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DIY Power Cart
#1
I own a Xantrex 600HD and have had it for years. It's been very handy, both as a jump starter and as a power pack for some field work. The battery is starting to self discharge at a very rapid rate lately, so I've been working on a replacement.

For those that don't know, the things to look out for with these portable power packs is the amp hour capacity of the battery inside. Generally, you have to DIG to get that number

The smaller,  sub $200 units typically have a 15AH battery.  This 600HD is a 28AH.  Which, still ain't great. It's got a watt meter plugged into it and i learned that one 15 watt CF bulb on a clamp light will light up my entire apartment and only draw about 4 watts..   So, it's got its uses, but limited

Xantrex also makes a 'big boy' version of this called the Xpower 1500

https://www.amazon.com/Xantrex-802-1500-...ef=sr_1_11

This monster has a 51AH  battery in it and also a larger inverter. It's designed to run your fridge (for 15 minutes every few hours to keep it cold).  We had one at my previous job.  They are heavy as hell, the wheels are really nice.

They are also $500

So, here is my toy

This is a 60AH battery i have laying around from a solar project. It's sitting on a welding cart from Harbor Freight, which cost about $35  (the battery is VERY heavy)

In the middle is a whistler 600 watt power inverter (was about $50). which is bolted to the middle shelf so it doesnt' slide around

On the back of the cart, drilled and bolted to the upright is the battery charger (also HF, about $30) and a battery level meter that I got from amazon for about $15

I have drilled holes through all of the shelves and run a large power cable from top to bottom to interface with my 'power box' that  I posted in another thread.

I'd prefer to have more capacity than 60AH, but the battery was free so i'm not going to gripe.

However, you could use this same concept to scale up. Granted, that 60AH battery almost fills up the bottom shelf of that cart, and the cart is only supposedly rated to 100 pounds, but i bet you could get a trolling motor battery on it and still have shelf room for your gear.



Note about my thought process:

I've posted this in other places, but i'll bring it up again..
I personally find it difficult to justify AC or inverters in an emergency situation.   Name something you HAVE to run on AC, that you COULD run on a battery/inverter?

TV.. nope.
Fridge.. wouldn't last long anyway

cell phone charger... run it on DC
Lights--run it on DC
radios---run it on DC
fans-run it on DC

The point i'm making is that i can pretty much find a way to run anything on DC instead of using the inverter. I have an inverter just for the stuff that I am not thinking about lol


So, if I had to buy the battery, i'd probably be about the same, if not a little less than $500, but I can certainly get a higher capacity than 51AH that the xantrex offers.

Also, the Xantrex unit is sealed, which means when the battery dies (like mine is) you can not replace it.

Fun project.  It also allows me to keep all of my accessories (the charger, level meter, power box) all in one place instead of scattered all around my storage room.   I also can use the top shelf for my ham radio, lights or other gear


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#2
Excellent post!  

How do you think it would be hooked up to a solar panel?
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
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#3
I happen to have a solar panel and all the equipment that I need to make that work the charge controller has an Anderson connector on it so I'm all set to go to hook it up to solar
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#4
that's great... DIY a lot cheaper.
The solar is a good addition, I run a car batteries in a shed with 2 panels , ( 100w each ), more than enough to run lights , etc out there with plenty to spare.
I can run my radio equipment from there if needed too
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#5
Look at the golf cart deep cycle batteries at Costco or Sams Club to use in battery packs. They are usually 6 volt batteries so you need 2 to run 12volt stuff but they are usually 200+ AHs. I have two set up for my travel trailer. You can get 12v deep cycle batts but they tend to be more expensive than two 6V ones.

What you don't want is those 12V "marine" batteries. Those are made to start boat motors. If it gives you CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) you don't want it.
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#6
Agree... I'm using car batteries ( they were free but fairly new ) and the aprox ahr rating is about 75-80 each.... They don't work well for constant drain down.
But I matched 3 after load testing and just joined them up in parallel ... It's only for testing out the panels and mostly led lighting in the shed and some 12v floods outside which are motion detect ( from ebay , < $10 per )
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#7
I was going to build mine out of a garden wagon but I like the welding cart also... Cool thread.

Deep cycle battery's from Wmart are not expensive, the two that I put in the military truck 2 and a half years ago are still working very well.
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#8
I would try to stay with 12v if possible... so much these days use cigar adapters anyway ( cell phones, small electronics )..as there is loss in any invertor.

Also take a look at Anderson Power Poles for 12v hook up... easy to use and can't mess up plugging items in. I've converted most of my 12v items over to these.
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#9
Look for 'Golf Cart' batteries at Sams club. they are often 6v and heavy as hell.. but 200AH for $120.

I agree, i can keep most everything at 12v. The inverter is for the stuff I forgot.

I also have anderson power poles. I am using them for all of the connections.

There are Marine Batteries that are deep cycle. I think that they are the "blue top' version of optima. However, if you read the hard specs, they aren't that great of a deal, except that they are sealed AGM batteries. The golf cart batteries from sams are NOT sealed... but a lot cheaper
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#10
I have 2 6 volt Interstate golf cart batteries from Costco ($84/ea) in my travel trailer. Hooked in series they give me 205 amp hours of 12v power. That's enough for about a week of use in the summer. Basically lights, water pump, vent fan, radio, etc. It allows me to put out the powered awning and slide out room. It will power the furnace blower in cold weather but that does eat up the power. It does not power the AC, TV, microwave. You need external power for those. Even though those batteries would last a week, you don't want to deplete them more than about 60% so you either need more capacity or a way to charge them.

Unfortunately for me, I don't have room for more batteries in my trailer. I do however have room in the back of my tow vehicle/pick up truck. Another pair of batteries on a cart could then be hooked up to my trailer batteries in parallel to double my capacity. I could also use it at home or at my cabin if needed. Along with a small generator to keep them charged, I would have a pretty constant source.

Eventually add some solar panels and I would be good to go.
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