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(Washington Post)   Batteries too far gone to run electric cars and would otherwise be scrapped, can be repurposed to power off-grid RVs   (washingtonpost.com) divider line
    More: Cool, Battery, Electric car, Battery electric vehicle, Automobile, Lithium, Lithium-ion battery, lithium batteries, Rechargeable battery  
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1173 clicks; posted to Business » and STEM » on 28 Feb 2021 at 1:35 AM (6 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2021-02-28 2:08:10 AM  
The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?
 
2021-02-28 2:10:14 AM  
We will still need to figure a recycling option, for when the ones currently being put in the RVs are being traded out for 'newer' batteries.  But this at least gives batteries more useful life between construction and recycling.

Interesting idea though, and by shifting from generator to solar+battery (plus his program to make sure the loads are at safe levels) it means the RV locations are much quieter
 
2021-02-28 2:12:52 AM  
Also batteries from cell towers.  They've got big lithium ion battery banks that get swapped out every few years when they go out of spec.  They're perfectly good for camping though.
 
2021-02-28 3:08:55 AM  

recombobulator: Also batteries from cell towers.  They've got big lithium ion battery banks that get swapped out every few years when they go out of spec.  They're perfectly good for camping though.


My buddy has one of those for his fishing boat to run his little 55lb thrust motor.  I think he is going on 7 years without charging it.
 
2021-02-28 3:10:25 AM  

zimbach: The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?


Kinda. Just think about it in terms of output. Even a big AC unit at like a restaurant pulls 7.5kW running full bore. A Nissan LEAF, one of the slowest EVs around, will need 35kW just to pull away from a light. Floor it and you're using 100kW easily. When that battery is too shiatty to satisfactorily run the car, it's still way more than enough for a house.
 
2021-02-28 3:52:18 AM  

zimbach: The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?


Not really, would you still be driving an EV when it only charges up to 20% of its original capacity?

How about 30%?

40%?

What if I told you 10% of a P100D is the total daily power consumption of my entire house with two occupants.

EVs will replace their batteries long before they're no longer able to push the vehicles, they just can't push the vehicles far enough to be useful, but that's still potentially multiple days worth of charge on a house.

The Tesla Powerwalls are like 13kWh. A P100D battery at 20% is almost double that. But it will likely be replaced closer to 40%.

And on a house scale, a full size Tesla P100D battery isn't that large, people still use Lead Acid in this environment.
 
2021-02-28 3:53:34 AM  
Also I didn't actually read the article, it won't even give the text without JavaScript and I CBF wading through what scripts they want.
 
2021-02-28 4:15:00 AM  
Hey! It is camping! It is just fun. No need to overthink it. Most of the fun is figuring out funky ways to do things, like a prepper, and then following through. One of my camping setups will be a simple 12 V system with about five or six LED bulbs strung together, and charged during the day from a few panels on a truck. You don't use batteries for heat or cooking or any of that, just for computers and lights. A very small rocket stove with forced air from a 5 W fan would be great for a hot tent in freezing weather.

These beaten up batteries are not going to be efficient. Are they going to be lighter than a propane "cassette" generator? No. They will be quiet, though. Can you charge them with solar panels? Probably not without a lot of engineering. Can you charge them up at a charge station? Probably. Some people will like using them.

Aftermarkets for used solar panels and EV batteries are likely to go first to applications that demand less efficiency, and eventually to markets that don't need efficiency at all, just effectiveness. People will get what they pay for, and like it.
 
2021-02-28 4:35:04 AM  

dyhchong: zimbach: The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?

Not really, would you still be driving an EV when it only charges up to 20% of its original capacity?

How about 30%?

40%?

What if I told you 10% of a P100D is the total daily power consumption of my entire house with two occupants.

EVs will replace their batteries long before they're no longer able to push the vehicles, they just can't push the vehicles far enough to be useful, but that's still potentially multiple days worth of charge on a house.

The Tesla Powerwalls are like 13kWh. A P100D battery at 20% is almost double that. But it will likely be replaced closer to 40%.

And on a house scale, a full size Tesla P100D battery isn't that large, people still use Lead Acid in this environment.


I'd been thinking of trying to save up to buy a powerwall to fit under my RV, to try to replace the generator which is noisy and pumps out carbon. Now I'm thinking forget powerwall, just buy old recycled batteries. Learn from this guy how to use them in my RV, then put some outside my house.
 
2021-02-28 4:48:31 AM  

2fardownthread: Hey! It is camping! It is just fun. No need to overthink it. Most of the fun is figuring out funky ways to do things, like a prepper, and then following through. One of my camping setups will be a simple 12 V system with about five or six LED bulbs strung together, and charged during the day from a few panels on a truck. You don't use batteries for heat or cooking or any of that, just for computers and lights. A very small rocket stove with forced air from a 5 W fan would be great for a hot tent in freezing weather.

