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26 February 2013:
It's hard to believe I haven't updated this in over a year. Here's the deal, I just haven't done anything to my a.e. system in that amount of time. I'm sort of at a critical point in building an a.e. system, that is to move on to the next phase, it's going to take about a redoubling of the hardware I now have. Another solar charge controller; a new, larger pure sine wave inverter, a new solar panel rack and new batteries. With the system I have in place now, I pretty much meet all my power needs in the summer with the exception of air conditioning. In the winter, I use r.e. to power all my lights, charge my laptop PC's, tablet, phone and other small rechargeable battery powered devices.
For what it's worth, my initial battery bank of inexpensive Sam's club batteries are now 4 years old and doing fine. I'm probably adding water a bit more often now, but other than that all is well. I'm sure capacity has dropped off somewhat as well, but it's not noticeable.
I did lose most of my solar rack of the Harbor Freight solar panels in a storm last summer. 90 mph winds took out the old rack and some trees, some buildings near me had extensive damage as well. I guess I'm lucky all I lost were those old, weak solar panels. The few panels that survived I'm planning to use as a maintenance charger on my camper 12 volt system. I'm going to pull the old camper out to our farm pond out in the country, using the camper as a base for my new hobby of flying RC planes. Depending on how much I use the camper, I may end up moving some of my current a.e. equipment out there, and replace it at home with the new, larger equipment I'll need anyway.
I'll post more this year as I do plan to make at least some additions this year to my a.e. system.