Mea culpa! Dead battery bank...

RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
Well, nearly dead anyway...  

So I've gone and killed my 3 year old L16 flooded bank on the house system.  Neglect.  I kept reminding myself "need to water the batteries" - but never got around to it.  They're inconvenient to access now, and...  well...  *sigh*

So I have two thoughts right now.  

First:  Since I'm such a numbskull when it comes to watering, should I replace with another L16 bank then add an automatic watering system, or should I just bite the bullet and go AGM?  I think if the watering system had a nice big reservoir mounted up where I could see it as I passed through the garage (which I do every day) I could at *least* manage to keep that full! On the other hand, AGM would probably tolerate me a lot better in the long run.  I've never had any trouble with the charging side, the Outback system has been doing a fine job.

The other thought is regarding the current bank and whether I should just let it run until I do the replacement or should shut it down...  

I had to add a HALF GALLON of water to each CELL!  Well below the plates.  The plates still looked damp, but they were nowhere near covered.  In spite of that, the battery bank is still holding voltage.  End amps is rather high, about 8A before I watered them.

Now that they're watered, I turned the solar back on and they're charging - but some of them are also hissing at me!  It isn't the normal "glurg" of bubbles noise, more of an angry buzz!  This is at around 30A, so not a heavy charge rate (390AH battery bank).

Should I just let it run, let it do what it can do?  Or would the wise thing be to just kill it and get new batteries in there as soon as possible?

I'm not off-grid, the only "need" I have aside from never noticing power outages is that the electric company's Smart Hours program starts 1 June and I normally take the "essentials" off-grid during the 2-7PM window the utility charges more per kWh.


  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Well you should know tomorrow if that 1/2 gal/cell worked.... I suspect not....
     but use it as a lesson learned  while searching  for another set.
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,748 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Let them run for a week, and see how they do.   But also take that time and price out a new set,

    AGM will cost you at least 2x the price, and their lifetime is half as long.  So they "cost" 4x as much.

    Now that you know how critical water is, you might do it more often.   And sometimes, "automatic waters" screw up and get clogged.
    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

    gen: ,

  • 706jim706jim Solar Expert Posts: 332 ✭✭✭

    Could you move the batteries to a more accessible spot? Four L16's don't take up that much space.

    I built a shed to house my L16 bank. Much easier to check acid levels and the "roof" is removable for equalization.

    I still think you can't beat flooded lead acids for cost and durability.

    Island cottage solar system with 2400 watts of panels, 1kw facing southeast 1kw facing southwest 400watt ancient Arco's facing south.Trace DR1524 MSW inverter, Outback Flexmax 80 MPPT charge controller 8 Trojan L16's. Insignia 11.5 cubic foot electric fridge. My 27th year.
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2016 #5
    Eight L16s, they're 6V.  I don't have a better place for them inside, moving them would mean relocating all the other stuff too (full Outback setup) unless I run some rowdy 48VDC cables somewhere!

    Amazingly the batteries are still running.  Today is the first day of "peak hours", I've been switched to battery since around 11AM and it's pretty overcast.  The voltage isn't great - at 92% SOC 47.4V with a 8-9A load, 47.9V with a 1A load (it's getting a bit brighter out, maybe I'll start charging them soon) - but they're handling the loads, including the fridge starting and me opening / closing the garage door a few times, without any complaints from the Outback system yet.

    I'll have to turn on the charger in the inverter tonight, see how they handle that.

    Stopped by the battery place today and checked prices and considered...  Decided to go ahead and drop the bank size down to the golf-cart style again (started out with T105s, went to L16s just to have extra run-time) and opted for AGM.  I'll switch them out in the next couple of days.

    Yeah, I already knew how critical the watering is.  I had hoped I'd pay more attention to the watering the FIRST time I abused my bank.  My original batteries were Trojan T105s, managed to forget them until the water was at the level of the plates - except one cell where the tops were exposed.  That one failed a few months later.  This current bank I did the same thing last year - catching the water level just before the plates were breached.  This time I was well below the top of the plates! :(

    Problem is, "out of sight out of mind".  If I don't have something to ACTIVELY prompt me to do something and it isn't something I do at least every few days I'll forget all about it.  (Hanging a sign doesn't work - I've had occasions where I was staring right at a sign I put up and it didn't even register!)  I have the same problem with changing the oil or checking tire pressure in my car (at least the new one harasses me on the instrument cluster display screen), heck even taking the trash out - I often don't even think about it until I'm driving down the street and see the neighbors' cans at the curb!  It's something that's always frustrated me and I used to wish I'd change but at this point in life I think I'll have better odds if I just adapt things to tolerate it better.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Good advice Mike.

    And, 4x the price. 
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
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