Automatic battery filling/watering systems?

RossmanRossman Posts: 178Solar Expert ✭✭
I have a rather large battery bank, 24x Surrette 2V 1445Ah.  I was looking for some kind of automatic battery watering system that I could install so that I don't need to be filling batteries individually, and also it would ensure the fluid level stayed consistent all the time.

Any recommendations?  I found a few by googling but most of them seem to be for smaller systems/battery banks.

Comments

  • mcgivormcgivor Posts: 2,307Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Personally I recommend filling the electrolyte manually, including all relevant checks, SG, volt drop across terminals  and so forth, relying on an automated system can bite you in the ass, so to speak, but that's just a personal opinion, I do daily checks because being off grid means relying on the system, keep a finger on the pulse at all times, which equates to understanding what is going on and never becoming  complacent. Just opinions others may differ. 
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery bank 

  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,942Registered Users ✭✭✭✭✭
    I agree with Mcgivor, but it seems to me that the only issue with a bigger bank might be the length of tubing, which I can't see being a big deal. 24 cells would be any 48v bank.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • SolraySolray Posts: 246Registered Users ✭✭
    The more you can effectively and reliably automate, the better in my opinion. Just be sure it is effective and reliable with redundancies and back up systems in place.
  • VicVic Posts: 2,923Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭

    Agree with Mcgivor and Estragon,

    ANYTHING that isolates the person RESPIONSIBLE for caring for and maintain Flooded batteries is not good.

    Monitoring the amount of Distilled Water that each cell needs on each maintenance of the bank is important.   Looking into each cell,  is good.   Measuring the SG of,  at least Pilot cells is good.   The mass of tubes can easily encourage the maintainer to just blow off measuring SGs until next month ...   or perhaps year ...

    An automatic watering system comes between the servicing person and the battery.    This is generally NOT good.

    It is just like personal relationships,   would be want some automatic robot tending your significant other's desires and needs?

    Would always worry about some fill tube becoming clogged with something,  and starving a cell or two of water.

    Batteries are expensive,   taking time to tend them is well worth the time,   IMO.   FWIW,   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.
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Posts: 1,072Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #6
    Solray said:
    The more you can effectively and reliably automate, the better in my opinion. Just be sure it is effective and reliable with redundancies and back up systems in place.

    How about a picture of your battery bank? Is this how yours is set up?  :)

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,061Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    edited August 2017 #7
    And we have couple of posts over the years here of auto-watering systems failing and dumping the entire supply of distilled water into the cells. And the surrounding mess and what to do with the fresh water flooded cells.

    Any automation runs the risk of failure. Is the reward worth the risk?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,942Registered Users ✭✭✭✭✭
    No in this case, IMHO, but to each his own.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,061Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    Exactly, different people, different answers.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,942Registered Users ✭✭✭✭✭
    The generator problem I had recently was frustrating, but instructive. I now have a better understanding of both the generator and of ways to diagnose problems, thanks to people here.

    Lots of people thought I should just replace it, but I'd prefer to understand the problem first. I think, like Vic, understanding how things work is important. That said, there are some who just want an appliance, don't care how it works, and just want to know who to call when it fails.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • engineerengineer Posts: 13Registered Users ✭✭
    I think you should handle the batteries manually.
    "We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children"
    Check out this solar electric vehicle
  • SolraySolray Posts: 246Registered Users ✭✭
    > @littleharbor2 said:
    > Solray said:
    >
    >
    > The more you can effectively and reliably automate, the better in my opinion. Just be sure it is effective and reliable with redundancies and back up systems in place.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > How about a picture of your battery bank? Is this how yours is set up?  :)

    Nope. AGM.
    I wouldn't own FLA with the alternatives. Life is short, spend as little of it in the battery compartment as possible. ;)

    FWIW I would check on batteries when I was there if I had FLA too, but would use automated fillers to do the grunt work.
    Or assign the task to one of the kids.
    If it was just my wife and I, I'd never use FLA so I could spend more time with her. People are important, batteries are easily replaced.
  • SolraySolray Posts: 246Registered Users ✭✭
    > @BB. said:
    > And we have couple of posts ovet the years here of auto-watering systems failing and dumping the entire supply of distilled water into the cells. And the surrounding mess and what to do with the fresh water flooded cells.
    >
    > Any automation runs the risk of failure. Is the reward worth the risk?
    >
    > -Bill

    To me? Absolutely. Without a doubt. Everyone has different priorities, batteries are way down my list, lol.
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Posts: 869Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    I have much the same sized Surrette bank and it only takes 15 minutes per month to water (middle of the month) and 15 minutes per month to check SG's in all 24 cells.  Time is precious, but 30 minutes over 30 days?  Reminds me, today is SG day.

    Ralph
  • MangasMangas Posts: 547Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #15
    For many reasons, I would NEVER hook up an automatic watering system to our large banks.

