Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

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  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    In my opinion the US Battery brand is better than the Surrette. I've yet to hear any horror stories on them, and have heard people are completely happy with them. Fact is my East Penn's are the same company as US Battery.

    If you can get the solar up and running before you go, just turn off the loads and leave the array & controllers connected. The Classics work well for adjusting charging for conditions, especially if you have the WhizBang Jr. hooked up, the RTS, and in the case of the two controller bank run in "Follow Me" mode. Charged and watered when left they should be fine when you return. The Bulk & Absorb cycles will continue, but be greatly curtailed in time because the batteries will not be discharged by any loads.

    Should not be a problem.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,975 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    First, every battery manufacturer has some problems. Many issues appear to have been caused by the design and/or maintenance of these RE systems. IMO, Surrette Battery is no different.

    There are also a number of variables that should be controlled when trying to make comparisons between different manufacturers of batteries. On a Forum, such as this one, one often feels luck to get a few tidbits of real information about a Poster's system, so it often seems that we need to do quite a bit of guessing about system setup, use and maintenance.

    Believe that Surrette has been getting a bit of a rough treatment here, based on very little data. Have had NO issues with the three Surrette battery banks here, in their nine years of service. None of the neighbors in my area have had any issues with Surrette batteries, and some of these banks have not had perfect maintenance or care, and are still doing fine.

    I would buy Surette FLAs again if the need arose, and would highly recommend them to others, as the top pick -- just my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, based on actually HAVING USED Surrette batteries for a number of years.

    A fairly consistent situation for people having problems with batteries in RE systems, is that many/most of them seem to have too little PV input power to charge batteries fully on a regular basis. And fairly often there is infrequent maintenance. Almost any battery bank, from any manufacturer, will suffer similar fates with either of these two situations (IMO).

    Not to be too hard-edged about this, but, Mods have extra credibility on Forums, and hope that we can try to remain objective on these fairly subjective matters.

    Estragon, Thanks for the added detail

    OK on the US Battery banks there.

    Surrette has a Commissioning process for a new bank. This is not necessarily what needs to be done for your US battery banks. Would follow their recommendations for any commissioning process.

    Regarding the batteries that were shipped dry, they simply must have an Activation charge process that should be followed.

    You may well want to ask US battery about any recommended Commissioning of new banks, and particularly any special Activation instructions. Your battery Dealer may have a lot of knowledge about these two items, but may not hurt to specifically ask US Battery about these items.

    AND, you may be doing this already, but many people in the far North tend to try to have at least some PVs nearly vertical, to shed snow more quickly, to try to help get somewhat more PV input power. Do realize that your Winter elevation angles are already fairly vertical ... just a comment from someone at 37 Degrees North.

    Just my opinions, but, regarding Surrette batteries, based on actual experience USING them. FWIW, YMMV, Good Luck, Hard-edge 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: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    Vic you have touched on one aspect of the problem which I think maybe you haven't noticed: used Surrettes for years. All of the reported problems with their batteries have been recent, which is disturbing. If you look at the many threads about them you will also see quite a few changes have happened with the company, both in policy and personnel. This appears to be contributing to the problems.

    All the troubles will be compounded for a new user who doesn't know what to expect from a system or how to deal with the difficulties.

    There are other companies who have suffered similar fates of starting out with know good product, going through changes, producing bad product for whatever reason, and taking a reputation hit. Xantrex, for example, has made some great stuff in the past. Then they brought out the bug-laden XW, which has now been discontinued. In the meantime the company was bought out and the name changed too.

    Just because something was good doesn't mean it will be forever. If I see a product line that is generating a lot of complaints you can bet I will warn people against it; I have a duty to do so. What is more if the company gets its act together and turns things around I will change my opinion again and recommend whatever I feel is a good product.

    Sorry if you think I'm not entitled to have and express opinions as everyone else does.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,975 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working
    Vic you have touched on one aspect of the problem which I think maybe you haven't noticed: used Surrettes for years. All of the reported problems with their batteries have been recent, which is disturbing. If you look at the many threads about them you will also see quite a few changes have happened with the company, both in policy and personnel. This appears to be contributing to the problems.

    All the troubles will be compounded for a new user who doesn't know what to expect from a system or how to deal with the difficulties.

    There are other companies who have suffered similar fates of starting out with know good product, going through changes, producing bad product for whatever reason, and taking a reputation hit. Xantrex, for example, has made some great stuff in the past. Then they brought out the bug-laden XW, which has now been discontinued. In the meantime the company was bought out and the name changed too.

    Just because something was good doesn't mean it will be forever. If I see a product line that is generating a lot of complaints you can bet I will warn people against it; I have a duty to do so. What is more if the company gets its act together and turns things around I will change my opinion again and recommend whatever I feel is a good product.

    Sorry if you think I'm not entitled to have and express opinions as everyone else does.

