equalization of Batteries

rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
What are you using to equalize your batteries? A charger that will equalize is hard to find. Are you using your solar panels hooked direct to your batteries? If so how do you control your battery temps.
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Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Me: panels connected to MX60 on those rare occasions when EQ is needed. Can Bulk with the gen to start with, which "adds hours to the charging day" so to speak. Remote temperature sensor ensures V is kept in line with T.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    I have to understand this, are you saying that a charge controller that has a setting for equalization will take the power from the solar panels and equalize the batteries? Or will it only do it if you have a gen hooked up. My Ts-60 has a dip I can flip for manual or auto equalization.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries
    rake1 wrote: »
    I have to understand this, are you saying that a charge controller that has a setting for equalization will take the power from the solar panels and equalize the batteries? Or will it only do it if you have a gen hooked up. My Ts-60 has a dip I can flip for manual or auto equalization.

    Once the batteries are charged the solar charge controller can do the equalization (some can not; the good ones do).
    Since there are only "so many" hours of good sun in a day, you can help things along by using the generator and AC charger (either stand alone or built-in) to do the Bulk and part of the Absorb stage early on so that the hours of good sun can be used for equalization.

    It is the most sure-fire way I've found. As you've noticed not all battery chargers have the EQ function and even those that do are not necessarily the best choice for doing it, if for no other reason than running a generator to provide high Voltage at low current (basic conditions during EQ) will waste a lot of fuel.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,393 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Most good 3 and 4 stage chargers have a Eq setting. xantrex, iota etc.

    Tony
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Interesting now I just have to figure out how to hook my TS-60 up so I can use it for equalization. Mine is used for the wind side of my system and my Steca is used for my solar. Steca has no equalization function that I know of. Someone mentioned to just take the positive and negative of the solar array and hook direct to the batteries is that safe and will it work.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries
    rake1 wrote: »
    Interesting now I just have to figure out how to hook my TS-60 up so I can use it for equalization. Mine is used for the wind side of my system and my Steca is used for my solar. Steca has no equalization function that I know of.

    You'd have to swap the controllers around. Right now your TriStar is set as a dump load controller, so it will syphon off power above a certain Voltage point.
    Someone mentioned to just take the positive and negative of the solar array and hook direct to the batteries is that safe and will it work.

    That alone will not work for regulated charging of any kind. If the TriStar is left connected it will do all the regulating via dump load, which is not that efficient but can work.

    So you have a couple of regulating problems:
    1). The Steca will not do equalization.
    2). The TriStar and Steca do not work together; ideally you need the dump controller to allow the solar controller to do the full Absorb charge stage (at ~14.4 with the dump controller keeping the wind turbine from pushing Voltage above that point) and then drop back to Float (at ~13.8 again with the turbine held in check) and be able to push up to 15 Volts or so for an equalization cycle when needed.

    So the Steca will not regulate for EQ even without the TriStar connected. The TriStar acting as a dump controller needs to have its values change according to the charge stage. This is possible. I think at the moment you may have the dump controller set at a fixed Voltage level which allows the batteries to be at 'X' Volts or below. Not sure; it's hard to analyze these things "by remote control".

    I haven't got the manual for the TriStar handy but you should have. Read through the programming section and see if you can determine how to set the DIP switches for regulating this way. Both the panels and the turbine connect to the batteries, the TriStar's input is on the batteries sensing Voltage and dumping any power over to the dump load, adjusting the Voltage set points where it does this according to the charge stage.

    If you didn't understand that I'm not surprised; it's complicated.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Surprisingly the tristar is quit simple to change I do have it set at 14.4 now and yes it will dump if my wind or solar gets past the 14.4. I can set it so it doesn't dump until 15 volts. Will 15 volts be enough to equalize? I thought I needed at least 16 volts to equalize proper, The reason I ask about a direct connect to the battery from the array was for equalizing only. I would never hook it up direct on a permanent bases. My question was can I equalize with a direct hook up and my 17 volt going direct to my batteries short term (equalization)?
    Why am I on the equalization now you may ask, you will remember our conversation about the charge controller a while back. Well I just bought two new Surrett 6 v 530 batteries which have 350 ah at 20hr and guess what I ran them this weekend and not happy again. within 2 hours these monster batteries went down to 12.0. pulling out about 13 amps that seems really low to me for brand new $900.00 batteries doesn't it. They are in my truck going back tomorrow.I come to find out they sat around for 6 months with no charge put into them for that period.I did charge them somewhat before I used them but still not what I expected from these batteries. This is why I am asking about equalization.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    On a 12 Volt system 15 Volts is normal for equalization. Might have to go a bit higher if the particular batteries have a higher than typical Absorb Voltage.

