Mi-Grid Energy

Are Lithium Batteries safe?

Hardly a day goes by without a news article about Lithium batteries exploding. This makes many people wonder if they are safe. The answer is more complicated because lithium batteries are complicated.

First, there are many different kinds of lithium batteries. The actual chemistry can change between batteries. For a review of lithium batteries, take a look to “Battery University”, and the different chemistries. Some “flavors” of Lithium battery are less likely to cause issues, even with poorer quality or abuse. It is all about the proper design and implementation.  Here is a chart reprinted from Battery University of the Pros and Cons:

Reviewing those advantages and disadvantages, we have high capacity batteries that require special circuits to be safe. The lithium battery voltage requires the battery use an electrolyte other than water. Typically, organic solvents are used. If the cells break, they release flammable liquids. Finally, battery charging is different than a constant voltage systems typical of other batteries.

There are three sources of failure: 1) Poor quality cells. 2) Poor or missing battery management / protection circuits. 3) Poor quality charging system. ANY battery, lithium or not, will suffer from the same issues. The difference is the flammable solvent.

In many cases, it is a stack up of multiple issues. Knock off devices, like the look-a-like “Hoverboard” devices, have lower quality components and are almost never tested to US or international safety standards. Samsung tried squeezing a larger capacity battery, that one in one-hundred thousand didn’t fit quite right, causing failure when over charged.

So are they safe? When built by quality companies, used in quality equipment with quality chargers and tested, they usually are.

Power Gen International 2016

Tetra West and Mi-Grid will be in Orlando Next week (December 13-15, 2016) for the Power Generation International (PGI 2016). See us in the Texas booth, #4669

Mi-Grid is a Hybrid Solar Energy System, combining solar with energy storage and a backup generator. Mi-Grid makes renewable energy reliable! Grid-Tied, Off-Grid what-ever you need! Never lose power!

http://www.power-gen.com/index.html

 

Getting ready for a Hurricane – from Mi-Grid

I live in the Gulf Coast area and hurricane preparedness is extremely important. About every 10 years, my area is hit with a hurricane, tropical storm or other disasters. It is much more important to prepare ahead, than wait until the announcement by the weather forecasters.

Run or Hide?

The saying is run from the water, hide from the wind. It means if your area will flood, get out of there! If your area won’t flood, you can “hunker down”, protect yourself and generally stay in your area.

Run from the water. Flooding is no joke. There isn’t anything you can do except evacuate. If you are in a flood-prone area, your preparedness is to have an inland location in mind, and your irreplaceable items “ready” to go. Know your evacuation route. Consider side roads and county roads which the rest of the public are not familiar. Keep extra fuel handy since there is usually a run on fuel just before the storm. Be prepared with a few days of food and water, since it may take time to evacuate. Remember, there will be LOTS of other people, so it will take much more time to get out of your area than normal.

Hide from the wind. Most people should stay where they are. First, the roads will be clogged with the people who need to evacuate. People in areas which won’t flood do not need to leave. If they do, they make the evacuation routes worse. So stay if you are not in a flood-prone area.

What do you need if you will be in a place to stay?

Food, water, and shelter. Your house is generally enough for shelter. If you are inland, the winds may be strong, but they generally not high enough to destroy your house. Most serious damage is storm surge and flooding. You may consider boarding up windows. Focus on the south and east windows, as this is usually where the wind comes from. Also look around your yard and remove anything which the wind can move. If you have a pool, tables and chairs can go in the water.

Food and water. Most people think they need bottled water. The water that comes out of your tap is EXCELLENT. But the power may be out and the water pumps off. So store water. How? Trash cans. Buy new ones!!! And you might want to put line them with trash bags. You also want to fill bathtubs and have a small bucket for pouring into toilets for flushing. Just buy the trash cans early and store them away unused.

Food you have a lot of choices if you prepare ahead. You can buy survival food. Not super tasty, but it is better than nothing. You can buy canned food. If anything needs heat to prepare, make sure you have a portable stove and fuel. Have a minimum of 2 weeks of food for every person in the house. That is about how long it will take to get emergency systems in place!

One real issue is post hurricane. In many places, the power may be out for weeks. Many people use generators to help them through. Portable generators need fuel and long-term storage of enough liquid fuel for 2 weeks can be a problem. They are loud!

Permanently installed natural gas or propane generators are much better. They have a big fuel source and they are not as noisy as portable units. They do require maintenance, so be prepared to change oil and spark plugs every 100 hours or every 4 days!

The best solution is a hybrid solar system combining solar panels, energy storage and a generator. It provides the power you need with minimal use of the generator. And the solar panels will save you money the rest of the time!