    Hi Marc,

    I HAVE alluded to the FACT, that my experience, and that of one close neighbor do date to a point beginning nine years ago, and that POSSIBLY, things have changed a bit with Surrette battery Co, Ltd.

    But, really, have there really been THAT many real incidents of known quality problems with Surrette batteries?

    There have been several reports of a Surrette bank having one or two totally dead cells, and one report of a poor weld of a top cover on an L-16, and several reports of issues with banks that are on Grid-Interactive systems (with many of the attendant ways of damaging batteries in that configuration).
    EDIT: And, I have forgotten about some of the incidents reported here, and elsewhere, but, still there have not really been THAT many reports, especially given that Surrette really must sell tens-of-thousands of banks of batteries into the RE market per year -- my guess ... there was one chap in Alaska with one bad 4KS25 cell, there was paullongson with a bat cell or two ... plus several others in the past two or so years ...


    One thought about Surrettes, is they appear to NOT have multiple divisions, under which their batteries are marketed -- Just Rolls-Surrette, or Surrette. If one was able to look at all of the batteries that Surrette sold into the RE market (this is probably a secret), verses the total number of batteries sold by other manufacturers, and also see some real data on what were the real issues, a more fair comparison could be made. It IS possible that Surrette sells considerably more batteries into the RE market (with their name on them) than any other manufacturer, when one compares this to the individual names that a single manufacturer places on a battery. This MIGHT make it appear that Surrette has more issues than any other name, rather any other manufacturer ...

    To me, there is just far too much noise, and very little signal.

    Seems to me, that Freewilley has too little PV for his bank, and perhaps a slightly different maintenance scheme might do (or have done) him well, in retrospect.

    I have tried to picture just what it must be like for a battery manufacturer ... while FLA batteries are very forgiving, there are only a couple of ways to permanently damage them. Have seen quite a few cases where Surrette has replaced batteries or full banks, where it seemed to me that the customer had damaged them, often at no apparent cost (other than, perhaps shipping). This is a business that I would not want to be in.

    AND, I did not mean to say that you had no right to your opinion. Just have felt that over the past several years, that there was just very, very little DATA to support an opinion that Surrette was doing a poor job or had gone to the devil. The above is not meant as a challenge to you.

    If someone would come on this Forum, and stated that the forum sponsor was a bad company, and had gone to the devil, I would feel compelled to rise to the defense of them, and try to state my personal experience with them. This is really what I am trying to do with regard to Surrette battery, based on personal experience.

    The above are, indeed, just MY opinions, FWIW, MMV, your friend, 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.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    Firstly, thanks for the input. It's one thing to read documentation and even have a basic understanding of some of the theory behind why things are done the way they are, but it's invaluable to be able to pick the brains of people who have actually been there and done that even with the caveat that the information is anecdote.

    Had all things been equal, I would have seriously considered the Rolls/Surrette for the reasons Vic points out; they appear to be very commonly used in RE applications, and they seem to have a grip on what it takes to make a battery for that application. The problems I've read about (mostly, but not exclusively here) are certainly anecdotal, but then as a consumer we rarely have access to empirical data on which to make a decision. If there is a problem with Surrette (real or perceived), it follows that they'll address it. If I were in that business, I'd want to do extensive postmortems on the problem products in order to determine the degree to which the problem is real or perceived, and then act to correct both the reality and perception as required. If need be, I'd have people addressing fora such as this directly. I haven't seen a whole lot to indicate any sort of concerted effort at fixing the problem, which could mean the few problems I've heard of are just that (a normal number of problems I've heard an abnormal proportion of), or that there are lots of problems and they haven't been willing or able to address them. I don't know which it is, and I needed to buy batteries.

    All things were not equal in my case though. Buying batteries long distance isn't very practical. I bought almost all the gear through NAWS (local pricing being awful), but batteries just cost too much to ship around. Pricing on Surrette locally was on the order of 60% higher than the USBattery L16's, and I don't expect even Surrette would claim their equivalent product would likely last 60% longer.

    The USBattery web site doesn't have much on conditioning new banks. There are the usual charging instructions with voltages for float, EQ, etc., and there was a tag on the dry batteries saying what sort of acid to use, but not much else. The dealer instruction were basically fill'em up and charge'em up. I'll try contacting USBattery directly.

    The panel array has a max tilt of 65 deg, which is what I'll be setting them at. The sun is so low in the sky and for such a short time in winter that I'm not sure a change in angle of 10 degrees or whatever would make all that much difference. My main concern is snow. Hopefully 65deg is enough to shed most of it. I'm mounting the panels 2 up landscape in the hope that if snow piles up at the bottom, at least some useful current will still be available. If I understand correctly, the individual cells are wired in series length-wise, and parallel width-wise, so a partly covered panel in landscape should still generate some useful current. The bottom of the top row of panels is about 4' off the ground and the bottom of the bottom row is about 2' from the edge of the (flat) roof. I doubt snow will pile up too high there, but I don't know. Hopefully at least some of the top row of panels will generate enough to float the batteries and run the classic.

