I have a battery monitor question...

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Hi,

I've been so stoked about how much solar energy I'm getting. But... maybe it only seemed like I was getting a lot because maybe the Universal Battery Monitor isn't installed right...

Here's why I'm wondering about this... The light is lit for the top amount of stored energy... so that would mean that I haven't used all of 10% up yet... right?

Only tonight the inverter started beeping... and I think that means that it's sensing that the batteries are running low...

What do you think?

Here's what it looks like:
http://www.health-boundaries-bite.com/Solar.html#Here21
«13

Comments

  • Ralph Day
    Ralph Day Solar Expert Posts: 1,019 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    meters can be dangerous friends! THey tell you what they think you want to know (not really, butwe can sometimes interpret what they say as what we want to hear).

    If you have flooded lead acid batteries get a good hydrometer, then, get a good hydrometer. After that, get a good hydrometer. this measures the specific gravity of your battery electrolyte directly...hence the state of charge.

    A good hydrometer will tell yhou the true state of charge of your batteries, a meter can't. Once you get your good hydrometer, and are using it , you can see just how reliable your meter is. ( mine was not telling me what i needed to know re state of charge).

    If you have agm or gel batteries...that's someone elses' kettle of fish. They'll no doubt chime in next.

    ralph

    ps get a good hydrometer;)
  • crewzer
    crewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    CT,

    First, Happy Thanksgiving!

    Second, please remove the URL in your signature. It contains solicitations and commercial links, which is a violation of the forum rules. See: http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=635 All you have to do is edit your profile. Thanks.

    Third, back to your post.

    The “Universal Battery Monitor” is just a digital LED voltmeter. Higher voltage just means more (or higher range) LED’s are turned on. The only time it might anywhere near accurately describe battery state-of-charge (SOC) -- kind of like a fuel gauge -- is when the batteries are not being charged, not being discharged, have been at rest for at least several hours, and the battery temperature is 77 F.

    Battery voltage is greatly affected by what’s called “surface charge”. When a battery is being charged, the charge current into the battery increases the specific gravity of the thin layer of electrolyte that’s in direct contact with the internal plates. This causes a high false voltage value. However, once the charging source is removed, the electrolyte dissipates within the battery. The SG evens out, and the battery voltage drops to a value that’s appropriate for its state of charge (SOC) and temperature.

    Basically, the opposite happens when a battery is discharged. Under load, the battery voltage will read a false low.

    Two pictures in your solar link suggest the gray batteries are of the VRLA variety (AGM or gel; aka SLA). It’s my experience that the false value phenomenon -- especially during discharge -- is more pronounced in this type of battery. My theory is that the electrolyte suspension material (matte or gel) slows the electrolyte dissipation. Cold battery temperature exacerbates the behavior.

    I recommend you not rely on the UBM to monitor your batter bank’s SOC. If the UBM reads high and and your inverter is beeping due to low input voltage, then that's a good indication of the UBM's poor quality and usefulness.

    Assuming that your batteries are indeed VRLA, they are sealed and you won’t be able to use a hydrometer to take electrolyte SG readings. Accordingly, you might want to consider a quality product such as the Xantrex Link-10 battery monitor. Once properly set up, it will accurately tracks current in and out of the battery bank, making adjustments for charging efficiency, battery temperature, and the discharge current value. Other quality battery monitors are the Xantrex XBM and the TriMetric.

    HTH, and best of luck!
    Jim / crewzer
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    meters can be dangerous friends! THey tell you what they think you want to know (not really, butwe can sometimes interpret what they say as what we want to hear).

    If you have flooded lead acid batteries get a good hydrometer, then, get a good hydrometer. After that, get a good hydrometer. this measures the specific gravity of your battery electrolyte directly...hence the state of charge.

    A good hydrometer will tell yhou the true state of charge of your batteries, a meter can't. Once you get your good hydrometer, and are using it , you can see just how reliable your meter is. ( mine was not telling me what i needed to know re state of charge).

    If you have agm or gel batteries...that's someone elses' kettle of fish. They'll no doubt chime in next.

    ralph

    ps get a good hydrometer;)
    Hi Ralph,
    Thanks for taking the time to write. I appreciate it.

    Yes, I have gel batteries because I have them in the house. I think they will be fine.

    I just was surprised that the Universal Battery Monitor told me I had a lot more stored energy than appears to be true... (I guess it must be put out by the same people who put out the scientific studies saying there's no Global Warming and nothing to worry about...)
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    crewzer wrote: »
    CT,

    First, Happy Thanksgiving!

    Second, please remove the URL in your signature. It contains solicitations and commercial links, which is a violation of the forum rules. See: http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=635 All you have to do is edit your profile. Thanks.

    Third, back to your post.

