Accumulators can be used to limit the need for power for some parts of your factory.
There are naturally 3 items, which are good candidates for that:
How does it work?
An accumulator has a lower delivery priority than any other power-using entity, this guarantees, that it receives only energy, when you have enough. At the same time it can deliver energy in another electric network. Both facts together works in this case as a regulated transformer and delivers only energy into other networks, if you are producing enough. Or in other words: in a power shortage, only the unimportant parts of your factory stop - not the whole factory.
This is fine if you want to guarantee that basic functions of your factory keep working (lasers, ammo production, very dependent on your priorities) no matter how much power usage you add.
This especially makes sense for radars - the radar explores new parts of the map, and consumes a large amount of energy. It makes sense to limit it, because when you are low on energy exploring is the least important thing.
In general this is a technique which works well only when you just researched accumulators and solar panels, but don't have enough resources to build big solar farms and accumulator farms.
- todo : pics from a radar station, research labs and electric furnace behind an accu. -
When it is about storing energy for later there are two questions:
- Which technology level is needed?
- How much afford to built the structure up?
Dependent of the current technology-level this is a list of how you can store energy:
- Principle: Adding lots of pipes and use much more steam-engines as really needed. Pipes store some energy, of course very little, but much enough to handle short energy drops of some seconds. In every case the over-usage of your energy production might be easier visible, if clever planned.
- As soon as you have oil-tanks, you can store quite significant amounts of hot water in them. See this article.
- This techniques stretches the time you can burn coal for you energy need, but sooner or later you will switch to accumulators. See Solar Farming.
- Sooner or later you will also switch of the steam engines, when you don't need them.
- With small pumps you can control the flow of water. See below.
At some point, when you have enough solar panels and accumulators you may use the steam engines only as silent power-reserve, for example at the end of the night after a long fight. This is normally not possible, because steam engines have a higher priority than accumulators - accumulators are only discharged if nothing else delivers. Or in other words, when the sun goes down, the steam engines turn on to keep the accumulators charged.
But you can trick around this:
The accumulator (hovered) is loaded from the main network. The accu-powered-network unloads this accu to power the fast inserter. If the accu is empty, the fast inserter doesn't work anymore, but the basic inserter remains working, because he is powered by the main network. He unloads the remaining wood from the chest. The chest gets empty and the smart inserter begins to work, filling up coal into the boiler.
For simpleness we reduced it to only one boiler/steam engine, normally much more is needed to make sense! Note, that you only need to program the first inserter. Place the others with pressed shift-key. All you have to do then is to connect it with the wire.
Basically this works, because the accumulator in this picture unloads a bit faster, than the accus in the main network, because he stays in two networks and so a bit more power is needed. It is recommended to place a second accu in neighborhood, which sits in the main network to have a direct reference.
You can trim the accu powered network exactly to your needs by adding more accumulators or place some lights, or put in more wood, which extends or shorten the time before the accu(s) - and so the chest - is empty. With some experience you can trim this so, that the main accu power is empty after the steam engines are full powered again (it takes some time, until the boilers heat the water and steam engines are at full power again.)
The chests with the burner inserters holding wood in his hand (so the chests must be filled with wood), is for fallback, if coal goes out.
Various different setups seem possible...
Tip for placing many smart inserters: Place all smart inserter by click-run. Set the program for the first inserter and wire it. Shift-right-click copies the program to your buffer, left-right-click copies the stored program into the inserter. The wire is then also be placed.
It is recommended to use a blue-print for that programming, cause the blueprint stores all needed informations (but has a problem to set the needed wires).
The Electric network info GUI can be accessed by left-clicking any electric pole nearby.
You can see only the info from the electric network where that pole is connected to! Unlike the production-info (press P) the electric network info is not globally measured, but by network.
- Consumption - What are the current consumption demands. This bar should always be full. Otherwise, it means your production is too low compared to the needed consumption.
- Production - What is the current production amount. This bar should never be full. Otherwise, it means you are at the limit of your power-production.
- Accumulator capacity - How much power is currently held inside of all your accumulators combined in joule. For quick understanding: 1J = 1W * 1sec, see also wikipedia:Joule
- Timespan - Set the time span for the graphs below
- Detailed Consumption - A list of consumers from highest power consumption to lowest. In the picture example, you can see that 2 oil refineries take the most power, at 431 kW.
- Detailed Production - A list of producers from highest power production to lowest. In the picture example, you can see that only 9 Steam engines produce all the electricity in the factory.
- Consumption Graph - Shows the consumption of the different parts of your factory over time. You can choose the timespan as detailed in #4 above.
- Production Graph - Shows the production of the different producers of your factory over time. You can choose the timespan as detailed in #4 above.
Note, that the timeframe influences the shown detailed production/consumption: the displayed watts is the summed up watts in the timeframe (in the graph below) divided by steps of that timeframe. This means you can see the consumption of radars, even if you mined them meanwhile.
- covering, rules with the length between poles etc. - todo -
Placing electric poles while shift is held down will place it without any connecting wires.
- Mainly about using different networks, networks connected with accus to limit power - todo -
There are some points, which can show you, what needs or can be changed in the liquid network:
- If your steam engines can keep up 510 W of output during heavy load (when electric poles display satisfaction below 100%), it is safe to add more engines.
- If an engine displays a temperature below 100 degrees, add more boilers.
- If you look into the engines and the available energy is below 100%, add boilers/pumps or add a new line to your power plant.
- If needed energy is much below the available energy, all is fine.
- There are also tricks to avoid using too much power. See Electric network.