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    • The, oft unspoken and overlooked, downside to using a generator is their atrocious power quality. Honda are, marginally, better in creating a pure sine wave AC output but, generators are notoriously inefficient at producing clean AC. The quality of power is even worse as the generator begins to idle down and run out of fuel. Power spikes, dips, harmonics, and noise are all symptoms of generator use.

      Dirty power supplied to solid-state electronic devices and their associated batteries has a detrimental effect on their longevity.

      Basically, there are three types of sine waves used in the power conversion/inversion industry;

      Pure Sine Wave

      Modified sine Wave

      Square Wave

      Looks like the Goal Zero Yeti 150 uses a modified Sine wave
      -AC inverter (output, modified sine wave): 110V, 60Hz, 0.7A (80W continuous, 160W surge max)

      -Oddly though, their Yeti 400 is Pure Sine Wave AC inverter (output, 60Hz, pure sine wave): 110V, 2.6A (300W continuous, 600W surge max)

      Honda eu1000i generators just state "sine wave" with no real clarification on type... even though they use an image of a pure sine wave (highly skeptical)

    • I hear ya, wrt the downsides of the genset. It's definitely out of place if you're set up at the bottom of a climbing route. But I would say aim to keep your power requirements low, if those are the intended locations, and then maybe the 400 wh options might suffice, yielding a relatively compact and light 16 lbs or so of portage.

      The other half of the conversation, though, is power generation. If you don't intend to be sleeping besides a power outlet, and if the intent is to go solar, then what size solar panel is sufficient for replenishing the storage unit? Boulder 200 panels are HUGE. I have boulder 50s, which are fairly compact, but you do suffer some additional loss in transport due to the additional wiring, daisy chaining smaller panels, versus a single large panel. IMO, you need at least four boulder 50s to charge up a 400wh storage unit, giving a rough charge time of like 6 hours. That's a decent balance.

    • Good point, and the reason I kinda drool over the goal zero stuff. Their 2nd gen stuff is built with the better inverters. Their first gen stuff...a little more basic. I believe the Yeti 150 you saw was the first-gen product. I noticed that the Midland product is also specified as "Pure-Sine, 400W".

    • Very likely... also, most current electronic AC connection cables have a transformer/switching DC converter attached in-line. Those are also affected by poor AC supply, as their job is to down-convert the AC into a lower voltage DC for the device. The "quality" of electronic components in those wall-worts is never as high as what's in the actual device.

    • I had no idea generators dedicated to producing AC power do it that poorly.

      Years ago, I found this blog post so interesting. It dissects why the Apple iPhone Charger is so expensive. It comes down to the same reasons the Goal Zero might be more costly. It can filter dirty power into a steady output with voltage protection. You pay extra money for the longevity of the batteries you're charging.

      Oddly though, their Yeti 400 is Pure Sine Wave

      Yeti 150 - $200 / 150Wh = 1.3 $/Wh
      Yeti 400 - $600 / 400Wh = 1.5 $/Wh

      I wonder if that's why cost per Wh is more on the Yeti 400. For more than twice the Wh, I'd assume you'd get a price break per Wh not a hike.

    • The Yeti 150 is first gen 12 lb Sealed Lead Acid for $200.
      The Yeti 400 comes in first gen ( 29 lb ) SLA flavor for $450 or 2nd gen (16 lb) Li-Ion for $600. You were comparing the 150 SLA to the 400 Li-Ion. There's a big uptick in the cost of Li-Ion versus SLA energy storage. But the upsides are huge too. Half the weight, for one. Handles full drawdown without killing the battery. No top end limitations, so it handles surge power draws (like refrigerators...power tools...jump starters) way better.

    • Thanks for the correction. Despite being an extra $150, the Li-Ion seems like the deal.

      Might be a crazy question, but I'll ask anyway: can any of these batteries jump start a car? Currently, I drive with a jump start battery. One less thing to bring if I don't need one.

    • Keep in mind that, currently, there is no sustainable method to recycle/recoup the materials in Li-Ion batteries. The chemistries of these battery types varies wildly and they can be manufactured for very specific applications, based on ambient temperature ranges, capacity, tolerance to discharges, cell structure, etc... nearly 180 degrees from industry-standard battery composition and chemistry. Even when I attend BattCon, there is not as much interest in the Li-Ion applications for industrial sites vs. VLA, AGM, etc...

      They're fine for UPS applications where fast switch-over sites are critical, but far too unpredictable and fault-prone to act as standby power for substations, etc...

    • See, a substation has the luxury of cheap real estate. Weight of the system is immaterial. It's stationary. Lead is cheap. And you've got the space to store it. Real estate even solves the deep draw issues... Just keep throwing capacity at the problem and pair it with a big enough generator and you won't have deep draw issues. The only downside to lead acid when you've a stationary application is it's longevity.

