
the monopoly's AC electricity, having been transformed into smaller
micro battery banks, just made battery
power even safer.
Imagine this scenario:
You have an impressive power bank supplying energy to all the appliances
in your home. Nice.
However, if one solitary cell should go bad in that power bank, your
entire house is thrown into an unreliable state.
Let's say for instance that one of your appliances, a large inverter for
example, went bad due to having a short. That solitary short can
potentially affect your entire bank's energy, hence your entire home's
Whereas a micro battery bank is easier to troubleshoot, easier to remedy,
and it doesn't take down your entire home!
If one of my battery banks ever incurs some unforeseen problem, it
shouldn't require a great undertaking to not only identify early on
(before the damage), but also, in a pinch, I can always jump the load to
another battery bank while the problem is figured out.
Whereas in a large battery bank situation, If something should fail, I now
am reduced to entering the danger zone of the large battery's potential
energy, but then what? Troubleshooting could go on for hours in an attempt
to locate the underlying problem.
Furthermore, if the micro battery bank happens to be a 12v bank, in a
pinch a bus, car, tractor, or other emergency boost could be expedient to
bring up the battery bank in time of need.
In closing (I'm about to drop a jewel so listen up), for those of you that are off-grid and finding it difficult to maintain your 12v battery bank or the items that require 12v, here's a trick:
I'll give a recent example of what happened and then I'll explain how to remedy the problem if it ever occurs to you.
During those times of limited sun and wind, your battery banks may become low. DO NOT KEEP GOING IN THAT DIRECTION. If you see your battery banks at 12.4v and there's no forecasted sun, or if you find out too late and need to sever loads to save the batteries, then this trick will help anyone with multiple battery banks.
12v battery banks can become a nuisance at times due mostly when powering higher voltage items or even 12v items with a high amp draw.
48v battery banks however offer some stability in that it takes more to draw them down (since they're already closer to the 120v inverter goal).
The 12v loads here were in jeapardy of being completely turned off to save a battery bank. I didn't want the items turned off because they were mostly cameras, microphones, DVR, lights, speakers (basically the entire 12v loads in the entire building).
PROJECT HACKADOODLE DOO
1.) Grab a computer power supply (they're common in most desktop computers).
2.) Cut all the connectors leaving only the wires (discard the connectors or save them for reconnection later).
3.) Gather up all the yellow wires (these will be your 12v power wires) and tie them all together after first stripping the ends about 1" or so).
4.) Now locate the solitary green wire and twist it with one of the black wires (tape those two together).
5.) Gather all the other remaining black wires and do the same as the yellow wires (by stripping and twisting the ends together).
6.) ALL OTHER WIRES CAN BE INDIVIDUALLY TAPED AND ARE NOT NEEDED HERE.
You just built a stable 12v power supply (now hook the black group of wires to your negative busbar and the yellow to the positive).
This will NOT charge your 12v battery bank so leave the battery bank out of the loop using your quick disconnect or breaker disconnect. The power supply you just built replaces the battery and runs off your 48v inverter (if you have a 48v battery bank) or if using shore-power, just plug in as you normally would (a wall socket).
Warning, NEVER have a charge controller in the loop either, temporarily disconnect it and the battery bank (let them rest and enjoy your 12v appliances without taxing the 12v system).
****IF ANYONE IS SQUEEMISH AROUND ELECTRICITY OR WOULD PREFER TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY 12V POWER SUPPLY BUILT FOR THEM, CONTACT ME AND I'LL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO BUILD ONE FOR YOU.
Cost including power supply is $55.00 and not a gerbil less.
You have concluded Tip # 6 of the Off-Grid Battery Bank Tips
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