Battery / Inversol help needed!

TravelHippo

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Mar 24, 2008
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Hi... I could use a bit of electrical / battery / inversol help. Here in Cabrera we have street electricity about 60% of the time so for the rest we run our house with 8 batteries and an inversol. For the past 2 months we have been having issues with our batteries getting REALLY hot. The batteries are only about 9 months old and were perfect up until a couple of months ago. I checked them every two weeks for water but they didn't need any adding until just recently (now some of them do every couple of weeks). We have had two different electricians in to look at them but have had no success so far. The first electrician checked all the batteries and said they are all still in good condition. I thought it might be the Inversol but he wasn't convinced so he borrowed someone else's voltage meter, checked them again and saw the batteries were still all good. Then he said he would have to check them when they are all out of power to get a real reading.... is that true? He also turned down the charger rate on the Inversol which certainly did help the batteries to cool down... but it also meant our batteries only lasted an hour or two which is no good! Second electrician put the charger setting back up, cleaned and checked the batteries, all good, left and said to call if they got hot again. They have. His next suggestion is to move the batteries around so they are set up in a different pattern. Will that be any help?? I don't know what to do next. We are going away on vacation in one week with a friend taking care of our house and pets for the time we are gone and I don't want him stuck with all these issues and also don't want our batteries to all get ruined during that time due to the extreme heat they are facing right now!! :/ If anyone has any ideas or advice, that would be fantastic!! Does it sound like a battery issue? an inversol issue (the inversol is at least a few years old (it was here before we moved in 2 1/2 years ago.. not sure how long before that but wasn't brand new)? a street power issue (too strong when charging?)?? I really don't know anymore. Also, if anyone knows a good electrician who really understands battery and inversol stuff in the Cabrera area, that would be great. Thanks so much in advance!! :)
 

TravelHippo

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Mar 24, 2008
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A on off or disconnect switch is advisable. But a good system should shut down automaticly when the battery's are fully charged. Otherwise tou can overcharge or "cook" the battery's and reduce the capacity / amp hour rating. When fully charged the system shold only monitor the battery level of charge.
Saw this on another thread. Our inversol is the type that switches off from charging automatically.... but I wonder if something is wrong with the inversol that is making it not shut off when it should... and there for 'cooking' the batteries?? It tends to have the steady orange light on when their is street power... this says it means 'float'. Not sure what that actually means... anyone?
 

TravelHippo

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Mar 24, 2008
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Oops sorry just checked... steady orange light means 'bulk' and steady green light means 'float'. It seems to be orange most of the time but is steady green right now. Also the brand is 'xantrex dr series inverter / charger'. Hope someone can help. Thanks!!
 

donP

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Dec 14, 2008
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Orange LED

Our inversol is the type that switches off from charging automatically....
What brand/type of inverter (spanish: inversor) do you have?


It tends to have the steady orange light on when their is street power... this says it means 'float'.
If it is a TRACE or XANTREX inverter the steady orange LED indicates it is in BULK CHARGING stage, after sufficient charging it would change to 'blinking orange' (absorption stage, approx. 29.2 V) and then 'green (= float stage).

donP

P.S.:
Just saw your last post.
Check your Battery Type Selector settings, which should correspond to the type of batteries you have.
'Wet' batteries (deep cycle type) setting is 7.
 
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TravelHippo

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Mar 24, 2008
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Battery Type Selector is correct... set at 7. Battery capacity is set between 170 and 340. Battery charger rate is just over a quarter of the way between the 'min.' dot and the 'max' dot. For example, if the min dot was zero and the max dot was 100, it would be about 27.

Checked it again and is still solid green 'float'. I did see on a manual online that float charging is minimal charging and may not be good for some batteries. Could that be affecting it? I don't know how I could change that though? Also wanted to point out that the invertor isn't hot at all... just the batteries... and the water seems to be boiling/bubbling inside them, sometimes boiling right over.
 

windeguy

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Jul 10, 2004
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Checking with a volt meter does give an indication of the health of the batteries but using a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of each cell and making sure they are all the same is a more important measurement.

Checking the batteries when they are dead is NOT correct. They should be checked when full (green Float condition) . Get another electrician.


Xantrex is an excellent brand of inverter. It may be a good idea to have it checked out just to make sure it is going through the Bulk Charge (orange) Absorption (blinking orange ) and Float (green) phases correctly. The Absorption phase is dependent upon the battery bank size and should last about one hour when the bank size setting is correct.

The over-discharge protection circuit on the Xantrex unit should be on, which means the inverter will turn off and not provide power if the batteries drop below 20% of capacity. I know this limits the time you can run on the inverter, but if the batteries were constantly discharged below 20% they could indeed already have become damaged and need replacing even after less than a year. Batteries should also be equalized regularly ( about every 10 discharge cycles) which for you is just about every week.

The charging current should be set between 1/10 and 1/8 of your battery bank capacity and not higher than that so as not to harm the batteries by charging them to quickly. Eight 225 Ah batteries in two banks of 4 will have a capacity of 450 Ah at a voltage of 24 volts. Charge rate should be between 45 Amps and 56 Amps with the lower number being preferred - lower is always better if possible. The lower charge rate may not be enough to replenish the energy between blackouts, so you end up turning up the charge rate to compensate and shorten the battery life.

