Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On Batteries


How do batteries work?

Until today my understanding had been confined to high-school lessons in physics: lead anodes, cathodes, and of charged electrons swimming through sulphuric acid.

Now an enquiry from a friend in Japan is beginning to improve my understanding of an essential device that has become so common place that we not only take it for granted but also miss out on the wide range of batteries in the market now.

Here is an interesting video produced by EngineerGuy - Bill Hammack, University of Illinois:



If you decide to move on from lead acid batteries, the videos take you tthrough other interesting stuff like - the various uses of copper, Qweerty vs. Drovak keyboard layouts, magnetrons in microwaves and the connection between nutmeg and tantalum (!).

Coming back to batteries, they now come in serveral types -  AGM or dry, deep cycle or solar batteries. Unlike automotive batteries which are designed to give out a big burst of energy to start the engine, the AGM/Deep Cycle/Solar batteries are designed to discharge over a long period of time.

This is quite useful when you want to have, say, a streetlight running on solar panels. The panels absorb energy during the day, and keep the roads lit up all night on a single charge.

What if the such energy could be stored to run power-hungry equipment like freezers, microwaves and flatscreens? How would that work?

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USEFUL LINKS

- AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery technology - http://www.solar-electric.com/agm-battery-technology.html/
- Running a microwave on a 12V battery - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeY4qE2afvU
- Winiversal Inverter - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZhrqvYBqCE

* Power Inverter FAQ - https://www.donrowe.com/power-inverter-faq-a/258.htm
- AMPS X 120 (AC voltage) = WATTS -- This formula yields a close approximation of the continuous load of the appliance
- WATTS X 2 = Starting Load
- Induction motors such as air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers and pumps may have a start up surge of 3 to 7 times the continuous rating.
- The auxiliary battery should be connected to the alternator through an isolator module to prevent the inverter from discharging the engine start battery when the engine is off.

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