Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
I'd like to relocate my battery bank and electronics, which are currently in the garage. Main problem with that location is it's at the far end of the house from the breaker panel (thus where all existing circuits run) and the locations where I use most of the power. I was going to run dedicated circuits around the house, but never got around to it...

So, at the other end of the house is the back room which is now my workroom / ham shack. It has a nice-size walk-in closet that is currently my "server room" (network switches, LAN punch blocks, a few servers). It is also where the original breaker panel for the house is located, although it is now just a junction box feeding the new breaker panel installed back-to-back on the outside wall of the house.

What I want to do is put the battery bank in this closet, enclosed in a box that's vented through the outside wall. I had originally thought to put them in a box outside, but inside would be a more stable temp and far more secure from tampering / theft. I also intend to go AGM next time, making the indoor location even less of an issue, but that is still (hopefully!) a few years yet.

Second idea is to mount the subpanel for my inverter and select a few existing house circuits to redirect to that panel (inside the old breaker panel - now - pullbox). That way I don't have to run my own dedicated circuits around the house, and if/when I decide to move it's quick and easy to put everything back the way it was.

See anything seriously wrong with these ideas?

I know there's an NEC rule against putting breaker panels (and I'd assume other electrical items) in bedroom closets - thus why the new breaker panel was installed on the outside of the house. However, while I'm in the house this will never be a bedroom - although I'm not sure if that matters. If/when I move all of this would be removed and things returned to "normal".

Comments

  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    Instead of ripping everything out of the garage and relocating it to the far end of the house, why not leave it where it is and run the output from your inverter/s to the far end and feed a panel there? Don't know the whole story, but from what I can imagine, it would make sense to me.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!
    Instead of ripping everything out of the garage and relocating it to the far end of the house, why not leave it where it is and run the output from your inverter/s to the far end and feed a panel there? Don't know the whole story, but from what I can imagine, it would make sense to me.

    that sounds easier, but he wants the batteries in that closet for theft and weather reasons too and that would not work out to run the dc lines back to the garage just to keep the inverters there.

    personally, i think wayne is right that it is simpler to keep everything in the garage and pipe it back to that breaker panel in the closet. maybe add some type of alarm to the garage that goes off inside the house to alert you right away. it is difficult for me to say what is actually better as i can't see this totally clear in my mind, but i understand your want to have it closer in and more secure. maybe keep it in the garage until you get the agms in a few years and then you wouldn't need the vent hole popped into the wall if you still want to put it in the house by that time.:confused:
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    Hah! Now see, this is why I ask things like this! :)

    All the possible scenarios I'd run, the one I hadn't thought about was just moving the subpanel to the back room. That has merit. The only real issue is I would require a couple of long runs of fairly hefty cable, one to power the inverter and one to feed back to the subpanel. With everything in the back room, the runs are very short. Have to see how much the wire would cost...

    Niel, the garage is attached to the house and is secure. (At least, if they're in the garage then they're in the house too!) The only security issue I had was if I were to move the batteries to a box outside the back of the house, feeding in to the electronics in the back closet. The garage location is "okay", but I could certainly use the space taken up by the batteries, inverter and other stuff for more garage-type stuff and activities. The closet tends to just fill with spare computer parts so isn't such valuable space to me! :)

    The garage does tend to have pretty good temp swings summer to winter, but still isn't as bad as actually being outside would be.
  • FullpowerFullpower Solar Expert Posts: 69 ✭✭
    Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    DIG.
    Dig a pit, behind the house.
    Mine is 10 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 6 feet deep.
    build a small treated plywood shed, drop it in the hole, and lay some pallets in the bottom.
    then, put your batteries,disconnects, inverters, charge controllers, breaker panels, metering EQ, etc in the bunker, run all the solar panel leads in, and the main feed out to your house, put some lights, and a door on, insulate if climate requires, and there you go, you now have an " Electron Bunker"
    nice quiet, cool place ofr the batteries.. no charging battery fumes in the house, if it all goes kablooey,, your house is left standing, handy place to store all your distilled water, hydrometers, cable crimping tools, and the battery logs.
    You can even put the back-up generators inside, or adjacent to the battery bunker, for most efficient charging, and easy connection.
    Kind of like your own, self contained electric utility.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!
    RandomJoe wrote: »
    The only real issue is I would require a couple of long runs of fairly hefty cable, one to power the inverter and one to feed back to the subpanel. With everything in the back room, the runs are very short. Have to see how much the wire would cost...

