A friend gave me 4 panels & golf cart batteries. Now watt?

ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
Hi,
Totally new to this.
After Hurricane Maria my friend decided to leave Puerto Rico. In storage he had 4 MSX120 panels and 8 6v Golf cart batteries.
All unused but old and with a good luck handshake he said goodbye.
Now for my question:
We know we'll be without power for at least 4 months. And rather than investing in a generator I'd like to go solar for my refrigerator, 1 TV, 2 laptops and maybe a fan.
What is recommended?
What inverter and charge controller?
Any other recommendations appreciated...
Thanks

Comments

  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,190 ✭✭✭✭
    Do you have volt meter to measure the voltage of the batteries ,this would be a good place to start, if standing unchanged for extended periods,  they may be unusable,  how long depends largely on ambient storage  temperature and lenght of time, not trying to be pestimistic, just a reality check, before proceeding.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    I have seen batteries still be usable in spite of long storage and very low voltage. Can you tell us of a manufacturing date? Voltage would also be useful. I would try to charge the batteries as soon as possible. If decent, they may be worth hundreds of dollars.

    Without decent batteries, the project may have questionable returns for quite awhile.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    See many great opportunities for buying a little land in Puerto Rico these days? I'd like a concrete slab close to the ocean. Close to tourism and diving would be even better.

    Never hurts to ask?
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    I'll check on the dates...we checked several of them. They fluctuated between 1.1 and 2.5.
    FYI:. Yup lots of good prices on land right now, If you can get to it.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    ajperez said:
    I'll check on the dates...we checked several of them. They fluctuated between 1.1 and 2.5.
    FYI:. Yup lots of good prices on land right now, If you can get to it.
    I am sorry but I don't know what 1.1 and 2.5 means. Can you check voltage? Can you try to charge them?

    I know things are generally really bad right now but I don't know your specific situation.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,822 ✭✭✭✭
    can you match them in pairs with similar voltage? Or are they too disparate to match?
    If you can pair them up, post them here for us, then next step is  to get your hands on a mid range Charge Controller so you can see if they will charge....   Anyone you know have a solar setup and a spare CC?

     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    @softdown 1.1volts
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    Much lower than anticipated. I would not get my hopes up. Are they well over ten years old? 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    Yup...have been in storage for at least that long. One even had 2.2 volts.
    I read somewhere that batteries can be reconditioned...true?
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 11 #11
    My own efforts failed. Ask Mark Kuruth if you can, he is likely our #1 battery expert. 

    If you come across a concrete pad that kind of resembles my interest at the right price, there is a chance that I would come down and get you going. I can build a hurricane resistant structure on concrete but not able to navigate Puerto Rico regulations for building from nothing. A pre-existing structure may mean that I can just rebuild.

    I speak very little Spanish....and I am dumbly assuming that is the predominant language and culture. Also....going out of town for two days now.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    I'll keep an eye out for something like that. Mountain is cheaper, metropolitan area and beach is more expensive.PM me your price range. FYI: Land is sold in square meters but houses in square footage.
    Most people build in concrete including the roof. For example my home is entirely in concrete and cinder block walls. Some optionally build in wood because it's cooler. About 20% of the population has a decent grasp on English. Most can read and understand. Some, like myself, are fluent in both.
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    @westbranch they are all 6volts batteries. What would you have in mind as a mid range charger? In our current state a spare CC is a luxury item. Will a local AutoZone due?
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 4,822 ✭✭✭✭
    Sorry about any confusion, I meant a mid range Solar charge controller, not a car type charger, as I read that the grid power would not be available for  up to 4 months.  I am off grid totally here and think in that frame of mind..... gas is a treasured commodity, eked out as necessary.
    Yes a car charger would be a reasonable, just did not know if you had a genny and gas.
    You should only charge 2 cells at a time.  Best is one (6V).... so you can see what state it is in, ie increase in Votlage , then use a car dome light (6V if possible).and place a load on each cell.
    Carefully watch for excess bubbling in each cell and /or heating, shut down if observed and record the voltage reached. You can only try!  given the circumstances you have ....


     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 13 #15
    Can you hook two batteries up in serial and make a  "12 volt battery"?   

    With jumper cables from a car, you may be able to see if they will take a charge. I'd keep an eye on this to ensure that excessive heat is not being created. Don't leave your car engine running....the jumper cables should be disconnected after "maybe ~ one hour". This is a pretty creative way to see if the old batteries may except a charge, I would not spend more than a few bucks on these batteries right now. If voltage increases from.....say 1.5 to 1.8, for example, you might  be unto something.

    The big question right now is .... will they take a charge? 

    This is likely a bit of a wild goose chase. Voltage is very low, batteries are very old.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    I'll try that over the weekend.
    How about I just take them to AutoZone and have them checked and or charged?
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,493 ✭✭✭✭
    Yes....much better plan. I didn't know that was possible. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 76 ✭✭✭
    AJ, if AutoZone won't charge them for you, you can just hook any two with voltages that are close together (the two with the highest voltages would be the best pair), and hook them up to 1 of the solar panels for an hour or two, or however many hours it takes for the voltage to start rising. Just check the voltage on them fairly often. Don't get me wrong, you cannot use them without a charge controller, but you can definitely find out if any of them are salvageable without a charge controller. Then, you can worry about finding a charge controller, if at least a few of them are usable.