    If your panels are in a "12 Volt configuration" (yours are as the Steca is not an MPPT controller) you can connect them directly to the battery bank and make the TriStar control Voltage via the dump load the same as if you were only regulating output from the turbine.

    There are two reasons why batteries go low: too much load, not enough charging. Equalization is not the cure for either of these conditions. I'll bet the Steca's Absorb Voltage is too low for the Surrettes for one thing (14.4 isn't it? Those batteries need something like 14.8 as do Trojans). Another would be if there's actually enough time in Absorb to 'refill' them. Then there's the matter of if you're harvesting enough power to off-set the loads.

    I think the 530's are 400 Amp hour, aren't they? This is roughly 2kW hours AC capacity. Never mind the Voltage, get out the hydrometer and check the specific gravity after charging; see if they are really charged. The best thing to do with brand new batteries is to charge them without loads until you know they are charged (via SG reading) before putting them in to service. You're right that buying 6 month old batteries is no help, especially if they've not been kept up.

    Equalization is for correcting discrepancies in SG between cells. If they're fairly even, what they need is just plain charging - at the right Voltage for the right time.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Your right the surrettes 530 are [email protected] I am going to move my ts 60 up to 15v before it dumps I am going to have to buy another solar charge controller that has some adjust ability so I can get it up to about 15v also. I was thinking about a xantrex c35 I think it has the adjust ability I need, or any suggestions would be great. I told the guy that I got the batteries from I wanted the S-600 which are 450ah,am I going to high considering I can only get 17 amps into these batteries on a good day? Surrette says We recommend a charge current of 10% of the 20 hr rate (max) for both Bulk & Absorption settings. [5% min] That means 40 amps I can't come close to that on either the 530's or the 600's Is it possible my 530 were in that bad of shape from sitting around? I did try charging at 12 amps but my charger shut of after 5 minutes saying fully charged. Keep in mind this was before I went to the camp and they dropped to 12.0 in just two hours.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,977 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Hi rake1,

    Several things ... Surrette specs a MINIMUM EQ voltage of 15.5 V, and that should be temperature compensated (via a Remote Temperature Sensor). Some 12 V inverters cannot accommodate this high a battery V, especially when temp comped on cool batts.

    Surrette also states that the way to commission a new battery bank is to EQ them (after a full charge).

    However, if the seller will take them back may be the best way to go. Marc -- Coot -- will council you on just weather you really have enough charge current available for the batteries mentioned.

    Temperature compensated charging is very important, as "just" a few tenths of a volt can make a significant difference.
    Good Luck, 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.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries
    rake1 wrote: »
    Your right the surrettes 530 are [email protected] I am going to move my ts 60 up to 15v before it dumps I am going to have to buy another solar charge controller that has some adjust ability so I can get it up to about 15v also. I was thinking about a xantrex c35 I think it has the adjust ability I need, or any suggestions would be great. I told the guy that I got the batteries from I wanted the S-600 which are 450ah,am I going to high considering I can only get 17 amps into these batteries on a good day? Surrette says We recommend a charge current of 10% of the 20 hr rate (max) for both Bulk & Absorption settings. [5% min] That means 40 amps I can't come close to that on either the 530's or the 600's Is it possible my 530 were in that bad of shape from sitting around? I did try charging at 12 amps but my charger shut of after 5 minutes saying fully charged. Keep in mind this was before I went to the camp and they dropped to 12.0 in just two hours.

    17 Amps is definitely not 10% of 400 Amp hours. It's less than 5%. Frankly this is not going to work. No matter what batteries you get, if you undercharge them they will not last. It wouldn't matter if they were sitting around or not under these circumstances: low charge current & as Vic points out low charge Voltage = batteries getting tortured into an early grave.

