January 2014--Older discussion, addressed by Mfg (appears): Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
Ok, I probably shouldn't be writing this because I'm still PO'd but I doubt that's going to change anytime soon since I've been PO'd for over a month now. This is a long story so be patient. I went totally off the grid in May of 2013. This was my first time off-the-grid and I did a bunch of planning but you really don't know what to expect until you really do it. I had talked to people that installed systems and told them what I wanted to do and they all said it should work. My system was designed to use Trojans batteries at first but the place that I ordered by system from didn't carrying them and offered me a big discount if I ordered the Rolls Surrette S-530..... MISTAKE #1. I should of did my research but I didn't because I had heard of them in the past and THOUGHT they were a good company. I built my system and got it working and noticed that the batteries didn't seem to be charging correctly. I had every gadget, that I could buy, on my system, and had set up the controller the way it should be. But then I noticed that the absorption times needed to be HUGE for these batteries to charge. To give you an idea of how much time these batteries need to be in absorption let me put it to you this way - I have 1.4KW of panels with 8 6V S-530 wired up for 24V (4x2). If I use 2.5KWh a day - the batteries need 7-8 hours to charge! BTW, I emailed Rolls and they did verify that was correct. I couldn't even get the batteries to float during summer. The same type of battery made by Trojan only takes 2-4 hours to get to float... I could get the batteries to float in the depth of winter in that time. I had heard people say that some times batteries need to be 'burned-in' so I figured I would give it a year and see if the batteries got better... MISTAKE#2. I did the equalizations, checked water, and monitored the SG levels like I was supposed to but there didn't seem to be any change. Then, in December, one of the cells went bad - I mean TOTALLY bad, as in 0 SG. By then I had read about Rolls on the internet and knew about this problem and wasn't surprised, but I wasn't ready for what was about to happen next.

I got on Rolls site and got their Warranty Sheet - aka "How we're not going to give you a warranty". First thing I thought was - 'is this really neccessary?' - I mean, I know what battery it is; it's the one that reads 0 SG and the battery's are not even 8 months old. I called their "customer service" and asked them but they wouldn't hear; they wanted the form no matter what. But what really stood out was how they seemed to search for any reason to blame me; he's asked me if the batteries had gotten below 50% and I explained to him that they probably did because the battery went dead and it was cloudy and that was when I found it. He automatically said that my warrenty might be voided then. Thant's when I started to get angry. So I stood in that shed, in freezing temps, for an hour and half filling out that monkey sheet of theirs and then turned it in. They contacted me back the first day and said that the battery would be covered under warranty BUT they would never cover a warranty for these batteries again because 'my system is not big enough for their batteries'. WHAT!? I argued that Trojan batteries don't have this issue so their must be a flaw in their product. Then they started to say that my system was setup wrong and that it wasn't setup for the cold weather. I let them know that I had temperature sensors on the batteries and all the temperature settings. He then insinuated that I was lieing... MISTAKE #3!

Nearly a MONTH passes and I hear nothing! Now I'm fit to be tied! So I contact them again and demand to know why they are ignoring me. I mean, I live off of this system and it's crippled at the moment - every day that the system goes like this it's bad for the batteries because one bank can't get fully charged and I can't live off of just one bank because I wouldn't last maybe two cloudy days before I pulled the batteries below 50%. BTW - at this time, I'm only using 1.5kWh a day on heavy days. So this guy, who happened to be the last guy I talked to, told me that 'they are working on it'. That's it, nothing else. So what am I supposed to do? Just wait around here and hope that they eventually honor their warranty? I waited another couple of weeks, unit I ran out of curse words, and contacted them again demanding that they take back all the batteries and refund my money. They never contacted me back.

Welcome to the nightmare that is Rolls Surrette! I've never in my life been treated this bad by a company. I've never seen a company that could care less about their image or their customers; basically telling them to FO. What shocks me the most is that people depend on these products to live. Imagine if a small town lost power for over a month - it would be on the news and the locals would be going for the torches and pitchforks. One time the power went out for two weeks and the locals nearly burned the power company to the ground. But to Rolls Surrette, it's not their problem; they got your money and you can just sit-n-spin.

Basically, I'm screwed; I'm stuck with these batteries and really have no option but to sell them to someone else at a big loss so I can get some real batteries. I plan to report this to the BBB and am looking into legal action. But I highly doubt this will bother Rolls Surrette because I'm sure they are used to it by now and have a team of lawyers setup just for this. My only hope, in posting this, is that I might stop someone from doing business with this company. Let my suffering be a leason to you and remember this - "Friends don't let friends buy Rolls Surrette batteries"

Just in case you're wondering, here are the specs for my system.
PV - 6 x 240W
Controller - Outback F80
Inverter - MagnumSine 4kW
Batterys - 8 x s-530 Rolls Surrette

When the batteries were good:
6 Light Days: 2.5kWh
1 Heavy Day: 3.5kWh

After the battery went bad:
6 Light Days: 1.2kWh
1 Heavy Day: 1.5kWh

Peace.

[updated title to reflect that this is an older post/problem that has been, as far as I can tell, has been addressed by Rolls manufacturing. Bill B. moderator October 2016--I am not disagreeing or changing the original poster's experiences.]
«1

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Welcome to the forum.

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. It's a shame you didn't find this forum sooner; we could probably have saved you some trouble.

    You have a 24 Volt system and those batteries are 400 Amp hours meaning you have an 800 Amp hour 24 Volt bank. There is no way that 1440 Watts of array is sufficient to charge that in a reasonable amount of time. You might get 46 Amps from that much PV and you need around 80.

    Another problem is that those darn Surrettes are Voltage fiends: they want very high Absorb Voltage in the 30+ neighbourhood.

    All off-grid systems should have a back-up generator for those days when the sun doesn't shine. if you've got one, fire it up. Turn up the Absorb Voltage and CHARGE those batteries until you can get the SG up. And if you want to keep them going you really need to max out that FM80's potential with about 2500 Watts of panels. So if you could add four more of those 240 Watt units it might be viable.

    Alternately, recalculate your power needs and see if you can drop half the batteries (charge them all completely and choose the four best of the bunch). At 25% DOD 400 Amp hours of battery should supply about 2.4 kW hours of power.