    The “Universal Battery Monitor” is just a digital LED voltmeter. Higher voltage just means more (or higher range) LED’s are turned on. The only time it might anywhere near accurately describe battery state-of-charge (SOC) -- kind of like a fuel gauge -- is when the batteries are not being charged, not being discharged, have been at rest for at least several hours, and the battery temperature is 77 F.

    Battery voltage is greatly affected by what’s called “surface charge”. When a battery is being charged, the charge current into the battery increases the specific gravity of the thin layer of electrolyte that’s in direct contact with the internal plates. This causes a high false voltage value. However, once the charging source is removed, the electrolyte dissipates within the battery. The SG evens out, and the battery voltage drops to a value that’s appropriate for its state of charge (SOC) and temperature.

    Basically, the opposite happens when a battery is discharged. Under load, the battery voltage will read a false low.

    Two pictures in your solar link suggest the gray batteries are of the VRLA variety (AGM or gel; aka SLA). It’s my experience that the false value phenomenon -- especially during discharge -- is more pronounced in this type of battery. My theory is that the electrolyte suspension material (matte or gel) slows the electrolyte dissipation. Cold battery temperature exacerbates the behavior.

    I recommend you not rely on the UBM to monitor your batter bank’s SOC. If the UBM reads high and and your inverter is beeping due to low input voltage, then that's a good indication of the UBM's poor quality and usefulness.

    Assuming that your batteries are indeed VRLA, they are sealed and you won’t be able to use a hydrometer to take electrolyte SG readings. Accordingly, you might want to consider a quality product such as the Xantrex Link-10 battery monitor. Once properly set up, it will accurately tracks current in and out of the battery bank, making adjustments for charging efficiency, battery temperature, and the discharge current value. Other quality battery monitors are the Xantrex XBM and the TriMetric.

    HTH, and best of luck!
    Jim / crewzer

    so ... they sell something that doesn't remotely do what they say it will do?

    Brought to us by the same people who said there were WMD in Iraq, so let's run and invade??????

    I just hate this kind of trash.

    I want the old days of integrity back.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,478 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Karen,

    From reading through your site, you appear to be using one or more 400 watt crock pots for both heating and adding moisture to your air...

    I am guessing, but you probably only have about a maximum of 800 watts of solar panels (from what I can see in your pictures).

    With the way efficiencies work out--from the solar panels through your charge controller, to/from the battery, and back out your inverter... Your total solar efficiency from panel to heat is only about 60% of the solar panel rating.

    You are in/around Albuquerque, New Mexico (?--from your IP address)... Using the solar irradiation numbers (PDF file for New Mexico) for your area you are getting around 5-5.5 hours of sun per day right now (boy--that is a nice, sunny area!).

    Taking a wild set of guesses:

    480 watts of solar panels * 5 hours of sun * 60% efficiency = 1,440 watts*hours per day (average)...

    That is the equivalent of running one of your crock pots on full for 3.6 hours per day (or three of them for 1.2 hours per day, etc.)... If you have them on "warm"--that may be only 100 watts average (just a guess)--so they use less power--but still quite a bit for your battery system (if run for many hours per day).

    In the end, you need to measure the power you use and plan it against how much sun you have collected in the last day or three...

    First, a Kill-A-Watt meter is almost mandatory for to figure out how much power any (120 VAC / 60 Hz plug in) appliance needs. It is around $30 and very easy to use--once you understand the basic math behind it...

    The issue is that name plate ratings are usually not really accurate and many times don't take into account the average power used by a device (fridge is on 20 minutes out of 60, your hot pot has a thermostat to cycle power, etc.). For electricity, that is Watts*Hours (or kWatt*Hours they way your home's electric meter reads power).

    For example, a fridge may take 100 watts power, for 20 minutes out of an hour, 24 hours per day, 30 days per month:

    100 watts * 20min/60min * 24 h/day * 30 days/month = 2,400 watts*Hours / month (or 2.4 kWhrs per month).

    Or, if powered by your solar power system:

    100 watts * 20min/60min * 24 h/day = 800 watt*hours per day

    Your solar system generates during November/December and average of (4x120 watts of panels, 5 hours per day, 60% over all efficiency):

    480 watts * 5 hours of sun * 0.6 = 1,440 watt*hours per day...

    So, just the fridge will take about 55% of your daily power requirements.

    Leaving ~640 Watt*Hours per day to distribute to your other loads.

    Remember, my numbers above are guesses (tending towards a little bit worst case). Your numbers may be better or worse.

    Now, back to the basics here... Generally, running electric heaters from solar PV panels/batteries is about the most expensive use for your electricity you can do... As per the other post of mine you read (and thank you for the kind words), you really need to conserve energy first. If you have any left over--you can certainly use it for heating.

    But without knowing exactly how much power you generate, consume, or is in your batteries at any particular point in time, it is just tossing dice trying to manage your solar power system--and in the end, you will probably damage your batteries in a matter of months without the proper equipment/management for your solar RE system...

