Posts tagged: avoiding electrical accidents

Shielding the Power System with Garbage

By , January 30, 2020

Ever since I installed a breaker box for our off-the-grid power system in 2015, (see Hangover), it has had a flaw, an Achilles’s heel, if you will: the breakers in the breaker box have been vulnerable to inadvertent switching.

The three breaker switches, which can cut off power flow to or from the battery, the controller, and the solar array, can get bumped, disconnecting any or all of these components.

Had I thought about it a bit more, I likely would have installed these switches upside down (are you old enough, gentle reader, to remember the old “Upizoff” joke from our childhood?) but I didn’t.

One or more of those switches has been accidentally switched every great now and then over the last 4+ years, especially since we put totes holding warm weather gear and work gloves on the old battery box.

off-the-grid power breaker box

You can see here that the breakers are vulnerable to clothing and other gear flipping them inadvertently (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Continue reading 'Shielding the Power System with Garbage'»

DC Cheat Sheet

By , April 17, 2013

In the last post I complained about searching for basic electrical information, such as wire color coding, in the middle of an electrical project.

This happens all the time. As the years and projects pass, I retain more and more electrical information from one task to the next. But, as I face each new job, my stress level increases to the point that I’m more likely to forget what little I do know, and less likely to reason out what I don’t. In the heat of battle, as it were, I often can’t keep enough composure to remember the simplest things.

A classic example: my voltmeter is set up to measure AC and DC loads. I turn a dial to the type of current I need to measure. But, they’re not marked “AC” and “DC,” they’re marked “V” for volts, then a symbol— “~” (tilde) for AC, and a solid line with a dashed line underneath it for DC.

In calmer moments, I can tell you that the ~ stands for AC. Alternating current oscillates, making a sine wave, which the tilde represents graphically.

More critically, which wire do you disconnect from the battery first, negative or positive? Continue reading 'DC Cheat Sheet'»

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