These beaten up batteries are not going to be efficient. Are they going to be lighter than a propane "cassette" generator? No. They will be quiet, though. Can you charge them with solar panels? Probably not without a lot of engineering. Can you charge them up at a charge station? Probably. Some people will like using them.

Aftermarkets for used solar panels and EV batteries are likely to go first to applications that demand less efficiency, and eventually to markets that don't need efficiency at all, just effectiveness. People will get what they pay for, and like it.


Proponent of hydrogen cars pretends to be concerned about efficiency.
 
2021-02-28 4:52:12 AM  

leviosaurus: I'd been thinking of trying to save up to buy a powerwall to fit under my RV, to try to replace the generator which is noisy and pumps out carbon. Now I'm thinking forget powerwall, just buy old recycled batteries. Learn from this guy how to use them in my RV, then put some outside my house.


Get a first gen Leaf. They should be close to unusable, but still sporting 12KWh or so on their original 24KWh batteries.

From what I hear, old Leafs are dirt cheap in the US.
 
2021-02-28 6:42:41 AM  
So, great... he is repurposing lithium batteries. With homemade charge/discharge profiles running on some custom BMS. The pack I saw has exposed bus bars and janky alligator clips. Which, according to the article he is installing under the freaking BED in an RV. Let's assume he puts it into some kind of box. I still would not want to be sleeping on top of that potential firebomb.

I am all in favor of batteries and solar panels but the instantaneous power available across a short circuit or the potential for overcharging leading to a battery fire would make me want that ratty old pack somewhere far from where I sleep.
 
2021-02-28 7:12:33 AM  
Growing in Latin America, we always had this view of the US, the "Hollywood" view, with large houses with 2 cars in front and nice lawns. It is still kinda shocking for me to see shanty towns or favelas here in the US (which that "RV park" as judging by the pics in the article really is).
 
2021-02-28 8:24:14 AM  

zimbach: The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?


Yes, even my heatpump only draws 2 Kw.  A 60 kWh Model S battery at 80% would run my house for almost a week.
 
2021-02-28 8:51:41 AM  
I have seen a lot of these setups.

They run induction cooktops washer/dryer in the RV. Full sized refrigerators and freezers.

For charging it's usually 1500-2000w solar and a double or triple alternator on the engine.

I would love to build a schoolie with a model 3 battery some solar and alternator charging.
 
2021-02-28 9:43:51 AM  
I built a 5kwh battery backup in my house, use it as a UPS to keep critical loads like refigerator and internet/communication stuff going during power outages.

Right now it charges from the grid and can also charge from a gas generator, but I just ordered solar panels to keep it topped off.
 
2021-02-28 9:51:32 AM  
I see he has a sine wave inverter.  As these power packs become more common, I wonder when we'll see more household appliances build for DC power.  Why convert from battery DC to AC and then back to DC at the appliance?
 
2021-02-28 9:55:40 AM  
My son works for a company involved in "The Cloud". I assumed that "The Cloud" used the latest and greatest in computer equipment. Apparently they just buy the refurbished stuff we upgrade from.
 
2021-02-28 10:53:53 AM  
So, since this is America, when one of those battery packs burns up, which it will since it's a common failure mode, are they going to be able to sue Nissan for the original battery?   Because, this guy is not going to have any liability insurance.
 
2021-02-28 11:00:34 AM  

zimbach: The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?


Sort of....however you also are going to lose capacity on top of that along the way and will probably swap long before you notice that it doesn't give you as much oomph based on that.

However, those would be perfectly fine in a house for a while, even with the capacity dip, and typically in a house you aren't as space constrained as a car. so even if you needed a few more, many people could handle it.

Eventually though those would need to get swapped as capacity dips, the batteries outright fail, etc. So we should still be investing heavily on battery tech and refurbish\recycling capability for them.

The biggest issue is that there isn't a standard size. However its also not practical to have a standard size, because to a degree you need to build one around the other. If you are forced to build your car around what the battery is, it severely limits you to what your end result is. If you build the battery around the car, you have more options, but lose interoperability.

I think maybe getting manufactures to standardize around a few solutions would be great, but again, i imagine that would limit what kind of cars you churn out would be like.
 
2021-02-28 11:03:27 AM  

goodncold: I have seen a lot of these setups.

They run induction cooktops washer/dryer in the RV. Full sized refrigerators and freezers.

