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Author Topic: Blasphemy..... Solar power.  (Read 75005 times)

buickanddeere

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2016, 05:15:22 PM »
I've been off grid for a little over 5 years, and I'd never go back. My setup has 2800 watts of solar panel, with a 4844 inverter (48 volt,4400watts) and my Lister SR2,with a 10KW gen head.
The inverter is 120 volt and 220 volt out put @ 60Hz.Other than checking and putting water in the batteries, every once in a while, and keeping the battery terminals clean,there's not a whole to it. You have to mechanically inclined, or have someone that is. If something does go wrong....your the boss, no hydro company to yell at.
I live in Canada, in the winter, we uses the gen, almost every day, about 2-3 hour a day, to recharge the batteries . In the summer, ....maybe once a week, or two. We could uses more batteries, we have 8x6volt( they weigh about 110 pounds a piece) , think there 375 amp hours...can't remember, it's been a while. Anyways we run, in the winter a propane forced air furnace, refrigerator ,lights, TV, internet...etc. Nothing has really change (life style)  then , when we were on the grid. Well maybe something has change...we don't get a hydro bill !!! and that's a big plus...the cost of hydro here in Ontario, when we were on the grid was about $300.00 a month, I live in Ontario Canada, the most heavily, most expensive hydro cost of all the provinces of Canada ....why does hydro cost so much??? because they can charge and do charge what ever they like!!!
Used solar panel , sound like a good idea, depending what kind they are mono, poly...or something in between....big solar setups usually uses cheaper panels, with a known life expectancy, so by the time they get rid of them, there pretty much toast.  .50 cent a watts sounds good, here in Canada new panel are going for $1.00 a watt and you might be able to find a deal a $.90-.80 cent a watt. But look at what your buying...what type they are what is there pro rating( every year a panel is in uses there power output drops), so your 200watt panel that you just bought uses that is...say 10-12 years old will only output maybe 50% of it's rated power...and so on... So your 200watt panel, just became a 100watt panel....that could give up the ghost at anytime...you just don't know.
I have about $13000.00 into my setup, I install everything, The good part about doing it all, is if something does go wrong, you have some sort of idea , what it is.
Research your panel your looking at, and maybe look at the price of new ones...
Hope this helps, I'm not much of a writer/story teller LOL
Cheers
Brian

Where in Ontario ?
We have been considering a  2-3 KW grid tie system here without telling the power utility . Just to reduce the daytime peak rate consumption to near zero. The pool pump and AC will still cost however the AC season is only 6-12 weeks per season. The pool pump is on a timer so it operates 1/2 hour on and 1-1/2 hrs off around the clock. When the propane heater wears out a heat pump and some more PV panels will be installed . The hot tub may also have a 1KW , 48VDC heater installed . To have the PV panels heat the tub year around without worrying about freezing pipe work etc


Just outside of Kingston Ontario. About 20 minutes North.

East Coast of Lake Huron. Not down your way very much . Have a cousin north of Trenton, did some training at Morrisburg and toured the hydro electric plant Saunders . We Should be doing an Ottawa trip one of these days.

Johndoh

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2016, 11:45:32 PM »
We don't get an awful lot of sunshine in Ireland solar is mostly used for heating water or powering the flashing orange lights at schools. A lot of politicians and business types favour wind turbines, connected to the grid. Maybe it's because I'm a contrary person but I can see the logic of solar panels charging battery banks but I'm puzzled as to why gas power plants have to be kept running in case the wind stops. Anyone care to enlighten me?
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness

Hugh Conway

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2016, 03:44:24 AM »
We don't get an awful lot of sunshine in Ireland solar is mostly used for heating water or powering the flashing orange lights at schools. A lot of politicians and business types favour wind turbines, connected to the grid. Maybe it's because I'm a contrary person but I can see the logic of solar panels charging battery banks but I'm puzzled as to why gas power plants have to be kept running in case the wind stops. Anyone care to enlighten me?
No wind, no power storage, no power..........got to keep the gas plants operational to pick up the slack.

