Air 403 charging issue

Hi,
I've recently purchased a used Air 403 from our local (Salt Spring Island, BC) Alternative Energy supplier who used it only as a demo. We've installed it about 70 feet up a limbed and topped tree. We also have a 80w sharp solar panel and use a Honda gen. to boost the bank when we need it. My problem... In moderate-heavy wind, the unit registers about 15-20 amps on the inline amp meter which is wired directly before the battery. This makes me happy as I'm sure it can get closer to 30+amps in very strong winds. However, The battery bank is not taking the charge from the turbine. It'll be windy all night, we'll wake up, turn on the laptop, and the inverter buzzer goes off. grrrrr. Charge from the solar panel and the automotive charger stores fine. Short of dirty/corroded connections (which they're not) I'm at a loss. I currently have the (+) from the turbine hooked on one battery, and the (-) on the other end of the bank, thinking that this will keep the charge distributed across the whole bank. Would it be better to hook up both the (+) & (-) to the same individual battery? As I've always considered batteries wired in parrallel to be one battery, I figure this shouldn't be the problem however I may have been wrong before.
Any Ideas??
Could improper battery bank grounding have anything to do with this? Or is grounding mostly just for lightning strikes?
Please and thank you.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,985 admin
    Re: Air 403 charging issue

    Assuming everything you say is correct... Current is current. If you have current moving through the amp meter into the battery--a bad/corroded connection would reduce or make the current zero.

    Issues might be--Is it a current meter (some volt meters and current meters look very similar--I know, stupid question, but I cannot see your installation).

    Is the 403 discharging (bad regulator/blocking diode) the battery bank when the wind is not blowing?

    Are you really seeing a difference between the different charging sources (solar and generator)? Or is the wind simply not blowing long enough and at high enough speed for the total Amp*Hours to really add up?

    If the battery is alarming the inverter... Use a known good meter/dvm (compare on your own car battery). What is the battery voltage when you get the alarm? Is there a wiring issue (is the battery at 12.4 volts under load and the inverter terminals at 10.5 volts)?

    Does everything work OK, then when connecting the inverter, the battery goes dead?

    Is the battery effectively "toast" now. Have you measured the Specific Gravity of the battery (before and after charging)? Do you know how deep a discharge you are taking the battery to between charging cycles. Many people only drain their battery by ~10-15% per day (without any sun/wind/generator use). Generally, if you deep cycle a battery below 50%--it will not last as long. And if you leave it below 75% state of charge for days or weeks at a time--that will cause sulfates to harden and ruin the battery too. Personally, I find that a battery that is over ~1 year old, that has been taken to dead, will not last many more weeks before failing hard.

    Most of the time (excluding a windy day), your off-grid system should respond the same if the Wind Turbine is attached or not--if not, then the wind turbine (or some other component) is drawing a small load and killing your battery. It only take an amp or two to drain a battery flat in a couple of days.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,573 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Air 403 charging issue
    BB. wrote: »
    Assuming everything you say is correct... Current is current. If you have current moving through the amp meter into the battery--a bad/corroded connection would reduce or make the current zero.

    I'll contradict that. If the amp meter is showing current, then it is flowing. A corroded terminal would stop the current, and no meter indication.

    What's the bank voltage? Is the amp meter on the wind gen only? Is something else drawing off power?
    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 ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,985 admin
    Re: Air 403 charging issue
    mike90045 wrote: »
    I'll contradict that. If the amp meter is showing current, then it is flowing. A corroded terminal would stop the current, and no meter indication.

    Mike, I am a little confused... The meter would read zero amps with an "open connection"--is that what you mean by "no meter indication" or are you saying the meter will still display XX amps even with an open connection (I don't think you are saying that)?

    Various types of meters can have different failure modes... It is always good to confirm readings with a DVM and make sure that the readings you see make sense--such as a meter that shows 10 amps of charging when the wind turbine is not spinning; that would indicate a failed amp meter.

    -Bill

    I will admit that my phrasing was a bit awkward...

    I was attempting to say, that if a properly working amp meter shows charging current into the battery--then the battery is being charged.

    Corroded/open connections would reduce the charge current--or make it zero (if open/high resistance), but a properly working meter would show zero current--not the 10-20 amps you are currently seeing.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,573 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Air 403 charging issue
    BB. wrote: »
    Corroded/open connections would reduce the charge current--or make it zero (if open/high resistance), but a properly working meter would show zero current--not the 10-20 amps you are currently seeing.