For charging it's usually 1500-2000w solar and a double or triple alternator on the engine.

I would love to build a schoolie with a model 3 battery some solar and alternator charging.


I see little solar and battery setups more and more when camping, but its still going to be hard to be able to deliver that result.

The counter to it is you can get a good, very quiet, very clean, gas generator that can do all of that and more for a fraction of the price and space requirements, and not have the same constraints.
 
2021-02-28 11:10:48 AM  
I can build an ebike that can do 40 mph for under $1000 so give me the batteries.
 
2021-02-28 11:10:56 AM  
and the other argument is if you are in an RV why are you using so much power? I mean i get it, it isn't the same lifestyle as camping, and we do have a little honda that we bring camping to make sure we can keep some basic electronics charged, but in an RV your biggest draw should just be your A/C, but i'd argue a good generator would do a better job at that. A modern TV takes next to no juice. You are in an RV so you can have a propane stove.

I mean, i GUESS a microwave or a blender or you roll with your stand mixer is your biggest issue outside the A/C?

Heat? I knew a few ski bums way back in the 90s that had vans\buses that they would live off the mountain on, and they got by just fine without fancy setups like that. Some extra blankets, a wood stove, good to go.
 
2021-02-28 11:13:12 AM  

SockMonkeyHolocaust: I can build an ebike that can do 40 mph for under $1000 so give me the batteries.


I've been shopping for one. Want to be able to take it to the train station on a hot day if i'm in a suit without getting all sweaty (decent sized hill between me and train both ways). Its pretty neat what the nicer ones can do.

I REALLY want to get a moped though. Wife won't let me. "Who do you think you are, Mackelmore?"
 
2021-02-28 11:20:19 AM  

LineNoise: goodncold: I have seen a lot of these setups.

They run induction cooktops washer/dryer in the RV. Full sized refrigerators and freezers.

For charging it's usually 1500-2000w solar and a double or triple alternator on the engine.

I would love to build a schoolie with a model 3 battery some solar and alternator charging.

I see little solar and battery setups more and more when camping, but its still going to be hard to be able to deliver that result.

The counter to it is you can get a good, very quiet, very clean, gas generator that can do all of that and more for a fraction of the price and space requirements, and not have the same constraints.


People who have decided that rv'ing is their life (no permanent home) want to run ac, big appliances.

There are more and more like that. Not to mention boondockers.

An 800watt alternator setup is better than a separate genset. And if the rv is diesel then no extra fuel to carry.

Propane has its drawbacks. Colder weather and you generate a lot of moisture in the living area. Electric cook tops are simple and safer.
So heating would be a diesel heater (again for one fuel type in board only) or in some cases a wood stove.

Let's say your parked in a beach in Mexico. Why burn fuel for a genset if the sun is there. And if you have a couple days of cloud you start up the engine and let the alternators charge the house bank.
 
2021-02-28 11:21:14 AM  

dyhchong: zimbach: The old batteries can't do the deep power cycle needed to turn the motors that push a car, but still hold a big enough charge for household uses. That's what it says, right?

Not really, would you still be driving an EV when it only charges up to 20% of its original capacity?

How about 30%?

40%?

What if I told you 10% of a P100D is the total daily power consumption of my entire house with two occupants.

EVs will replace their batteries long before they're no longer able to push the vehicles, they just can't push the vehicles far enough to be useful, but that's still potentially multiple days worth of charge on a house.

The Tesla Powerwalls are like 13kWh. A P100D battery at 20% is almost double that. But it will likely be replaced closer to 40%.

And on a house scale, a full size Tesla P100D battery isn't that large, people still use Lead Acid in this environment.


Point of order: it's not a Powerwall any more, it's called Tesla Wall Connector, because Tesla is Apple now.  20 minutes deciphering the instructions, 5 to install it and 2 hours playing wifi games to get it to chooch.
 
2021-02-28 11:53:06 AM  

goodncold: Let's say your parked in a beach in Mexico. Why burn fuel for a genset if the sun is there. And if you have a couple days of cloud you start up the engine and let the alternators charge the house bank.


No, right on, but i don't think that represents the majority of RV'ers. I'm not saying its a bad thing, i just think its a bit impractical for most people who are trying to be green but selectively ignore other aspects of stuff.

I'm all for EV's, hybrids, renewables, but it doesn't mean we should ignore some limitations where conventional stuff, AT THE MOMENT, is a better, and potentially greener solution.
 
2021-02-28 11:59:18 AM  

goodncold: An 800watt alternator setup is better than a separate genset. And if the rv is diesel then no extra fuel to carry.


What is it, like the new F150 has some absurd generating capacity as like a 1k option?
 