I once saw a small wind powered generating system that nearly always worked.......the wind generator used some power to pump water from a large tank to another large hilltop tank. When the wind did not blow, the stored uphill water powered a small water turbine driven generator and dumped the water back into the down-hill tank. Made a god swimming hole too!
Cheers,
Hugh
JKson 6/1  (Utterpower PMG ) Off-grid
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1978 Royal Enfield (glutton for punishment by Indian iron)
1963 BMW R-27 project

buickanddeere

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2016, 05:23:48 PM »
We don't get an awful lot of sunshine in Ireland solar is mostly used for heating water or powering the flashing orange lights at schools. A lot of politicians and business types favour wind turbines, connected to the grid. Maybe it's because I'm a contrary person but I can see the logic of solar panels charging battery banks but I'm puzzled as to why gas power plants have to be kept running in case the wind stops. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Because the lights , homes and industry will shut down due to low voltage, low frequency and low current or high voltage, high current and high frequency as wind electrical power varies with normal minute by minute variations in wind speed. The governors in the gas turbines, thermal or hydro electric sites are racking up and down varying power to fill in the low and prevent peaks.
    Wind turbines also need to be connected to a stable utility grid for excitation and reference frequency.
    I am always surprised how the general public has no idea where and how vital services such as water, power, food and sanitation is provided.
     Keeping extra fossil or hydro electric power on spinning reserve raises the cost of power generation.

quinnbrian

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2016, 01:10:02 AM »
We don't get an awful lot of sunshine in Ireland solar is mostly used for heating water or powering the flashing orange lights at schools. A lot of politicians and business types favour wind turbines, connected to the grid. Maybe it's because I'm a contrary person but I can see the logic of solar panels charging battery banks but I'm puzzled as to why gas power plants have to be kept running in case the wind stops. Anyone care to enlighten me?

You could have enough battery storage.... but batteries are very expensive, I paid $2700.00 for 8 of them....that was 5 years ago, now the same batteries are $3700.00. I guess if you had lots of money...say...$12000.00-14000.00 you would have enough battery storage and "black outs" would be a thing of the past.
So we uses the genset to bring the batteries back up, when the wind doesn't blow and the sun, doesn't shine. With 4 seasons, its hard to tell what going to happen.

My gen hasn't run ,in...almost 2 weeks :-)...Things are looking up!!

glort

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2016, 04:16:15 AM »

Taking all this very satisfying reading in, again, the question came up in my mind about KW/h and amp hours.
Both I am familiar with and have a practical and realistic idea of what they actually are.  What I was totaly UNfamiliar with was what a KW'h in battery storage looked like.

Searching on the net I found that for a 12V System, about 82 AH @ 14.5V  is equal to a Kw/h of battery storage.
Sitting right at my feet now is my modified UPS. I threw away the cluster of Pissy 7AH battery's and being a 24V feed I have 2 car battery's connected through some old battery leads I pulled from a wreck.
Looking at the size of the battery's, I have about 1.5 Kw/h of reserve sitting there.  I also worked out what reserve capacity was in Ah. Again, both I know well but not in cross refrence. Now I can work it out and have a practical minds idea of what it looks like.  Basicaly a Large , high capacity car size battery, ( before going to truck size n70's etc) is about a Kw/h.

For a cheap system backup, it would probably be possible to use some deep cycle marine batteries to get a decent reserve with good life if you had a generator with an auto start that kicked in before the Dod got too high.


Another interesting thing I saw is that a couple of solar retailers here are selling PV's that come in rolls like hall runner carpet. I have seen the flexible panels that are like thin plastic or plywood kind of flexible but this stuff is much more like fabric.  It would follow Curves and bends that the regular flexible stuff would look solid on.  Don't know what the performace is like as far as watts/ sq/m goes but the price is quite competitieve for the output. Not as cheap as regular flat panels but well and truly low enough to make it viable where other panels would be difficult.