    If the batteries want an Absorb Voltage of 14.8, say, and your charge controller is limited to 14.4 the batteries will never fully charge. They need to come up to the recommended Voltage and be held there for enough time to complete the charge. Your controller is seeing the lower Voltage value and saying "done" when they aren't. This is why the Voltage falls off so rapidly when they are subjected to a load.

    Do not put another nickel into batteries unless you have the ability to charge them as per specification; you're throwing away money.

    What you'd need to charge those S-530's: about 600 to 700 Watts of panel. This is where MPPT charge controllers start to pay off, as they usually have more flexibility in programming and can adapt the less-expensive-per-Watt "GT" panels to off-grid use.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    I also feel I probably don't have enough amp for these batteries but less battery doesn't supply enough power to run my TV for the 10 hours a weekend that I need. I just can't see me putting up another solar panel to increase the amps. According to what I read I should have about a min of 20 amps to charge my two 6 v 400ah batteries (400X5%=20 amp min. I have 17 on a good day. I do have a gen that will put out 25 amp I guess I will just have to charge them with the gen more often then I did before. The other problem is the cold weather this is at my camp and in the morning with no one at the camp it can drop to about -5c inside, sun comes up and starts charging real cold batteries. Still looking for advice on the new adj solar charge controller
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Let's see: TV for ten hours. What's the TV's consumption? My big Toshiba sucks back as much as a running refrigerator; 130 Watts. That would end up being 1300 Watt hours over the weekend.

    Now here's where it gets interesting.
    Take some golf cart batteries on a 12 Volt system: 220 Amp hours. Drain them to 50%: just under 1200 Watt hours AC.
    But the charging system can kick out 17 Amps. That's a peak charge rate over 7%, which is good. This will slow the rate of discharge. Then when you're not there it is capable of fully recharging them.

    It looks to me like you'd be further ahead replacing the really good batteries with some cheap golf cart ones. Sounds weird, but by improving the charge rate by reducing the batteries you can actually get better performance.

    Now if you run stuff other than the TV that has to be take into account.

    Spending $500 or so on an Outback FM60 or MidNite Classic 150 Lite seems a bit expensive for just running a TV on weekends.

    There's no problem with cold and charged batteries. The cold will slow the rate of self discharge, and the charging will keep them warmer than ambient. As long as no loads are left running they should be fine.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Yea sorry the tv, receiver one light and the inverter takes about 15 amps. 15x5hours a day X 2 days = 150 amps on the weekend min.so lets just say 175 amps out of my batteries. What size batteries would work best assuming no sun for the week end. But fully charged before the weekend starts. I am thinking I need about 350 ah batteries which would drain them to 50% am I right with this one?
    Now the problem is 17amp charging when it should be min 20amps @ 5% but preferably 10% or 40 amps correct? I am now looking into an Led TV that will drop my amps from 15 an hour to 11 amps per hour.If this works I am now at 130 amps for the weekend If I go with the 350ah batteries X 5% = 17.5 amp I will me on the min but should work considering I get a few amps from my wind turbine. I agree I need another panel but would rather try to cut power for the weekend rather than put up another panel. Again is there a battery setup that would work for me.Still looking for advice on the new adj solar charge controller. PS I was thinking about retiring but can't until I get this money pit figured out LOL.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,175 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    look at this chart for 2 MPPT options.

    http://www.midnitesolar.com/pdfs/classic_classicLiteComparison.pdf

    NAWS price is lower than the chart says. $610 - $680 http://www.solar-electric.com/misocl.html
     
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  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Just to make sure we're on the same page here ...
    15 Amps at what Voltage?
    Power consumption should be measured in Watts (quantity Watt hours) so that it's the same across Voltages. If that TV set up is drawing 15 Amps @ 120 VAC that's one thing. If it's 15 Amps at 12 VDC that's another.

    If you're talking 175 Amp hours @ 12 VDC then yes you need a minimum 350 Amp hours @ 12 VDC battery bank to keep the DOD to 50% (remember battery capacity goes down over time, no matter what). In this case your picking the 400 Amp hours Surrettes was a really good choice. But if you can't charge them ...

