Monday, April 25, 2016

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Battery Group Buy

I have talked to Batteries and Bulbs and they are offering a group discount to WVCARC members on the LiFePO4 batteries listed below.

Weight12.13 lb5.5 lb1.98 lb
Charge Cycles2500*1000 - 1100#1000 - 1100#
Max Continues Discharge Current20A10A6.6A
*Reaches approximately 80 percent of its rated capacity after 2500 cycles in laboratory conditions.
*Reaches approximately 80 percent of its rated capacity after 1000-1100 cycles in laboratory conditions.

If you are interested please fill out the Google form found here:  Depending on the number of people interested they may be able to drop the price even lower.

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Batteries

Last month we talked about a new battery called Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4).  These batteries have some advantages over traditional AGM and SLA batteries
  • They are lighter
  • Signifacantly more recharge cycles
  • Higher current or peak-power rating

Weight12.13 lb32.9 lb
Charge Cycles2500*50-150
Max Continues Discharge Current20A?
*The XLFP12-42C reaches approximately 80 percent of its rated capacity after 2500 cycles in laboratory conditions.

As you can see there is one large disadvantage and that is price.  However I believe increased charging cycles more then make up for that.

Discharge rates are nice as well.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

All About Solar Panels

Panel Comparison

Solar Panels

Crystalline Silicon (c-Si)

Almost 90% of the World’s photovoltaics today are based on some variation of silicon.  In 2011, about 95% of all shipments by U.S. manufacturers to the residential sector were crystalline silicon solar panels.

The silicon used in PV takes many forms. The main difference is the purity of the silicon.

But what does silicon purity really mean? The more perfectly aligned the silicon molecules are, the better the solar cell will be at converting solar energy (sunlight) into electricity (the photoelectric effect).

The efficiency of solar panels goes hand in hand with purity, but the processes used to enhance the purity of silicon are expensive. Efficiency should not be your primary concern. As you will later discover, cost-and space-efficiency are the determining factors for most people.

Crystalline silicon forms the basis of mono- and polycrystalline silicon solar cells:

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Solar cells made of monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si), also called single-crystalline silicon (single-crystal-Si), are quite easily recognizable by an external even coloring and uniform look, indicating high-purity silicon, as you can see on the picture below:

Monocrystalline solar cells are made out of silicon ingots, which are cylindrical in shape. To optimize performance and lower costs of a single monocrystalline solar cell, four sides are cut out of the cylindrical ingots to make silicon wafers, which is what gives monocrystalline solar panels their characteristic look.
A good way to separate mono- and polycrystalline solar panels is that polycrystalline solar cells look perfectly rectangular with no rounded edges.


  • Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates since they are made out of the highest-grade silicon. The efficiency rates of monocrystalline solar panels are typically 15-20%. SunPower produces the highest efficiency solar panels on the U.S. market today. Their E20 series provide panel conversion efficiencies of up to 21.5%.
  • Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are space-efficient. Since these solar panels yield the highest power outputs, they also require the least amount of space compared to any other types. Monocrystalline solar panels produce up to four times the amount of electricity as thin-film solar panels.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels live the longest. Most solar panel manufacturers put a 25-year warranty on their monocrystalline solar panels.
  • Tend to perform better than similarly rated polycrystalline solar panels at low-light conditions.


  • Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive. From a financial standpoint, a solar panel that is made of polycrystalline silicon (and in some cases thin-film) can be a better choice for some homeowners.
  • If the solar panel is partially covered with shade, dirt or snow, the entire circuit can break down. Consider getting micro-inverters instead of central string inverters if you think coverage will be a problem. Micro-inverters will make sure that not the entire solar array is affected by shading issues with only one of the solar panels.
  • The Czochralski process is used to produce monocrystalline silicon. It results in large cylindrical ingots. Four sides are cut out of the ingots to make silicon wafers. A significant amount of the original silicon ends up as waste.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in warm weather. Performance suffers as temperature goes up, but less so than polycrystalline solar panels. For most homeowners temperature is not a concern.

