By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO
In March of 2022, I wrote this article about renewable energy. I experimented with both solar and wind energy to drive our Malibu lights in the front of the house and by our shed.
Both systems worked well, but solar suffered when covered with snow and the turbine didn’t turn when there was little wind. I sometimes had to put the batteries on a charger to get through the night.
Long Winter Nights
Anyone who lives in Northeast Wisconsin can tell you that Winter nights get very long. We also get many cloudy days in a row. I hated this when I was working and commuting to De Pere while working for a large health insurance company. Like many working folks, I would get up in the dark and drive home in the dark.
All this darkness causes stress on solar battery systems as they are stretched to the limit supplying power to 10 LED Malibu lights all night long.
One night I noticed that the front Malibu’s were completely out. I went into the basement and saw that the battery controller display was completely blank. I thought, no problem, I will just charge the battery with a smart charger. When I put on the charger the display was still blank and the charger indicated that the battery would not take a charge.
I have a completely dead battery on my hands. Now these batteries have battery management systems (BMS) and are supposed to last for years. The controller is also supposed to prevent over-discharging and over-charging.
So I spent a few minutes late at night substituting the battery with a 12 volt power supply that had the necessary amperage. I used some alligator clips and bell wire to attach the positive and negative connections.
Looks like I can’t return or even contact the vendor of the Lossigy 12 Volt 15 Amp LIFEPO4 battery either although it was only in use for 13 months. Batteries of this type are plentiful on Amazon (made in China) and often claim 10 years of life. Not true.
Old Battery Comparison
Over 10 years ago, I bought 2 K-2 12 Volt 7 Amp LIFEPO4 batteries to drive my CurrieTech eZip Trailz E-Bike. Yes, once again I was an early adopter. Now, E-Bikes are everywhere.
The eZip came with a side saddle battery pack like the above picture. Lead acid batteries are quite heavy and only can take you so far on a charge. By contrast, LIFEPO4 batteries are half the weight and take you twice as far. When the lead acid batteries started to fail, I rebuilt the battery pack with the K-2 batteries. I was very happy with the bike until the back wheel broke under the torque of the chain wheel drive motor. No repair parts were available for the eZip, so the battery pack was unused for a year or so.
When I started building the Wind Turbine system, I thought I might be able to reuse these batteries and, fortunately, they are working out great.
It does make me wonder, however, if the Lossigy batteries are just poorly made as they lasted one 10th of the time of the K-2s.
Solar and Wind powered energy is achievable, but has its limits due to weather conditions. Battery technology has improved over time and will continue to improve, but is not as environmentally friendly as we are led to believe. Not all LIFEPO4 batteries are created the same and will vary in how long they last.