Water Misers/First Top Up

MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
For those thinking about installing water miser caps, I thought I'd report my experience.

We added water for the first time since we built the system over a year ago. 

Solar installers have been regularly inspecting the battery levels and decided to add a little water today.  We used about 7 gallons distilled water for 64 Trojan 16s.  We believe this was pretty good performance.  Battery tops are dry and all in all I think they were well worth the investment.

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

Comments

  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    For those that follow this stuff like I do the water miser caps continue to perform very well.

    In a 12 month period (hottest summer and coldest winter back to back in some time), I topped up the 64 Trojan L16s' (Plews Automotive Filler Bottle) once every six months (using about 7.5 gallons of distilled water at each top up. Pretty modest water usage.
    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
  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    cool! yea i am debating on buying these or those devices to even out current across batteries in series.

    my t105's are only about 3 yrs old so i suppose it still makes sense to save some work going forward.
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    i would like to resurrect this thread by asking for more information - their effectiveness.

    also are bottled (non-gallon) drinking water [like poland spring, evian, etc...] distilled water? i read horror stories that some of them are pretty much tap water from another part of the country

    also read that drinking distliled water is not good for the body.

    where do you buy "distilled water"? grocery store?

    it says the hydrocaps are not... so does that mean it is implied they do last forever?

    http://store.solar-electric.com/batwatmiscap.html
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    I can answer the water questions. :D

    You can drink distilled water: it's nothing but H2O. Tastes terrible (it tastes like nothing) and you'll get zero nutrients from it.
    "Bottled" water is little more than tap water or water sourced from a spring, lightly filtered perhaps. It is not suitable for refilling batteries. Don't frown about drinking it, though; in order for water to taste like anything there has to be a slight impurity to it. Usually it's very minimal calcium added.
    You should be able to buy distilled water in larger grocery stores. I use water run through a high-quality ceramic filter - not a charcoal one. Rainwater is said to be relatively pure, but when you see what's in the air it falls through - maybe not.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,226 admin
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    Here are a couple threads to read:

    Battery Water
    D.I. Water

    Regarding the battery caps... As I understand, "Hydro Caps" have platinum or some other "catalyst" metal to help recombine the Hydrogen and Oxygen gases (back into water). While catalysts are not supposed to be consumed--in such an environment--they don't appear to last more than 3-8 years (if you and can overheat if left on when equalizing--recombining Hydrogen and Oxygen with a catalyst is a form of combustion and will release heat).

    The Water Miser caps appear to be a plastic filter that are designed to filter out/condense mist from escaping gasses. There is no chemical action so they do not degrade or are subjected to "excess heat" during equalization (sulfuric acid is hard on plastics--so I don't know that these will last "forever" either--I am sure they took care when selecting materials for the design).

    Drinking distilled water is not "unhealthy"--although some people may believe long term drinking distilled water may be harmful (I personally would not go out of my way to drink distilled water--I don't think it is helpful--unless your normal water is heavily contaminated).

    Obviously, we need some trace minerals for "normal operation" of our bodies.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    i have a set of berkey water filter which should be equivalent to your ceramic... so they are "good enough" for battery water???

    i was under the impression that is not tap water (by far)?
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 909 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    A few responses:
    Hydrocaps have a lifetime limit to how many amp hours of charge they can recombine for. My 5 year old set of 24 is now inactive. They are however, a great big battery cap that's easy to open. For 30 minutes per month and 1 gallon of DISTILLED water it's not worth the $$ to replace them.

    Marc, filtered water is not de-mineralized. Ceramic filters are just that, filters. They remove particulates down to whatever microns they are rated at...5, 10, 1 etc. The minerals in water are ions attached to the H20 molecules and can't be filtered out. Reverse osmosis will result in de-mineralizing of the water (I'm pretty sure), but not filtering. For the cost of a ceramic filter you could buy many gallons of distilled water. I use a 1 gallon distiller from Sears and make my own when the sun shines a lot. September was a good month, made about 5 gallons.

    Ralph
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    making your own... do you have a very easy/cheap way of doing it that you can share?
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,091 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    The test of time is always a good measure. My wife says we are on our second set of Surrette L-16's in 17 years. Nothing but rainwater through a Brita filter. The first set of batteries were not bad and were replaced because it was easier than moving them. If anyone is counting on getting minerals from water they probably
    should get a physical.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,226 admin
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    Well--there is the whole fluoride debate (Reverse Osmosis purifiers may remove fluoride--check with mfg., depends on construction of membrane).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    rainwater...

    do you just leave buckets outside when it rains (great for HOAs) - this method doesnt collect a lot [maybe 1 or 2 in] or do you divert drainage from downspouts (which is illegal w/out HOA "permission") for more volume?