My gut feel is that your batteries are already "old" and will need to be replaced soon or they will continue to overheat because of that. One thing you can do temporarily is to turn up the bank size higher so that the batteries go from Bulk to Float more quickly. They won't contain as much power, but it can help for a short period of time to not waste energy. Some people will recommend a chemical additive called EDTA (or the local version called Battery Viagra) to try and rejuvenate the batteries which have become sulphated by abuse, but EDTA has not done anything to help that I have seen.

I also recommend you use the red TROJAN T105 batteries since they seem to take abuse better. What kind do you have now?
 

windeguy

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Battery Type Selector is correct... set at 7. Battery capacity is set between 170 and 340. Battery charger rate is just over a quarter of the way between the 'min.' dot and the 'max' dot. For example, if the min dot was zero and the max dot was 100, it would be about 27.

Checked it again and is still solid green 'float'. I did see on a manual online that float charging is minimal charging and may not be good for some batteries. Could that be affecting it? I don't know how I could change that though? Also wanted to point out that the invertor isn't hot at all... just the batteries... and the water seems to be boiling/bubbling inside them, sometimes boiling right over.
7 is correct for flooded lead acid batteries normally sold here. Trojan/US Battery/NAPA/Interstate/Energy, etc.

The charger rate is set OK because it is below 1/10th the battery bank size, but that may not be enough to fill the batteries between blackouts.

GREEN Float: Since you are using the batteries all the time and they don't just stay in float, the comment about battery damage does not apply. That is if the batteries are hardly ever used and just stay in float for months at a time. Something that never happens for you. Nor is it something we can worry about here using the types of inverter chargers we need to use.

Either your inverter is not functioning properly and turning down the charge current at float or you have bad batteries. My guess is bad batteries, but an electrician can tell you that by measuring the charge current, battery voltages and specific gravities. HOT batteries almost always equals BAD or at least FAILING batteries.

By the way, DonP also knows battery inverter systems very well..
 
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TravelHippo

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Mar 24, 2008
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Thank you so much for all of your advice!! It means a lot. We are getting so frustrated with this. It is just nice to hear from someone who knows more than our electrician seems to! I have now set the over-discharge protection on. I wonder if it being off is what damaged our batteries because I know you aren't supposed to let them die completely, correct? And ours have about 4 times in the past two months. Do you think that would be the reason? Otherwise, I don't know why the batteries would have gone bad so quickly as we were taking good care of them until these issues started a couple of months ago? Also of course, I am sure the crazy electricity here doesn't help but worry if it is that, it will just do the same thing with new batteries! :/

It will certainly be frustrating if it is the batteries again since this is the second replacement but before we buy anything new, we need to find an electrician who knows what he is doing so things don't go bad quickly all over again.

Finally, did the battery capacity setting I mentioned of between 170 - 340 sound right? I didn't mention the Search Mode Watts setting before. It is set close to MIN (about 20% of the way between MIN and MAX). Does that sound right? I have no idea what that setting means.

I will keep the charger rate setting the same for now if you think it is okay.

Thank you again so very much for your help!!

Mission: 'find new electrician who actually has the tools to properly check our invertor and batteries' is now on!

I will keep the charger setting th
 

TravelHippo

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Oh sorry, I forgot to answer... my current batteries are Premiere EXTREME Heavy Duty Deep Cycle 6 volt. Also checked the date on the Invertor. It says June 2005. And the type is a DR3624.
 

windeguy

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Oh sorry, I forgot to answer... my current batteries are Premiere EXTREME Heavy Duty Deep Cycle 6 volt. Also checked the date on the Invertor. It says June 2005. And the type is a DR3624.
Same model inverter and vintage that I currently use. Your batteries sound like "low end" batteries and a potential example of the "buy cheap, buy twice" saying.
 

windeguy

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Thank you so much for all of your advice!! It means a lot. We are getting so frustrated with this. It is just nice to hear from someone who knows more than our electrician seems to! I have now set the over-discharge protection on. I wonder if it being off is what damaged our batteries because I know you aren't supposed to let them die completely, correct?

Fully discharging this type of battery is indeed very bad for them and can cause damage.


And ours have about 4 times in the past two months. Do you think that would be the reason?

That is 4 times they full discharged. You don't know how many times they went below 20% and that is also bad. You might need to upgrade to 12 quality batteries.


Otherwise, I don't know why the batteries would have gone bad so quickly as we were taking good care of them until these issues started a couple of months ago? Also of course, I am sure the crazy electricity here doesn't help but worry if it is that, it will just do the same thing with new batteries! :/

It will certainly be frustrating if it is the batteries again since this is the second replacement but before we buy anything new, we need to find an electrician who knows what he is doing so things don't go bad quickly all over again.

Finally, did the battery capacity setting I mentioned of between 170 - 340 sound right? I didn't mention the Search Mode Watts setting before. It is set close to MIN (about 20% of the way between MIN and MAX). Does that sound right? I have no idea what that setting means.



