Solar/battery powered inverter generators.

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Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
682
Branford, CT
A couple manufacturers have battery powered inverter backup power units now. This one by jackery is interesting with a 1800w continuous and 3600 peak sine wave output. You can use solar panels, grid power or your car to recharge it. Looks like a great little unit to keep the fridge running and some lights and electronics on. The fact you can just bring it inside is nice. I have a Harbor Freight inverter gas generator but this unit would be great for plugging in the fridge over night. My fridge only uses 70 watts running. I did some math and this unit would keep my fridge going for a really long time with its 1500/wh capacity.

Jacker-Explorer-plus-solar-panels.jpg
 
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Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,123
Newport, Wa
Yikes $1500 and battery is very small. Sure if you don't have much demand for Electricity. Capacity: 1488.2Wh. My Inverter has two 100ah Batteries hooked up (200ah). It will run my Pellet stove (Harmon XXV) for 12 hours appx. This rig is about 12ah Battery. This will run my Pellet stove about 3/4 hour. For the price you would be better with Inverter Generator and Propane. Or Inverter Charger and Couple of 100W Panels. (AIMS 1250 is $467) It's only $120 for Solar Panel to charge battery. Amazon product
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,123
Newport, Wa
I don't buy your 80w Refrigerator specs. What do you have? Dorm Model? Open your refrigerator and look for a sticker that lists technical specifications. Find the voltage and amperage of the refrigerator; for instance, you may see "115 V" and "6.5 amps." Multiplying these two numbers tells you how many watts your refrigerator uses -- in this case, 747.5 watts. Smaller refrigerators typically use about 350 watts, while larger models use as much as 780 watts.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,712
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
If you're going to go with a setup like that, might as well go with a grid connected system so the solar panels are in use all the time, with a battery for backup.

I have a generator for camping anyway, I can't justify also buying a battery just in case the power goes out, much easier to keep a can of gas or 2 on hand.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,712
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I don't buy your 80w Refrigerator specs. What do you have? Dorm Model? Open your refrigerator and look for a sticker that lists technical specifications. Find the voltage and amperage of the refrigerator; for instance, you may see "115 V" and "6.5 amps." Multiplying these two numbers tells you how many watts your refrigerator uses -- in this case, 747.5 watts. Smaller refrigerators typically use about 350 watts, while larger models use as much as 780 watts.

Depends on the model, I have an LG fridge with an inverter driven linear compressor, it pulls 100 watts when running, but it runs a lot longer than most fridges. Mine only hits the peak amperage when the heating elements kick on inside the fridge for the defrost cycle.

Here's my current house consumption, this is my fridge compressor running, a 65" QLED tv on, my laptop on, and the blower for my stove running:

Screenshot (139).png
 
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Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
682
Branford, CT
I don't buy your 80w Refrigerator specs. What do you have? Dorm Model? Open your refrigerator and look for a sticker that lists technical specifications. Find the voltage and amperage of the refrigerator; for instance, you may see "115 V" and "6.5 amps." Multiplying these two numbers tells you how many watts your refrigerator uses -- in this case, 747.5 watts. Smaller refrigerators typically use about 350 watts, while larger models use as much as 780 watts.

I have a 8 year old basic white GE 20 cu ft fridge. I used a killawatt plug in electric meter to measure it. It uses 70 watts when the compressor is running. I just bought a chest freezer at Home Depot a few months ago and measured that as well and it uses 40 watts when running. I guess if you have some huge fancy double door stainless fridge they would use a few hundred watts. A basic fridge/freezer uses little power.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,696
Northern NH
Be aware that most plug in wattmeters are notorious for not catching surge loads on startup. I see that the generator has surge capability. As long as an owner leaves some headroom on the connected loads they should be fine.

This is not a new idea, just repackaged and repromoted. Xantrex has been selling this unit for years https://www.altestore.com/store/por...werpack-1500-portable-backup-powerpack-p2066/ It can accept 12 volt PV panels.

I am a bit confused on their panel pricing. They list $300 for quantity four panels. If that is four 100 watt panels its a great deal but my guess is its quantity four 25 watt connected panels. That is decidedly pricey but the convenience and durability may be worth it to some.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,089
Downeast Maine
Depends on the model, I have an LG fridge with an inverter driven linear compressor, it pulls 100 watts when running, but it runs a lot longer than most fridges. Mine only hits the peak amperage when the heating elements kick on inside the fridge for the defrost cycle.

Here's my current house consumption, this is my fridge compressor running, a 65" QLED tv on, my laptop on, and the blower for my stove running:

View attachment 277377

We have been thinking about a new refrigerator for a while, and I didn't know about inverter fridges. My plan was to convert a chest freezer, but this might be pretty close in energy use with more convenience.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,696
Northern NH
Last time I looked, inverter refrigerators in the US are hard to find.
 