    Do you use a lot of DC directly from the batteries? Or is AC mostly what you use to run things?
    Reason asking, it would work far better to leave the inverter at the battery location and run only an AC line from the inverter to your new sub panel location. Running long DC cables from one end of the house to the other, to feed your inverter is going to be very, to extremely expensive, and even with the biggest cable you can get your hands on, is likely to introduce huge losses. I was assuming that your end loads were all, or mostly 120 Volt AC, again trying to picture your situation and comparing it with mine. All my batteries/inverters etc are located in an outside solar shed, 100 feet from the house, and except for a couple of small items totaling 1 to 3 amps DC, all my loads are AC. Thus my wire sizes can be kept "normal" and losses very small. I call it my solar shed, because it's south wall supports my solar panels.
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    Sorry, I think I'm confusing you a bit! I meant "long AC lines" before, my system is "semi-grid" - I have the inverter plugged into grid power, which normally feeds the subpanel and optionally can charge the batteries if I haven't had sun in a while.

    So if I leave the inverter and batteries in the garage, I will need to run a 3-conductor cable (H-N-G) from the main breaker panel to the inverter's AC IN, then another cable from AC OUT back to the subpanel. Right now I have the inverter simply plugged in to an outlet in the garage, but of course I can't draw all the current it's capable of that way - just haven't gotten around to finishing the job, a bad habit I have with personal projects once they're up and (at least basically) running.

    Considerably cheaper to wire that than the DC side, but still pricey. If I move everything to the back, those runs go from maybe 40 feet each to perhaps 6 feet!

    Not sure I want to go to the trouble of digging an underground bunker! In the space I have available to do that, aside from all kinds of tree roots I'd be running into all the utilities - power, gas, sewer, CATV and phone lines all run through that area. It would certainly be a nice idea if/when I get my "dream home" - big acreage out away from town where I can build to suit from scratch... Perhaps, one day... :cool:
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!
    RandomJoe wrote: »
    just haven't gotten around to finishing the job, a bad habit I have with personal projects once they're up and (at least basically) running.

    Not sure I want to go to the trouble of digging an underground bunker!

    Haha Believe me, you're not alone in not properly finishing personal projects. Sometimes I wonder if ti's the story of my life :p

    Re the underground bunker - - - don't forget their tendency to fill with water from time to time. If a proper drain, perhaps tied into the house basement drain (if a basement exists) can't be worked out, then a sump pump will be required, and those suckers do love to drain batteries. :p
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,053 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    So what do you consider hefty cable? 240 vac or 120 ac. My home has #2 aluminum for 240 ac about 40 ft and wasn,t too bad. Didn,t bankrupt me. :Dsolarvic:D
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    Depends on the amperage it will be carrying, as well as the voltage. The higher the amperage, the larger the wire size is required to prevent overheating of the wire and power losses. All the more important at low voltage (12 volt for example) because the voltage loss can be a huge % of the original available.
    For example, loose 10 volts out of 220 and it doesn't mean a lot, but loose that same 10 volts off a 12 volt system and what do you have left?
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,053 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Relocating batteries and electronics - sanity check!

    Random joe was talking about running ac from house to inverter in garage to pass thru inverter and chatge battery, also wireing back to house from inverter. Seems to me that aluminum wire plenty good for that purpose and lots easier than moving his batterys and inverter to house. My daughter built an all electric home with a utility feed of aluminum wire. What just about what everyone around here uses. shouldn,t have voltage drop if proper size wire is used. :Dsolarvic:D
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