I also saw whee they are making Panels more " decrative" colours and a company has started producing panels in a terra cotta colour so they better blend in with traditional clay tiled roof tops.

Another thing I saw is where they have developed a battery here in oz that out does the performance of Li ion and is much cheaper and the " Electrolyte" is actual a silicone looking gell.  A huge upside is rather than taking an ag to recharge, the things can be zapped up in minutes regardless the size by just applying more current.  The potential for that is pretty huge.  On the same show they were talking to a large project manager who was saying they are interested in incorporating the batterys into the walls of their buildings and the possibility of having solar panels on the outside of the buildings say as a strip running across the bottoms of the floor to ceiling windows. I can see this would provide a HUGE if not ideal panel area. Even so, the generating capacity would have to be significant with all the area.

They were also saying how one of out surprisingly enlightened states ( NOT the sunniest, technology state as they call themselves) is also offering a $5000 rebate on home batteries.  The reason was very interesting.
They want to move more to PV and wind generation but of course the problem is always reacting to the base load differences. It takes power stations time to do this so they try to over generate as little as possible to avoid blackouts.  The idea is they want ordinary homes to have a surplus of stored power. When the demand on the grid goes up or spikes, the power will come from the home batteries which is sold back to the grid.
There is software on the batterys/ controllers that will limit the amount of power that is drawn so you don't run out yourself or you can sell it all on a credit scheme so  you can buy back what you sell without cost when and if you need it.

The idea seems amazingly logical and practical.

Another concept being trialed is with new housing estates. Everyone has panels on their roof and the developers/ eastate strata put in storage batteries of their own. They are smallish buildings about the size of shipping containers or may in face be actual " Beautified" shipping containers full of lithium batteries. The excess PV power is sold or credited back to the estate owners rather than the utility companies themselves so the estate owners whom may be then the home owners, become the power company. They were saying 20% of the cost of developing a new estate may be just hooking the place up to the grid with power lines, transformer etc.
By making the power supply much more localized, the grid connection can be much smaller.  It may only need to be big enough to recharge the battery banks over night when there is lowest demand so they are ready for the day when there is no worthwhile sunshine.  In other more remote but sunshine rich places, they may be totally independent and just rely on a good old fashioned Diesel generator for the week or 2 they may have to fire it up through the year.  One of the places they looked at had decent wind to that was a possibility of a backup generation system as well.

It all seemed quite exciting and they  well over use the phrase " game Changer"  which is appropriate if somewhat annoying to keep hearing.  One fellow said that he saw the role of his utility company going more from that of being a supplier to a re distributor.  He envisioned home owners earning money from their PV and batterys and the customer base of the utility companies going from domestic to industrial commercial where few may have the area to generate their own power needs.  The power stations could be backed off and instead the energy for industry would come from the home owners in the suburbs back feeding into the grid. The transmission of power over great distances would be hugely reduced or eliminated and everything would become much more local.

This is on the horizon and will become common inside of 20 years.
The spin off not mentioned on anything I saw was something that has been bandied about for a long time which I have always thought was impractical for a good while but would go hand in hand..... Electric cars.
If the battery's can give the things decent, practical ranges and the home owner can generate excess power and store it to recharge the vehicle over night, these things may just start to become practical and actually cost effective. By the same token, if one thinks of the flexible solar panels and put them on the bonnet, roof and boot, there could be significant KW generated with the things parked in the sun to top them off or extend the journey by a worth while amount. Instead of everyone fighting to get under cover at the shopping centre, they would all be clamoring for the top level to make the most of the battery charging. Either that or the centre owners cover it in PV's and then sell the power to recharge your car while parked on the lower levels.