    If the batteries are scrap, look into getting some East Penn/Deka/US Battery (same with different brands on them) or Crowns.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Thanks for the info and this is what Rolls was saying but Trojan says different. When I supplied them with my exact same specs, they they pointed me to their batteries that were the same as the s-530(spec wise) but only had 2-4hr absorption times with my current system. To me, that seems that Rolls has a defect product. Why would anyone spend the money to make their system bigger when all they need to do is get better batteries. Granted, I should of researched the 530's before I got them - my bad. On a nice sunny day, I would expect there to be a potental for the panels to output 10kWh for the whole day... and yet the batteries can't even make up for 2.5kWh of usage. Most of the time the batteries reach absorption before 11am (the panels peak 1-2pm), so it's in absorption the rest of day and not even being used because I'm at work - but it still can't get to float. Getting a generator, to me, wouldn't make a lot of sense because then there really won't be a need for the solar panels or batteries; I not home that much so it would be just cheaper for me to just get a generator and use it while I'm there and turn it off when I don't need it. As it stands now, I've already lost a ton of money on this system and I stand loss a lot more still. The only reason that I went off grid was because I didn't have a choice - me neighbor wouldn't give the an easement for power so there wasn't much else I could do. But thanks for the info.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,518 admin
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Dear Pug620,

    Welcome to the forum, but it is difficult to offer happy greetings when you are having such serious issues.

    There have been some issues with R/S batteries, but I had hoped that we had seen most of the issues (whatever they where) with single cells going south (to 1.0 S.G.--It was hard to believe that the batteries were not filled with tap water at some point--But there were enough complaints that it seemed to be real events/failures).

    Anyway--What we can try to offer is some help to move forward on the balance of the system. Batteries are almost always the big cause of agita for folks with off grid/large battery systems.

    First, sort of review a typical system design and see how yours may fall against a "nominal" set of rules of thumbs. First, sizing the battery bank. 2.5 kWH (AC) of power per day (that is very reasonable to low amount of power usage for an off grid home). Nominally, a battery bank that is sized for 2 days of storage and 50% maximum discharge (for long life) would suggest a bank along the lines of:
    • 2,500 WH per day * 1/0.85 inverter eff * 2 days of storage * 1/0.50 discharge * 1/24 volt bank = 490 AH @ 24 volt battery bank
    The Rolls S-530 batteries are 400 AH @ 20 hour rate (the "number we use" for planning). If we "work backwards" a 24 volt bank of 800 AH batteries would support:
    • 800 AH * 24 volt * 0.85 invert eff * 1/2 days storage * 0.50 max discharge = 4,080 WH per day
    That is enough power to add a full sized Energy Star Refrigerator, well pump, washing machine (typical loads).

    In any case we look at the size of a battery bank and rate of charge of 5% to 13% for solar... With 10% or larger rate of charge being a good "nominal" system design:
    • 800 AH * 29.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+controller derating * 0.05 rate of charge = 1,532 Watt array minimum
    • 800 AH * 29.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+controller derating * 0.10 rate of charge = 3,065 Watt array nominal
    • 800 AH * 29.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+controller derating * 0.13 rate of charge = 3,984 Watt array "cost effective maximum for solar"
    You can live with a 5% rate of charge (for example, you should not pull any power during day time charging to meet minimum charging current)--But if the home/cabin is occupied full time, it is better to have a 10% rate of charge.

    In much of the US (sunnier regions), we can guess at 4 hours of sun per day minimum for ~9 months of the year. A 2.5 kWH per day usage would require a solar array of:
    • 2,500 WH per day * 1/0.52 system eff * 1/4 hours of sun per day = 1,201 Watt array "break even"
    So, it sounds like your 1,400 watt array is on the "small side" of what we would suggest--But there is still the question of hours to charge.

    And that has always been a big issue with solar power systems. You have a limited number of hours per day to recharge and there are only a few ways to recharge batteries fully:

    1. Recharge at a higher absorb voltage
    2. Use a tracking array
    3. Install more panels, some facing SE, others facing SW ("fixed tracking" with larger array)
    4. Use genset to recharge more fully.

    I hope some folks with more R/S battery experience will post too. My experience is with Grid Tied Systems and I can only give you general suggestions.

    While charging a battery "hard" (lots of current, high absorb voltage)--It appears that some R/S (and other industrial batteries) really do need this--Especially if they have been historically undercharged.

    The basic rules of charging (for long battery life) are basically to avoid going below 50% SOC very often (and avoid ever going below ~20% state of charge). And recharge >90% SOC a couple times a week.

    There is another way of operating a Lead Acid battery bank--This is to run the bank daily in the 50% to 80% SOC range daily, and recharge >90% once every 5-10 days (one vendor (R/S?) suggested every 28 days maximum was OK too--for some battery models). What you don't want to do is let the batteries "set" without cycling below ~75% SOC as this is when sulfating happens quicker.

    Rolls has a suggested process for "recovering" under charged (low specific gravity batteries):

    http://support.rollsbattery.com/support/articles/430-corrective-equalization-instructions

    Basically adjust the charging voltage to give you a 5% rate of charge (i.e., absorb voltage in the 30-31 volt range for a 24 volt battery bank typical) and hold that current for many hours--Monitoring specific gravity and battery temperature (don't overheat).

    We have have folks here with very similar problems to you--And once a bad cell has been replaced (if needed) and running many hours of "equalization"--They have recovered their banks. Here is one such thread:

    Rolls-Surrette S-1590 cell death


    One issue you may run into--Many AC inverters (and some DC loads) may "fault" at ~30-31 volts on the DC Battery Bus. You may have to shut your inverter down or adjust the alarm settings (depends on brand model of inverter/devices).

    Good luck and best wishes.
    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Generator doesn't take the place of the solar panels; it backs it up. No one wants to be running a gen all the time to get power!

    Trojan wasn't actually telling the truth either, as they also recommend a 10% minimum peak charge current for their batteries. They also prefer somewhat higher Voltages. In essence, you probably would have had the same trouble with the Trojans.

    1440 Watt array should provide about 2.8 kW hours AC per day on a battery system. For one thing they will not put out full power through the whole of the day. Not even if the demand is there. So you have the bell curve of power output potential that does not jibe with the load demand. In other words a lot of efficiency is lost in having to store power in batteries (resulting in not being able to 'harvest' the full potential) and further loss for having to pull the power out again. The end-to-end efficiency of a battery system tends to be slightly better than 50% (rated Watts of array * hours of equivalent good sun * 0.52 = usable AC Watt hours). It can be improved by using power when the batteries are charged or nearly charged, which allows closer to the maximum of the panels' potential harvest.

    It is not possible for a 1440 Watt array to provide 10kW hours of power. You would need more than 7 hours of equivalent good sun, and that doesn't happen. Do not mistake total daylight hours for good sun hours. Up here our days get to be 16 hours, but I can't pull any more power on that day than I can on one half as long. With tracker I might gain some, but sunlight coming through the atmosphere 'sideways' doesn't have as much power as that which hits directly from above.