    I wonder if I should pop the fuses out of the trimetric bat+ ? Anyone know if they draw much? There should be history in the classics if I leave them running.
    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
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,163 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    Re your point about the number of problems: there is another view that comes to mind. It is that a lot of people (not many of the lurkers here) do not know that their early failure, say 4 - 7 years is based on an inherent issue inside the battery case. The 5 year rule of thumb is used commonly and more time is considered an extended life, and now they're happy. I think that is one main reason that there is little negative info out there.

    My 2cents...
     
    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
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    Westbranch,
    That's the sort of empirical data I was referring to. In order to reach an truly informed conclusion, we'd need statistically valid data for numbers like delta MTBF over a longish period of time, which we consumers (and probably most producers) don't have access to. That said, producers need to be much more aware of what's happening anecdotally than they used to be, even in fairly low tech areas like producing a battery. You're probably right about people thinking of anything beyond 5 years as a bonus, but people can compare notes much more easily than they used to.

    I have a couple sets of golf cart batteries I've abused for 5 years and they're still doing okay, so I'm certainly hoping to get more than 5 out of my L16's with way better charging and care. Aside from the cost of replacing them, I have to haul the bloody things in and out by boat.
    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
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,163 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    If the site is that isolated why aren't you just leaving them hooked up to the PV's and not have that issue. A cold fully charged battery, with no loads, on PV is a happy one.
    eg we've gotten 3 years on one 70w PV on the stationary camper battery and all is well. It even survived an early summer visitor this year that left one LED light on that we did not discover for 2 weeks, plugged in the charger for 2 days and it was happy again.
     
    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
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    Need to make a clarification here: the problems people are experiencing with the Surrettes is not lack of lifetime but rather lack of performance from new. Regardless of what battery you pick when you buy a new one you expect it to work. The Surrettes apparently require a rather extreme commissioning charge regime (involving very long Absorb times) that most people are unwilling or even unable to do. What is more this information is not imparted to the purchaser, or perhaps not emphasized enough. Again this is a recent (last two years) development with the brand and it is worrying.

    I spend about half of my time helping people design new systems and half helping correct defective ones. In either case the wish of the owner is the same: they want it to work. Any component which doesn't do what it should, especially a brand new one, is not desirable. (This even with discounting exaggerated claims made by some products.)
  • FreewilleyFreewilley Solar Expert Posts: 223 ✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working

    Since I started all of this, I think that Cariboo and Vic are both right....the Surrette's need a tremendous amount of babying when starting off and the literature does NOT explain this.

    Vic is right that I did not fully charge up the bank, and also I have found since locating OTHER surrette bulletins which are not easily seen that I should have been more rigorous in letting the bank discharge before starting my generator. In other words, cycling more completely up and down in the initial 3 months. I could easily have done this even with my puny 1000 watt array, if I had known how critical it is.
    At least that is what I think went off the rails. The good news is that now I know the above, and have STOPPED relying on my voltage readings in favour of SG readings (twice a day or more), I think the bank will be OK.
    Like Estragon tho, the test will be in the 7 months they sit here being ignored....will keep you posted.
    Mate, VFX 2812, FM 60 & MX 60, 2 Full River AGM 400 6v, 1400 watt Solar Array, Yamaha 3000iSEB inverter gen
    12 volt Flojet water pump
    off grid summer home in northern Ontario
  • DMJ72DMJ72 Solar Expert Posts: 125 ✭✭
    Re: Getting Surettes to 1.265 thru absorb cycle not working
    Need to make a clarification here: the problems people are experiencing with the Surrettes is not lack of lifetime but rather lack of performance from new. Regardless of what battery you pick when you buy a new one you expect it to work. The Surrettes apparently require a rather extreme commissioning charge regime (involving very long Absorb times) that most people are unwilling or even unable to do. What is more this information is not imparted to the purchaser, or perhaps not emphasized enough. Again this is a recent (last two years) development with the brand and it is worrying.

    I spend about half of my time helping people design new systems and half helping correct defective ones. In either case the wish of the owner is the same: they want it to work. Any component which doesn't do what it should, especially a brand new one, is not desirable. (This even with discounting exaggerated claims made by some products.)


    Cariboocoot .. what would you consider very long absorb times?

    I got 4 Rolls S-550 428AH batteries two months ago, new from the distributor. I was NOT impressed with two of them, both of which had varying SGs between cells and performed crappy under load. It took a week of equalisation @ 32V to bring them up to 1.275 across all the cells. If I disable the END AMPS absorb termination on my XW MPPT 60 charge controller, and set the absorption to 5 hours @ 29.6V temperature compensated ... the bank performs well. Otherwise its so so.

    These things love a long absorption time. I have 3KW of PV charging this bank using two XW-MPPT-60's.
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