Welcome to our first publication of
hope you had a good Christmas and a happy new year and would like
welcome new subscribers who have recently
This month we continue looking at ways of
generating DC power from another free
source, the sun. Whilst solar panels are not the most
available, in sufficient numbers a
considerable amount of electrical energy can be
generated if enough cells are linked
together. We'll show you how to get the best
performance from a typical solar
the most overlooked aspects of any installation is the ability to
see what the
is doing as a whole. Without appropriate monitoring, the
working perfectly or on the verge of catastrophic failure. Some
form of continuous
measurement is required for reliable
operation and voltage or current monitors are
way of solving this problem.
you enjoy reading this months issue and wish
you a prosperous new
Editor: Alan Fidler.
Alan is the owner and manager of CBC
Design, a leading battery management company
based in the UK. He has worked in the
industry for over seventeen years and has designed charging
equipment and battery monitors for some of the world largest
ARTICLE: Solar Power Cells. Author: Alan Fidler.
panels can be an effective way of generating FREE power from the
source, the sun. In some areas of the world where the sun shines
solar can be the main contributor to power
Unfortunately, solar panels are extremely
inefficient converting less that 10% of the
energy into useable electrical power although recent
developments have increased
figure to approximately 16%. Even so, this still leaves a whopping
84% of untapped
power and it is for this reason that panels tend to be rather
Hopefully, there will be further
developments in solar technology that will enable
wasted heat to be converted into electricity. Peltier pump devices
so it may be possible to reverse this
function, combine the two elements and greatly
the energy output of a typical solar panel. Time will
typical 12V 500mA (0.5A) panel measures 360mm x 285mm x 17mm and
700 grams. They can be wired in series to increase the output
to increase the output current. A typical installation would consist
of a series
configuration designed to harness as much energy as required.
Panels vary in price from approx
$80.00 for a 12W panel up to $700.00 for a 120W
since many have a life expectancy of over 25 years they can,
over time not only recoup
initial purchase price but save money too.
Installation methods vary from rooftop
layouts to ground based motorised assemblies.
systems incorporate solar tracking technology that moves the panel
so it harness as much power as possible. Solar panels work best when
at the sun and solar tracking devices make sure the panel is always
alignment with it for maximum
are interested in generating your own electrical supplies and you
live in an area
the sun shines regularly, solar panels may be an ideal solution.
energy in California is now at an all time high. Clearly, solar is a
and best of all, it's FREE. As the demand for panels increases,
prices will fall
eventually, we may all be able to generate our own supplies
your local wind and sun energy store and discuss your solar
expert. Many suppliers have a wealth of experience from which they
upon to design the perfect system for your individual needs, making
best performance from the outset.
panels are not cheap so don't be tempted to buy the first unit
your time, research the subject in full, talk to as many
experts and end users
possible and you should be able to construct a near perfect
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ARTICLE: Voltage Monitoring. Author: Alan
a reliable DC supply in unattended applications can
be almost impossible
the system as a whole from a remote location
can be achieved.
Fortunately, there are a number of
manufacturers who produce a variety of voltage
current monitors that make the above quite straight
Acid batteries need to be maintained within a given
voltage band of around
1.75-2.25 volts per cell from
fully discharged to a fully charged state.
it is imperative that the batteries are
inspected regularly either locally or
remotely to make sure they are neither
under-charged, over-charged or left in a
discharged condition for any length of
monitors are the best way to measure the battery since they can
configured as High Voltage or Low Voltage
monitors or a combination of the two.
Volts Monitor will alarm should the battery voltage rise above a
whilst a Low Volts Monitor makes sure the
batteries are not over discharged.
voltage monitors can also be used to disconnect loads from the
the cells from deep discharge.
industrial grade monitors include two pole changeover relay contacts
indication via telemetry, fault detection to relay de-energisation
false signals during an engine crank for example, and local led
monitors are generally used to measure the performance of the
assembly. In all charging conditions,
including trickle, a small amount of current
be delivered to the battery to compensate for self discharge. A
if the current flow drops below a pre-determined minimum and
as charge failure, current monitors are also ideal where critical
be permanently energised. The monitor measures the current flow
critical appliance and alarms if it drops below a safe
leakage monitors do exactly what there name suggests. They alarm if
from either pole of the DC installation to earth, an important
element of design
industrial and marine applications. They normally include a volt
remote signals and status led indicators.
complicated alarms are available for semi attended applications
or boats. High or Low Battery alarms can monitor the battery and
voltage rises above or falls below a safe limit and sound
an on-board siren or
Regardless of price and sophistication,
most voltage & current monitors are fully
adjustable to allow the user to compensate
for volts drops in cables or semi
conductors such as diodes
installed in series with the loads.
final point: Which ever monitor you use, make sure it is fitted
number of installations I have visited over the last
ten years or so that failed
result of a total lack of monitoring is high. I have
even visited a site where
were included with a charging system but never
wired to remote annunciators
initial failure was never detected and the result was
destroyed batteries. Unwired
are a waste of money, time and power. Fit them
properly or not at all.
many of us must seem destined to learn the hard way and will end up
batteries that could have easily been
protected for an extra ten or twenty dollars. To use
analogy, nobody builds a stable without
doors since the consequences are obvious.
Similarly, it is not
cost effective to install batteries
costing anything from tens to hundreds
dollars only to end up replacing them a year or two
early because we cut corners.
and/or current monitors give us peace of mind and
can extend the life of an
Remember: Look after your batteries and
your batteries will look after you!
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and inexpensive to
Designed to protect batteries in cars, trucks, boats
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Questions from Graham Pickering! What does "C/10" mean?
Battery capacities, i.e. how much energy
they contain is expressed
an amp hour rating. C/10 is the capacity of the battery in a 10
period. A 100AH battery has a C/10
rating of approx 8A.
Question 2! How should a battery be sized for a given application?
given discharge current can be drawn from a battery to a
end of discharge voltage. If a 10A load was
required within a given
voltage range of 21-27 volts DC, a battery
with a 100A rating down
to 1.75 Volts per cell will be required. In
practice an allowance of
20% is given for self discharge and
temperature variations so a 120AH
battery would be the minimum
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