Ham Radio's Role in California Outages?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W2JKT, Oct 9, 2019.

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  1. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Refrigerators have a huge start up current, but the ones that I have draw less than 200 W once they have started. They do run a lot!

    I pity the people running generators. My father-in-law ran a whole house generator during a hurricane, spent $300 in propane in three days........ according to him.

    Just to run our field day effort with a 5 kW load, ran about three dollars an hour in gasoline. So it somewhat fits.

    Meanwhile, I have eight or 9 kW of solar, make money off of it year in and year out, and have to look out the windows to figure out if the power went out sometimes.

    We do not have the big air conditioning units running off it yet, but we do have smaller units.

    Solar is a make money proposition. Generators are a lose money proposition Although my system is not completely RF quiet it is quite reasonable and I manage to run 24hour servers

    Seller continues to get cheaper and cheaper, and batteries if you don’t use them constantly, are not that much money at all... my neighbors use up most of my access within 300 yards Run power in and out of batteries every day: most expensive electricity!!!
  2. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    A few numbers to chew on.

    I have $8000 in batteries, gives me roughly 38 kWh of stored energy. ( For longevity you prefer not to dip more than 19 kWh )

    We have a large house, with three refrigerators or freezers that have to be fed.

    Once a month, I intentionally disconnect AC and run that portion of the house overnight on the batteries. Sometimes I even let the well pump run and irrigate an acre or more. Somewhere maybe 2000 gallons. Our older air conditioners cannot start up on the solar, but our newer air conditioner in one portion does.

    That generally pulls my system down to 50% discharged.

    It charges up before 1pm the next day from the sun.

    The makers of the lead acid simple batteries that I purchased, rolls, tell me they recommended that I do this once a month

    I expect well over 1000 cycles out of these batteries, but nobody will guarantee their batteries more than seven years. So I just take the chance, but I think you can see that I will not nearly live long enough to run these batteries out!!!

    My return on investment taxes considered, was around 6% Day in, day out.

    How much work you have to do: Once every three months I take distilled water and fill up a ton of cells. They make a special filler for that that stops when the level hits the right part, so it’s very very simple. It takes about 20 minutes and it is smarter to take a camp stool with you, or your back will hurt

    And after filling water, I hit a button to do something called equalize for one hour, and it basically boils the system to redistribute the acid properly, shuts down automatically and switches back to normal mode

    For this modest amount of effort, every three months, I make at least 50% of my electricity most months, and I can live basically forever without the utility if I had to.

    It was cheaper than some of the electric cars that people sell. And I paid somebody to install the whole thing, turn key

    Meanwhile my truck just passed 250,000 miles and it still going strong, and it is probably the lowest mileage vehicle I have. ( my wife has a newer vehicle ). I prefer to invest in things that make money rather than things that lose money

    Different strokes for different folks! But knowing the actual numbers and making economic choices isn’t that difficult.
    KX4O likes this.
  3. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    OK, 4 KW is a very large array, however charging an electric car is a very useful, and worthwhile way to use solar if you can leave your car sit all day. Unfortunately, all of the people I know who own Tesla EV's work during the day and charge their cars at night.

    I suppose if you are retired then it is a very good deal, as long as you don't want to go very far. I am only familiar with the Tesla model 3, looking into one for myself, and I know that it takes about 8 hours form a NEMA 14-50 220V outlet to get 80 percent. Anyway, It seems like the investment of 12 to 15 $K is going to take 10 to 15 years to amortize before you begin actually seeing real savings.

    For now at least, solar is still not very cost effective, not for me at least, and the associated costs of reinforcing the roof to accommodate such a large array add to the cost. There are expensive batteries, and the power invertor and charging systems also have to be factored into the cost. I'll just plug my car in at night and eat the cost of electricity, which is still very low compared to gasoline.
    N0TZU likes this.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually, stuff like the Tesla Power Wall work pretty well. Li-Ion batteries configured in arrangements up to about 6kVA deliverable and can actually run a whole house (maybe not powerful central air conditioning, but pretty much everything else) for many hours; if powering only essentials like a fridge or two, a TV or two, a few lamps and stuff like that it can last more than a week. They hang on an outside wall in a weatherproof, vented enclosure and become part of the system. They're also "guaranteed" for ten years, full replacement value, not anything pro-rated.

    The Power Wall we ordered to go with our solar panel system isn't terribly cheap nor lightweight; I think it weighs 250 lbs or so, but they hang it on an outside wall so I don't care. They're pretty popular around here.