Solarguy3500

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2020
252
Western MA
I don't buy your 80w Refrigerator specs. What do you have? Dorm Model? Open your refrigerator and look for a sticker that lists technical specifications. Find the voltage and amperage of the refrigerator; for instance, you may see "115 V" and "6.5 amps." Multiplying these two numbers tells you how many watts your refrigerator uses -- in this case, 747.5 watts. Smaller refrigerators typically use about 350 watts, while larger models use as much as 780 watts.

At the risk of contributing to thread drift, I just wanted to add a screenshot from my Curb energy monitor to help illustrate the relatively low consumption of a fridge. I was always under the impression too that a fridge used 650-750W until I got the energy monitor with individual circuit level monitoring. Mine uses 120-140W running. It is not a new, super efficient one. It's a Fisher and Paykel from the early 2000s that was in the house when we bought it, so I'm sure newer models use even less energy.
Screenshot_20210403-081849.png
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,712
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
We have been thinking about a new refrigerator for a while, and I didn't know about inverter fridges. My plan was to convert a chest freezer, but this might be pretty close in energy use with more convenience.

Fortunately/unfortunately LG no longer makes the inverter linear compressor, the reliability on them is far below that of a traditional fridge compressor. In fact LG just settled a large class action suit last year in regards to this, I believe it has something to do with check valve at the end of the compressor, eventually it fails and the compressor runs without pumping refrigerant. We've had our fridge for 4 years now though without any issues. When we bought I thought the compressor tech was cool, my wife liked that it was a massive double french door fridge with freezer on the bottom in stainless steel, but from what I remember the energy consumption rating wasn't much different than comparable models.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,218
SW Virginia
I have a 8 year old basic white GE 20 cu ft fridge. I used a killawatt plug in electric meter to measure it. It uses 70 watts when the compressor is running. I just bought a chest freezer at Home Depot a few months ago and measured that as well and it uses 40 watts when running. I guess if you have some huge fancy double door stainless fridge they would use a few hundred watts. A basic fridge/freezer uses little power.
I think the discrepancy between the numbers you and @Dataman and @Solarguy3500 are citing may be in the defrost system. It an electrical resistance heater that melts away frost from the interior freezer walls and runs periodically based on time or some other factor(s).
When running a fridge on backup power it would probably make sense to disable the defrost feature if your fridge offers that option. I believe ours does through the front control panel.
Side note: in many cases where a fridge is not cooling well the defrost relay is stuck in the engaged mode and the compressor is working full time to overcome the heating that results.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,089
Downeast Maine
I think the discrepancy between the numbers you and @Dataman and @Solarguy3500 are citing may be in the defrost system. It an electrical resistance heater that melts away frost from the interior freezer walls and runs periodically based on time or some other factor(s).
When running a fridge on backup power it would probably make sense to disable the defrost feature if your fridge offers that option. I believe ours does through the front control panel.
Side note: in many cases where a fridge is not cooling well the defrost relay is stuck in the engaged mode and the compressor is working full time to overcome the heating that results.

This may explain why the fridge that came with our house is so loud.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,784
SE PA
I have looked at these Jackery things over the years, and I have never pulled the trigger.

I don't like them being called 'inverter generators'... they are battery packs. And their runtime specs for different things always seemed overstated.

I have 'micro' solar system I put together for a kids science fair project like 10 years ago...a 60W panel and a 36 Ah AGM battery and small charge controller. Total cost today would be $100-150. Panel ziptied to roof, wire run inside to battery, 12V cigarette plug for auto accessories like USB and USB-C. It runs all our phones and in warm weather can recharge my laptop once a day too.

It seems the Jackery stuff is 3-4X as expensive for the capacity. If you want something like this, build it yourself from parts IMHO.

If you just want some cheapo backup power to keep phones/tablets charged, the price on solar PV to USB units has come down recently...

on a lark I bought: Amazon product

a rugged 28W foldable panel that can charge two USB devices (5V, 4A) at the same time. Now $56, not much more than a Li-ion battery pack. I have tested it out, and it matches its specs in less than ideal sun.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,696
Northern NH
I have looked at these Jackery things over the years, and I have never pulled the trigger.

I don't like them being called 'inverter generators'... they are battery packs. And their runtime specs for different things always seemed overstated.

