Batteries and Inverters

Batteries are an important part of alternative electrical systems for two reasons.

      First, because the systems often produce so little power, it is important to capture all the power they do produce so that one can have it available at a later time if it is not needed at the moment it is produced.

      Secondly, so little power is sometimes produced it is necessary to store it up until one has sufficient to use for the task they wish to undertake.

Banks of large batteries may be difficult to come by but there may be large quantities of automobile batteries about.

Below is a friend's large battery bank. In actuality he has a half dozen storage sheds with battery banks like this. The batteries require considerable maintenance, the water and acid levels needing to be checked and their charge needing to be replenished, even if they are just kept on standby.

A friend's large battery bank

Inverters
Batteries can be configured for different voltages depending on how they are wired together. It is possible to string out enough to get 110 volts off of them but generally they are used to run 12 volt systems. There are many twelve volt appliances about. They can be found in camping trailers and elsewhere. Also automobiles have a variety of twelve volt motors and devices that can be gotten out of them. The headlights, radios and so forth in automobiles can be used with any sufficiently large twelve volt battery system.

When it is absolutely necessary to convert from 12 to another voltage the device used is called an "inverter". The most common ones convert the power to 110 volts. The problem is that most of the smaller ones, the ones that are most available, and which are relatively inexpensive - costing presently in the one to two hundred dollar range, cannot deliver enough wattage to start pumps or run many household appliances.

Still, if one is fortunate to have an inverter they will probably find many uses that they can put it to. Otherwise, it is best to try to develop things like lighting sytems by cannibalizing vehicles for twelve volt sockets and bulbs that one can string together.