Questions. And Some Answers. Maybe

I was going to wrap up this whole Bluetti/solar generator discussion last time but some additional stuff came in email ( and other sources, so let’s get on with this.

Battery Safety

A couple of people have apparently been spending way too much time on YouTube watching people deliberately blowing up lithium battery packs and expressed the opinion that having a lithium battery in your home is the equivalent of having a rather large bomb waiting to go off at any moment. I won’t bother to point out that there are literally hundreds of millions of lithium batteries out here in the real world that somehow have managed to not blow up or suffer from “runaway thermal events” as they call it. Instead I’ll just mention that the batteries in the Bluetti and in many of these systems use LiFePo battery chemistry which is not only much safer, it also gives the batteries a much longer lifespan. I’ve seen LiFePo batteries being beaten with hammers and rocks, drilled through multiple times, stabbed with fishing spear, had nails driven through them, etc. and none of them exploded or turned into unquenchable blowtorches. They will get hot, they will vent gasses that I would very much want to avoid breathing, but none of them got explody or anything like that. If treated reasonably well LiFePo batteries could potentially continue to work well for years.


I got questions from a couple of people who have a power station or are thinking of getting one and don’t want to have to run extension cords all over the house in order to keep things running during a blackout. Why can’t you just use your house’s existing wiring system? Well you can, sort of. If you look at that photo of the AC200Max over there you’ll see a very large 3 prong socket on the far right. That’s a TT-30 plug, a high amperage connector. Well, sort of high amperage. If I remember right it’s only good for about 20 Amps because of the limitations of the AC200Max’s inverter. It’s intended to feed power to the electrical system of an RV but there’s no reason you can’t use that to supply larger amounts of power to a transfer switch system to feed selected circuits in your home without having to run extension cords everywhere.

So that takes care of… Uh? What’s a transfer switch? Ah I suppose I’m going to have to explain that now.

Okay, here’s the deal. You can’t just pump power from an external generator into your house’s electrical system. If you try most of your power is going to backfeed into the grid, overloading your generator and quite possibly killing some poor lineman working on a pole somewhere trying to restore power during a blackout. And you are not permitted to just shut off the main breaker on your electrical panel, either. In a lot of jurisdictions it is flat out illegal to hook any kind of alternative power source to your house’s wiring without the installation of some kind of transfer switch system.

And here’s an example of one.

This kit may seem expensive at $300 but it includes pretty much everything necessary to install one of these things. No, I don’t get paid by Reliance. I bought this thing with my own money. I don’t get kickbacks or free stuff or cash or anything like that. And I am seriously disappointed by this. Other bloggers get companies throwing stuff at them all the time: hugely expensive batteries, inverters, charging systems, solar panels, hardware, tools… Me? Zilch. Nada. I mean if, oh, Power Queen wanted to send me four of their 48V server rack batteries I’d be more than happy to test them out for five, six years. Or GroWatt. What’s up with you guys? Why haven’t you sent me one of your 8KW inverters, or that neat split phase unit? Hmm? I’m not above a bit of bribery now and then….
The Big Ass Plug (BAP). Well that’s what I call it. Oh, the orange thing in the bottom right isn’t part of the kit, that’s my Klein circuit tracer thingie.

That is a Reliance transfer switch kit that I picked up at a local home improvement store for about $300. These things are designed to allow you to take up to 6 individual circuits in your home and let you switch them to work with an external power supply like a generator or something like the Bluetti. A BAC (Big Ass Cable) plugs into the big socket on your generator, and the other end plugs into a BAP (Big Ass Plug) wired into the transfer switch. When you flip the switches on the box up there, you switch that circuit from the LINE, which is your connection to the grid, to the GEN input, which is fed by your generator.

And no, I’m not going to give you instructions on how to install one because I don’t want to be responsible for you electrocuting yourself or starting your house on fire or something like that. These things aren’t hard to put in. There are numerous videos out there showing you exactly how to do it. But I am going to put in the usual disclaimer that you shouldn’t go fiddling around in your circuit breaker box because you can kill yourself or someone else, burn down your house or damage equipment if you don’t know what you’re doing. In a lot of jurisdictions it’s technically illegal for you to do so. Legally you may need to get a permit, hire an actual real electrician to do the work, have it inspected, etc. before you can use one of these. So I’ll leave it at that.