    So... Some recommendations... Assuming you have utility power back again:

    1. Take all electric heating devices off of your solar power system--put them back on utility power.

    2. You will need to "add up" the rest of the power/loads you have on your solar RE system and, probably, I would suggest that they not add up to more than 50% of your system capacity for now (if 480 watts of panels and lots of sunny days--that would be ~720 Watt*Hours per day during the winter).

    3. You really need to measure the voltage and temperature at your batteries accurately after ~3 hours of rest to measure their estimated state of charge. Your battery monitor may be OK for this--but it is not ideal. You, ideally, need to get a battery monitor. It measures, over time, the actual amount of current going into and out of your battery bank (Xantrex X10 is here). And, they accurately read the State of Charge of your batteries under virtually any condition (under load, charge, or standing idle). Using this type of meter is about ideal for any battery based off-grid system. It will tell you virtually 100% of anything you need to know when managing your system.

    4. Plastic trash bags are not ideal for protecting your home from battery accidents. Your current batteries are gell cell (?) so, they probably won't leak all of their acid out in the event a case gets cracked... But using heavy plastic sheets (Home Depot and other hardware/paint stores sell them in the paint department as drop cloths) to create an acid proof bowl around your batteries is a very good idea--otherwise you will may have major repair work in your home if a battery case ever does fail.

    5. When you get a battery monitor (or if you have a very good volt meter), you should measure the voltage of your over all battery string. Both during charging, discharging, and after charging and resting for several hours (along with their temperature). And (if you have a good volt meter) you should do the same thing for each individual battery (this looks like a 48 VDC battery bank with 4x 12 vdc batteries in series). Having all of the measurements will help you ensure that everything is working well, and let you catch a bad battery or electrical connection quickly before anything else can happen.

    6. You will need to manage your loads based on your actual daily weather and the state of charge of your battery bank. For the most part, your system is pretty bullet proof. The solar panels, charger, and inverter will not be harmed by your normal use... Except for the batteries. Both overcharging and undercharging can kill storage batteries in a matter of days if they are miss-managed bad enough. Just not treating the batteries well can reduce their live from many years to just months.

    7. Need to understand which solar charge controller you have, if it has a battery temperature probe installed, and what voltages it is programed for. Ensuring that these are all set up correctly will help ensure your sealed batteries a long life (sealed batteries are sensitive to overcharging).

    In the end, you will need help from your original installer to put in the Battery Monitor (you need some heavy cable, terminal ends, and such that a home owner just does not have handy)--plus this can be dangerous if you are not knowledgeable about electrical systems.

    And using a hand held volt meter can be dangerous if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing--get help! In some ways, a bank of lead acid batteries is more dangerous than working on your home's 120 VAC electric outlets.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,478 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    [What do you know--with all of my long-winded typing, this is the first time I have exceeded the posting limit :p here)

    Regarding the Iraq War and Global Warming--Wind-Sun's board is part of their solar energy business and they really don't want us here to get into political battles as it would cause them unwanted grief with their customers and time managing this forum.

    Regarding the integrity of the people selling/installing the equipment--It would be difficult to comment on them from a computer a thousand miles away.

    From an engineer's point of view (i.e., me!), we always have issues with marketing and sales types "over simplifying" complex systems and issues...

    And from their point of view--they don't want to let engineers within a thousand miles of their customers because we always over complicate and confuse the customers...

    To be honest, the battery (voltage) monitor you have installed is on the "over simplified" side of the problem. Yes, it works, but only if is was designed correctly and used in very exacting conditions--it in no way able to able to operate accurately over a wide range of conditions and user needs.

    On the other hand, the true Battery Monitor (which measures current and voltage) is much more of an engineering tool. It is more accurate, and accurate in more conditions (load/charge/hot/cold) than a voltage only monitor, and gives you the ability to predict how much load you can support for the next day, and when you are doing something wrong.

    But, to use even 20% of a Battery Monitor (universal battery monitor) functions, the owner is probably going to take hours (if not a few days) of reading the manual and understanding the concepts and the extensive amount of information a UBM can supply. And a UBM will cost 4x as much installed as your LED Voltage Monitor does.

    Would you have bought your system with a UBM instead? Maybe yes, maybe no. Would you have even understood the need the UBM before buying your first system --I don't know. Would I, as an engineer, wished that the sales rep. laid out the system, options, explained how to measure and manage your power and monitor your battery bank so that 6 months later you would not be surprised and unhappy. Yea... Did the sales rep. have the time and knowledge (and money) to explain and do the education. Don't know...

    My own two cents is that I tend to "under sell" (by the way, I have no business interests in RE power at all) what to expect from an RE system so that people are not badly surprised at how the RE system will work for them.

    That is me, being conservative, as an Engineer. A Sales Person is just that, somebody trying to sell you something based on your interests and what they have to sell. Whether in RE or in the shoe department--that is their job. And they probably will do that better than I can.

    Once you better define your needs and wants--possibly with some more Q&A's here--you can decide where you would like to head next.

    For example, I see that you want a larger inverter--but that would simply let you suck your batteries dry quicker. Unless you have a heavy peak load the runs a short time (say a well pump that takes a large amount of power for only a few minutes per day), your next addition would probably want to be more solar panels.

    Your battery bank is relatively large compared to your solar panels (around 3.8% of charge/bank capacity--assuming 4x 12 VDC x 183 amp*hour batteries). You could add 2-3x more panels to your existing battery bank. Especially handy to run those day-time loads (washer, gas drier, vacuum cleaner).

    -Bill

    PS: You do have a little misunderstanding about AC and DC electricity and what is dangerous about...

    AC power does turn "on and off" 120 times per second, and that makes it less likely to arc. However, it makes it more dangerous to humans touching it because the AC current flow tends to make our muscles contract so that our hands cannot let go of the wires--very easy to get electrocuted.

    DC power, on the other hand, is typically a lower voltage (in your battery system) and does not cause our muscles to contract. This means that people are less likely to be electrocuted by DC.

    HOWEVER, DC and DC Battery systems are very dangerous in regards to short circuits/arcs/fires... Lead Acid Storage Batteries output many times the current as an AC wall outlet (no switches or fuses in batteries), and DC arcs, once they get started, sustain much better than AC arcs (longer and hotter arcs). So, for example, switches need to be larger/heavier for DC circuits. Plus, arcs/fires around batteries can light off hydrogen gas and cause an explosion spraying sulfuric acid around.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    I have a bit of brain injury, so I can't absorb very much at one time.

    I did have a hard time getting clear information when I was getting my system on how much electric the panels gave me per hour.

    I forget what my panels are, I think probably 120 Evergreens.

    And I think I get more than 5.5 hours of sunlight a day. More like 8 even in winter, though later in the day the amps don't appear to be as high.

    I'm going to go make coffee and put the excess hot water into my Crock Pot and turn it on Warm.

    I expect I'll give up telly and see if ...

    but that's the thing, I don't know how I'm going to be able to tell when the batteries are fully charged again. I used to see the Float light come on every day... I figured that meant there was excess energy above what the batteries could absorb... but it isn't on for long periods, so to sit and watch to see if it comes on... not so fun.

    I had really been counting on the Battery Monitor to be at least a little more effective than this.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    BB. wrote: »
    Karen,
    without knowing exactly how much power you generate, consume, or is in your batteries at any particular point in time, it is just tossing dice trying to manage your solar power system--

    Yes, that's what I thought and why I bought the battery monitor... which appears to be either useless or wrongly installed.

    So... Some recommendations... Assuming you have utility power back again:

    No, I won't have the power back that is used to punish people who are poor. I think it was disgusting of them to turn me off when I have a disability and have been sick and I asked them for two days to get the money. I won't encourage them.

    1. Take all electric heating devices off of your solar power system--put them back on utility power.

    2. You will need to "add up" the rest of the power/loads you have on your solar RE system and, probably, I would suggest that they not add up to more than 50% of your system capacity for now (if 480 watts of panels and lots of sunny days--that would be ~720 Watt*Hours per day during the winter).

    3. You really need to measure the voltage and temperature at your batteries accurately after ~3 hours of rest to measure their estimated state of charge. Your battery monitor may be OK for this--but it is not ideal.

    How can it be anything but useless or wrongly installed if it says exactly the same thing all the time... the same thing if the Float light is on as when the inverter is beeping.

    You, ideally, need to get a battery monitor. It measures, over time, the actual amount of current going into and out of your battery bank (Xantrex X10 is here). And, they accurately read the State of Charge of your batteries under virtually any condition (under load, charge, or standing idle). Using this type of meter is about ideal for any battery based off-grid system. It will tell you virtually 100% of anything you need to know when managing your system.

    Yes... well I have around a hundred dollars. I'll have more when I get the refund from the Crock Pots I won't be able to use...

    4. Plastic trash bags are not ideal for protecting your home from battery accidents.

    The contractor bags are polypropolene as suggested in the Battery Box article from ... I forget the name of the publication. When I asked at Home Depot, they said they didn't carry anything like that. So I went with the Contractor bags which in total are around 18... of the things you are supposed to have of them.

    Your current batteries are gell cell (?) so, they probably won't leak all of their acid out in the event a case gets cracked... But using heavy plastic sheets (Home Depot and other hardware/paint stores sell them in the paint department as drop cloths) to create an acid proof bowl around your batteries is a very good idea--otherwise you will may have major repair work in your home if a battery case ever does fail.

    5. When you get a battery monitor (or if you have a very good volt meter), you should measure the voltage of your over all battery string. Both during charging, discharging, and after charging and resting for several hours (along with their temperature). And (if you have a good volt meter) you should do the same thing for each individual battery (this looks like a 48 VDC battery bank with 4x 12 vdc batteries in series). Having all of the measurements will help you ensure that everything is working well, and let you catch a bad battery or electrical connection quickly before anything else can happen.

    Yes... well with a hundred dollars total... it seems like I'm sorry I wasted money on a product that doesn't produce.

    6. You will need to manage your loads based on your actual daily weather and the state of charge of your battery bank. For the most part, your system is pretty bullet proof. The solar panels, charger, and inverter will not be harmed by your normal use... Except for the batteries. Both overcharging

    I have a charge controller which I bought and can only hope was properly installed.

    and undercharging can kill storage batteries in a matter of days if they are miss-managed bad enough.
    Just not treating the batteries well can reduce their live from many years to just months.

    which is why I bought the battery monitor... which appears to have been useless and a waste of my money.

    7. Need to understand which solar charge controller you have, if it has a battery temperature probe installed, and what voltages it is programed for. Ensuring that these are all set up correctly will help ensure your sealed batteries a long life (sealed batteries are sensitive to overcharging).

    I had to trust someone to do that... so whether they did it or not... it's like when I bought my condo in good faith and it turned out to have been built over a privy pit... raw excrement.

    In the end, you will need help from your original installer to put in the Battery Monitor (you need some heavy cable, terminal ends, and such that a home owner just does not have handy)--plus this can be dangerous if you are not knowledgeable about electrical systems.

    And using a hand held volt meter can be dangerous if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing--get help! In some ways, a bank of lead acid batteries is more dangerous

    vastly more dangerous as I understand it because it's direct current.

    than working on your home's 120 VAC electric outlets.


    -Bill

    I hope I've addressed most of the issues you've raised.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    BB. wrote: »
    [What do you know--with all of my long-winded typing, this is the first time I have exceeded the posting limit :p here)

    Regarding the Iraq War and Global Warming--Wind-Sun's board is part of their solar energy business and they really don't want us here to get into political battles as it would cause them unwanted grief with their customers and time managing this forum.

    Regarding the integrity of the people selling/installing the equipment--It would be difficult to comment on them from a computer a thousand miles away.

    From an engineer's point of view (i.e., me!), we always have issues with marketing and sales types "over simplifying" complex systems and issues...

    And from their point of view--they don't want to let engineers within a thousand miles of their customers because we always over complicate and confuse the customers...

    To be honest, the battery (voltage) monitor you have installed is on the "over simplified" side of the problem. Yes, it works, but only if is was designed correctly and used in very exacting conditions--it in no way able to able to operate accurately over a wide range of conditions and user needs.

    On the other hand, the true Battery Monitor (which measures current and voltage) is much more of an engineering tool. It is more accurate, and accurate in more conditions (load/charge/hot/cold) than a voltage only monitor, and gives you the ability to predict how much load you can support for the next day, and when you are doing something wrong.

    But, to use even 20% of a Battery Monitor (universal battery monitor) functions, the owner is probably going to take hours (if not a few days) of reading the manual and understanding the concepts and the extensive amount of information a UBM can supply. And a UBM will cost 4x as much installed as your LED Voltage Monitor does.

    Would you have bought your system with a UBM instead? Maybe yes, maybe no. Would you have even understood the need the UBM before buying your first system --I don't know.

    From reading the material that was presented I thought I could use the Universal Battery Monitor I bought and had installed. I planned to stay well within the range of use of my batteries that would insure long life. With my brain injury and loss of about half of my working memory, the more complicated products were not attractive to me.

    However, I did trust that what I bought would do something. Whereas it does nothing... it reads exactly the same if the Float light is on as when the inverter is beeping.


    Would I, as an engineer, wished that the sales rep. laid out the system, options, explained how to measure and manage your power and monitor your battery bank so that 6 months later you would not be surprised and unhappy. Yea... Did the sales rep. have the time and knowledge (and money) to explain and do the education. Don't know...

    I'm not unhappy, per se, I'm cold. But I would have been this cold one way or the other given that I bought as much system as I had the money for.

    What I find disheartening is the dishonesty. I was sold a product which apparently does nothing useful, and with my limited amount of money the percentage of financial damage that did to me is great.


    My own two cents is that I tend to "under sell" (by the way, I have no business interests in RE power at all) what to expect from an RE system so that people are not badly surprised at how the RE system will work for them.

    That is me, being conservative, as an Engineer. A Sales Person is just that, somebody trying to sell you something based on your interests and what they have to sell. Whether in RE or in the shoe department--that is their job. And they probably will do that better than I can.

    Once you better define your needs and wants--possibly with some more Q&A's here--you can decide where you would like to head next.

    For example, I see that you want a larger inverter--but that would simply let you suck your batteries dry quicker. Unless you have a heavy peak load the runs a short time (say a well pump that takes a large amount of power for only a few minutes per day), your next addition would probably want to be more solar panels.

    If I had a larger inverter I COULD vacuum or I could have used my old electric kettle. Without, I can't. I don't run a fridge, and I could easily trade off telly for a bit of cleaning, but I can't do that without the larger inverter.

    Your battery bank is relatively large compared to your solar panels (around 3.8% of charge/bank capacity--assuming 4x 12 VDC x 183 amp*hour batteries). You could add 2-3x more panels to your existing battery bank. Especially handy to run those day-time loads (washer, gas drier, vacuum cleaner).

    I'm not sure where I'd put them, though. And besides that I don't have the money.

    -Bill

    PS: You do have a little misunderstanding about AC and DC electricity and what is dangerous about...

    I just repeated what the electric guy said, and he said it several times.

    AC power does turn "on and off" 120 times per second, and that makes it less likely to arc. However, it makes it more dangerous to humans touching it because the AC current flow tends to make our muscles contract so that our hands cannot let go of the wires--very easy to get electrocuted.

    DC power, on the other hand, is typically a lower voltage (in your battery system) and does not cause our muscles to contract. This means that people are less likely to be electrocuted by DC.

    Yes, well when my batteries are wired for 120... I think that's what he was taking into consideration... he sure looked respectful of them, or, more accurately, the power.

    HOWEVER, DC and DC Battery systems are very dangerous in regards to short circuits/arcs/fires... Lead Acid Storage Batteries output many times the current as an AC wall outlet (no switches or fuses in batteries), and DC arcs, once they get started, sustain much better than AC arcs (longer and hotter arcs). So, for example, switches need to be larger/heavier for DC circuits. Plus, arcs/fires around batteries can light off hydrogen gas and cause an explosion spraying sulfuric acid around.

    Delightful

    Well... I still don't know how I'm going to know when my batteries are properly charged again...

    in another thread did you sort of suggest three days?
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    the edit function doesn't seem to work... I tried to correct some errors and it did the hour glass for well over 15 minutes without actually saving the changes...

    :(
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    While I understand your anger at the grid supplier and your desire to get off the grid, I would suggest you take some sober thoughts on the subject. Those who get "off the grid" to save money are only fooling themselfs. Irespective of any tax incentives, the "payoff" is years down the road. You risk falling into the trap that many have in the past: Ready, fire, aim! They spend money on hardware without really UNDERSTANDING the aim. (And the technology).

    My suggestion is that if you truely want to get to be more independent, you bite the bullet with the utility for the winter, spend the winter reading and gleaning all you can about RE and THEN go forth with a plan. The hardware you currently own can be incorporated in a well through out system that meets your needs/budget.

    A complete system for a modicum of luxery (no electric heat, no fridge) will run $1-3000, and goes up from there.

    Good luck.

    Icarus

    PS. I have had the same experiance with the edit function.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,478 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Regarding the Edit Function... There is another button called something like "Go Advanced" (fixed)... Even if the other "quick edit" has "hung"... You can hit the "Advanced Edit" at anytime--do any more edits and hit Save Changes or Preview Changes as needed. Has worked every time for me (even after the original "Edit" function has hung)...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,478 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Dear Karen,

    I understand your particular limitations (functional and financial) and understand that it sucks. I am truly sorry.

    The problem with virtually any Renewable Energy system is that they require a fair amount of work and understand to keep functioning well. And many times, a bit of owner debugging to figure out problems before calling the installer (saving time and money).

    When you pay those $$$$ to the power company--you are not only paying for the energy and their profits--you are paying their expertise to also ensure that they supply safe and reliable energy to your home.

    I understand that you know these facts--but, sometimes I feel that we all need a reality check once in awhile. My wife certainly thinks I need a reality check more often than I think I need one! :p

    The trash bag will probably work OK as long as nobody poked a hole in them anywhere (and won't be an issue if the batteries never leak in the first place).

    The issues that you have, I certainly believe the symptoms you are posting indicate one or more problems in your system--regardless or not--if you install a new universal battery monitor.

    If the system is still under warranty, it would probably be worth calling the installer and have him diagnose the problem(s)... Could be a loose/dirty electrical connection to a miss-programmed charge controller or inverter, to damaged batteries from drawing/supplying too much power (from under or over charging).

    If you have somebody with an accurate volt meter who has experience (electrician, electrical engineer, a good shade tree mechanic, etc.) could probably help. Possibly, you might try contacting the local college or trade school and see if a class project could be made out of solving the problem (to save money).

    In the end, I understand your reluctance to reconnect the utility company, but, in the end, it may be the most cost effective way for you to keep your home lit and warm.

    I am very sorry that I probably cannot help more...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    icarus wrote: »
    While I understand your anger at the grid supplier and your desire to get off the grid, I would suggest you take some sober thoughts on the subject. Those who get "off the grid" to save money are only fooling themselfs. Irespective of any tax incentives, the "payoff" is years down the road. You risk falling into the trap that many have in the past: Ready, fire, aim! They spend money on hardware without really UNDERSTANDING the aim. (And the technology).

    My suggestion is that if you truely want to get to be more independent, you bite the bullet with the utility for the winter, spend the winter reading and gleaning all you can about RE and THEN go forth with a plan. The hardware you currently own can be incorporated in a well through out system that meets your needs/budget.

    A complete system for a modicum of luxery (no electric heat, no fridge) will run $1-3000, and goes up from there.

    Good luck.

    Icarus

    PS. I have had the same experiance with the edit function.

    I have thought it out, I will not support a business which threatens my well being. My life was put in danger when they shut off my power during such cold weather when I had been sick. And it put my health at risk to take away my light when I need it for balance.

    If I had not asked for two days and been refused, I would not be so sure that they must NOT be supported in abuse of those who are in poverty.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    BB. wrote: »
    Dear Karen,

    I understand your particular limitations (functional and financial) and understand that it sucks. I am truly sorry.

    The problem with virtually any Renewable Energy system is that they require a fair amount of work and understand to keep functioning well. And many times, a bit of owner debugging to figure out problems before calling the installer (saving time and money).

    When you pay those $$$$ to the power company--you are not only paying for the energy and their profits--you are paying their expertise to also ensure that they supply safe and reliable energy to your home.

    I understand that you know these facts--but, sometimes I feel that we all need a reality check once in awhile. My wife certainly thinks I need a reality check more often than I think I need one! :p

    The trash bag will probably work OK as long as nobody poked a hole in them anywhere (and won't be an issue if the batteries never leak in the first place).

    The issues that you have, I certainly believe the symptoms you are posting indicate one or more problems in your system--regardless or not--if you install a new universal battery monitor.

    If the system is still under warranty, it would probably be worth calling the installer and have him diagnose the problem(s)... Could be a loose/dirty electrical connection to a miss-programmed charge controller or inverter, to damaged batteries from drawing/supplying too much power (from under or over charging).

    If you have somebody with an accurate volt meter who has experience (electrician, electrical engineer, a good shade tree mechanic, etc.) could probably help. Possibly, you might try contacting the local college or trade school and see if a class project could be made out of solving the problem (to save money).

    In the end, I understand your reluctance to reconnect the utility company, but, in the end, it may be the most cost effective way for you to keep your home lit and warm.

    I am very sorry that I probably cannot help more...

    -Bill


    Every time someone allows someone else to beat them into submission, they tangentially allow the beater to beat others.

    If PNM wanted their money, it would have been wise to give me two days.

    Now, I'd rather learn more about Eskimos.

    The system works great. It supplies all my needs quite nicely. I just have to work out a wood stove or something of that nature.

    How? I'm sure some miracle will materialize. :)
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    I hope you guys are all having a great Thanksgiving!
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Battery_Monitor_Wiring_mid_sized.jpg

    Is this how the wires to my battery monitor should look?

    Would you expect a wire to be hanging loose like that?

    I took a picture today of my MPPT controller and my battery monitor... the controller shows not very much battery charge, but the monitor shows full charge:

    Monitor_shows_90_percent_MPPT_shows_low_reading_for_batteries_little_lighter.jpg

    Here's a close up of the monitor which I snapped at the same time:

    Battery_Meter_Monitor_which_has_always_shown_exactly_what_it_shows_in_this_picture_Smaller.jpg

    My page with the images and text explaining is at:
    http://www.health-boundaries-bite.com/Solar.html#space
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Battery_Monitor_Wiring_mid_sized.jpg

    Is this how the wires to my battery monitor should look?

    Would you expect a wire to be hanging loose like that? -- the red one, I mean.
    The loose wire in the middle, by the way, is from my MPPT controller... so I have no idea what that's about.

    I took a picture today of my MPPT controller and my battery monitor... the controller shows not very much battery charge, but the monitor shows full charge:

    Monitor_shows_90_percent_MPPT_shows_low_reading_for_batteries_little_lighter.jpg

    Here's a close up of the monitor which I snapped at the same time (it has always looked exactly like this):

    Battery_Meter_Monitor_which_has_always_shown_exactly_what_it_shows_in_this_picture_Smaller.jpg

    My page with the images and text explaining is at:
    http://www.health-boundaries-bite.com/Solar.html#space
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Hey guys to me it looks like there are 2 loose wires.

    First: the 'pair ' in the center, behind the inverter.... possibly the temp sensor for the MPPT?
    and second: the RED one on the wall to the right. ???
    It looks like it is Marretted (wire nut in the US) to the Black after going through a black clamp of some sort...

    Karen is that right? 2 loose wires? Please confirm.

    Eric
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    westbranch wrote: »
    Hey guys to me it looks like there are 2 loose wires.