    in either case, if you dont remove the water right away how do you deal w/ mosquito issues
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,226 admin
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    You should also wait until the roof has been "rinsed" of summer dirt/dust/bugs by the first rains before collecting.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    may be illegal in some jurisdictions:

    "Colorado Water Law requires that precipitation fall to the ground, run off and into the river of the watershed where it fell. Because rights to water are legally allocated in this state, an individual may not capture and use water to which he/she does not have a right. We must remember also that rain barrels don’t help much in a drought because a drought by its very nature supplies little in the way of snow or rain."


    anyways.. back to the water miser question/experiences...
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,226 admin
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    Actually, Colorado has changed the law for some people regarding local water capture around the beginning of 2009...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,091 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up
    mshen11 wrote: »
    rainwater...

    do you just leave buckets outside when it rains (great for HOAs) - this method doesnt collect a lot [maybe 1 or 2 in] or do you divert drainage from downspouts (which is illegal w/out HOA "permission") for more volume?

    in either case, if you dont remove the water right away how do you deal w/ mosquito issues

    Take a look at my web page (click the link) and at the end is a link to pictures of how we do it. Your grandfather may have lived like this but without the big screen and dolby surround.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    Yes, I know my ceramic filter does not produce distilled water. I'm just stating it's what I use, and so far there's been no problem with it. I've never had to add huge amounts of water, though, and that may help a lot.

    There's two things to consider in the quality of water you use in batteries: one is the particulate matter, which can actually physically clog things up; the other is the chemistry. Some of what's dissolved in water will raise the pH, making it alkaline. Add alkaline to acid you get neutralization - the batteries will become weaker. This is why distilled water is the absolute best choice.

    Also, stay away from "city" water - which has had chlorine added to it. Mixing chlorine and acids is bad. It probably won't kill you in the small quantities involved with batteries, but it can irritate eyes and nose et cetera. Nasty stuff (chlorine gas, in case you were wondering, is the same basic horror as "mustard gas" used in WW I).

    BTW, there is extra fun up here at 3200 feet; water boils at lower temperature, 'distillers' don't work right, and the SG of plain water is 0.950.
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    ive been reading distill water if left out for a few hours will contain lots of bacteria. even if bought from supermarket, theres bound to be leftover distilled water weeks old. is bacteria filled distilled water ok to put in batteries?
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up
    mshen11 wrote: »
    ive been reading distill water if left out for a few hours will contain lots of bacteria. even if bought from supermarket, theres bound to be leftover distilled water weeks old. is bacteria filled distilled water ok to put in batteries?

    Distilled water is the least likely to contain bacteria. If they did the process right, there's nothing there but water; no nutrients for bacteria to feed on and no bacteria to begin with. Left sitting long enough, anything will get contaminated (especially if left open). There's people who say the plastic containers leach harmful chemicals into the water. There may be some scientific basis to that, I don't know.

    In short, nothing is perfect. Not the batteries, not the charging system, not the water. You just go with the best choices and that should give you the longest service. If you worry too much about micro-contaminants or SG being off by 0.001 or not getting your full 100 Amp/hr rating you will go mad.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,226 admin
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    I have not heard of any problem with distilled water and bacteria... There is nothing in the water for bacteria to grow on--and distillation should remove/kill any bacteria from the original source.

    Bottled drinking water
    (which is usually not distilled) on the other hand has been found to have problems with bacterial contamination. That is probably a sterilization and filtering issue (my guess), plus there is no disinfectant (chlorine, etc.) to keep the water biologically pure (but adding chlorine to batteries is not a good idea).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    I never heard of any problems with bacteria in distilled water, but I suppose if you are concerned about it you could just toss it in the microwave to sterilize it.
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    back to topic of water miser and effectiveness...

    it seems like the device screws on top of the "watering hole" in the battery. i can see how maybe it is effective on trojan 105s because on trojans, they are capped on.

    but for the energizer (sam's club) - the caps are screwed into the hole - i dont see how water vapor could get out... so would the water miser be not too much effective compared to what comes w/ the sams club batteries?

    edit: i may be a bit wrong... the caps on the sams club batteries do have two small vent holes per cap.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    The flip up water miser vent cap vents through holes in the top. The design is pretty effective. I only water mine 3 or 4 times a year.

    When watering the batteries, I unscrew (simple half turn) and remove the caps because it's easier to use my automotive battery filler bottle which regulates how much distilled water enters the cell. I keep a couple of spare miser caps (available at Wind Sun) on hand in the rare case I break off the upper cap.

    Also, when I carefully clean the battery tops, top vented caps reduces risk of contaminating a cell.
    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
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

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  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,091 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Water Misers/First Top Up

    And by a knock-out high water usage goes down to optimum set-point.............
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

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