    Off-grid power is very expensive even if you get everything right on the first go. If you can't get any grid power in you're stuck with it. Even a small generator would be a help as it will allow you to charge when there is no sun available and get the batteries as full as possible (check with hydrometer) and then choose which are the best of the bunch. It can also give you that extra power on any day when you need more than the system can supply.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,380 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    I've had several cloudy days in a row, and have been running the generators to keep the batteries up. Without using a generator, you are toast. My PV array, in clouds, produces less than 10% of nameplate, so it's up to the generator to keep things going.

    And you can't compare RS charging regime to Trojan, they are different things, and need different charging.

    But good luck, get some more PV and a generator. And forget "bank A and bank B" - just wire it all up as one large bank, on the diagonal, and that's better than alternating banks. Or put them in series, and go 48V.
    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 ,

  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Thanks for the suggestions but I'm a bit curious about the 2.5kWh a day. I remember specifically one day, when the batteries were low and the panels were on bulk for most of the day, the controller said that the panels had produced nearly 8kWh that day - I just took a guess that it could be possible to get up to 10kWh on a full day 100% sunlight with no absorption considering even on the day that I got 8kWh it still went into absorption for a couple of hours. I must be missing something in what your saying, probably because it's late and I worked a long day, but I can't see how 1.4kWh panels can only produce 2.5kWh a day. I know that the sun changes and the panels are not going to produce the same during the whole day, but they are still pulling in around 600W just as the sun is going down. My inverter is always in standby mode and only turns on for the fridge and when I get home to when I go to bed (~4hrs) - that's the only time that it turns on. The only things that I run is 1 LED light, 1 latop (10W), a fridge(400Wh per day), and my well pump(2200W but only runs for 40secs each fill with around 3 fills per day). My clothes washer only uses 140Wh but I only run that when the suns out and only needs to run once a week. I'm kind've shocked that I need such a monster system to run such few low wattage things. If Trojan is lieing to me then I guess I'm just stuck with a bricked system and need to look at other alternatives because I'm not home that much and it doesn't make much sense for me to be spending this much money on a system that I'm only using 1.5kWh a day on currently.

    BTW, I've always put distilled water in the batteries, just like they said to. And no matter what, I still think it's inexcusable for Rolls not to honor their warranty when a battery goes totally dead just after 7 months of use. But since Rolls won't talk to me anymore, I'll just have to find something else. I seriously doubt that, even if I had a monster system, they would've honored their warranty anyway. After all, they said they would cover the batteries and never did - so I doubt having a huge system would've made a difference.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,518 admin
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Some of the "industrial" type batteries appear to need longer charging times/higher charging current--And solar power is not really "ideal" for battery charging as seen by most battery companies. They want a fixed/high constant current for a number of hours--Something that solar systems are not great at doing.

    Where is the system installed (near what major city)? We can estimate the monthly output of a solar power system (pretty accurately).

    When you add all of the deratings together (panels don't output as much power when hot, controller losses, 80% battery efficiency, 85% inverter efficiency, wiring voltage drop, some dust on panels, etc.)--A typical off grid system efficiency from the Solar Panel marketing numbers to actual usable AC power--An overall efficiency of ~52% is very common.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Let's look at the difference between the potential output of the panels and how much you actually get under differing circumstances.

    First, an 'X' Watt array will not deliver 'X' Watts all day. It will deliver an average that is lower than the panel rating. Typically this is about 77%, so your 1440 Watts effectively becomes 1108 Watts.

    Now if there is always someplace for that power to go (as with a grid tie system) then the output from the array will be 1108 Watts * hours of equivalent good sun. If you get the equivalent of 6 hours of direct sunlight on them then you'll get (1108 * 6) 6648 Watt hours.

    There are several things that can affect this, including the actual insolation on the panels and the ambient temperature (hotter panels go lower in Voltage reducing power). In my own circumstances I get 82% of the panels' rating because the higher elevation increases the insolation and the temperatures are not so hot as to seriously degrade Voltage.

    Over the course of the day the array output will produce a 'bell curve' of power: increasing output as the sun becomes more direct on the panels and falling off again as it sets.

    Unfortunately it's up against the battery charge state: in the morning the batteries will be at their lowest, able to accept maximum current. As the day goes by the batteries charge (at whatever rate) and as such their resistance goes up and they will accept less current. So typically at about the time the panels are able to achieve maximum power the batteries don't need it so the current is not drawn and the power potential is not realized.

    Unless you have loads. Turning loads on specifically at this time when the batteries do not require so much power for charging but the panels have more to give is called "opportunity loading" and improves the system efficiency. I take advantage of this with my system to run the water pumps for example; storing up enough pressurized water in the tank to last through the hours where there's no power from the panels and running the pump would not be feasible.

    The numbers that roll up on the charge controller are only what has been harvested from the PV array. Sometimes this does not exceed what has been drawn from the batteries in a day; deficit charging. I don't think you have this problem, but the only thing that will accurately tell is a battery monitor which shows all the power going in to and out of the battery and calculates the balance.

    As always with off-grid system you want to plan for the low-end of sunshine. This is why we have the rules-of-thumb such as limiting DOD to 25% so that you have another 25% capacity for the next cloudy day. On the third cloudy day you start the gen and at least Bulk charge the batteries. Typically we'd expect this for a 1440 Watt array:

    1440 * 77% efficiency * 4 hours sun = 4.4 kW hours DC (important to note that as it is not the same as you get in AC what with inverter consumption and conversion efficiency).
    End-to-end is typically 52% efficient, but as mentioned above can be improved with some load management:
    1440 * 4 hours * 52% over-all efficiency = 2.9 kW hours AC (because inverter consumption and conversion is included in the lower efficiency rating).

    Your actual results can vary quite a bit. Longer good sun will yield greater power potential. Use of loads during that peak period will improve over-all efficiency. Just one more hour of good sun pushes it up to 3.7 kW hours AC, and if you can use more power midday you can get closer to the maximum potential which would be expressed like this:
    1440 * 77% panel & controller efficiency * 4 hours sun = 4.4 kW hours DC - 480 Watt hours inverter consumption then * 90% conversion efficiency = 3.56 kW hours AC. Add another hour of sun and you add another kW hour.

    Frankly if you need as little as 1.5 kW hours AC per day halving the battery bank to the four best will go a long ways towards making the system work:

    400 Amp hours of battery needs roughly 40 Amps peak charge current (in order to charge in a reasonable amount of time) and 1440 Watts of array can supply about 46 Amps.
    25% of that is 100 Amp hours which is 2400 Watt hours DC or about 1.78 kW hours AC.
    1440 Watts of panel should be able to 'cover' that as it exceeds that much in 4 hours and 52% over-all efficiency.

