Monday, August 01, 2005


New batteries arrive

An ABF freight truck arrived about 10:30 this morning. With the help of Doug, an neighborhood teenager, we got the batteries off of the truck and into the basement.

A little bit of battery electrolyte was spilled in getting the batteries off of the truck (no loading dock, no forklift--just a scrawny teenager and a middle-age guy with a bad back). I cleaned them off carefully before we moved them to the basement. I called Rolls-Surrette to ask how best to recover the lost electrolyte. They said I should go the the auto parts store and buy some 1.265 sulfuric acid--same as they use in the battery. I'll restore all the cells to their full level once the batteries are in place (in the battery box that Rick is building for me). After they're refilled, I will only add distilled water as needed--the acid itself doesn't evaporate.

I'm not sure why Rolls ships the batteries wet. It would seem both safer and easier to ship them dry, and add the electrolyte on site. The batteries are heavy enough dry!

I'm excited about the new batteries. The system really doesn't work well at all with very-low capacity batteries. My electric bill for the last month was actually HIGHER than last year! (Yes, that was depressing.) But I was trying to see how much power I could get out of the shingles, so I turned lots of things on. Then, when the sun went behind a cloud, the batteries quickly discharged and the system switched to the grid. It also provided basically zero power for night-time loads. In addition, some extra power was used in doing the project--power tools, lights and fans in the attic, etc. The new batteries should enable me to match the solar energy with the loads properly--I hope I can get at least one zero-kilowatt electric bill before winter arrives.

More soon!

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