I will keep the charger rate setting the same for now if you think it is okay.

The battery setting is not excessive, but as mentioned before, might not be enough to fully charge the batteries between blackouts.

Thank you again so very much for your help!!

Mission: 'find new electrician who actually has the tools to properly check our invertor and batteries' is now on!
Probably a good idea. I have no idea who is good in Cabrera.
 

yapask1

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Jul 23, 2012
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Yes, all batteries have a limited life. It is related to the depth of discharge. At 10% depth 5 - 7 years is possible.

If discharge is limited the life will be greater.

Ways to do this:

Use 12 volt high efficiency fans - e.g. 02 cool from Amazon.

Use high efficiency lights - now LED lights are twice as efficient as CFC - e.g. Phillips. Last 15 years.

Use Icemaker running when elec is on and thermos flasks/food jars packed with ice to keep foods cold instead of using a fridge when mains is off. (photos anyone interested ? )

Store items that do not absolutely need a fridge under inverted flowerpot covered with wet old towel.

Turn off main inverter and use efficient 100- 500 watt inverter when power is off.

Use LED low energy 20 inch TV or LED monitor attached to laptop.

Aim for energy useage that gets you into lowest payment band.

Use solar oven - not microwave.

Augment by solar power.

Use insulation if areas are getting hot and need powerful fans etc.

Preserve the fossil fuel resources of the planet for future generations.

Remember inverter/battery combination is only 80% efficient.

Yes a good expat life with elec bill of $25 dollars a month plus or minus is possible.

yapask1
 

windeguy

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Jul 10, 2004
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Yes, all batteries have a limited life. It is related to the depth of discharge. At 10% depth 5 - 7 years is possible.

If discharge is limited the life will be greater.

Ways to do this:

Use 12 volt high efficiency fans - e.g. 02 cool from Amazon.

Use high efficiency lights - now LED lights are twice as efficient as CFC - e.g. Phillips. Last 15 years.

Use Icemaker running when elec is on and thermos flasks/food jars packed with ice to keep foods cold instead of using a fridge when mains is off. (photos anyone interested ? )

Store items that do not absolutely need a fridge under inverted flowerpot covered with wet old towel.

Turn off main inverter and use efficient 100- 500 watt inverter when power is off.

Use LED low energy 20 inch TV or LED monitor attached to laptop.

Aim for energy useage that gets you into lowest payment band.

Use solar oven - not microwave.

Augment by solar power.

Use insulation if areas are getting hot and need powerful fans etc.

Preserve the fossil fuel resources of the planet for future generations.

Remember inverter/battery combination is only 80% efficient.

Yes a good expat life with elec bill of $25 dollars a month plus or minus is possible.

yapask1
Possible? Maybe. Practical for only .01 X 10-9 % of the population.
 

TravelHippo

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Mar 24, 2008
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MerengueDutchie, thank you very much for the offer. We will look around here first since GH is about a 40 minute drive and it would be nice to have an electrician close by, but if we have no luck, I will let you know. Thanks again!!

yapask1, sounds like you have put a lot of thought and work into being as energy efficient as possible. Thank you for sharing your ideas but unfortunately most really wouldn't be practical for us.
 

donP

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Dec 14, 2008
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I fully concur with windeguy's opinion.

A voltage meter can be used to check at what voltage the bulk charge stage switches over to the absoption charge (= 29.2 V). The gassing should then get less and less and stop.
Otherwise a voltmeter is only good to check how much and quickly your batteries' voltage drops when a high load is applied.

Even if the over discharge protection is set at OFF, there is still an inbuilt threshold of 16.4V at which your inverter would shut down.
[I set mine at MAX because I like the faster transfer when my generator shuts down.]

The search mode watts setting does not have anything to do with your problem, I'd turn it off (= defeat).

I have never heard of the brand of your batteries. They may not be real deep cycle batteries and their label may have been put on in the DR... :rolleyes:

Maybe your batteries were not equalized regularly in their early life and the plates have hard sulfate, thus reducing the capacity.

Internal short-circuits can also cause excessive temperature. Warped plates (= bad quality) or too much bottom deposits, which finally reach the plates are likely reasons for that.

Bottom line:
I think, your inverter is OK, your batteries need replacement (T-105).

donP
 
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yapask1

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Jul 23, 2012
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Possible? Maybe. Practical for only .01 X 10-9 % of the population.
I do not see the difference between my o2 fan and ceiling fan in my appartment.

Phillips LED light bulbs are a big success Worldwide.

Insulation is good - has been used in many thousands of commecial premises. RadientGuard could not of grown on 0.01% of population.

Many people are using Solar augmentation.

Solar has grown to 3% of power in some countries.

Thermos sales are up - I can see why with uncertain elec supplies in India, US, etc. etc.

High efficiency fans and fridges are growing in market share.

Solar prices are reducing - down 50% in 2 years.

So let us not have more senseless posts - it is up to all to do their bit to reduce energy consumption.

Japan and others are in energy crisis - expect more innovations.

yapask1