Are Lithium Batteries safe?

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

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!


Solar Power System: How To Convert RV To Solar Power

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

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?

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.

Mobile Energy Independence – Never Lose Power, Save More with Solar

Mobile Energy Independence – Never Lose Power, Save More with Solar

Hybrid Energy System
Energy management system combines power from multiple sources including: Solar, Utility Power, Energy Storage and Auto-starting Generator.

Power RVs, Food Trucks, Mobile Businesses and More
From 2kW to 8kW continuous pow-er, surge power for starting Air Conditioners, pumps and motors, 6kW to 16kW.

Solar Powered
50-80% power from Sun – even works on cloudy days. Solar and batteries supply power during the day. Switches to generator power once batteries are depleted. Generator runs 1-3 hours/day supplying power while recharging batteries, then shuts down, reducing fuel and noise. Solar panels charge even while driving.

Large Storage system
Inverter/Batteries can operate standalone for many hours, including air conditioning!

Fully Integrated system
Includes Energy Management system, Inverters, Charge Controllers, Transfer switches, Energy Storage, Outlets and Generator – Pre-packaged and tested assuring high quality.

Easy Installation
Solar panels and installation kits Available. Flexible Flat Panels kits for easy roof mounting.

Utility Recharge
Recharge batteries from Utility, when available.

Never Lose power
Seamless transition between sources. Power never goes out.

Saves Fuel
Generator fills in when renewable and utility sources are not sufficient. Operates at high power, running everything & recharging batteries. Shuts down when batteries full. Up to 90% savings versus traditional generators.

Reduced Maintenance
Mi-Grid generators typically run only a few of hours per day. Time before maintenance is significantly increased. Traditional mobile generators run all day. Inexpensive generators are loud and require constant maintenance, typically lasting only a season or two.

Independence. Go anywhere the road takes you. Always have pow-er. Save money. Less noise. Reduce or eliminate your carbon footprint.

Mi Grid Mobile Models and PricesRemote panel and remote generator start switch included. Generator delete option requires a self supplied remote start genera-tor, for example an ONAN. Mi-Grid 500 High power includes 220VAC.

Up to 4 flexible solar kits can be connected to a Mi-Grid.

Choose Predesigned configurations or customize for your application.

Options include NEMA4 or NEMA4X enclosures, special long life batteries, Wall Mounting, Air Conditioning and motor soft starters.