ATM, $50K or more to save -maybe- $4k worth of fuel a year to me is a greenwashed joke.  If the cars cost the same as a " Normal " car of it's size and features and you were generating your own free power, it would be a very different matter.



mike90045

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2016, 07:38:02 AM »
Quote
Another interesting thing I saw is that a couple of solar retailers here are selling PV's that come in rolls like hall runner carpet. I have seen the flexible panels that are like thin plastic or plywood kind of flexible but this stuff is much more like fabric.  It would follow Curves and bends that the regular flexible stuff would look solid on.  Don't know what the performace is like as far as watts/ sq/m goes but the price is quite competitieve for the output. Not as cheap as regular flat panels but well and truly low enough to make it viable where other panels would be difficult.

The roll panels are generally "thin film" and start to degrade in sunlight, they loose about 10% per year.  I'd be VERY cautious before buying that.

Johndoh

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2016, 05:19:19 PM »
So what am I missing? The windmill sometimes turns and produces power. If it doesn't turn the gas fired power station that's running all the time starts supplying the power. The problems I have are 1. extra 5% on electricity costs for alternative energy 2. Running a power plant in case the wind drops is surely expensive and illogical. I like the double reservoir idea but the green party here are obsessed with wind and they seem to be the squeaky wheels on environmental issues. There's going to be a 630 foot wind turbine constructed below my house, below as in a valley. Logic? Very interesting thread this
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quinnbrian

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2016, 12:18:47 AM »
There's somewhere on the net , that goes through the different batteries type....car ..marine..forklift..etc. Car batteries , when used for "off grid" where there charged over and over again, don't do very well. I think the number is round 40-50 recharges before there NFG. The plates in a car battery are very thin, and will not take very well to deep cycling. A marine battery, like the ones you'd uses on a trolling motor, have the plates inside that are a little thicker, making...more usable as an off grid battery.
Car batteries are designed to hit hard/high short loads ( your car starting) and charged fast, for short periods of time. Ever tried to start you car and it just wouldn't start.....if you turn it over and over again , it doesn't take long to kill your battery. And if you do it enough times ...the plates in the battery will, warp...over heat and you'll need a new battery. Car batteries are a little different on the way they rate them, amps, cold crating amps and  reserve amps. The amp rating is how much the battery can put out for a very short time ( about 5-10  a temps ) at trying to start your car, with out damaging your battery. Cold cranking amps is an amp rating @ a given temp (- something)  , in very cold temps, a car battery or any battery with only have about 40-50% of it total amps available. And reserve amps (the one you want to look at) is the amps available after you've tried to start your car over and over again, and leave it for a while( the battery cools down) is really what you have for amps/deep cycle.
If the batteries are free, then have some fun!! It better to try something, then to never have done it before, because you listen (to me) and maybe other that say done do it. It will work for a short time...week... a month...who knows, but its a good starting point, where you can learn , with out spending a lot.
Right now, my system...inverter (48 volts) will provide 4400watts of 120 or 2200watt of 220, I have 8 solar panel @ 325 watt per panel (2600 watts) 8x 6 volt Interstate L-16dual batteries rated at 380 amps@20 hours( these batteries weigh 110 pounds  per battery, very heavy!! MPPT PVA charger and wiring...disconnect boxes fuses...etc.
Altogether I think I have about $14000.00, not including the Lister SR2 with a 10Kw ST head.
But I make all my power for my home...no grid tie in here....will there is, just down the road, but I don't want anything to do with it!! :-) I like the way it works, there is maintenance,but very little. And if the light go out, down call the hydro hot line...it all you.
Cheers
Brian

BruceM

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2016, 12:42:21 AM »
This from the windsun.com solar power site on ball park battery life for off grid use:

    Starting: 3-12 months
    Marine: 1-6 years
    Golf cart: 2-7 years
    AGM deep cycle: 4-8 years
    Gelled deep cycle: 2-5 years
    Deep cycle (L-16 type etc): 4-8 years
    Rolls-Surrette premium deep cycle: 7-15 years
    Industrial deep cycle (Crown and Rolls 4KS series): 10-20+ years.
    Telephone (float): 2-20 years. These are usually special purpose "float service", but often appear on the surplus market as "deep cycle". They can vary     considerably, depending on age, usage, care, and type.
    NiFe (alkaline): 5-35 years
    NiCad: 1-20 years

If a set of 8 L16's at $3700 were to last 7 years, that would be $44/month replacement cost, ignoring interest, inflation, etc.  That's not bad compared to some larger systems, or some other types of batteries.