For help with hurricane preparedness, contact Tetra West Technology and ask about a Mi-Grid!

Solar Power System: How To Convert RV To Solar Power

There has never been a better time to convert your RV to solar power. Going mobile into remote places, there are no hook ups for easy power. Solar Can provide your basic needs. And the price of solar has dropped to the point that it is easy to afford.

First things first

The most important thing to consider before self-powering your RV is energy efficiency. Every light bulb should be replaced with LEDs. All appliances should be selected for low power consumption. Anything that heats should be propane. It will cost less to replace energy efficient items than to power them with a bigger energy system

The Generator

Most boon-dockers use battery systems to power their essential needs. But they need to run a generator for the recharge the batteries. And to run larger appliances, the generator has to run all the time. This takes fuel and usually requires multiple fill-ups per day. And generators are noisy, possibly spoiling the whole reason for going remote.

Going Solar

A couple of solar panels, either hard mounted or setup when stopped, can recharge these basic battery systems. The typical system uses a charge controller between the battery and the panels. The charge controller disconnects the solar panels from the battery when they are full and at night. You are still limited to powering DC items.

Making AC power

The next step up is adding an inverter. Inverters take DC power, say from batteries, and convert it to AC power. This AC power, if the inverter is large enough, can power most of your AC needs, for example air conditioning. The issue with powering everything is the limit of the number of solar panels and the size of the batteries.

Getting it all together

What would be best is something that combines the best of each of the above. Solar to power DC and recharge batteries. An inverter to cover AC needs. And a generator for the times you need full power.

Tetra West Technology make Mi-Grid, a hybrid energy system. It combines solar panels, battery storage, inverter systems and a generator, all controlled by their patent pending energy management system. Solar panels supply DC power and recharge batteries during the day. The energy management system contains an inverter to power most of your AC appliances. And the automatically controlled generator starts up for large appliances and to re-charge the batteries if they get low.

And Mi-Grid is more affordable than you might think! Systems start at $4495 and include inverter / energy management system, high quality/long life deep cycle batteries and the automatic start generator. Solar panels are selected based on the configuration of your RV. Many models are available to match your needs.

Saves Time

When you’re out with your RV, playing with the generator is not top of the priority list. Mi-Grid allows you have full power, without the inconvenience of daily filling and weekly oil changes. Besides being messy and time consuming, the environmentally minded have to store the debris for proper disposal.

Saves money

Compared to running a generator alone, a typical Mi-Grid system reduces run-time and fuel consumption up to 90% or more. Generator refills become weekly events instead of multiple times per day. Reduced run reduces oil change, sparkplug and other maintenance activities, letting you enjoy your RV more. Finally, reduced run time extend the life of the generator. A Mi-Grid system can pay for itself in a little as 90 RV days!

For more details on how to convert RV to solar energy, please contact Tetra West Technology.

Solar Power System: Everything you need to know to add solar to your Food Truck

People living in the city are most likely to be familiar with the new trend of food trucks and their tasty fare, even though they have actually been around for years. With increasingly more people turning to the food truck industry for a cheap, quick meal and even at times a gourmet meal, patrons want a gourmet atmosphere. Emissions and noise from these gas guzzling generators can ruin that impression.

How can we now keep the power on our food trucks, while cutting the environmental impact?

The simple answer is to go solar. A lot of food truck vendors have discovered this, and are presently taking their local, sustainable and organic food job to the next level by using solar power. They aim to bring tasty, fresh, healthy and affordable food to the masses, and they are a more eco-friendly choice compared to several other fast food options.

Food trucks with solar power are presently taking a lead for several different reasons. A few include:

They are Cost-Saving

For many food truck operators solar is a cost-effective source of power. An average food truck owner operating on a traditional generator spends a minimum of $5 to $10 daily on fuel. There is also cost, labor and hassle in maintaining a generator. And the cost of replacement or repairing generators down the line can be costlier than installing solar panels. For a food truck operating 50 hours a week, the time for pay back can be as short as 9 months!

Traditional Food Trucks pollute the environment

The majority of food trucks operate on a diesel or gasoline generator that is specifically designed to run only a few hours. Operators tend to run them at a stretch for up to 14 hours, resulting in a high output of greenhouse-gas emissions, particulate matter, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. And the worst pollutant, is NOISE!

Considering the harmful effects, and the way solar power can offset operating costs, it is not difficult to see why solar food trucks are trending to solar. For more details on adding solar to food truck, contact [company name]

Off-Grid Solar Power System: Can I run my Air Conditioning too?

Several individuals have always considered off the grid and air conditioning never to belong in the same sentence, suggesting that you cannot have air conditioning off the grid.

