Buried Treasure?

By , March 9, 2013

When we first moved to the homestead, the outhouse sheltered the electrical system. The battery bank took up one end of the small building, and the wind generator controls faced the seat. In addition, we found another set of batteries enclosed in a box in one corner.

We removed the batteries,  most of which had frozen and broken, then installed a new battery bank and the generator controllers into the cabin. We left the batteries in the box, because to be honest, the little outhouse seemed precarious enough that their weight might help hold it in place!

Recently, I learned about nickel iron batteries. Apparently, this is one of Edison’s better inventions, a good, reliable, deep cycle lead acid battery that’s easy to maintain. They’re making a bit of a comeback, as it’s becoming clear that with proper maintenance to begin with, or relatively easy rehabilitation, most of the original batteries are still viable! Compare this to the manufacturer-designated 5 year life of most lead acid batteries.

When I first read about these, I thought they looked familiar, so I went back to the box in the outhouse.

Scruffy, old, damaged, but possibly rehabilitatable (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

Scruffy, old, damaged, but possibly rehabilitatable (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

It appears I have 6 nickel iron batteries. That’s the good news. The bad news is that like the other batteries stored in the outhouse, most, if not all of them have burst from freezing fluid.

So, I’ve either got buried treasure, or junk, depending on my next steps. There are several sources for nickel iron batteries, some restored, some brand new manufacture. I’m going to look into the possibility of transferring the “guts” of the broken batteries into new containers. It’s not clear yet if this is possible, or practical, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy