Iota Battery charger

JeromedsJeromeds Registered Users Posts: 13
I have purchase an Iota charger w/IQ to charge and maintain my four 12volt T105 equivlent batteries. Iota doesn't seem to have much instructional material. Can you tell me if (1) I can charge the batteries from 120v household current? and (2) as part of my solar system is the charger wired into the system or used as needed from generator to batteries with appropriate wire and booster cable clips?
This is for a seasonal cabin where I take the batteries to my on grid home to maintain and prevent freezing during the winter.
Thx,
Jerry

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,013 admin
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    Jeromeds wrote: »
    I have purchase an Iota charger w/IQ to charge and maintain my four 12volt T105 equivalent batteries. Iota doesn't seem to have much instructional material.
    Can you tell us what model and ratings it has? Do you have the IQ Charge Controller?

    And what voltage your battery bank is ( 12/24/48 ). And battery/bank AH rating.
    Can you tell me if (1) I can charge the batteries from 120v household current?
    As far as I know, all Iota chargers are 120 VAC 50/60Hz nominal input.

    You can power them from your 120 VAC home wiring, or from a genst... However, you do have to match the input current requirement to the generator output (for example a, ~40-55 Amp 12 volt Iota would about max-out a 1,600 watt AC generator.
    and (2) as part of my solar system is the charger wired into the system or used as needed from generator to batteries with appropriate wire and booster cable clips?
    You can parallel multiple charging sources on to one battery bank... Whichever one is set to the highest voltage will "win".

    Note, all chargers should each be wired directly to the battery bank with short/heavy cables. You should have around 0.05 to 0.10 volt maximum voltage drop (ideally) between charger and battery bank. Otherwise, the charge controller will think the battery is at a higher state of charge that it really is and charge more slowly.

    For a permanent or semi-permanent setup--you should not use booster cable clips... They are fairly unreliable (variable resistance, don't carry much current) and easy to miss-connect.

    Also, there is a "right" and "wrong" way to parallel battery together... "Unbalanced" wiring can cause some batteries to carry most of the charging/discharging current, while others do not. Read this web page on how to wire up a bank.
    This is for a seasonal cabin where I take the batteries to my on grid home to maintain and prevent freezing during the winter.
    Thx,
    A fully charged battery bank will not freeze in any reasonable weather (even -40C/F below). Some folks here put a small solar panel on the wall of their cabin to float the batteries over winter (vertical panel sheds snow--unless you live in a place that gets huge snowfalls/drifts).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    in addition to what bb said, for solar, you will not be able to pipe it through that iota as you will need a charge controller for that.
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 373 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    BB. wrote: »
    .

    However, you do have to match the input current requirement to the generator output (for example a, ~40-55 Amp 12 volt Iota would about max-out a 1,600 watt AC generator.


    -Bill

    I'd like an explanation of this one. Is this a typo, or talking about surge, etc? I'm missing something... 12V x 55A = 660W. That's a long way from 1600W.

    FWIW, I'm using a 75A Iota charger with my 2400W (2000W continuous) generator.

    While it can produce 75A on the 12VDC side, it's only drawing ~10A on the 120VAC side. Tad over half the capacity of my generator. Iota claims their charger is >80% efficient.

    I do completely agree about running it parallel to the solar setup. I've run both at the same time after a grid down exercise, and they play nicely together.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,362 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    2manytoyz wrote: »
    ... Iota claims their charger is >80% efficient....


    What's the power factor on it ? That can eat up generator capacity. The Kill-a-watt should show PF (now I have to look thru archives, I think I measured mine)

    update:
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?p=84100&highlight=iota#post84100
    I used a kill-a-watt meter to measure the iota: (48V 15A model)
    1030w 11.9A .67 PF

    And your genset has a PF spec too.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 373 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    mike90045 wrote: »
    What's the power factor on it ? That can eat up generator capacity. The Kill-a-watt should show PF (now I have to look thru archives, I think I measured mine)

    update:
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?p=84100&highlight=iota#post84100
    I used a kill-a-watt meter to measure the iota: (48V 15A model)
    1030w 11.9A .67 PF

    And your genset has a PF spec too.

    Thanks for the response.

    My generator is a Yamaha EF2400iS. Inverter type. Engine runs only as fast as the load demands. With the charger putting out 73-77 Amps (measured), the generator was running ~ 1/2 throttle (subjective ear measurement). Certainly not full throttle.

    When I get a chance, I'll load up my Iota charger, and measure the DC output current to verify full load, measure the AC current, and check the power factor. More for my own knowledge than anything else. Probably be a few weeks since I'm still getting settled into the new house. If this thread is stil alive, I'll post what mine measures, otherwise I'll start a new thread.
  • JeromedsJeromeds Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    Does this mean the IOTA is only for a solar "system" and cannot be used to recover a battery bank either with a generator or conventional power?
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    Jeromeds wrote: »
    Does this mean the IOTA is only for a solar "system" and cannot be used to recover a battery bank either with a generator or conventional power?

    Iota's are 120 VAC battery chargers. They run from utility power or generator power. They do not run from solar panels. They can be used to charge batteries that are part of a solar electric power system. They are 3 stage chargers, and as such follow the charge profile recommended for deep cycle batteries.

    You have four golf cart (T105) type batteries configured for 12 Volts. That will be approximately 440 Amp hours and can be charged with a 45 Amp 12 Volt Iota without problem. It will not overwhelm a 1600 Watt generator such as the Honda EU2000i.
  • dagr51dagr51 Solar Expert Posts: 72 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I use my Iota dls75A on a 2500 Honda EN, charging a 660 ah GC battery bank and I've never seen it use more than 1500 watts and only at the beginning of a charge cycle. I believe the face plate rating of the Iota is only 1800 watts.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    The IOTA 40-55 works fine on a Honda EU2000. The ECO throttle runs just a notch above it's idle speed. I usually start it with the ECO off and let it warm up a couple minutes, then put the ECO on. I have a circuit breaker in the feed cord and use it to turn the Charger on. If you don't, you'll notice a pretty big spark when you first plug it in as it loads the capacitor's.
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 373 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    Okay, finally an update, sorry for the delay. Just completing the move from the old house...

    I still don't have my system up and running, but the battery bank is connected, and tied to a busbar. I left the Iota 75A off for a few days, and installed the fast charging plug. I used a Kill-A-Watt meter to measure the AC current going into the charger, and a 400A Extech clamp-on DC meter on the output. I plugged in the Kill-A-Watt, and let it boot up, same with the Extech meter. I took the picture moments after plugging in the charger.

    Here's the worst case with the 75A model:

    maxcharge.jpg

    So about 1630W going in, about 900W coming out. Not as efficient as I thought. But this is the larger version of the charger. The battery bank voltage started coming up quickly, and the current started tapering off.

    As soon as I unplugged the fast charge plug, I connected the IQ4 module. The charge current dropped down to about 20A, input current down to about 5A:

    iq4charging.jpg

    Can't speak for the 40A or 55A versions, but at least now I have real numbers for my charger.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,013 admin
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    Actually it is 1,360 Volt*Amps (assuming 120 VAC)

    Watts would be around:
    • 1,360 VA * 0.67 PF (from earlier post) = 911.2 Watts
    Output current*voltage is ?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • snuffysnuffy Solar Expert Posts: 72 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I'm thinking of getting one of these Iota chargers with the IQ4 option. Are the absorb and float voltages adjustable on them?
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 373 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    snuffy wrote: »
    I'm thinking of getting one of these Iota chargers with the IQ4 option. Are the absorb and float voltages adjustable on them?

    No, it's a small sealed black box with fixed settings.

    dscn4134-1.jpg

    Per the Iota website:

    Charging Voltages
    The charging voltages used to charge the battery during the three stages differ depending on the voltage of the battery being charged. If you are interested in knowing the various voltages, they are easy to calculate. Follow the simple steps below:

    1) Determine the number of cells your battery has by counting the flashes on the IQ4 when it is first activated (1 flash = 1 cell)
    2) Multiply the number of cells by the appropriate voltage for the individual charging stage. Use the table below for reference:

    Charging Phase Voltage Charge per Cell
    Bulk Charge 2.466
    Absorption Charge 2.366
    Float Charge 2.266

    Example: A 12V battery (6 cells) will Bulk Charge at 14.8V (6 x 2.466).


    More info here: http://www.iotaengineering.com/iq.htm

    Since the IQ4 module can be quickly unplugged, you can manually change the operating voltage of the charger. Without the IQ4 module, it'll operate at 13.6V. With the "dual voltage plug" installed, it'll operate at 14.2V.

    More info about this feature on the 2nd page: http://www.iotaengineering.com/pplib/dls75spec.pdf
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,739 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    snuffy wrote: »
    I'm thinking of getting one of these Iota chargers with the IQ4 option. Are the absorb and float voltages adjustable on them?
    Yes the voltages are adjustable if you're not afraid to adjust them. Its not in the manual. Backwoodssolar.com sells the Iota chargers with their voltages adjusted upwards, and will adjust them to your specifications if you don't like the Iota or the backwoodssolar default values.
    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • BackToBasicsBackToBasics Registered Users Posts: 11
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I've got a Powermax PM3-45 coming to me in the mail. It's a scratched model being sent free of charge to me by Errin Tribble of Powermax.

    Being only a 45 amp model, it wont be apples to apples, but I'll do some similar testing when I receive it and report back with my findings.

    I've attached a spec sheet as the link on their website points to a discontinued version of their chargers.

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/bzsj29umkb3f8xx/PM3%20Specs%20New.pdf
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I have 2 IOTA's a 12/55 and a 24/25. I also have a PowerMax 12/30. The IOTA's are workable, but have a couple quirks. The automatic 8 hr absorption phase always seems very long to me and it automatically does a full repeat charge every 7 days with the IQ4 plugged in. You can cut the absorb short by unplugging the IQ4 and re-plugging it, if you have the external one and not the built in IQ4.

    The PowerMax, well, let's put it this way, I wish I never opened the box and sent it back. It's really a 2 stage charger / Power Supply with storage voltage step down. It has NO absorption phase, just a 13.6 v phase they call maintenance phase for 7 hours. I don't know if that ever worked, because if you have any load on it, it won't drop down to 13.2, mine never did. I eventually drilled out the rivets and cranked the voltage up to 15.5 with the pot and have it hooked to a Xantrex c35 charge controller so you can control it's output. It actually works pretty well this way, but it doubled the cost over the IOTA , if you can live with their weirdness.

    The other way is to bite the bullet and buy a Xantrex or something similar from the get go.
  • Powerguy2011Powerguy2011 Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I did not know Powermax made a 30amp. I knew they had a 35. I have aPM3-45 and use it on my batteries all the time. I have seen all 3 stages so I have to disagree about a 2 stage charger. I have used both iota and Powermax for well over a year and had great luck with both. Is iota still making the chargers? You read so many things I never know what's true. Back to basics I think you will be happy with the powermax. Well if it was free that's hard to beat. Did he say if he had a lot of those scratch ones. I would pay for one if they do?
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I didn't make my previous post to put a stamp of approval on either IOTA or PowerMax. I posted what I are the facts about both. The actual model of the PowerMax is PM3-35 ( Rated @ 32 amp output ), but they call it a 35, I called it a 30, my error.

    When I use a charger I am powering it with a 20 kw Gas Generator using 2.25 gallons of gas a hour. I normally would only run it as long as necessary to get the batteries into the absorption phase because of the cost. As you can see the cost of a charger means little when I am spending $7-$15 dollars a hour to charge batteries, depending on the cost of fuel and maintenance on the generator.

    The stats on the PowerMax PM3-35 are as follows on my setup, yours may be different. The Bulk stage ( called the Boost Mode by PM ) the max amps I recorded was 23 amps and 14.3 volts. It then dropped into the 2 stage: Absorption Phase ( called the Normal Mode by PM ) the output was 5.75 amps and 13.6 volts. It would have continued in this mode for 7 hours according to their manual and then would have dropped into the 3rd Stage ( called the Storage Mode by PM ).

    This NOT what I expect from a 3 Stage Charger. The 2nd stage is the most important stage. It should maintain a constant voltage with tapering amps.

    ""Absorption Charge: The 2nd stage of 3-stage battery charging. Voltage remains constant and current gradually tapers off as internal resistance increases during charging. It is during this stage that the charger puts out maximum voltage. Voltages at this stage are typically around 14.2 to 15.5 volts.""

    I am not a Fan Boy of either manufacturer, with the amount of money I am spending to run a charger with a Generator, if they were given to me FREE I would be losing money from a charger that does not charge the batteries correctly. A charger that goes to the max trigger voltage in Bulk then drops to a 13.6/ 5.75 amp output is NOT acceptable to me, please feel free to differ.

    The IOTA and PowerMax are both 2 stage switching Power Supplies with some kind of a " ME TO " added to make them look like 3 Stage Battery Charger's. Just my $.02
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,362 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    ......
    When I use a charger I am powering it with a 20 kw Gas Generator using 2.25 gallons of gas a hour. I normally would only run it as long as necessary to get the batteries into the absorption phase because of the cost. As you can see the cost of a charger means little when I am spending $7-$15 dollars a hour to charge batteries, depending on the cost of fuel and maintenance on the generator.........

    Do you have a Kill-a-watt meter, or a way to measure the PF (PowerFactor) of the units you are testing ?
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    mike90045 wrote: »
    Do you have a Kill-a-watt meter, or a way to measure the PF (PowerFactor) of the units you are testing ?
    I am not testing anything, I am sure a IOTA or a PowerMax are in the .60's or so.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,013 admin
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    You can also estimate the power factor for large installations that would exceed the ratings of the Kill-a-Watt:
    1. Measure AC current with Current Clamp Meter (say 10 amps at 240 VAC)
    2. VA = Volts * Amps = 10 amp * 240 VAC = 2,400 VA
    3. Measure DC charging current into battery bank (say 22 amps into 58 volt charging battery bank)
    4. Power = Volts*Amps = 22 amps * 58 VDC = 1,276 watts
    5. Derating = Watts to Battery / VA from genset = 1,276 Watts / 2,400 VA = 0.53 derating (both PF and Eff)
    6. Assume generic battery charger with 80% efficiency (typical ~80-85% eff; very good is 90-94% eff batt charger)
    7. PF ~ Derating/charger eff = 0.53 derate / 0.80 est charger eff = 0.66 PF (estimated)
    Trying to find a low cost / good quality PF/Power Meter for 120/240 VAC to recommend... Have not really found one yet.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BackToBasicsBackToBasics Registered Users Posts: 11
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    Back to basics I think you will be happy with the powermax. Well if it was free that's hard to beat. Did he say if he had a lot of those scratch ones. I would pay for one if they do?

    Yep that's my thoughts on the matter too. I'll just be using it to bulk charge my bank when needed. He said he had a scratch unit come back so I doubt it.

    * A note on power factor*

    I'll be using a 1200 watt generator in conjunction with my charger, once I'm actually off the grid that is. I asked Errin if there was any way at all the charger would ever draw more than the max they had listed on their spec sheet. It was very clear I'd be using a small genset and didn't have much AC current to spare. His reply was simply no it wouldn't and all the units have PFC built in.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    I hope that we'll see some posts back on how the PowerMax performed. I'd like to know if my experience was normal or a fluke from a mal adjusted controller. Mine is on cruise control, 80 miles from my location, so I can't really do anything now. I also have taken the PM controller out of the loop by running it through a Xantrex C 30 and on to the batteries and I said it works well this way.

    Things to ponder for me.

    1) Battery Bank size and voltage when starting charge.
    2) When charge is Started, voltage of output and Amps, delivered.
    3) When Bulk terminates, Highest Voltage and Amp Output.
    4) When charger is in Absorption Phase, Voltage and Amp output and do it in 30-45 minute increments.
    5) When charger is in Float mode, Voltage and Amp Input to battery bank.

    With the above one should be able to judge what your getting out of the charger. The PF or PFC means nothing if the current is not being delivered to the battery's.

    As I said in my first post, what I found is if the Inverter was connected, there was enough draw in standby the charger would hang in the 2nd stage and never come out. It would continue to 13.6 volts @ 5-6 amps and battery was very hot after 48 hours and cooking. The amp draw on the Inverter in standby was less then 30 watts. If I am drawing out 30 watts and the charger is continually putting back 5-6 amps your looking for failure. If your going to use it to bulk and then cut it off and it meets it's rated output, then it might be fine. One thing I like is the slotted set screws on the cable connections, instead of those screwball square drive ones the IOTA has.
  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    One thing I like is the slotted set screws on the cable connections, instead of those screwball square drive ones the IOTA has.

    Robertson is the Screw type & driver . So now you can buy a set of 1/4" drivers ..
    One of the best screw types available that's affordable in construction , Torx is very pricey , but the quality of the fasteners are superior..
    Slot screws went out years ago , and should be band. Phillips is tapered to kick out the driver almost as bad , Supadriv is one that has the best of both , Pozidriv and can also handle a Robertson ..

    I have bits for any type of thing I might encounter.. Much cheaper and smaller that way.
    E-bay has a set 12.95 shipped made by Dewalt . 00 to #3 size..
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 953 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    Robertson...Canadian ingenuity at work. Gotta love them, put them on your driver and they stay there (usually) instead of needing to hold the driver and the fastener leaving the workpieces to their own devices. One thing about slotted screws, if you can get a hacksaw or something into the fastener's slot you can enlarge or deepen the slot to help remove the fastener before throwing it in the garbage and replacing it with something, anything else!

    Ralph
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,362 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Iota Battery charger
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    Robertson...Canadian ingenuity at work. Gotta love them, put them on your driver and they stay there (usually) instead of needing to hold the driver and the fastener leaving the workpieces to their own devices. One thing about slotted screws, if you can get a hacksaw or something into the fastener's slot you can enlarge or deepen the slot to help remove the fastener before throwing it in the garbage and replacing it with something, anything else! Ralph

    Had to saw a slot in a front panel screw on my XW inverter, it was stripped at factory or by the electrical (expierenced solar contractor) that installed it. I think it was phillips, not robertson.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BackToBasicsBackToBasics Registered Users Posts: 11
    Re: Iota Battery charger

    *Quick update*

    I got my complimentary PM3-45 quite a while ago. The unit is cosmetically flawless. I could't find anything wrong with it.
    Unfortunately that is where my experience with the unit ends for now. Just a couple of days after receiving it, I was laid off from work. I don't currently own anything that can measure over 10 amps DC and can't afford to buy anything that does just living off of my unemployment checks right now. Let's hope winter ends early and I can get back to work and get testing this thing!
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