    But you should still increase the Absorb Voltage and buy a generator.
  • SolInvictusSolInvictus Solar Expert Posts: 138
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    pug620 wrote: »
    ... I'm a bit curious about the 2.5kWh a day. I remember specifically one day, when the batteries were low and the panels were on bulk for most of the day, the controller said that the panels had produced nearly 8kWh that day - I just took a guess that it could be possible to get up to 10kWh on a full day 100% sunlight....
    Cariboocoot's estimate that a 1.4 kW PV array will yield AC power of 2.8 kWh/day is based on the pessimistic assumptions of 4 hours of average sunlight per day and about 50% efficiency due to all PV power used to charge the batteries and all loads discharging the batteries. Under these assumptions, your charge controller would read about 5.3 kWh/day.

    At my location I get an average of 6 hours of full sunlight per sunny day, and 20% of my load discharges my batteries. At my location and with my usage pattern, a 1.4 kW fixed PV array would yield AC power of about:

    1.4 kW * .75 (efficiency of wiring, charge controller, inverter) * 6 hours of sunlight * (1 - ((1 - .75 (efficiency of battery))*.2 (fraction of power supplied by battery))) = 6.0 kWh/day of usable AC power.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    In the past year, I survived off grid with a 1.4 kw solar array and 870 ah (24v) Trojan battery bank. I have to agree with others in that a solar array of that size for the batteries is really not large enough to ensure long term health for the batteries. Of course that will depend partly on your usage, wish in my case is low in summer when solar production is high, but high in winter when solar production is low. My batteries are still functional, but I have lost some capacity due to sulfation over time. I have since upgraded my system to a 2.8 kw array, and 1305 ah (24 v) bank. This is working out well.

    My average production with a 1.4 kw array in my location of northern Alberta has been between 5 and 7+ kwh per day in the transitional months (ie spring/fall). My average consumption is 3.5 kwh per day in summer and about 6+ kwh per day in winter. This past December was very cloudy with plenty of snow, and I only averaged 1.6 kwh per day (adjusted for a 1.4 kw array). Plenty of generator run time that month!

    With a 2.8 kw array now, I have averaged about 7 kwh production for this month of January, which has been quite sunny. I could expect maximum production in March of 20 kwh per day when it's cold and there is also reflection from snow, but there is no way I could take advantage of this much power, without running electric heaters or heating water.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    pug620 wrote: »
    And no matter what, I still think it's inexcusable for Rolls not to honor their warranty when a battery goes totally dead just after 7 months of use.

    IMO, the fairest way to resolve this would be an autopsy. If the battery died of sulfation, its your fault.
    pug620 wrote:
    My system was designed to use Trojans batteries at first but the place that I ordered by system from didn't carrying them and offered me a big discount if I ordered the Rolls Surrette S-530..... MISTAKE #1. I should of did my research but I didn't
    <snip>
    But then I noticed that the absorption times needed to be HUGE for these batteries to charge.
    <snip>
    the batteries need 7-8 hours to charge! BTW, I emailed Rolls and they did verify that was correct. I couldn't even get the batteries to float during summer. The same type of battery made by Trojan only takes 2-4 hours to get to float

    Why are you blaming Rolls-Surrette? Your dealer talked you into buying a product that was not suitable for your needs. It could have been worse... you could have walked into a car dealership and asked a salesman to recommend a car for you.

    Trojan makes a line of industrial batteries that have much the same charging characteristics of your Rolls batteries. If you had bought those industrial Trojans you would have the same outcome.

    Batteries are highly specialized these days, and batteries can be optimized for different applications. Many industrial batteries have thicker plates and potentially longer lives, but fewer, thicker plates means they accept lower currents and take longer to charge... they can be the most cost effective batteries in systems where you have the resources (grid, generator, hydro, wind) to give them the charging current and charging time they need.

    My best guess, reading this thread, is that you bought batteries that were not suitable for your application. You can probably make it work out, but as the others have said, you need more charging resources.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Hi pug620,

    Sorry to hear of your battery issues.

    A few questions, to help understand how your system is used;

    Do you use an Remote Temperature Sensor with your FM Charge COntroller/s? If so, just where is it placed?

    What are your Absorption, EQ, and Float voltages? Are you manually temperature compensating the EQ voltage.

    How long do you generally EQ your batteries, and how do you determine just when to EQ?

    Did you install your system yourself?

    You may not know this, but are all of the date codes on the batteries the same?

    Did you do anything special (or did your installer) when you first started charging your batteries on this system?

    Have you contacted the supplier of these Surrette batteries about your problems?

    Without a generator, suppose that you have not been able to try an extended EQ -- or a Corrective EQ ....

    Oh, and, what do you suppose the battery temperature is today.

    BB Bill did already ask about where you are located -- helps others guess better about the amount of sun you might be getting at various times of the year.

    Folks here are trying to help. More data will help a lot. Three have already been a number of good suggestions, but we all would like to see you able to use this set of batteries into the future (with the one replaced battery) and some of these answers will probably help.

    Thanks! Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    Vic wrote:
    Hi pug620,

    Sorry to hear of your battery issues.

    A few questions, to help understand how your system is used;