The general response has been NO. Reasonably priced Off- grid solar power cannot run Air Conditioning. They are not powerful enough or the cost of a system is too great.

Mi-Grid is different. Mi-Grid is a hybrid solar energy system, combining battery storage PV solar with a backup generator. Even the smallest Mi-Grid can operate an Air Conditioner. The inverters and generators are sized to be able to start and run appropriately sized units. A tiny Mi-250 can run any 15 amp 110VAC window unit or even a 15,000 BTU/hr RV air conditioner. A Mi-Grid 4000, can run two 5-ton Air Conditioners with properly installed soft-starters.

The BEST choice for Air Conditioning is always a Mini-Split or inverter drive air conditioner. They require little startup power and are extremely efficient, reducing the amount of energy used for cooling. For the smaller Mi-Grid units, choose a 110VAC unit. For the Mi-Grid 1000 and up, 220VAC units can used.

Standard window air conditioning units can also be a good choice for the smaller Mi-Grid systems since they are 110VAC. Usually these are installed in bedrooms or small areas. 110VAC units work great with an essential circuits Mi-Grid. Get the most efficient one you can afford. Again, a mini-split is always best for your “essential” room.

Large whole house type Air Conditioning units can work with larger Mi-Grid units, especially with the addition of a small A/C soft start unit. The normal problem with running Air Conditioners is the power needed for startup. It can be as much as 5 times the operating power. A properly installed soft starter limits the starting power to only 50% over running power. This means a smaller inverter or generator can startup a larger air conditioner. And as always, get the most efficient one as possible.

One type of air conditioner/heat pump works extremely well with whole house Mi-Grid systems. Geothermal heat-pumps circulate coolant into the earth where year-round temperatures are far more moderate. This allows the heat pump to work much more efficiently and use much less power. Some of them have SEER’s between 40 and 50!!!

Mi-Grid can also be setup to provide power to all your essential circuits and outlets. High power circuits, for example air conditioners, are setup to only run with the generator. This allows the comfort of air conditioning while minimizing generator operation.

One final note: Insulation and shade. The cheapest way to keep cool is to not get hot in the first place. A shaded home/RV will use much less power. The more insulation, and the higher R-value insulation, the less heating or cooling you will need. And finally, cook outside in the summer. The less heat you add, the less air conditioning you need. Solar doesn’t work in the shade, but potable solar panels or ground mount arrays, can be placed in the sun with your house or RV in the shade.

You don’t have to give up comfort off-grid. Mi-Grid provides the power for everything.

Off-Grid Solar Power System: What can you power?

Solar panel systems are powering virtually anything you can imagine and most likely a number of other systems you were not even aware existed.

Presently, solar powered lighting systems are utilized for illuminating Streets, secured storage areas, Parking lots, pathways, business roadside signs and traffic control lights.

Offering both decorative accent lighting and functionality, solar lighting can now be used with motion sensors so that the light source switch on itself whenever they are triggered by intruder’s movement or visitors. And now, stairways and pathways that use to be dark in the evening can be lighted with solar lighting systems. Furthermore, a number of communication firms are making use of solar-powered systems with battery backups to power their communication towers in remote locations. In addition, solar powered systems that are coupled with battery backup systems enable homeowners to power their remote locations that are off-grid. Clinics and hospitals as well utilize them for emergency power backup systems, security alarm systems and medical refrigeration systems. Solar powers are also used for water well pumps in remote locations where power is not considered for grid supplied, businesses and homes. As a matter of fact, the use of solar power systems can only be limited by your resourcefulness and imagination.

Some cities across the globe are even making use of solar powered trash bins which compact the trash on scheduled time periods making better use of the capacity of these trash bins and reducing the frequency with which they need to be emptied again thereby saving thousands of dollars yearly in hourly personnel wage costs. Solar power can likewise be used to recharge gadgets from your mobile phones to laptops and it comes in a wide range of packages from handheld devices to backpacks with solar modules built into their clothing.

It is no longer news that solar energy manufacturers are making more modern devices that can be used daily and by so doing, enabling us to tremendously lower our reliance on the conventional carbon fuel produced electricity. Although these newly-developed devices and systems will come with a higher rate to cater for their R&D expenses, with the prices for solar modules already falling, it is not different from buying that new LCD TV set when it first enter the marketplace with the exception that these systems will save you money in the long run and ought to be taking seriously into consideration for your use and purchase.

Whole House vs. Essential Circuits

Mi-Grid is a hybrid solar energy system, combining battery storage PV solar with a backup generator. It can provide for all of your power needs, on-grid or off-grid, stationary or mobile, on-shore or off-shore. It can provide your power in times of emergency.