One of these days the long awaited big battery breakthrough will come...right? 




« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 12:47:11 AM by BruceM »

Thob

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2016, 02:31:31 AM »

[snip]

The idea seems amazingly logical and practical.

[snip]



...which is exactly why it will probably never happen!  ;D
Witte 98RC Gas burner - Kubota D600 w/ST7.5KW head.
I'm not afraid to take anything apart.
I am sometimes afraid I'm not going to get it back together.

glort

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2016, 06:48:48 AM »

[snip]

The idea seems amazingly logical and practical.

[snip]



...which is exactly why it will probably never happen!  ;D


Ha ha!
Which I would usually completely agree with!

Like many things it seems to have a specific " target market" if you like and is going to be viable is some places and not in a heck of a lot more.  Of course the biggest fact is never how workable and sensible something is, its always the myriad of hidden agendas, financial  interests, political influence and underhanded deals us mere mortal sucker are never privy to or think to account for.
I think it will only happen on any scale IF the power companies can profit from it. If they determine they are going to loose out, strings will be pulled and it will be done away with.

The battery life listings are interesting but there seems to be such a wide variance in each listing it's hard to get much from it.  5-35 years?  that could be the best investment in the world or the poorest. Not real helpful as such.
With the car/ lead acid type batteries, you would firstly have to have deep cycle types.  I suppose you could compensate by having regular type batteries If you had a ship load and could set a controller so they only ever went 20% DOD.  I have read several times that an ordinary , new car battery can be stuffed by flattening it as little as a dozen times. They are only meant to go to about 20% DOD with the very occasional 50% run down.  You can get 4WD and marine type deep discharge batteries but i would tend to think that even a 5 yo well maintained  proper deep cycle battery would be a better bet price and function wise.

Being the cheap, tight, always looking to buck the system type, I am thinking that a good chance of low cost equipment may lie with the IT industry.  I have several UPS units that provide really good power both in clean output and amperage. I had a beautiful 3Kw output unit that was given to me by a guy who dealt in used equipment for a couple of little favours I did for him. Again just run off car batteries, this was a great power supply and battery maintainer in one..... Till my damn Cat pissed in the thing and all the magic smoke escaped... from the UPS not the cat. Maybe fortunately, maybe not.  I found out about having it repaired and embarrassed, I lied to the guy about what happened. Said I spilt my Coffee in it. He said that was rare, usually the ones they got from domestic situations with liquid ingress, cats had pissed in them.  He thought it was funny when I said that's what happened but I was embarrassed to say.
Upshot was that it wouldn't be worth fixing as the cats piss really corroded the heck out of things and you could never trust  them again.

I also notice with reasonable regularity, BIG ups systems coming up on fleabay.  The batteries may be coming to their change over point and the units being 10 yo are no longer covered by backup agreements so have to be replaced. there was a very large unit that came up the other day with 4 yo batteries, I think it was 28, 40 AH batteries and stupid me missed out on it and it went for $26!!
Would have been worth about $500 in scrap!

I'm thinking that an industrial UPS like this may be a great basis for a discount home system where solar could offset the grid electricity costs. At worst when the thing fell over, you would only be paying the same as anyone else. For off grid, You'd probably want to be a bit more fussy on the battery life and condition. Still might be good for running heavy loads in the shed as an auxiliary  to prevent trashing the house reserves.
Some of this stuff can be had very cheap and a lot is just thrown out.  Making friends with someone in the IT game could be a very profitable relationship. It has been for me in the past.
I was given servers that were 7 yo, functioned perfectly and cost $34K when new.  They can't be relied upon in the IT game and few others have use for them. I had an onsite business I used them for and they worked flawlessly but to the bloke I got them off, they were a disposal problem because IT stuff isn't easy or always free to get rid of.