    Do you use an Remote Temperature Sensor with your FM Charge COntroller/s? If so, just where is it placed?
    Yes, it's located on the center battery right under the water line. That's where the instructions told me to put it.
    Vic wrote:
    What are your Absorption, EQ, and Float voltages? Are you manually temperature compensating the EQ voltage.Vic
    Absorption = 30V @ 0-16C, 28.8V @ 17-27C, 28.32V @ 28-40C
    Float = 26.28V
    Equalization 30.96-32.04V
    I manually set the Eq based on the temperature inside the shed.
    Vic wrote:
    How long do you generally EQ your batteries, and how do you determine just when to EQ?
    I keep Eq'ing the batteries until they get to 1.265 SG on all cells. I fill them to 1/4" below the caps before I start with distilled water and then fill them again after I'm done (if needed). I don't like to Eq too much since I was told that it actually hurts batteries but it's the lesser of two evils and the manual states that these batteries should not have to be Eq'd more then every two months - which is what I'm doing and I usually only have to do it for 1-2 hrs and I only do it on a day with uninterrupted sunlight.
    Vic wrote:
    Did you install your system yourself?
    Yes, but I know people who own a solar installation company and I went over my system with them before I ordered - the only thing that changed was that I ended up getting Rolls instead of Trojans.
    Vic wrote:
    You may not know this, but are all of the date codes on the batteries the same?
    Yes, they were all manufactured at the time that I ordered the system (at least that's what the date says) - I had to wait a couple of weeks just for them to get in.
    Vic wrote:
    Did you do anything special (or did your installer) when you first started charging your batteries on this system?
    No. It was a sunny day and I just let the system charge and get to float but didn't turn on the inverter till the next day. I didn't really touch any of the controller settings at first because I heard from a few people that the defaults should work fine until you learn enough to get into the advanced settings, but I soon learned that this wasn't the case and had to setup all the settings on the controller.
    Vic wrote:
    Have you contacted the supplier of these Surrette batteries about your problems?
    Yes and I got a very interesting response. The second that I told him that the batteries where from Rolls his tone totally changed and he told me "good luck" but in a literal way. At the time I didn't know why he would say it like that but now I know.
    Vic wrote:
    Without a generator, suppose that you have not been able to try an extended EQ -- or a Corrective EQ ....
    I've never had a problem reaching and holding Eq for hours on end, my only problem is that I can only do it on the weekend when I'm off of work and getting a 100% sunny day, on the day I need it, is not always that easy.
    Vic wrote:
    Oh, and, what do you suppose the battery temperature is today.
    It's been very cold around here lately; the Absorption voltage was 30V today with the mornings around -14C and the evenings around -5C
    Vic wrote:
    BB Bill did already ask about where you are located -- helps others guess better about the amount of sun you might be getting at various times of the year.
    I'm located in western central Virginia sun around here is usually pretty good.
    northerner wrote:
    My average production with a 1.4 kw array in my location of northern Alberta has been between 5 and 7+ kwh per day in the transitional months (ie spring/fall). My average consumption is 3.5 kwh per day in summer and about 6+ kwh per day in winter. This past December was very cloudy with plenty of snow, and I only averaged 1.6 kwh per day (adjusted for a 1.4 kw array). Plenty of generator run time that month!
    This sounds very much like what I'm getting on my system except I'm getting a little bit more.
    vtmaps wrote:
    Why are you blaming Rolls-Surrette? Your dealer talked you into buying a product that was not suitable for your needs. It could have been worse... you could have walked into a car dealership and asked a salesman to recommend a car for you.
    It's not the dealers fault - in fact he's the LAST person to blame. I told him what I wanted, when he said he didn't have the Trojan batteries that I was looking for, I picked out the Rolls based on it's specs. In fact the dealer bent over backwards to get me as best system as he could and did everything in a timely manner and kept his word, so he is not to blame for this. I blame myself for not taking to time to research the company I was doing business with but I blame Rolls on NOT HONORING THEIR WARRANTY WHEN THEY SAID THEY WOULD - and I have that in writing. Also, people keep saying that these are industrial batteries but that's not what it says on Rolls site; these batteries are advertised under the "Renewable Energe" products section right with pictures of PV arrays - what else am I supposed to expect them to be for? They even state in the manual that they can be used for PV systems, so I don't see how I could be blamed for thinking that I could use them for my system.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Might be going over the obvious here but ...
    The batteries need to go through a full charge cycle before being equalized. If your having trouble with the Absorb stage (i.e. it's taking all day) then merely pushing the Voltage up to EQ level won't actually help.

    How is the current during Absorb? Does it drop down to <20 Amps?

    Surrettes are not my favourite brand for sure.
  • Sun DogSun Dog Solar Expert Posts: 115 ✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Are you basing the manufacture date on a receipt or the date code on the batteries themselves? I would confirm the date code on the batteries vs when you actually got them. Knowing the date code will allow you to see if they sat around before finding their way to you. Getting your batteries a couple of weeks after you order them is actually quite fast so I doubt (but it is possible) that they were freshly made. I too got a "good deal" on my batteries only to find that they must have been sitting for some months without ever seeing a charger as they all had an SG of ~1.200 when they arrived.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Hi pug620,

    Thanks for the added detail.

    Good that you are using an RTS, and that you are manually, and correctly compensating the EQ voltage, these are very important.

    The FM CC's defaults look pretty good as a starting point, the Absorb V is a bit low for some systems, and the Float a bit high.

    Surrette, in their battery manual recommends a Commissioning EQ after the initial charge on a new battery bank.
    And it is not clear weather these Surrette batteries came from a Dealer, Distributor, or directly from Surrette. Normally, Surrette runs behind by 4 -8 weeks after an order (these days), so most likely that the batteries came from a dealer. Sometimes, batteries sit, off-charge for some months at Dealers, which can be a problem. The initial charge and EQ helps get the batteries back to rated SG, and de-stratifies them.

    Parallel battery strings are often a problem, especially when the manager of the system is not familiar with the issues of string current monitoring and what to do when string current sharing is imperfect. There are standard diagrams for the best approach to parallel battery strings.

    So, when you noted the Absorption and EQ voltages, it looks like you have noted what came from the SUrrette manual. But regarding the exact setting in the FM CC, what is the Absorption V? What is the battery temperature today, and given that temperature, exactly what would you use for an EQ voltage?

    Are you temperature compensating the SG reading? What do you use to measure the SGs?

    Batteries do not like temperature extremes. HOT weather is very hard on batteries. What do you believe the temperature of the batteries was during the hot summer days last year?

    Batteries are kind of like living things. They have their needs, and need attention, when THEY need attention. Batteries can be damaged it one is not catering to their needs.

    It does seem to me, that you have more battery capacity than your stated use, and given this capacity, seems that there is probably not enough PV power to give the batteries what they may need at times. When one is in this kind of situation, paying very close attention to the battery bank is more important, than if one is in the middle of the range of recommended system capabilities.

    Off-grid users really do need some form of backup generator. I could not imaging being without one, even though there have not been that many times that I HAD to run a genset. One of the inverter-generators are miracles when one really needs back-up power.

    Personally, have run Surrette batteries off-grid for nine years, and they, and the Surrette company have treated me very well.

    As an aside, the Surrettes here, and those that neighbors have do NOT need very high Absorption voltages at all, unless one must get an Absorption done on short solar days, during foul weather. Here Vabs is about 57.8 or 58 in normal weather. When the banks are cycled to 50% nominal SOC, the bank really only gets recharged to about 95% on the first day's Absorb at the mentioned Vabs, using the standard End Amp value for the specific bank. The following day, the full recharge is completed.