      When I looked into what it would take to replicate a Tesla power wall I found that I could probably come out ahead with a bank of 24 lead acid 2v cells. Hooked up to a 48v smart controller

    • If I recall correctly the answer is no... Not so much because the battery can't do it, but because a high draw DC output is not one of the supported output ports. You have a cigarette lighter, a couple of USB ports, and the 120v ac inverter Port. Neither the USB not cig port support high draw. To jump a car, you'd need to add a high draw dc circuit, likely an Anderson power pole connector to clamps on 12 gauge. Personally I keep a dedicated battery onboard for jumpstart duty and wouldn't replace it with a multi tasker like this. Its role is to be always charged, always in the car. For the purpose of high readiness posture, that means dedicated equipment, and a maintenance routine you stick to.

    • This, and the fact that portable battery banks with jump-start cables are fairly inexpensive. Just a bonus that they double as a backup power source for electronics. I wouldn't want to carry one into the backcountry though.

    • Just posting this as an example to the varying chemistry types of Li-Ion batteries and how they can be manipulated for specific applications. This is an exhibit from one of the papers published for the last BattCon I attended in 2016.

    • So, I dug around a little, trying to find out more deets on the Anker Powerhouse hardware. A few points to call out. Out of the box, I think it'll need a little tweak to play nicely with solar kits.

      The DC input is spec'd at 16-17V/6A, coming in over a round plug. I hope it's not *that* tight in actuality, as solar output tends to vary a bit. They didn't specify the size of the round plug, but one reviewer noted 7.5mm That 16-17V/6A range is a little narrow, but should still play nicely with a Renogy solar panel, cranking out 17V usable, on a bright day. You may need to roll your own round plug adapter, to get the solar output into their round plug receptacle (FYI, goal zero's plugs are standardized around 8mm round plugs, or Anderson Power Poles for their higher amp inputs). The 6A input is a little skimpy, so don't expect to throw tons more solar panels at this thing, in hopes of recharging faster. One 100W panel is about what this will be happy with.

      Also, FYI, some dude who goes by the handle "SonarTech" did a teardown in the posted anker reviews of this thing. :D What caught my eye was that the battery is not user replaceable, and is basically integrated in such a way that this is basically a throw-away device, once one of the 32 internal batteries goes tits up. He did note outstandingly clean sine wave output from the inverter.

    • Ridge, what's the talk about Lithium battery disposal? I've worried for a long time that it's going to poison our water table but I asked Google and Google didn't seem to know much about it. However, the world seems to be taking a dim view of the environmental aspects of Nickel mining, which are essential to the batteries.

    • I cannot fully articulate the process of disposal as well as the authorities on the subject. I maintain a topical following of the stationary battery industry as it directly correlates and integrates with the DC power products of my company but I'm not a battery professional.

      That said; I'll quote another one of the exhibit papers from that conference that summarized the comparisons/contrasts between Li-Ion and LA batteries.

      If you want a full PDF of the presentation, I'd be happy to email a copy.


      Currently, lithium-ion batteries are generally recycled like consumer and cellular phone batteries. The major focus during the recycling process is the conductive electrode material (copper) and cell container (steel), as well as the active material (nickel and cobalt). Cobalt, like nickel and lead are mainly driven by the material prices for those metals when it comes to recycling. Lithium, however, drops mostly as a slag and is added at best case as a concrete additive hardener for cement or is processed in the glass industry. Realistically, a traditional recycling for the lithium-ion battery industry does not exist. Therefore, in the case of lithium recycling, it can’t be spoken about as a closed raw-material recirculation. The recycling process itself (metallurgical or electro-chemical) is not cost neutral and the cost cannot be fully covered by the recovered materials from the lithium-ion cells.

      Due to the ambitious plans of the automobile industry for electric mobility (BEV, PHEV), we should not lose sight of the fact that the lithium raw material is the most important raw material for future demand. In view of the chronicled uncertainty of lithium supply and the lack of optimized recycling procedures, energy storage cases above 1 kWh may remain a challenge for the future. What is needed is to develop new recycling procedures (e.g., wet-chemical procedures) in order to secure the future of lithium based energy storage.

      Further, it is very challenging to define one single basis for the recycling process due to the different cell chemistries of lithium-ion cells. In each case an individual solution has to be agreed upon between the customer and recycling partner (see Figure 10) to find a reasonable recycling process that focuses on the materials requirements while at the end reduces the price for the processing."

    • There more I learn about the efficacy and yield of our recycling programs the more disillusioned I get about them. I feel like the public has been sold a false narrative about how capable we are when in actuality the yield is quite low and our ability to handle single-stream processing is pretty pathetic.

    • I've believed that for a while.

      In the end, so much human activity is guided by cost benefit, with cost the dominant partner. Altruism generally takes a back seat to economics.

      So we won't recycle until materials become so rare (which means, mined into extinction) and their cost so high that recycling them makes financial sense.

      The environment takes a back seat in this equation. We don't respond until there's a crisis. It's in our DNA, as far as I can figure. Humans are built this way.

      For me, it explains our approach to climate change. Until the economics make sense there will be no sense of urgency, no matter how obvious the impending scenario is. We have difficulty planning for anything beyond immediate, urgent stimuli.

      Sorry for the hijack, oh men and women of batterycon.