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

The first solar panels based on polycrystalline silicon, which also is known as polysilicon (p-Si) and multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si), were introduced to the market in 1981. Unlike monocrystalline-based solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels do not require the Czochralski process. Raw silicon is melted and poured into a square mold, which is cooled and cut into perfectly square wafers.
Polycrystalline solar panels


  • The process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and cost less. The amount of waste silicon is less compared to monocrystalline.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels tend to have slightly lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar panels. This technically means that they perform slightly worse than monocrystalline solar panels in high temperatures. Heat can affect the performance of solar panels and shorten their lifespans. However, this effect is minor, and most homeowners do not need to take it into account.


  • The efficiency of polycrystalline-based solar panels is typically 13-16%. Because of lower silicon purity, polycrystalline solar panels are not quite as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels.
  • Lower space-efficiency. You generally need to cover a larger surface to output the same electrical power as you would with a solar panel made of monocrystalline silicon. However, this does not mean every monocrystalline solar panel perform better than those based on polycrystalline silicon.
  • Monocrystalline and thin-film solar panels tend to be more aesthetically pleasing since they have a more uniform look compared to the speckled blue color of polycrystalline silicon.

Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) Solar Cells (Harbor Freight)

Because the output of electrical power is low, solar cells based on amorphous silicon have traditionally only been used for small-scale applications such as in pocket calculators. However, recent innovations have made them more attractive for some large-scale applications too.
With a manufacturing technique called “stacking”, several layers of amorphous silicon solar cells can be combined, which results in higher efficiency rates (typically around 6-8%).
Only 1% of the silicon used in crystalline silicon solar cells is required in amorphous silicon solar cells. On the other hand, stacking is expensive.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

West Valley City - Family Preparedness Fair Volunteers Needed

We have been given the opportunity to man a table at the West Valley City Family Preparedness Fair. The fair will be held at Valley Fair Mall, Center Court April 15 - 16th. We would like to have two or more people at the table if possible. Feel free to bring a radio to show people how things work. We will have some talking points that you can share with those that visit the booth.  If you have an hour that you can spare please sign up below.

  Click to View Volunteer Opportunities on VolunteerSpot

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Salt Flats 100 Endurance Run Volunteers Needed!

The Salt Flats 100 Endurance Run is looking for volunteers to help provide communications between the various aid stations.  They are looking for an additional eight operators to help out.  The run will be held April 29th and 30th.  This event is one of those special ones that will test both your equipment, communications, and outdoors skills as you will need to be 100% self sufficient.  How many events are like that!?!

You can find more information regarding the race in general here:  If this is something that you would like to do but do not feel you have the required equipment let me know and I can see what I can do.  Please send an email to JJ Wallace / KE7GHK @ for more information.  Hope to see you there!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 Salt Lake City Marathon Volunteer Registration

If you're interested in helping out with the Salt Lake City Marathon which will be held on the 16th please go to the link below to register.

You can also email Thor Femenias, KF7RKO at

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Some Basics about Solar Power

Power is created from sunlight by capturing some of the particles of light called Photons in a material that releases free electrons in response to these photons.  These materials are called Photovoltaic materials” or just PV.

The power created by these Photovoltaic devices, often called “solar panels”, is a mere fraction of the actual energy hitting the panel, due to our inability to adequately convert or capture this energy. That still leaves a lot of energy to be used, however!

One of the most challenging aspects of using this power is that it is only there while we are getting exposed to sunlight. We have to store it somewhere, and that is why we have to use some kind of battery in our solar power systems.

The amount of light hitting the earth and by extension, the solar panel, is referred to as “Solar Irradiance” and is measured in Watts per Square Meter.

Typical Solar Power Components
  • Solar Panel
  • Connector Box
  • Solar Charge Controller
  • Batteries

Optional Items

  • Remote Monitor
  • Inverter for AC Power

Friday, April 1, 2016

Operator Portal Is Live!

WVCARC is excited to announce that our Operator Portal is now live.  The portal allows you to register your location and then assign yourself to one of the 5 fire stations in West Valley City.  This will allow WVCARC and West Valley City the ability to know which operators are available to man the fire stations should the city need us.  It is our hope that we have enough operators in West Valley City so that we can also start allowing operators to assign themselves to the many schools in our city.

You can register by going to and click on the Portal option in the main menu.  It will take less then 5 minutes to complete registration.  Let us know what you like and where we can improve in comments below.