I imagine old UPS boxes could be an asset to those with proper battery banks as well. They tend to be 24 or 48V although some I have up the back, new and unused  are 96V. If one could hook these up to an existing battery bank they would serve as very good inverters to increase the amount of mains current that could be supplied.


billswan

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2016, 01:17:07 PM »

Being the cheap, tight, always looking to buck the system type, I am thinking that a good chance of low cost equipment may lie with the IT industry.  I have several UPS units that provide really good power both in clean output and amperage. I had a beautiful 3Kw output unit that was given to me by a guy who dealt in used equipment for a couple of little favours I did for him. Again just run off car batteries, this was a great power supply and battery maintainer in one..... Till my damn Cat pissed in the thing and all the magic smoke escaped... from the UPS not the cat. Maybe fortunately, maybe not.  I found out about having it repaired and embarrassed, I lied to the guy about what happened. Said I spilt my Coffee in it. He said that was rare, usually the ones they got from domestic situations with liquid ingress, cats had pissed in them.  He thought it was funny when I said that's what happened but I was embarrassed to say.
Upshot was that it wouldn't be worth fixing as the cats piss really corroded the heck out of things and you could never trust  them again.

Glort
That above paragraph brings back memories. I am an avid talk radio junkie and many years ago one of my more or less local talk commentators had a guest on who was a VCR repair man. (for you younger readers VCR stands for video cassette recorder) Well during the interview the show host asked what some of the things were that killed VCR's and one of the responses was urine. Obviously there was a pause and the show host said what did you say? The guy went on to explain that most vcr's are right at a cats nose level and they seem to think that the electrical smell is the mark of another male cat.
So of course they just cannot stand that so they turn around and let fly with there own marking system to let the other guy know this is there territory.
Of course like your power supply repairman said that stuff is really corrosive and just the wreaks the hell out of copper wire.
 And on a personal experience level one day I hit the jackpot at a local golf cart builder going out of business yard sale. I Bought a big box of electrical wiring and you guessed it one of my farm tom cats started sleeping on top of the box. And much later when I opened up the box to get a chunk for some patch job the urine and its odors had penetrated up the ends of the wire and had turned new wire green. BASTARD CAT.

Billswan
16/1 Metro  in the harness choking on WMO ash!!

10/1 OMEGA failed that nasty WMO ash ate it

By the way what is your cylinder index?

buickanddeere

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2016, 06:33:13 PM »
1.4Kwhr of reserve is really only 0.4Kwhr of usable capacity. Deep cycling any battery, lead acid starting batteries in particular will cause rapid failure. 

glort

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Re: Blasphemy..... Solar power.
« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2016, 02:27:58 AM »
And on a personal experience level one day I hit the jackpot at a local golf cart builder going out of business yard sale. I Bought a big box of electrical wiring and you guessed it one of my farm tom cats started sleeping on top of the box. And much later when I opened up the box to get a chunk for some patch job the urine and its odors had penetrated up the ends of the wire and had turned new wire green. BASTARD CAT.

Billswan

HahHa!

I have had the exact same thing!
I had this box of speaker wire I had pulled out of car wrecks.  My son was always asking me to fit stereos and amps and those inane sub woofers to his mates cars and the wiring is bloody expensive.

I had pulled a bunch of wire out and had it on the floor and at some point during the week, one of the cats pissed on it.  At first I was annoyed but thought, no biggie, just wash it off.  I picked up some of the wire and being clear coated, could see the green running along the length.  Where this was bare ends, the green was 2 ft down the wire!  I cut the insulation off and the wire was like it had been soaked in acid!  The green flaked of leaving thin, brittle and useless wire.
Other bits with the RCA connectors were corroded to the point of having little " Bubbles" of oxidization on them. When cleaned, the coating had come off and the things were clearly trashed.

All that wire is in a plastic tub now with a lid that would seal it from a rain storm or other less fragrant and undesirable showers.