Geeks living off the grid are hard on batteries

Many of you will remember [Mikey Sklar] from the multitude of times he’s been on hackaday. What you may not have noticed is that he is an ubergeek, living off the grid.

He has Solar PV battery bank, three electric vehicles, a shipping container loaded with battery powered tools and a small army of iRobot Roomba’s for cleaning. Getting the maximum lifetime out of a battery by removing sulfation is essential to keep expenses down.

Keeping expenses down is nearly a full time job when trying to live the homestead lifestyle. Our current culture makes it extremely difficult to survive completely on self made/grown things and bartering. They seem to be doing pretty well though. One way he can reduce his costs while still getting to enjoy some modern gadgets is to get longer life out of his batteries.  He does this by using a capacitive battery charger and desolfator that he designed and affectionately calls “Da Pimp”. He also brings in a little bit of income by selling kits!

 A capacitive charger behaves like a constant current power supply dynamically adjusting the voltage to get over the batteries internal resistance. Plus there is a pulse from the AC/DC conversion. This allows for old batteries to last longer and for dumpster dived to be used as replacements. Capacitive chargers are small, silent and super efficent (up to 60% more so than cheap transformer based chargers).

Of course, [Mikey] is a supporter of sharing information so you can also go to his site and download the schematics,bill of materials, gerber files, and files for the housing,  to build one yourself.

Battery desulfator

mini-d

Hack a Day favorite [Mikey Sklar] is back with a new project. Mini-D is a battery desulfator. If a 12V lead-acid battery sits with a voltage below 12.3V, sulfur crystals will begin to form on the lead plates. This crystal growth increases the internal resistance and eventually makes the battery unusable. A battery desulfator sends high frequency pulses through the battery to create a resonance that will break up the crystals. On a 60lb automotive battery, it will take approximately three weeks to completely desulfate. You can find schematics plus a dozen lines of code for the ATmega169 on his site. Embedded below is a video where he explains the device and other techniques like load testing.

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