    You do have a generator? Now, do you have a half-way decent battery charger? Even just using the gen for a couple of hours a day to get through the Bulk stage will be cheaper than spending money on panels only used now and then. Charge 'em before you go too.

    What you want for a charge controller is something that will replace the Steca and can do the higher Voltages the Surrettes require. Unfortunately most of the inexpensive ones have pre-set Voltages that top out at 14.4 just like the Steca. So ... Another TriStar PWM and reprogram it "custom" via computer, port, and software ($150). Reprogram the one you've got for higher Voltages. Win the lottery and buy an Outback FM60? Or buy a Xantrex C35 which is pretty easy to set the Voltage up to as high as 15 (for "Bulk/Absorb") on for about $85.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Thanks Westbranch but a little to pricey for me I was looking at the Xantrex c35 on this site but need some input on it . Will it go up to 15v bulk charge?
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    You are correct in your assumption 15 amp is dc showing on my trimetric meter and my dc clamp meter. My meter doesn't show watts so I use the amp that are being drawn out of the batteries. When you say reprogram the ts-60 I have never done this what will it do for me? I can flip the dip switches and that brings the voltage up to as high as 15v, is that what you are saying. I do realize it can be plugged into a computer and reprogrammed but what would I reprogram it to do. would you know for sure if the voltage on the c35voltage can be raised to 15v? Yes I do have a good intelligent battery charger I can set a auto and it picks the amp into the battery, I can also set it at different amps as high as 25amps,this is what I used on the surrettes yesterday for about three hours but the dam ts-60 was dumping the power to my dump load at 14.5v. I did rectify that by disconnecting my battery cable this ts-60 will dump again if hook up when I hit 15v I am going to put a circuit breaker on the positive side of the battery so I can kill all power coming out of the battery when charging with the 25 amp this should solve that problem. If you can confirm the C35 can go to15v I will order one tonight, I really appreciate the time you are spending on this with me.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    I've never reprogrammed a TriStar, but beyond the DIP switch settings you can adjust for "custom" output values.

    I looked at the manual for the C35 http://www.rvpartsnation.com/product/10322/lp-regulator-254-00p-cd-1 and the top Bulk Voltage selection is 15. This is probably your most straightforward option: replace the Steca with this and change the TriStar's dump Voltage up. That will solve the problem of feeding too low a Voltage to the Surrettes. Doing a Bulk charge with the generator & charger will handle the main charging, then the panels can do the "finish" charge. Probably the lowest cost option for you, which is always desirable. Especially on an occasional-use system.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Thanks I will start with the c35
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    I thought I posted this link in the other discussion: http://scoraigwind.co.uk/installing-and-configuring-a-tristar-controller-for-a-wind-system/
    it shows how you can connect solar and wind using a single dump load controller like the morningstar TS, as long as the total power output of solar + wind is below 60A and your resistors will only pull 60A.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries
    rake1 wrote: »
    Thanks I will start with the c35
    The C-35 also has a " Equalize " that can be set to automatic or started with a button switch on the side. The Equalize voltage is 1 volt above the adsorb set point. You really need a plan to be able to check where your bank is at when you arrive and monitor what you use. I have a simple Automotive Digital Volt meter on the wall that I test against the SG level regularly. I know that when I get to 12.2 volts, I need to charge with the generator, On Sunday before I get ready to leave, I charge up to a bulk level of around 13.2 volts showing on the meter and let the solar finish off during the week.

    The cheapest option is to haul your big batteries in your truck and charge them at home. Make a drop cord with Anderson connectors.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Stephendv The ts-60 can be used for all three applications wind yes solar yes hydro yes but not at the same time. That pic in the manual which I have is a little misleading it makes it look like you can use them together but it is just showing you that you can use the controller for all three just doesn't tell you not at the same time. I went through this before but did send an email to morningstar to confirm my thoughts here it is. But hey I appreciate your input on the subject thanks again

    Dear Kevin:

    You are correct. The TS-60 can be used for a wind turbine when it is in the diversion mode and if it is in the diversion mode, it cannot also be used for solar.

