Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

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Hello.

Does anyone have some general rules on the cost of maintenance regarding solar, wind and batteries (AGM) per year?

I don’t have a specific system in mind, I am just trying to learn the basic maintenance required for solar, wind and batteries (AGM).

Thanks,

Simon
p.s.
For those of you who remember the Colombia project, we have found a “new” solution but we are in the process of evaluating whether or not this is the best option. As soon as we have chosen a solution, I will share it here for those who are interested.

Comments

  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    hi simon,
    for normal pv maintenance it would be to clean the pvs of any dust or dirt that may accumulate on them and a general lookover for anything unusual.
    wind turbines having moving parts will have a higher amount of maintenance with blades needing to be replaced after some period of time usually measured in years. some i believe use a tape on the leading edge of the blades that you redo from time to time.
    agm batteries are great in that all you need do is clean them off occasionally and inspect connections. monitoring the battery voltages also come into play to be sure of proper operations no matter the system or batteries used.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    Hi Niel,

    Good to hear from you. Sounds like the PV and batteries are relatively low maintenance. Besides the blades, can anyone discuss the maintenance involved for wind generators?

    Thanks!

    Smon
  • crewzer
    crewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    Simon,

    In addition to "maintenance costs", which I agree with niel would be low, you might still want to consider some sort of "operation, maintenance, repair and replacement" fund.

    For example, you'll need some basic hand- and electrical tools to check and maintain the system. Depending on many parameters (bank size, maintenance protocol, charging algorithm, depth of discharge, etc.), the battery bank could last anywhere from one year to ten. Once its performance has declined enough (usually down to ~80% of original spec), the battery bank would need to be replaced. Similarly, PV array performance degrades at perhaps ~1% per year, so, after many years, they too might be candidates for replacement. Finally, things are going to break, be damaged, and/or just walk away, and they'll need to be repaired or replaced.

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,479 admin
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    Batteries, if poorly managed, can be killed in months. If managed well can last 3-5 years or even 7-10 (depends on brand, how much they are cycled, etc.). AGM batteries require no distilled water--cables last longer and less acid clean-up and maintenance. Also, no chance of ruining a battery by filling with whatever liquid is handy (or cooking it dry). But--AGM's cost more and are more sensitive to overheating/overcharging.

    Solar panels are usually rated to 80% power at 25 years of age. Many folks have said that their panels perform better over time than the ratings suggest (mono and poly-crystalline--not the amorphous cell types). You might plan on a 10 year life cycle to account for damage/salt corrosion/sand-wind etching just to make sure nobody is (badly) surprised.

    Wind Turbines, themselves, seem pretty cheap ($$ per kWhr). The costs for the tower seem to easily be more than the turbine itself. Plus, you either have to build a tilt-up tower or higher hire (can you tell english is my only language and I went to school in California?) a crane for maintenance every 1-2 years (re-lube/cleanup wind turbine bearings and chassis). Other people here have more information than I--but I am not sure that I would expect the typical wind turbine to last more than 3-5 years near the ocean (maybe twice that inland).

    Also, check how a wind turbine manages high winds... Our local small airport put in battery powered runway lights (of course, we have local utility power) and wind turbines. Unfortunately, those wind turbines, when over-sped, would break a link inside that needed to be replaced (this was several decades ago before people knew better). The second time the safety link needed to be replaced (in several months of use), down they came and up when cellphone repeaters on the old towers.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • crewzer
    crewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:
    AGM batteries... cooking it dry... more sensitive to overheating/overcharging.

    Therein lies a key "problem" with AGM (VRLA) batteries: If sufficiently overcharged, they will vent and eventually "boil" off the electrolyte's water, which can't be replaced.

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    Good info as usual from the 3 amigos! :-)

    We have found a water purification system that uses much less energy than our previous system. I will try to figure out how many solar panels it needs and the # of batteries. (good practice for me!)

    In the meantime, I am still trying to understand how a wind generator connected to any system plays a role. Does the energy from the wind generator go directly to the batteries? What about the solar panels? Anyone have a good flow diagram of a typical setup for a wind / solar system with batteries?

    Thanks.

    Simon
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,479 admin
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    Generally, just think of the battery as the source of power for your RO system.

    And each source of power (wind, solar, generator, etc.) is just another charging source for the batteries connected in parallel. While there is some interaction between charging sources (if solar/wind is charging, you may not want the generator running, if batteries are low and no wind/solar--you want the generator to start to sustain the load and recharge the batteries to prevent damage to the batteries), they can be considered entirely separate components in the first cut of a block diagram that all happen to connect to the same battery bank.

    The wind turbine will generally require a charge controller (for example an Outback MX-60 can control both solar panels and wind turbines--but you would need two of them--as they are wired differently between wind and solar) and a dump (usually an electric heater) to prevent turbine overspeed in high winds and/or when charge current it not reqired).

    Obviously, the bus bars, cabling, fusing, etc. all have to be sized appropriately and safely design.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: Maintenance costs for Solar – Wind and Batteries:

    Excellent info again Bill.

    What would I do without this forum!

    :wink:

    Simon