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Gitter Done!
2,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The problem with living off grid is you do have generator problems, run out of gas at the worst times, freeze ups as gas lines freeze, bad gas, or it needs repairs. Solar doesn't charge well during winter.

Solar is a nice way to charge batteries, but the sun doesn't always shine.

Wind is great too, if you get enough wind.

Hooking up a 12 volt automotive battery to your cars battery with jumper cables and let the vehicle idle for an hour will charge up most 12 volt car batteries. Its great for emergencies, but only once in a while. Been there, done that. It works.

So there are a few other ways to charge up those batteries.

Micro hydro power or water wheels and you can build them or buy them. These give power anytime you need it and a simple $20 charge controller will keep your batteries topped off. If you have a stream. In Winter the stream freezes.

DIY hydro power

Foot pedal power. Laughable or not, gilligans island had it worked out. Yet today we can get more powerful generators and low RPM generators to hook up to any bicycle. Even a motor from a ceiling fan can be converted to work as a generator and through a cheap charge controller will charge up your battery. I have even seen people hook up the motor from a treadmill and use it to charge batteries, instead of using it to power the treadmill. Gives them a workout. Many ideas on youtube. It can keep the kids busy too. The more they pedal their bike the more they can watch movies.

A pretty cool 6 in one unit comes with several ways to get power, but I don't know how well it works. Prices start at $200. More research on the company needs to be done.

Salt water 12 volt battery
These are pretty cool, in fact I built several salt water batteries over the years. Even sold a couple. Easy side money if you need a job.

Build your own salt water battery. These do not need charging.
These produce their own power.
Now you can build a salt water battery fairly easy for emergency power or to trickle charge a standard 12 volt automotive battery. The salt battery is old as the mining days from several hundred years ago in africa, but unless you read mining history you wouldn't believe it.
To make your own, find a bad car battery and empty the acid out in a 5 gallon bucket and try not to get any on your skin or clothes. I wear gloves and old clothes because I always end up with a few drops on me, but nothing serious. Add water and baking soda to the acid to neutralize it so you can dump it and its safe to dump after its been neutralized. Then make a gallon of baking soda and water and dump in each cell of the battery. Let it sizzle for a while and dump out, then do it again till you see no more sizzling bubbles. Then take a gallon of fresh water and dump in each cell and wiggle the battery then dump that out in the bucket.
Now mix another gallon of water and epson salt or sea salt (even table salt) and make it like a brine with lots of salt, but still able to be poured as a liquid into the cells. Then add a teaspoon of any kind of vinegar to each cell. This adds more power to it, like octane to gasoline. Leave the caps off each cell so it can breath. Its completely safe and environmentally friendly now.
Since the plates in the battery will slowly be eaten away (mostly the lead oxide) it will take several weeks depending on the quality of the battery. Some plates are thinner than others, but it should last over a week easily.
These put out several amps at 12 volts and with a small charge controller you can trickle charge a battery in 24 hours or use the battery to run portable radios, charge laptops, charge cell phones, charge small batteries with a 12 charger, run LED 12 volt lights or use a small inverter to run AC LED lights.
It will also run a small TV with a DVD player. It won't run a full sized computer since that's too much wattage, but several salt batteries together might.
When it loses power in its last phase or dries out, add more water and another teaspoon of vinegar. You can do this until it only has lessthan 12 volts and then you have to change the battery plates. To do this I cut open the battery and desolder the plates with a MAPP gas burner. Then install a copper tube and an aluminum tube in each cell and drill holes in the top for each tube. Put it back together with the metal tubes sticking out the top and wire them to make 12 volts. Or for more Amps you can wire it for 6 volts and tie two batteries together to make 12 volts again. Your choice.
The copper and aluminum rods (any two metals really) or tubes take longer to be eaten away so you just keep adding water and vinegar as it dries out and you have emergency power. When its not needed, empty it out and let it dry. Store in the closet or shed till its needed again. Emergency power for anywhere at any time. Plus after SHTF there will be plenty of abandoned vehicles sitting around that will have batteries.
NEVER hook a salt water battery to a charger. It produces its own galvanic electricity and doesn't need charging.
Stock up on cheap salt and vinegar, some copper and aluminum tubing and odd bits of wire, a cheap charge controller with an inverter and you are set.
Plus its a great trade or barter item.
I use my salt water batteries quite often this year and its even sitting in my living room. No harmful odors. It runs my LED lights and charges my laptop or cell phone. Who wants to go put gas in the generator when it cold out and I am already for bed. Easy to stumble over and flip the inverter switch to run lights till I am ready to go to bed. This also saves my other batteries. They are my main power that runs the cooler, but its nice to save on energy.
The past thinking was those salt water batteries are great for emergencies, but I am finding them to be more useful than just for emergencies. Its really fun to use, even if its a constant thought of how long will they run and how much power can I get out of them. Just test them and see, if its too much them you know the limits. I have a few larger megatrons I want to convert to salt so they might give me more power, but hey its cheap or kinda free energy as it keeps on shoving it out.


Gitter Done!
2,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part two

More ways to charge a battery.

Thermoelectec Peltier power. TEC
These things are cool as well. Not only are they used to make things cool, they can produce power when heated. Place over a fire or wood stove and get 12 volts to charge a battery at 60 watts. Prices are cheap too. There are some setups you can buy, but you can make your own too.

PDF Division/TEC/ThermoElectric Battery Chargers - PGI-TEC.pdf

Plus youtube has how to videos on making your own peltier chargers.

Gitter Done!
2,864 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here is a link for a ceiling fan generator as a wind mill, but can can be used in other ways.

Using the gilligan generator idea can provide a charge to a battery bank with either a rectifier diode - zener diode setup or using a cheap solar charge controller to prevent over charging.

I also like the sterling engine, thanks for posting that.
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