    Best Regards,

    Ms. Beth Meyers

    Morningstar Corporation

    Ph: +1-215-321-4457

    Fax: +1-215-321-4458

    Email: [email protected]

    Web: www.morningstarcorp.com
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    I was referring to the diagram lower down the page which shows it being used for both wind and solar. Don't know what to say about Morningstar's response, because that's not correct (yeah yeah, I know, who're going to believe: the manufacturer or some guy on the internet ;) )

    She may mean that you can't use it both in diversion mode and PWM solar mode. But you can definitely connect more than one charging source at the same time and use it as a diversion controller for all of them.

    EDIT: you could try posting your question here: http://www.fieldlines.com/ as those guys have more experience with wind and diversion controllers, so will give you peace of mind that it can be done.

    Here's the diagram:

    Attachment not found.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Don't know why she would tell me that based on your pic? It certainly wouldn't hurt anything if the solar dumps, my TS-60 dumps the solar now when I get above 14.4. My problem was my solar charge controller with no adjustment to rise the 14.2 to a higher voltage it was cutting power way to soon. I did order the Xantrex c35 last night so I will wire that up. Sound like I could have saved some money though with your idea. thanks for the help.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,823 admin
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Dump controllers do not do as good of job charging a battery bank and holding absorb voltage ... If you can do a "series" controller (traditional solar charge controller setup)--The batteries will probably be healthier.

    So--the second charge controller should still be worth while.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries
    BB. wrote: »
    Dump controllers do not do as good of job charging a battery bank and holding absorb voltage

    Why do you say that Bill? In diversion mode the controller sends the PWM signal to the resistors instead of to the battery, so it should still do a nice smooth absorb. It's not an on-off dump.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    Thanks BB, I have the c35 coming and will hook it up at 15v for those surrette 400ah batteries. What I have to figure out is how to stop the TS-60 from dumping the solar as well as the wind at 15v. Some where in my wiring I must be able to separate the two controllers. But again I guess at 15V it is not a bad thing to dump even if it is the solar.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries
    rake1 wrote: »
    Thanks BB, I have the c35 coming and will hook it up at 15v for those surrette 400ah batteries. What I have to figure out is how to stop the TS-60 from dumping the solar as well as the wind at 15v. Some where in my wiring I must be able to separate the two controllers. But again I guess at 15V it is not a bad thing to dump even if it is the solar.

    No, you can't really separate the two controllers and have them still work.
    Here's the difference: the solar controller is in-line between the panels and battery so regulates the power from the panels to the battery by sensing battery Voltage and turning on and off (very rapidly; the "Pulse" of PWM). The dump controller is in-line between the battery and dump load and regulate the battery Voltage by sensing it and turning on and off the connection to the load. As such, the dump controller will try to regulate the output of the solar controller as well should its output try to bring the batteries above what the dump controller thinks is the maximum. Since they won't in all likelihood agree on Voltage, some of the solar power will likely be going to the dump load through the other controller instead of going to battery (which it may or may not need to do). In essence the two controllers will inevitably be in conflict at some time during the charging.

    Using only one controller for both as a dump controller means full power from wind and sun goes to the batteries and the entire regulation relies on that controller holding the battery Voltage at a certain level by dumping excess power to the resistive load. This is workable, but not very efficient as it creates heat when there is no need to (better to switch things off when the battery Voltage is at the right point rather than drain power away to create heat).

    Ideally the wind controller would also be of an in-line design: sensing the battery Voltage at the right level it would divert (hence the term "diversion controller") the turbine energy to the load only when necessary. If this can be varied in rate instead of purely on/off it's even better.

    Creating heat when it's not necessary to do so is hard on components, including the controller as it must handle up to full current and when doing so it is achieving nothing but heat. This is why many use water heaters as the dump load; to get some benefit from the wasted power.
  • rake1rake1 Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭
    Re: equalization of Batteries

    cariboocoot the only reason I was thinking about separation is as you already know my situation with the 17amp panels and wanting more amps to the batteries. Thought if I could stop the dump I may get a little more going into those batteries. But I guess the c35 is going to start restricting voltage at 15v anyway right. You mentioned last night about reprogramming the TS-60 is there any benefit for me doing this what would I gain or change.I am out now but will check back later.
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