2021-02-28 12:01:44 PM  

LineNoise: goodncold: An 800watt alternator setup is better than a separate genset. And if the rv is diesel then no extra fuel to carry.

What is it, like the new F150 has some absurd generating capacity as like a 1k option?


I read that the f150 hybrid is a 7kw generator. Crazy!
 
2021-02-28 1:47:41 PM  

goodncold: LineNoise: goodncold: An 800watt alternator setup is better than a separate genset. And if the rv is diesel then no extra fuel to carry.

What is it, like the new F150 has some absurd generating capacity as like a 1k option?

I read that the f150 hybrid is a 7kw generator. Crazy!


And that is smart on ford's part, and kind of where we should be heading with some of this stuff. It encourages someone who otherwise would have turned their nose up at a hybrid\EV to go, "shiat, that would actually be really useful on the farm\jobsite\etc and save me from having to lug something else around, maintain it, etc."
 
2021-02-28 1:54:13 PM  
Another example....

When my lawn mower finally kicks, this year, probably next, i'll almost certainly get a battery powered one.

Now its not a green call, its just that its quieter, one less small engine i gotta deal with every year, and current tech will let me cut my lawn at this point on one set of batteries, which was my big holdout. I've been slowly swapping out the gas tools for battery stuff when it make sense, i find a deal, etc.

But that lawn mower will have its own dedicated set of batteries, not just because it might not be my current preferred cordless tool brand, but because its a lot harder on the batteries and i don't want it jacking up the ones I use for other stuff.

So now i have more batteries, i have an old lawn mower in the trash, my power that i'm charging them with isn't 100% green.....Is that the better call? Or is the better call if we care about the environment me getting a pretty clean new gas mower, or weedwacker, or whatever....Its really how you want to make your case right now.

Lawn mower wins out on convivence, even if its a little more expensive and a little worse for the environment short term, its less work for me to keep running, i can run it earlier and not have to worry if i bother my neighbors, etc. Its really how to make green work and get mainstream and into markets that would have otherwise turned their nose up on it.
 
2021-02-28 4:47:20 PM  

LineNoise: Another example....

When my lawn mower finally kicks, this year, probably next, i'll almost certainly get a battery powered one.

Now its not a green call, its just that its quieter, one less small engine i gotta deal with every year, and current tech will let me cut my lawn at this point on one set of batteries, which was my big holdout. I've been slowly swapping out the gas tools for battery stuff when it make sense, i find a deal, etc.

But that lawn mower will have its own dedicated set of batteries, not just because it might not be my current preferred cordless tool brand, but because its a lot harder on the batteries and i don't want it jacking up the ones I use for other stuff.

So now i have more batteries, i have an old lawn mower in the trash, my power that i'm charging them with isn't 100% green.....Is that the better call? Or is the better call if we care about the environment me getting a pretty clean new gas mower, or weedwacker, or whatever....Its really how you want to make your case right now.

Lawn mower wins out on convivence, even if its a little more expensive and a little worse for the environment short term, its less work for me to keep running, i can run it earlier and not have to worry if i bother my neighbors, etc. Its really how to make green work and get mainstream and into markets that would have otherwise turned their nose up on it.


I have an "EGO" lawn mower. It is battery powered. I've had it for 3 years and the swap out battery is fine. The smart charger isn't so smart, so I have to reset it every month or so.  But like other power tools, I got sucked into the EGO ecosystem, I now have a snowblower and a leaf blower. My one battery will still mow my suburban lawn. I can also clear my double driveway, sidewalk and the neighbors driveway and sidewalk on a single charge.

Big plus, it's electric so very little maintenance. It's quiet.  My tools are designed to fold up to store, since no oil or gas is stores upright against a wall.

The downsides.  The smart charger isn't. It will show a fully charged battery that is really 20% charged, unplug the charger plug it back in and it's fine and rapid charges in 40 minutes.  It's expensive. Mower with battery was close to $500.  But the snowblower (w/o battery)  was under $200 and blower was about $100. So adding new tools isn't to painful.
 
2021-02-28 4:51:36 PM  

LineNoise: Another example....

When my lawn mower finally kicks, this year, probably next, i'll almost certainly get a battery powered one.

Now its not a green call, its just that its quieter, one less small engine i gotta deal with every year, and current tech will let me cut my lawn at this point on one set of batteries, which was my big holdout. I've been slowly swapping out the gas tools for battery stuff when it make sense, i find a deal, etc.

But that lawn mower will have its own dedicated set of batteries, not just because it might not be my current preferred cordless tool brand, but because its a lot harder on the batteries and i don't want it jacking up the ones I use for other stuff.