I have 'micro' solar system I put together for a kids science fair project like 10 years ago...a 60W panel and a 36 Ah AGM battery and small charge controller. Total cost today would be $100-150. Panel ziptied to roof, wire run inside to battery, 12V cigarette plug for auto accessories like USB and USB-C. It runs all our phones and in warm weather can recharge my laptop once a day too.

It seems the Jackery stuff is 3-4X as expensive for the capacity. If you want something like this, build it yourself from parts IMHO.

If you just want some cheapo backup power to keep phones/tablets charged, the price on solar PV to USB units has come down recently...

on a lark I bought: Amazon product

a rugged 28W foldable panel that can charge two USB devices (5V, 4A) at the same time. Now $56, not much more than a Li-ion battery pack. I have tested it out, and it matches its specs in less than ideal sun.


Those US military surplus SEAL kits with the foldable panels and various electronics along with the crank generator on Ebay look to be something fun to play with. I just cant justify another toy.
 

Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
682
Branford, CT
The pricing on these units and lipo4 batteries has been dropping drastically and and I just bought the Bluetti EB3A solar generator on sale for $209. The battery capacity is low but the features of this unit are really impressive especially the battery management technology. Lipo4 batteries have a huge safety advantage and can go 3500 charge cycles and still deliver 80% of their capacity. That is 4 to 5 times better cycle life than standard lithium ion batteries.

I did some testing with this unit powering my chest freezer this past week in a simulated power loss situation. I connected a 200 watt solar panel to the built in mptt solar input and it ran almost all day without drawing from the battery untill the sun went down. This unit can accept a pass through charge on solar and its basically converting the solar input to sine wave ac even when battery is topped off.

Here are the specs on the unit. Again the battery capacity is low but this unit is perfect for running low load stuff like my wood insert fan (60 watts), chest freezer with no defrost (25 watts), tv, cable modem etc.

I also tested the fast charging to 80% in 40 mintues using both ac power and the solar and was impressed.
  • 600W AC Pure Sine Wave Inverter (1,200W surge);
  • 268Wh Capacity;
  • 430W Max. Fast Dual Charging (Solar+AC);
  • LiFePO4 Battery with 2,500+ Life Cycles to 80%;
  • 6 Ways to Recharge (AC/Solar/Car/Generator/AC+Solar/AC+Adapter);
  • 9 Outputs for Charging Multiple Devices at once;
  • Smart Control & Monitor in BLUETTI App;
  • 200W Max. Solar Input;


 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
20,016
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I think the energy revolution will be the result of better batteries.

Seems like a home battery could benefit the utility grid by charging during off peak times and discharging during peak hours (grid or local).

I like that you can charge them quickly with a gas generator and then cruise overnight on battery. Solar is another option but I’ve already got a handful of inverter gensets.

I could even backfeed my house with the battery through my generator interlock inlet. At night, grid down, lights and TV plus refrigeration would be nice and quiet with battery.

My refrigerator and freezer each run at about 100 watts. Surge loads at startup are momentarily higher but very brief. Standard 10-20 year old American full size stuff.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,696
Northern NH
Grid batteries or an incredibly well coordinated network of vehicle and home batteries are a major change to the power grid that really hasnt changed since it went to AC. There is currently a lot of power lost just moving it from centralized stations to the consumer, once the grid goes more distributed the peak demand drop off significantly and line losses are reduced as power is stored all over the grid. When I am pumping power into the grid, where its really going is into my non solar neighbors houses that otherwise would have to be supplied from the nearest power generator. My region of NH happens to be a net producer of renewable power (run of the river hydro, wind and 70 MW biomass plant) but in most areas power is coming from much farther away.
 

Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
682
Branford, CT
Grid batteries or an incredibly well coordinated network of vehicle and home batteries are a major change to the power grid that really hasnt changed since it went to AC. There is currently a lot of power lost just moving it from centralized stations to the consumer, once the grid goes more distributed the peak demand drop off significantly and line losses are reduced as power is stored all over the grid. When I am pumping power into the grid, where its really going is into my non solar neighbors houses that otherwise would have to be supplied from the nearest power generator. My region of NH happens to be a net producer of renewable power (run of the river hydro, wind and 70 MW biomass plant) but in most areas power is coming from much
I'm on net metered solar but with electricity prices close to .30 kwh here in CT/New England battery storage makes sense at the current costs.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,696
Northern NH
I have 54 KWhrs of FLA batteries but since I am a now on a grandfathered net metered solar rate, there is no incentive to dispatch them. Sadly I do not think NH is going to approve a rate structure to do battery dispatch that will be any more attractive for what I have now. So I just keep the batteries on float with desulpinators to keep the plates from building up. My next house build will most likely use the batteries and the associated electronics as that house will have to deal with watered down net metering tariffs.