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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.



 

Solar battery room

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Jeff,

I have been reading your articles on solar power and have decided to build a small battery room in the basement, as opposed to the battery box. However I am not certain about something and would like your advice. I will put the batteries on a treated plywood on upright 2×4’s floor in this 4′ x 7′ floor area room x 8′ ceiling height.

I am planning to run a vent from the wood furnace into the room to keep it at optimal temperature for battery performance. However I am not certain about how much venting to the outside is needed and won’t the vent to the outside also cause all the heat in the room to be lost?

Is there a one way valve of some kind that will allow fumes out but no cold air in? The furnace vent will provide fresh air as I am not going to have a cold air return from this room back to the furnace because of the battery fumes getting into the house air. Currently there are 8 batteries but there may be more batteries added in the future.

Your insight and advice in this matter will be greatly appreciated and hopefully will help other readers as well.

Sincerely,

John Mc Andrews

John:

We do not get into detail design advice for a specific application on this web site for obvious reasons, but I will pass along the following general guidelines for building a battery room. Under no condition would I duct supply air into a battery room from a furnace, wood stove, air conditioner, or anything else that moves air. Any room, no matter how well it is sealed, is not air tight, and if you duct or blow air into any room it will find its way out, and not always out the path you intended.

I have seen a sealed battery room with a small exterior pipe to vent battery gases to the outside actually “suck” air back into the room located in the basement due to wind pressure acting on the home’s exterior wall surfaces, and this backward air flow forced hydrogen gas back into the basement. You want to always EXHAUST air at the highest point in a battery room and let the makeup air come from a louver located near the floor, under the door crack, or anywhere else it can find a path, but the room should be under a negative pressure (air being forced OUT of the room to the outside) in reference with the rest of the house and basement so any hydrogen gas will be exhausted to the outside and not forced back into other rooms or up through the ceiling to the floors above.

We usually use a battery-powered in-line exhaust fan installed inside a 3″ PVC pipe. These are made for battery gases and the brushless fan they use will not spark and cause a gas explosion. I would expect almost any basement under a house to not get too cold or too hot and would not expect any heating will be required. However, if you want to heat a battery room the only safe method that I am aware of is a very expensive explosion-proof electric radiant heater, or baseboard radiation around the walls that is heated by a hot water heating boiler or domestic hot water tank.

We always build a battery shelf made from pressure treated 2 x 4’s on edge with 1/2 x 4 spacers between each to allow for good draining and air flow. We place these on 8″ concrete blocks spaced every 3 or 4 feet to provide good air flow and to keep the battery bottoms from touching the much colder concrete slab floor. A floor drain is also helpful as it can get a little wet when you wash down the batteries with water and baking soda. Finally, we always add a good ABC type fire extinguisher, a vapor-proof glass “jelly jar” type light fixture, and a locking door having a warning sign.

Good Luck and don’t light a match when you are in your battery room if you can’t see!

Jeff Yago

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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