Money Stuff luxurious headquarters

During the weekly staff meeting here at the palatial offices of someone brought up the topic of maybe looking into some tax credits or something if we did a solar power system, so we’re looking into that to help offset the cost of putting in a 10 – 15 KWh battery system with something like a 8 KW or larger inverter fed with 48V batteries. We’re currently in the planning phase of that. With our electric bill running $300/month here, a decent tax credit and other factors it’s beginning to look as if it might make sense economically to install such a system to take at least part of the house’s needs off the grid.

Gardening Stuff

We already have most of our garden planning done, all the seeds bought already, and are just waiting for the weather to get better so we can get out there and start puttering around in the dirt again. We have a lot of plans, but whether or not any of it will actually get done is something else again. Some of the plans are on the expensive side and if we go ahead with the solar project that might eat up a lot of our discretionary budget for the year. So we’ll see.

And that’s about it for now.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

7 thoughts on “Questions. And Some Answers. Maybe”

  1. I cracked up at the battery safety section. Also, interesting explanation on the transfer switch. We have a rule in our house that I don’t touch power or water.


    1. That’s a good rule . I worked in building maintenance for many years doing electrical, HVAC and plumbing, I know the building codes, etc. But I also know that all it takes is one moment of inattention, forgetting one apparently minor thing, and ending up with a disaster. So I tell people that if you’re a novice at any of this stuff it is always advisable to call in a professional rather than risk flooding your house, electrocuting someone, etc. And building codes get more strict every year, you legally need to pull building permits with the local government, arrange inspections, etc. in a lot of jurisdictions. There can even be issues with your home owners insurance if you have unlicensed personnel fiddling with your plumbing and electrical systems.


  2. I remember when I got my first cell phone, I stayed awake half the night when it was charging b because I had this picture in my mind of it blowing up and burning the house down while I was sleeping. Then, later on, I felt tense and awkward as I walked around with the phone in my pocket because I had seen videos of cell phones blowing up in people’s pockets — needless to say none of it ever happened to me. And I noticed that picture you posted of your “Office.” Is that true or was that a come on? I am not going to knock it because when I was in Michigan, I liked cabins a lot … and when I was a kid, I lived in one for a year that looked a lot like the one you posted. Ours had only two rooms and we had to live in it while we were looking for another home after ours burned to the ground. We were very poor at the time. Our cabin did not have electric or running water or anything and it cost us Twenty dollars a month to rent.


    1. The cabin picture is the “palatial offices of”, and is indeed a joke. In fact that scene actually is an image I generated with one of those AI programs that makes artwork based on my written instructions. It’s terrible at making images that have people in them but does a great job on things like scenery.

      I know what you mean about being nervous about the batteries in devices. I was the same way when information about those lithium batteries starting fires began to come out years ago. There were all sorts of horror stories floating around the internet at the time, most of them bogus, to be honest. But enough problems were happening that it made me worried. But those incidents were incredibly rare, and most of them turned out to be about batteries that were being abused in some way like overcharging them, physically damaging the batter or device, etc. The LiFePo (or sometimes just written as LFP) battery chemistry is much safer and doesn’t experience those same catastrophic failures. They will get hot and vent some gas which is probably not good to breathe, but they don’t turn into unquenchable blowtorches the way the earlier types of batteries did.


      1. It is my understanding that some of the newer electronic devices will actually automatically stop charging their batteries once their batteries are full so that there is no way they could overheat and explode. My new consumer cellular phone does this. Is the common thing now?


        1. Yep. These days most devices powered by lithium batteries, or even the batteries themselves, are equipped with a battery management system, or BMS. It monitors the condition of the battery, state of charge, the rate of charge, rate of discharge, even the battery’s temperature. The BMS will shut down the battery if it detects a fault to prevent damage to the battery or a catastrophic failure that could result in more serious damage.

          Liked by 1 person

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