    Just don't get your hopes up on any of them having any real storage life left after 10 or more years of age, along with never having been charged. Then again, even if you are only able to recover 10 or 15% of their original storage capability, that's tons better than what you have now, right? Also, it's going to take many days to get those batteries filled back up, especially if many of them turn out to be somewhat usable...after you find a charge controller.
  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    Well here it is. Went to AutoZone and advanced Auto. All dead.
    I have the following stores available.
    AutoZone, Advanced Auto (formally Western Auto) and Pepboys.
    What batteries can can you recommend I get from any of them?
    This isn't getting better as time moves forward. So budget and time is becoming of essence. I need to get my refrigerator on ASAP as ice is getting more difficult, running water is becoming unsafe and down to trickle.
    Considering all I have are the 4 SMX120 panels. I need to go fast and low cost for the refrigerator.
    Thanks
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 635 ✭✭✭✭
    Walmart or Costco carry 6 volt GC-2 golf cart batteries. These would be a great option for a starter set of batteries. They are quite inexpensive in comparison to other options.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • AguarancherAguarancher Solar Expert Posts: 263 ✭✭✭
    edited October 15 #21

    Sorry to hear about all the destruction on your island, but if it were me in your situation, I would be hunting down a propane powered fridge out of a damaged trailer. I think for you to go solar at this point isn’t realistic, but it might be something for the future.

    Added: I would also look for wrecked golf carts to strip the batteries from if you do need solar for you laptop and fans, but I'm a scrounge. Depending on your electrical skills you will still need a charge controller and possibly an inverter which may be hard to come by.


  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    Thanks for the suggestions. Finding a Propane fridge is less likely as there aren't many RVs or trailers.
    No batteries (of any type) left in Walmart. Need to check Costco.
    How many GC2s would I need for a mid range refrigerator?
  • AguarancherAguarancher Solar Expert Posts: 263 ✭✭✭
    I would be looking at wrecked boats as you may find batteries, charge controller and inverters..like I said I'm a scrounge.
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 635 ✭✭✭✭
    ajperez said:
    Thanks for the suggestions. Finding a Propane fridge is less likely as there aren't many RVs or trailers.
    No batteries (of any type) left in Walmart. Need to check Costco.
    How many GC2s would I need for a mid range refrigerator?

    You'll need a minimum of 4 for a 24 volt system.That would be the bare minimum  you might get away with. Thing is you need to be able to keep them charged in a 24/7 scenario to keep your refer running. That being said you will need something in the 22 to 25 amp range @ 24 volts from your solar array.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • ajperezajperez Registered Users Posts: 10 ✭✭
    Will 2 - 12volt gel batteries from AutoZone do? Something like this?
    Image attached.
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 635 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 15 #26
    Those are AGM, not gel, which is a good thing. Problem is these aren't real deep cycle batteries. If they have CCA stats on them they are designed for starting, not deep cycling. I realize you may have to use what you can get, given your circumstances. 
     If you have to use these because that's all you can get, you will need more than 2 of them. They have a very low capacity @65AH. 2  of them will only give you 65 ah. @ 24 volts. 4 GC-2 batteries will give you around 220 ah. @24 volts. As I mentioned before 4 GC-2 batteries would be a minimum size battery bank I'd use to try and run a refrigerator.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    I doubt they'd run the fridge for a day, and being auto type batteries they likely  wouldn't last long being discharged that deeply.  If it's the only alternative, 4 might work (2 series strings at 24v for about 135ah@24v).  4 golf cart batteries would be better.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 76 ✭✭✭
    AJ, please, please, please stop wasting your time and your money attempting to do something that you are not going to be able to do for many months, power a refrigerator. Unless those are magical car starting batteries, that have 120V AC plugs on the back of them so that they can power refrigerators, an entire 18-wheeler truckload of them would get you no closer to powering a refrigerator. Batteries and solar panels aren't the only things required to power refrigerators. Without a charge controller, and a 1,500-2,000 watt inverter, along with all of the other supplies that are required, such as DC breakers, thick cabling, and a few other things, you will power zero refrigerators, even small ones.

    If I were you, I would sell/trade those "1000 watts" of solar panels, which would only give you a maximum of 750 watts for three hours per day during the summer months, and less for all other months except April and May, and buy myself a 3,000 watt or larger generator with the money from the sale of the panels, and resign myself to having to buy 10 gallons of gasoline per day to power it. If you can pay twice as much for an actual made by Honda eu-3000is generator, grab it. It will power any residential refrigerator, and will only consume about 3 gallons per day to do so. It will seriously use 1/3 as much gasoline, to do exactly the same job as a cheap 3,000 watt generator will.

    One last thing. If you can't buy a Honda-made eu-3000is generator, grab a Honda-made eu-2000is instead. It will easily power one of those little ~5 sq ft "dorm" refrigerators, along with the other things you need to power, and use no more than 2 gallons of gasoline per day.
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