    About the same thing I said, Amps is a measure current, and it's the same thru the entire circuit. If the panel is putting out 10amps, and the batteries are in the circuit, then the batteries get 10 amps.

    If it's a 30A panel, and you only read 10A, then corrosion in a connection may be a high resistance, limiting the amps. But the battery will STILL get the 10A.

    So find where the 10A is going.
    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 ,

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Air 403 charging issue

    Thanks for the great points.

    The amp meter is in fact just that (although it is analogue from a vintage car it seems to be reliable).
    12 Volt bank and turbine. Amp meter on turbine only.
    The 403 is not discharging the bank at all (it seems)
    And no I'm only differentiating between the charge rates from the different sources based on voltage readings vs. the power we're using.
    Very windy up here at times too.
    And Yes, the batteries we're using are effectively toast. We've been using them for several years now. That said they still take a decent charge from the gen. and charger and water levels are maintained etc. (inverter goes off at about 11.2V and batteries hold a charge to about 12.8V.

    What I just noticed...
    Some of that amperage must be going into corroding/coating the battery terminals. I had just cleaned the posts and clamps all shiny-like before the last windstorm (no di-e grease though). After joining and posting on this forum, I went out to check them again. A new thin black film developed on the connecting surfaces. On top they almost looked burnt, but it was like a soft black wax had coated The (+)pos. posts only. I wonder if battery acid or something is wicking up to the terminal and reacting? I'm not sure if this film/corrosion would even block charging, as we had no trouble drawing power and charging from other sources with the same connections, but its a possibility.

    With the amp meter I too would assume that if the needle winds up to 20A, that that 20A should technically end up in the battery (minus issues at the connections).

    For starters I'm going to get some anti-corrosion goo or spray for the posts...
  • homerramirezhomerramirez Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭
    Re: Air 403 charging issue

    My 2 cents, I had my inverter doing the same thing, generators should provide true sine wave form, is your inverter a modified or square sine wave form?
    the one I have now is a MSW so I tried to use it with some CFL's and worked fine for about 5 min. then my inverter went crazy because the CFL's , my point is if you have a MSW inverter, do not put any inductive or resistive load on it. ...just in case.

    Good luck
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Air 403 charging issue

    We're using a cheap inverter, I believe its square wave (which I thought was the same as modified sine wave). It seems to function fine. At least I don't think its having any negative effects on electronics, lighting (cfls included) etc. Our generator is not an inverter series so we make sure to run anything sensitive through the inverter when the genny is on and charging.

    I'm still trying to figure out why the wind turbine isn't charging the battery bank very well. Of course this has been the least windy winter in years, so I usually have to wait weeks at a time to do diagnostics.

    Thanks.
    D.
  • BrianellulBrianellul Solar Expert Posts: 95 ✭✭
    Re: Air 403 charging issue

    Hi

    I don't actually own an Air 403 but an Air-X so I can speak from my experience of the Air-X. You're seeing 15-20 amps on the inline amp meter. Great, but for how long? Remember that Q=It (Charge = Current x time), you know the current but the time is unknown, therefore you don't know how much charge you're actually putting in your battery. Although it can be very windy (as you stated), the Air-x (not sure about your model) will peak to high currents but then will stall and enter into 'overspeed' protection and will remain in that status for some time. It will then speed up again and if it's very windy, it will stall again. What I'm trying to say is that although the Air-X seems to be producing a lot of current, this is only for short durations!

    Hope this helps!

    Regards
    Brian
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Air 403 charging issue

    Current is flow
    Voltage is push.
    so you can 15 amp flowing but it maybe at 12v. this is not enough to charge your batteries.
    you need 13.1 volts charging with a max of 14.2.
    There is a Voltage adjustment on the generator.
    you should first test the batteries voltage when it is running.
    then you should test at the base of the tower.
    if you have a votage difference this could be wire size, or corrosion.
    wire size is effected by current and length.
    based on Handbook of Electronic Tables and Formulas for American Wire Gauge
    you should have 7 gauge or smaller for power transmission of 30 amps.
    if you running any distance then drop the gauge by a couple.

    [edit]
    Note the 13.1 volts is no load. once connected to batteris they will show 11 to 12 volts on discharged batteries then gradually come up to 13.1 volts.
    also note that at 30 amp you will take about 8 hours to charge 4-t015 Trojans.
    if the wind is variable it will take longer.
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