    But I understand why the new construction regulation requiring solar panels does not include batteries -- I'm sure that's an "option" if you're buying a new home, but I understand it's not standard.
  5. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    No, because it isn't true. ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2019
  6. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a big 'standard' sized refrigerator (18cft?) and it draws about 130 watts when it runs. A chest freezer pulls about the same and hardly ever runs. The fridge will draw 330w during the defrost cycle but that is so erratic its hard to say how often that happens. It will draw 600+ watts briefly when starting up from warm.
    My home solar system is quite small but I generate about 4kwh/day. I'm not a big consumer anyway so that leaves me paying for about 200 kwh/month.
    235AH @ 24v of batteries which doesn't do a whole lot for backing up but I put this system in after Maria so as to never be caught with ZERO power for months on end. At least I can have power during the day and enough for a fan at night!
    I'm a member of a local facebook group and there are plenty of guys powering fairly large homes with multiple a/c units, etc and selling all their excess to the power company. Some of these guys are cranking out >75kwh/day with a home system.
    KA4DPO likes this.
  7. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    All I know is, the cost of a large solar array, batteries, charging and power invertor and management system is very high and takes years to amortize. The most useful purpose I can see for solar is to provide supplemental power for AC systems during peak summer months, Air conditioning is normally the single largest cost of residential electricity, especially during peak hours and peak months.

    I also know a lot about lithium ion, and lithium graphene batteries, I have bunches of them from .5 mah to 10 amp hour. Lithium batteries can discharge safely up to about 20C but that drains them very quickly. In order to run an average refrigerator, assuming a modern, energy efficient refrigerator, it takes around one amp continuous at 110 volts for roughly 12 hours during the winter months, or 7 to 9 hours during non sunlight hours. That is approximately 7 to 9KVA, not taking into account the conversion loss between the batteries and invertor circuit.

    Also, Lithium batteries can't be fully discharged, far from it. A single Li-ion cell is around 4.25 volts fully charged and can only be discharged to roughly 3.25 volts before the current drops like a rock. Additionally, Li-ion cells are normally charged at one C, they can be charged faster but they get much hotter, and their lifespan is shortened. So I'm sure the home packs that you described are charged at around 3 C, this means they will probably be good for 3 to 5 years, not much more than that.

    The power wall you described will not last a week, it will barely last for a single day without recharging.
    N0TZU likes this.
  8. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Let’s look at a typical investment. Something that most people think would beat solar.

    Put $10,000 into a 30 year treasury bond. Ycharts says they are giving 2.2%

    Assuming normal inflation, at the end of the 30 years you get back $5000 in current worth. +6600 in interest along the way or at the end, but given inflation, that was probably only worth about 4000. So you gave someone else your money for 30 years and you got back $9000 in today’s money. A loss of about $1000.

    Put your money into solar equipment The panels degrade at 1% per year. I can’t guarantee you that your electronics will still work at the end of 30 years I can’t guarantee you but it’s very likely if you are careful with the batteries they will still work at the end of 30 years if you only use them as insurance. ( like me ).

    I make $1400 worth of electricity every year. My return on investment every year is somewhere in the range of 6% because I don’t have to pay any taxes on income to get the electricity that I make. 4% is probably reasonable if you have no taxes. Not certain what your gear will be worth at the end of 30 years, but there is a reasonable chance it will still be producing electricity, or else you can replace it for 1/4 of the price you paid. In those 30 years I will get a bunch of money back through my electricity savings

    As part of my portfolio, it is a hedge against taxes and against energy costs. Compared with a guaranteed loss in treasury bonds it looks like a pretty good deal to me.

    Now somebody tell me what the “payback time” is when they get their money back from investing in a treasury bond. I think it is “forever”, When looked at in real dollar term

    Maybe I missed something in which case someone will helpfully point it out.

    We have electricity come rain or shine, come hurricane, power outage —-doesn’t matter ; none of our food spoils, we always have electricity. Not true for most of our neighbors We loan out generators
  9. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Solar is definitely not for everybody!

    I have friends who live on completely shaded lots or have no real place to put any solar. Obviously solar isn’t for them.

    I needed a pole barn for my tractor and maybe a place to put my old boat and some gardening equipment. I did not want to damage my neighbors view by putting solar panels on my roof even though they will make the shingles last longer. They aren’t terribly pretty of course at least not the ones I could get

    I paid a ton of money and property taxes and I don’t want to pay anymore! So putting up a pole barn was prohibitively expensive due to the long-term taxes, over the years it would’ve cost me more in taxes than the barn

    Enter the solar panel guy to our kitchen table. “ I can build you a ground mount solar panel system that is 14 feet tall.”

    The architectural committee will never allow it “ Solar has protection and your architectural committee cannot stop it “

    The taxes will kill me! “Solar is protected and I cannot increase your property tax for installing this ground mount system “

    The boat either cost me $1000 a year to store or else everything on it had to be replaced periodically due to sun damage. If you want to leave a tractor out in the rain, better buy a old cheap one!!

    Then he started showing me my return on investment. It wasn’t as good as the stock market, but it was far better guaranteed and it was equal or better than Bonds.

    Where do I sign? And when can you start??

    That was five years ago. The tractor is happy, the boat is happy, the gardening equipment is happy, and we’ve made it through quite a few “events” when our neighbors couldn’t keep their food cold ......and we had no problem.

    Cheap insurance! 700 ft.² of solar panels get you 7 to 9 kW of power

    There’s a fellow up the road who installed his, direct inversion, no batteries....

    When the power goes out, his house is dark Not a good choice I think
    K6CLS likes this.
  10. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    What about night?

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