    Surrette sure IS my favorite battery manufacturer. All of these battery banks here were built to order, and shipped directly from Surrette in NS -- no sitting around at a dealer may have helped these batteries get off to a good start. Just my opinions, but based on real experience with Surtrette batteries. Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    Might be going over the obvious here but ...
    The batteries need to go through a full charge cycle before being equalized. If your having trouble with the Absorb stage (i.e. it's taking all day) then merely pushing the Voltage up to EQ level won't actually help.
    When I first got the system, and found out about how long the absorption times were, I started doing tests where I would increase the absorption time one hour per day and watch the SG. I got to around 7 hours when it started getting close to 1.265. Granted, I don't have $1k SG meter so I bought two to compare... but neither of them matched??? But I can make a rough estimate that it was close to 1.265. I would also like to say that I had contacted Rolls to ask them about the absorption times and they told me 7-8 but never mentioned anything about my system being too small or that they would void my warranty UNTIL, months later, when the cell went out and then, all of a sudden, it was an issue.
    How is the current during Absorb? Does it drop down to <20 Amps?
    I've watched it many times before when it was warmer outside, but since it's been really cold these past few months and the suns down by the time I get home, I haven't seen it. When the system was running I didn't notice anything unusual; the current dropped pretty fast (like to 200W) within the first hour and the voltage stayed up. Wattage continued to be decrease as the voltage stayed up. once the sun went down, and there was nothing going in or out of the system, the output voltage from the batteries (on a good day) was around 26-28V. I have my inverter setup so that it turns off it the voltage goes below 22V - that's how I found the bad cell.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    Sun Dog wrote: »
    Are you basing the manufacture date on a receipt or the date code on the batteries themselves? I would confirm the date code on the batteries vs when you actually got them. Knowing the date code will allow you to see if they sat around before finding their way to you. Getting your batteries a couple of weeks after you order them is actually quite fast so I doubt (but it is possible) that they were freshly made. I too got a "good deal" on my batteries only to find that they must have been sitting for some months without ever seeing a charger as they all had an SG of ~1.200 when they arrived.
    No, I'm going on what's actually printed on the battery and they were manufactured the same month that I ordered them.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Adding something that I should have mentioned above regarding a generator;

    Deep-Cycle batteries actually NEED to be fairly deeply-cycled. Discharging your Surrette S-530s will be good for them. It is a good idea to do this at least once per month. 50% Depth Of Discharge is a good target for these cycles. But with a relatively small PV array, and no genset, recharging from 50% can be very difficult, so perhaps deep-cycling to 50% SOC might not be recommended.

    Even having a fairly small Honda EU2000is, or EU3000 can be a very great help in these situations, and in the event of too many days of foul weather, or the failure of an Inverter, etc.

    Also would strongly suggest that you raise the Low Voltage Disconnect setting for your inverter. IMHO, 22 V is TOO LOW a setting. Would suggest something in the range of 23 V or a bit higher. If available, would place some time parameter on how long this low voltage needs to be present -- something like 10 or 15 minutes. This time-value will help keep the Inverter operating when a larger load, like your pump, is running.

    Good Luck, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    Vic wrote: »
    So, when you noted the Absorption and EQ voltages, it looks like you have noted what came from the SUrrette manual. But regarding the exact setting in the FM CC, what is the Absorption V? What is the battery temperature today, and given that temperature, exactly what would you use for an EQ voltage?
    I'm don't see anywhere on the FM where you can read the value of the RTS - might be in some submenu that takes a special button combo. The RTS settings are "A 30.0V F 28.32V" That doesn't look right because it looks like Absorption and Float but it seems to work and I've monitored it and seen the absorption change with the temp just like it should. The batteries could never get to float until resently when I turned down the absorption to 5 hours because my system is crippled.
    Vic wrote: »
    Are you temperature compensating the SG reading? What do you use to measure the SGs?
    No, but I always try to check them when it's mild. I have two cheapish meters and neither one of them is very accurate but I can get an ok estimate.
    Vic wrote: »
    Batteries do not like temperature extremes. HOT weather is very hard on batteries. What do you believe the temperature of the batteries was during the hot summer days last year?
    The shed got up to 44C
    Vic wrote: »
    Personally, have run Surrette batteries off-grid for nine years, and they, and the Surrette company have treated me very well.
    Consider yourself very lucky
    Vic wrote: »
    Surrette sure IS my favorite battery manufacturer. All of these battery banks here were built to order, and shipped directly from Surrette in NS -- no sitting around at a dealer may have helped these batteries get off to a good start. Just my opinions, but based on real experience with Surtrette batteries.
    And my opinion on them is also based on real experience also.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    Vic wrote: »
    Adding something that I should have mentioned above regarding a generator;

    Deep-Cycle batteries actually NEED to be fairly deeply-cycled. Discharging your Surrette S-530s will be good for them. It is a good idea to do this at least once per month. 50% Depth Of Discharge is a good target for these cycles. But with a relatively small PV array, and no genset, recharging from 50% can be very difficult, and perhaps not recommended.

    Even having a fairly small Honda EU2000is, or EU3000 can be a very great help in these situations, and in the event of too many days of foul weather, or the failure of an Inverter, etc.

    Also would strongly suggest that you raise the Low Voltage Disconnect setting for your inverter. IMHO, 22 V is TOO LOW a setting. Would suggest something in the range of 23 V or a bit higher. If available, would place some time parameter on how long this low voltage needs to be present -- something like 10 or 15 minutes. This time-value will help keep the Inverter operating when a larger load, like your pump, is running.

    Good Luck, Vic

    I don't believe the inverter has a setting allowing a time limit but I could be wrong, I'll have to check. The only reason I have it set at 22V is for when the well pump turns on. Rarely do I go below 24V during normal usage. Once the well pump kicks the inverter off, I turn off the well pump and don't use it again till the charge gets back up again.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    Hi pug ..,

    OK, well was wondering about the settings in the Charger menu of the FM CC. But, the resolution of these settings is ONLY to on tenth of one volt, as in 30.0 or 30.1 etc, NOT 30. 11, or not 28.32, BUT 28.3. At least this is the case on the CCs in use here.

    I have not used the FM CC. In the previous model OB CC -- MX-60 -- there was a value available for the Battery temp, but a Magic Decoder Ring was required to know this value. One can usually look at the Charger voltage settings for Absorb, vs the actual voltage when the CC is in Absorb, to see just what the value of voltage compensation is, and apply this to the EQ voltage for an EQ just after this Absorb stage..

    Also, regarding Temp Compensation, there should be a value of compensation that needs to be set in the FM CC. This should be either -- 5mV/C, or perhaps --4.5 mV/C. This is important, and do not know the default value. With your batteries being outside, the temperature swings are large. This is not that good for the health of your expensive batteries.

    It is probably a good idea for you to get a Clamp-On DC ammeter that will allow you to measure charge/discharge currents in each string of your battery bank. Will, later, post the link to the smartguage site, for the diagram for the best connection of the inverter and CC with two strings of batteries. This can be very important.
    EDIT: smartguage Battery String Connection Diagrams:
    http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/batt_con.html

    It is also important that you find a/some Hydrometers that will yield consistent and accurate SG measurements. AND, with the temperature swings in your battery bank, you should also apply temperature compensation to these temperature measurements.

    You might consider using a battery switch to charge and use your two strings of batteries individually. This would more easily allow fully charging one string, and then switch to the other.