    If watering the batteries three times a year or so is too much maintenance for some owners, suggest moving to current higher cost AGM.   In my opinion, next five to ten years service free storage will be best practice as unit costs decrease, charging management becomes mainstream and FLA are displaced into technological obsolescence. 

    In the meantime, a little extra time servicing the banks to save some money.
    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 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
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Posts: 1,072Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #16
    @Mangas , Do you still have 64 Trojan L-16 batteries as in your Sig. line?    192 cells IS a bit of a project to maintain.  Still, I agree your feelings on an automatic watering system.
     Some of the advice dolled out around here needs to be taken with a grain of salt coming from contributors who have no actual experience with what they are recommending, but, just like to hear themselves speak.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • MangasMangas Posts: 547Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #17
    Yes and thank you.

    Takes about an hour and a half three times year.  No big deal.

    While I am not an engineer by training, over the past 13 years I have tried to offer comments specific to actually using larger scale stand alone off grid technology.

    In a small way, hope my real life experiences have helped people contemplating and executing off grid systems. Ours has more than proven itself.

    I try not comment where I don't have any actual experience but listen to others that have successful and proven track records.




    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 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
  • RossmanRossman Posts: 178Solar Expert ✭✭
    So to summarize none of you have any product recommendations....ok then!
  • SolraySolray Posts: 246Registered Users ✭✭
    Yep. A lot of chatter and no answer for you. Sorry and thanks for the interesting topic. It's interesting to see who is afraid of using new ideas and tech to do mundane tasks and who embraces change around here.

    Good luck in your search.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,061Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    A couple of posters here have commented on their systems they use in the past:

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/24940/hydrolink-battery-watering-system

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mmaritzmmaritz Posts: 15Registered Users ✭✭
    Rossman said:
    So to summarize none of you have any product recommendations....ok then!
    Given the discussion above,  I personally don't know if I would take the chance. Do the manual maintenance and monitoring monthly or quarterly. 
    Limited system to supply lights, alarm, internet and TV backup.
    Axpert (PIP4048) 5kv 48V, 8x102ah Excis Batteries (2xHA02 Battery Balancer), PV 1800w NE facing (2x 300W Renesola, 4x 310W Yingli & 480W W facing Microcare 40A (2x 240W ElChepo), Victron BMV 702, 6 string combiner box with PV isolator switch, subDB for inverter supplied power.
    SolarWEB Software for management, automated switch over and monitoring, pushing data to EMONCMS and PVOutput.org (Aloe Ridge Farm).
    Weather from personal weather station using Cumulus Software.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,061Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    For Rossman, auto watering makes sense.

    Anybody with systems they like, please post.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • VicVic Posts: 2,923Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017 #23

    First,  this is NOT " a new idea ".   In some apparently rare situations,  these systems can be of use,  but  it appears that very few people here have found the need for them.  Watering systems have been available for many years.

    Agree with Ralph Day,   battery maintenance is a periodic task,   that takes very little time,   and is a chance to check the batteries,   clean them as needed,   add water,   and so on.

    If Rossman's system is new,  then  would suggest trying the manual approach to watering  --  only 24 cells on Surrettes (one cap for each cell,  not three like Trojan and some others).   The initial observations on the battery bank behavior is very important.   Even for those very familiar with battery systems,   the eyes-on observations are crucial.   as are trends in the amount of water consumed,   and as I noted above,   differences in the amount of water consumed by each cell IS very important.

    There may be some particular reason that Rossman's situation would be aided by having auto-watering,  dunno.

    IIRC Ralph actually measures the amount of water consumed by each cell  --  have not needed to do that here,  but  some of theses details DO matter.

    Some battery manufacturers offer watering systems,   and for some applications they can make sense  (as for Forklift batteries,  possibly),   but it appears that for most users here  the task of manually tending one's batteries seems to not be that tedious.

    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.
  • SolraySolray Posts: 246Registered Users ✭✭
    Most people with solar are not on this forum. Saying most here do not use something is not an accurate cross section of people with solar. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of solar users. There are maybe a couple dozen or so that are regulars here.
    You need to look at sales figures of the watering systems to know how many people use them. I think a lot of folks would need to use them for a company to be making them. I also think that a lot of folks with solar that use the systems use the free time they get from them to enjoy other things besides reading a forum.
    If you don't want to use one, fine, don't, but saying no one here does is not helpful to someone asking about what brands to use.

    OP, have you looked to see if there is a forum on a site that sells the systems?
    Have you looked at Battery Watering Technologies, Trojan or Flow rite? Those companies are all good with BWT having some of the best technology.
  • aksalaaksala Posts: 37Registered Users ✭✭
    @Rossman

     How are your batteries holding up? Did you ever install a watering kit? Or Hydrocaps perhaps? 
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