So now i have more batteries, i have an old lawn mower in the trash, my power that i'm charging them with isn't 100% green.....Is that the better call? Or is the better call if we care about the environment me getting a pretty clean new gas mower, or weedwacker, or whatever....Its really how you want to make your case right now.

Lawn mower wins out on convivence, even if its a little more expensive and a little worse for the environment short term, its less work for me to keep running, i can run it earlier and not have to worry if i bother my neighbors, etc. Its really how to make green work and get mainstream and into markets that would have otherwise turned their nose up on it.


Oh man, electric garden tools are awesome. I have a petrol and an electric corded chainsaw and the petrol can't hold a candle to the electric except for portability. And if I cut a tree badly, the chain will still pull from the mountains of torque it kicks out.

I have an orchard, and next I go up intend to just haul a 2.4KW generator around and take the electric with me.

The petrol one is smoky, and noisy, and heavy and has seized in the past. It switches off sometimes, and is exhausting to keep pulling on the cord. I have to keep a container of petrol mixed with 2-stroke oil that I can't use on anything else around.

The generator is 4-stroke, and it's still noisy, but that noise is several meters away from me at the end of the cord and I'm not having to lift it constantly.

Just got an 18V battery electric pole pruner with a hedge trimmer attachment and the hassle vs my petrol one is night and day. I'm never going back to petrol garden tools.
 
2021-02-28 6:31:24 PM  

caljar: So, since this is America, when one of those battery packs burns up, which it will since it's a common failure mode, are they going to be able to sue Nissan for the original battery?   Because, this guy is not going to have any liability insurance.


I flinched when I saw the pic of the installation in his own truck / van.  Yeesh, sitting on diamond-stamped sheet metal with more of the same going vertical behind it... no housing or electrical insulation around the battery.
 
2021-03-01 12:19:44 AM  

wingnut396: I see he has a sine wave inverter.  As these power packs become more common, I wonder when we'll see more household appliances build for DC power.  Why convert from battery DC to AC and then back to DC at the appliance?


DC is trickier to deal with, since the inductance in the wiring tends to work against you, so to speak.  The inductance is the tendency to resist changes to the flow of current, so if you have a fault it will basically cause the voltage to spike as it tries to keep the current flowing.  In AC this isn't as much of a problem, since the current is always changing (and goes to 0 every 8.3 ms, assuming 60 Hz), so it's easier to break a fault.  As a result, you need to use DC-rated breakers and switches.

If you try to do something like use 120 VDC in house wiring, this can be a problem.  Especially if it's connected to a source that can put out a lot of current, like a lithium battery.  You can use lower voltages, but then you're stuck with bigger wiring for the same amount of power.

That said, in some cases it makes sense, as long as you take the proper precautions.  For example, in a converted bus, it's probably not a bad idea to use some low voltage things, like 12 volt lighting.  I think 400 VDC distribution has also been looked at for data centers, because ATX power supplies even meant for AC can run on it directly.

It's also not as much of a problem if you have a self-contained application, like an electric car or a Powerwall, since the high voltage DC wiring is confined to a smaller area.  (Again, assuming you take precautions and don't do anything boneheaded to cut corners.)  In a house, yes, going to AC is an extra conversion step, but if the inverter is integrated with the battery you can get pretty good efficiency without a DC-DC step in there with it too.  (An inverter making 120 VAC from a 12 volt battery needs to step the voltage up to >170 VDC to make the peak of the sine wave, while one running from a high voltage battery wouldn't need to do that.)
 
2021-03-01 2:33:11 AM  

dyhchong: leviosaurus:
Get a first gen Leaf. They should be close to unusable, but still sporting 12KWh or so on their original 24KWh batteries.
From what I hear, old Leafs are dirt cheap in the US.


My sister has one she bought used. Its range was about 20 miles. It was really useful when her kids were at home, because it's good enough to get around town, grocery store, school, work. When they had to go to the bigger town 10 miles away, either they needed to charge it there or take the gasoline car instead.
 
2021-03-01 5:21:46 AM  

billstewart: dyhchong: leviosaurus:
Get a first gen Leaf. They should be close to unusable, but still sporting 12KWh or so on their original 24KWh batteries.
From what I hear, old Leafs are dirt cheap in the US.

My sister has one she bought used. Its range was about 20 miles. It was really useful when her kids were at home, because it's good enough to get around town, grocery store, school, work. When they had to go to the bigger town 10 miles away, either they needed to charge it there or take the gasoline car instead.


That's... an insanely degraded battery. You can get 4 or 5 miles per kWh pretty easily in a leaf. That battery must have been absolutely wrecked
 
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