Mi-Grid can provide power two ways. Standard Mi-Grid systems are primarily solar powered. The solar PV panels collect power during the day. What isn’t used is stored in the batteries for use later. The solar is designed to provide average power needs, year-round. The generator provides backup power, in cases of low sunlight or a day of very high energy use.

The generator is sized to recharge the batteries only if they become discharged, running long enough to recharge and providing power at the same time. Generator control is automatic and switching is so fast you may never notice. Even using Air Conditioning in the summer, an appropriately sizes Mi-Grid will use about 1 hour of generator time per day. Some days more and some days, none at all. These Mi-Grids are designed to provide all day power, even Air Conditioning, at all times.

The other way Mi-Grid can work is to provide a smaller Mi-Grid system but a larger generator. Sometimes it is not possible to provide a full size Mi-Grid. This could be due to available space for solar panels or even cost issues. A small Mi-Grid provides essential power at all times and the generator powers larger systems as needed.

The electrical system is split into essential and intermittent. The essentials are powered by Mi-Grid’s inverter output. They never lose power. Intermittent systems are only provided power when the generator is running.

Essential systems include small 110VAC air conditioners, microwave oven, toaster over, small appliances, TVs, lights and ceiling fans. Basically, anything that is 110VAC. Depending on the size of the Mi-Grid, care may be necessary with what is run together. But most day to day items work are fine. For a regular house, small mini-split or window A/C units can be run at night in the bedrooms.

Intermittent systems include large 220VAC air conditioners, 220VAC appliances, electric stoves, electric ovens electric dryers and electric hot water heaters. With a larger Mi-Grid system, some of these systems could be placed in the essentials area. A manual switch is provided to start and stop the generator when the intermittent systems are desired. Mi-Grid still can start the generator if the batteries become low. And the intermittent systems can be used anytime the generator is running.

The Mi-Grid 250 and 500 are 110VAC. You have to use to generator for 220VAC systems. With the Mi-grid 1000 and up, 220VAC appliances can be in the essentials.

Save the world from Cow Farts!

Well, maybe solar can’t stop all greenhouse gasses. Renewable energy comes from all sorts of places. Landfills, cow manure and other places with organic decomposition produce methane, along with other gasses. Here’s an article about how California is trying to rid the world of these nasty gasses. Methane does have a much higher greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-climate-change-rules-on-cows-landfill-emissions/

OK, everyone raise their hands that tried to light a, uh, well, forget I brought it up. Let’s just say that, those gasses, can be flammable!

These “organic gasses” can be used to produce electricity. A gas turbine, basically a jet engine that sits on the ground, or a big reciprocating engine, like a car that doesn’t move, can take that explosive gas and burn it and turn a generator to make electricity. And if there isn’t enough hot air in the world, the hot exhaust from these engines can be used to make hot water or steam.

How exactly do you go from, well, bull crap to high value fuel? Very carefully! Click-on the illustration below

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It’s a dirty job and someone has to do it! And even better, Mi-Grid’s generator can run on these gasses! (Had to tie Mi-Grid in SOMEHOW!). See how a Mi-Grid can help you keep the lights while saving you money!

How does Mi-Grid Save 90% Fuel?

A generator running all the time is not very efficient.

Generators must be sized for maximum load, even if that load only lasts a tenth of a second. This is startup surge. Surge current is the bane of generators; generators must be sized for maxi-mum starting surge, like starting a motor or air conditioner. Electric motors can take up to 5 times operating power to start them. All regular loads plus surge loads must be added together to decide on the generator minimum size.

This means the generator runs most of the time at low loads. Look at the chart. At 25% load, over a gallon per hour is used just to run the generator, while about 1/3rd gallon is used to produce electricity.

Mi-Grid instead cycles the generator, using it only to re-charge the batteries as needed. The rest of the time the genera-tor is shut off.

For example: an RV air conditioner operates with 1650 Watts, but needs 4000 Watts to Start.
Over 24 hours, the AC runs on average 30% of the time. 70% of the time the generator is idle. A 4Kw generator may use over 7.4 gallons of fuel per day, producing only 12kWh of electricity.

If the generator runs only at full load (4000 Watts), it would need run only 3 hours to produce the 12kWh, using less than 2 gallons of fuel. Even with conversion losses (10% in and 10% loss out), there is a reduction by 60% fuel consumption, simply by running the generator at maximum load. To further reduce fuel consumption, add 1000 Watts of solar panels attached to the RV. The solar panels will produce 6.5 kWh of electricity per day.

This will further reduce the amount of power produced by the genera-tor to 5.5 kWh per day. The generator will run less than 1.5 hours per day using .55/gal per hour, or about 0.825 gallons. This example shows a reduction.