    First: the 'pair ' in the center, behind the inverter.... possibly the temp sensor for the MPPT?
    and second: the RED one on the wall to the right. ???
    It looks like it is Marretted (wire nut in the US) to the Black after going through a black clamp of some sort...

    Karen is that right? 2 loose wires? Please confirm.

    Eric

    Yes, there are two loose wires. The one in the middle of the picture comes from the bottom of the MTTP, and it's got electrical tape around it...

    The other one, the red one, ... I think it comes from that thing... I think that thing is the fuse... The red one is very loose wire looking because of the bare wires at the end...
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Karen can you tell us where the BLACK wire comes from? [the one that appears to connect to the RED wire]

    Does it connect to the RED wire?


    AND are there any other wires that connect to it at the BLUE 'wire nut'?

    It may just be shadows but it looks like there is another wire connecting to the red and blue wires...

    Eric
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    westbranch wrote: »
    Karen can you tell us where the BLACK wire comes from? [the one that appears to connect to the RED wire]

    Does it connect to the RED wire?


    AND are there any other wires that connect to it at the BLUE 'wire nut'?

    It may just be shadows but it looks like there is another wire connecting to the red and blue wires...

    Eric

    Hi Eric,
    I think there's a big black wire that comes out of the battery box... but it's really cold right now and I don't have a lot of light in that room.

    I'll check in the morning and post ...

    thank you for asking.

    (I do know that when I was undoing the grey cap, that it looked as if there were two blue caps, not just one... but I can't be sure, either...)
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    full_view_of_wires_to_battery_monitor.jpg

    Maybe this is clearer. It's a more complete view.

    It is a bit tricky to see clearly because the flash made a shadow that looks like a second wire...
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Karen sorry, that picure is only a bit better.
    Can you describe all the wire connections please, such as red to black , black to grey , etc, etc...

    Eric
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    westbranch wrote: »
    Karen sorry, that picure is only a bit better.
    Can you describe all the wire connections please, such as red to black , black to grey , etc, etc...

    Eric

    Hi, It was 18 degrees last night, and pretty cold today. So I didn't venture out from my tent very much. I did photos for you early this morning, but it was overcast today and there were almost no amps coming in, so I shut off my inverter, computer and modem...

    Here's the picture I think may be the best:
    more_pics_of_battery_monitor_wiresCropped.jpg

    That fat black wire goes into the blue cap that looks as if there are two of them. The wires I unwound to turn off the light are the little ones to the front, on the right. There appear to be some small wires at the back right about there, too.
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    Karen, much better photo.

    PLease be careful with the bare wires. You should replace the 'nut' on one of the 2 small bare wires and also put one on the bare large RED wire.

    If the unit is wired properly the Large RED wire will be 'positive' and connected to the batteries positive terminals via ??? so be careful when doing this.

    Also not sure what the 'black box' around the red wire is , possibly a fusable link?? Purpose unknown at this time. Perhaps Solar Guppy can identify it.

    Does the large black wire comimg fromthe battery, and going to the battery monitor have 4 wires in it ? red, blue, white and green? Looks that way.

    Keep warm

    Eric
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...
    westbranch wrote: »
    Karen, much better photo.

    PLease be careful with the bare wires. You should replace the 'nut' on one of the 2 small bare wires and also put one on the bare large RED wire.

    It doesn't matter which of the two?

    If the unit is wired properly the Large RED wire will be 'positive' and connected to the batteries positive terminals via ??? so be careful when doing this.

    The large red wire seems to be something that came with the fuse thing... I'm not keen to do this.

    Also not sure what the 'black box' around the red wire is , possibly a fusable link??

    I don't know what a "fusable link" is, but I'm pretty sure the black thing is the fuse, and if the specs are right, or the manual, or whatever the pdf file was that I read, the fuse was supposed to be within 9 inches of the batteries... Which it's not. So I wonder, does that make much difference?

    Purpose unknown at this time. Perhaps Solar Guppy can identify it.

    Does the large black wire comimg fromthe battery, and going to the battery monitor have 4 wires in it ? red, blue, white and green?

    It looks like I unwound a blue and black wire, that had been in the grey cap. The remaining two wires at the back appear to be white on the bottom and green on the top.


    Looks that way.

    Keep warm

    ?????

    Eric

    I'm a little unclear where you are going with this...

    Does the fuse thing work if one half of it is dangling free?
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    NO it does not matter just cover 1 of them so they can not make contact.

    It looks like there is a small red wire in with the white and green and blue. Correct?

    have to go to a meeting for a few hours . will check back in the morning.

    Eric
     
    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,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    I don't see a red one, where do you see it?
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: I have a battery monitor question...

    The black thing on the red wire is indeed a fuse holder. Holds a bg automotive type fuse. Amperage of course unknown.
This discussion has been closed.