    Each of the larger Surrette battery banks here have had one cell that is a bit of a laggard. Always the same cell, and has never changed. This is the nature of batteries. Have always tried to get/keep this one cell in the bank as fully charged as possible. This may be a bit hard on the other cells, but that has been the strategy. Some may not try SO hard to get one laggard up to the rated SG.

    Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    pug620 wrote: »
    The shed got up to 44C

    That could be part of the reason behind the cell failure right there. High temperatures are a killer of lead acid batteries especially in combination with undercharging.

    http://myelectrical.com/notes/entryid/116/effect-of-temperature-on-lead-batteries
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    pug620 wrote: »
    I'm don't see anywhere on the FM where you can read the value of the RTS - might be in some submenu that takes a special button combo.

    Status menu >> FX >> Batt. Then scroll down to "Battery Temp". There will be a number between 0 and 255.
    Vic wrote: »
    there was a value available for the Battery temp, but a Magic Decoder Ring was required to know this value.

    I have posted that decoder a couple of times on this forum... let's see... here it is:
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?p=152952#post152952

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    My cousin purchased Surrettes for his system 3 years ago, and they've been abused in spite of me trying to convince him they should be looked after. In spite of his lack of understanding, almost total lack of monitoring, overcharging, over-discharging, and his wife's total lack of understanding that living off grid is not the same as sucking back the power from Nova Scotia Power Inc, so far they're holding up.
    Then 6 months ago I replaced my 11 year old bank with Surrettes. So far they are great, but I'll have a better "feel" for them in another 5 or 10 years.
  • pug620pug620 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!
    My cousin purchased Surrettes for his system 3 years ago, and they've been abused in spite of me trying to convince him they should be looked after. In spite of his lack of understanding, almost total lack of monitoring, overcharging, over-discharging, and his wife's total lack of understanding that living off grid is not the same as sucking back the power from Nova Scotia Power Inc, so far they're holding up.
    Then 6 months ago I replaced my 11 year old bank with Surrettes. So far they are great, but I'll have a better "feel" for them in another 5 or 10 years.

    I took as good care of these batteries as what was in my control; they got their Eq's, keep filled with distilled water, and monitored them constantly, so I think the idea of them going bad in 7 months, due to something I did, is silly. Even IF the system was too small, these batteries should have least lasted 2 years because that seems to be the run time of abused batteries.

    But I think there has been some confusion as to what I'm posting about. I didn't post this to say that the batteries were junk (though I do have to say that I think they're are definitely better options out there) - the post was to show how Rolls, as a company, treats it's customers when there is a problem. We can stand here all day talking about absorption times, equalizations, etc. but what really matters to me is how the company behaves when there is a problem. If they had just replaced the bad battery, like they said they would, you would have never heard from me; I would of just probably sold my batteries to someone else and that would be it. But that's not what they did - instead they choose to lie to me not once, but twice and then won't even talk to me afterwards. I work at company larger then Rolls that sells industrial equipment to various businesses. When a customer, any customer, contacts us with a problem, we try and fix it - we don't just lie to him or ignore him. Our company has a culture of being honest with the customer and trying to fix their issue. From my past experiences, this is how most companys operate. People love to talk about the evils of the power company but they never treated me like this when I called them about a problem. In fact, this is the first time I've ever went to the internet to complain about a company. Rolls seems to have a culture of this; when I emailed them the very first time, just asking if my absorption calculations was correct, it took several weeks to get a reply. Rolls, as a company, seems to have a 'we don't give a crap and FO if you don't like' attitude. I've done warranties in the past with items of lesser value and was treated far better then this. But it seems that this sort of behavior is totally acceptable in the solar world so I guess that's why they do it. Maybe Trojan acts the same way, I don't know, but I do know that I want no part with a company that thinks they can treat their customers this way and get away with it. I've seen on many forumes that there is a 'circle the wagons' reaction when a person basically attacks any company that deals with renewable energy. But to me they are just another company and I expect to be treated like I would be any other company.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    OK pug...

    Well a number of folks have tried to give some advice, very good advice, in my opinion.

    A number of very knowledgeable people here (and elsewhere) recommend a relatively small battery bank, like Golf Cart 6 V 225 AH batteries because they are inexpensive and readily available. It is noted by those people that almost all first-time off-gridders need an inexpensive set to ruin in a year or two while they become familiar with all that is involved with tending off-grid battery systems, and the way to manage power available from them, and the charge sources. This can be a very good idea.

    Believe that you have made several decisions on what to do about batteries, so no advice needed there.

    Will say one more thing; Someone at or near your site really needs to take responsibility for the power system, and tending its needs. Expect that you will not find any battery manufacturer that will do all that this entails, so it is probably up to you.

    It does seem that Surrette battery does require weeks to process Warranty replacement requests, and this can be very frustrating. Often a good dealer (battery or otherwise) can be a big help in getting things going with a manufacturer.

    This has been recommended a number of times to you, and will do so one more time:
    All off-grid systems DO need a generator. Inverter generators are terrific assets when one really must charge batteries because they need charging then, not when the sun happens to shine next. But any reasonable, reliable generator will probably do. Many off gridders have several generators ...

    YOU need a generator, plus some other things. The generator should be first on your list!

    Wish you very good luck. Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • jcheiljcheil Solar Expert Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
    Re: Stay away from Rolls Surrette!

    After reading this whole thread again, I do feel sorry for the unfortunate position you were put in based on the sizing of the battery bank.

    However, as many have stated, the damage was caused by (at least) an improperly sized system. And the manufacturer has absolutely no responsibility to warranty that in any way. You imply that they will not "honor" their warranty but in reality thay ARE in that they are following the terms of their warranty which considers the position you are in to be related to misuse or improper charging (which WAS actually the case).

    So, realistically, the moment that they proved that your system was undersized, and that caused the damage to the battery, you should have accepted that fact and just walked away without complaining about THEM. If you have any beef, it should be with the person who sized/installed your system. And if that person was you, then beat yourself up and learn from your mistake (we all have). If you had come to this forum BEFORE you installed your system, someone would have quickly told you that you were under spec, lacking a generator, etc and you could have avoided this situation.
    Off-Grid in Central Florida since 2005, Full-Time since June 2014 | 12 X Sovello 205w panels, 9 X ToPoint 220w panels, 36x ToPoint 225w panels (12,525 watts total) | Custom built single-axis ground mounts | Complete FP2 Outback System: 3 x FM80, 2 x VFX3648, X240 Transformer, FLEXnet-DC, Mate-3, Hub-10, FW500 AC/DC | 24 x Trojan L16RE-B Batteries 1110ah @ 48v | Honda EU7000is Generator and a pile of "other" Generators | Home-Made PVC solar hot water collector | Custom data logging software http://www.somewhatcrookedcamp.com/monitormate.html
  • bendorfoldbendorfold Registered Users Posts: 4
    A thanks to BB
    BB. wrote: »
    Dear Pug620,

    Welcome to the forum, but it is difficult to offer happy greetings when you are having such serious issues.

    There have been some issues with R/S batteries, but I had hoped that we had seen most of the issues (whatever they where) with single cells going south (to 1.0 S.G.--It was hard to believe that the batteries were not filled with tap water at some point--But there were enough complaints that it seemed to be real events/failures).

    Anyway--What we can try to offer is some help to move forward on the balance of the system. Batteries are almost always the big cause of agita for folks with off grid/large battery systems.

    First, sort of review a typical system design and see how yours may fall against a "nominal" set of rules of thumbs. First, sizing the battery bank. 2.5 kWH (AC) of power per day (that is very reasonable to low amount of power usage for an off grid home). Nominally, a battery bank that is sized for 2 days of storage and 50% maximum discharge (for long life) would suggest a bank along the lines of:

    • 2,500 WH per day * 1/0.85 inverter eff * 2 days of storage * 1/0.50 discharge * 1/24 volt bank = 490 AH @ 24 volt battery bank
    The Rolls S-530 batteries are 400 AH @ 20 hour rate (the "number we use" for planning). If we "work backwards" a 24 volt bank of 800 AH batteries would support:
    • 800 AH * 24 volt * 0.85 invert eff * 1/2 days storage * 0.50 max discharge = 4,080 WH per day
    That is enough power to add a full sized Energy Star Refrigerator, well pump, washing machine (typical loads).

    In any case we look at the size of a battery bank and rate of charge of 5% to 13% for solar... With 10% or larger rate of charge being a good "nominal" system design:
    • 800 AH * 29.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+controller derating * 0.05 rate of charge = 1,532 Watt array minimum
    • 800 AH * 29.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+controller derating * 0.10 rate of charge = 3,065 Watt array nominal
    • 800 AH * 29.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+controller derating * 0.13 rate of charge = 3,984 Watt array "cost effective maximum for solar"
    You can live with a 5% rate of charge (for example, you should not pull any power during day time charging to meet minimum charging current)--But if the home/cabin is occupied full time, it is better to have a 10% rate of charge.

    In much of the US (sunnier regions), we can guess at 4 hours of sun per day minimum for ~9 months of the year. A 2.5 kWH per day usage would require a solar array of:
    • 2,500 WH per day * 1/0.52 system eff * 1/4 hours of sun per day = 1,201 Watt array "break even"
    So, it sounds like your 1,400 watt array is on the "small side" of what we would suggest--But there is still the question of hours to charge.

    And that has always been a big issue with solar power systems. You have a limited number of hours per day to recharge and there are only a few ways to recharge batteries fully:

    1. Recharge at a higher absorb voltage
    2. Use a tracking array
    3. Install more panels, some facing SE, others facing SW ("fixed tracking" with larger array)
    4. Use genset to recharge more fully.

    I hope some folks with more R/S battery experience will post too. My experience is with Grid Tied Systems and I can only give you general suggestions.

    While charging a battery "hard" (lots of current, high absorb voltage)--It appears that some R/S (and other industrial batteries) really do need this--Especially if they have been historically undercharged.

    The basic rules of charging (for long battery life) are basically to avoid going below 50% SOC very often (and avoid ever going below ~20% state of charge). And recharge >90% SOC a couple times a week.

    There is another way of operating a Lead Acid battery bank--This is to run the bank daily in the 50% to 80% SOC range daily, and recharge >90% once every 5-10 days (one vendor (R/S?) suggested every 28 days maximum was OK too--for some battery models). What you don't want to do is let the batteries "set" without cycling below ~75% SOC as this is when sulfating happens quicker.

    Rolls has a suggested process for "recovering" under charged (low specific gravity batteries):

    http://support.rollsbattery.com/support/articles/430-corrective-equalization-instructions

    Basically adjust the charging voltage to give you a 5% rate of charge (i.e., absorb voltage in the 30-31 volt range for a 24 volt battery bank typical) and hold that current for many hours--Monitoring specific gravity and battery temperature (don't overheat).

    We have have folks here with very similar problems to you--And once a bad cell has been replaced (if needed) and running many hours of "equalization"--They have recovered their banks. Here is one such thread:

    Rolls-Surrette S-1590 cell death


    One issue you may run into--Many AC inverters (and some DC loads) may "fault" at ~30-31 volts on the DC Battery Bus. You may have to shut your inverter down or adjust the alarm settings (depends on brand model of inverter/devices).

    Good luck and best wishes.
    -Bill

    BB,

    Just wanted to thank you for this, larger type, section of post #4. Now things make sense. I'm putting together a backup system to run courtesy lights throughout my home and charge the cell phone during power outages like Superstorm Sandy gave us. I have an old Kawasaki Generator for the refrigerator. Not looking for advise (yet), just wanted to thank you.

    Bob
  • BajaRonBajaRon Registered Users Posts: 1
    I just came across this post; now is 2016. It appears much of the issue has to do with PV panel sizing vs. battery capacity.

    pug620 complains about Rolls-Surrette warranty. One aspect of their warranty is abysmally bad; Rolls hides behind the MSRP for the replacement cost, which results in higher cost of warranty replacement than to buy a new battery from distribution. Here's what I wrote a couple years ago, with the intent to publish it:

    Rolls/Surrette claims they have an 60-month warranty on their series 4000 off-grid batteries.  But in practice it becomes a 31-month warranty.

    From < http://www.rolls-battery.com/content/renewable-energy-warranty-solar-wind>;

    SERIES 4000

    Failure within 24 months from the date placed in service yields FREE REPLACEMENT, not including freight charges from the factory to the applicable destination. After the first 24 months of service, defective batteries will be adjusted for a period of up to 60 months prorated from the date first in service at prices in effect at time of adjustment.

    Here’s their arithmetic for warranty replacement:

    (MSRP/60) x (months of actual service) = replacement price

     Infinigi shows the MSRP for the S460 is $579.  For a failure after 3 years of use, replacement price is ($579/60) x 36 = $347

    But you can buy a new S460 for less from distribution and avoid the warranty claim issues and freight cost:

    $299 from < http://www.infinigi.com/rolls-battery-4000-series-s460-battery-p-932.html>;

    $315 from:

    <http://www.wholesalesolar.com/products.folder/battery-folder/Surretterolls.html#FloodedBatteries>;


    I complained to Rolls several time; perhaps they revised their policy and not base replacement cost on MSRP.


Sign In or Register to comment.