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John Harper
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[*] posted on 11-29-2021 at 04:09 PM
6V Battery Advice


My roommate says her battery array seems to be using more water lately. I think batteries are at least 5 years old. I told her to have her handyman remove and clean all the cables connecting the array and find a hydrometer around camp if possible. I have one, but can't come down to check things till after Xmas. She's kept the water levels up and batteries clean, still I don't think the cables have been removed or cleaned since install.

Is that about all we can do to check the batteries? I'm thinking a bad connection (or bad cell(s)) might cause the increased loss of water from overcharging, and I think she has four 6V deep cycle batteries on line. So, quite a few cross cables to the batteries involved too.

I've checked about purchasing new batteries up here. No delivery to my house and core charges, so we'd have to ferry the old ones back. Does anyone know a source in Rosarito/TJ? Her place is south of Cantamar just a bit so if a core is needed it would be worth it likely to just buy in Mex.

Thanks for any advice!

John



[Edited on 11-29-2021 by John Harper]
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Russ
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[*] posted on 11-29-2021 at 06:18 PM


My advice 2¢ Dump the lead acid batteries. At 5 years and minimal service they all may be on their last leg. I'd research the Lithium Batteries. Their prices are dropping and the build quality and performance are amazing. Do the research and look at the reviews. I upgraded a year ago and since then there are better choices. I bought Battle Born batteries which are still rated highly but there are others rated as good or better. SOK is an example but warranty and service isn't as good as Battle Born.



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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 04:17 AM


It's very likely that there is a bad cell or cells drawing down the voltage. When this is the case, the other "good" batteries become overcharged and boil off water. Not good for the remaining "good" batteries. As Russ said, they are at the end of their life. Other batteries will soon follow soon, especially if they keep overcharging because of the bad cell. Don't replace just one battery, it's a waste of $$ as the other batteries will soon be going bad, and they will damage the new one. It's time to replace all of them. I'd do as Russ said and research newer battery technology.
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John Harper
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 06:04 AM


I've been running a LiFePO4 battery in my Harley for the last 7 years, so I'm well aware of lithium's great advantages. They are expensive, but in my case well worth the purchase price in the long run.

I was going to recommend to her to replace all batteries at one time, as I know the weakest battery damages the others. I'll look into those lithium batteries as an upgrade. Thanks, Russ!

Thanks so much for the advice, all great ideas. From my research, it looks like her battery array is at the end of it's life span.

John
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 07:41 AM


Lithium batteries can be very pricey because often it is not just the batteries that need replacing, but charge controller and inverter as well. If they are out of her price range, I would recommend looking into maintenance free lead acid as her next option. They are more than the flooded lead acid batteries she is running, but make life much easier especially for someone who sounds like doesn’t monitor her system closely.

Also, I would recommend checking to see if her charge controller accepts a temperature sensor and if it does, ensure she has one. Good luck John, you’re a good friend.
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John Harper
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 08:15 AM


Actually, she's good at keeping the water levels monitored in the array. I've impressed upon her the importance of keeping them watered. I have to look into the AGM as an option too, although they are more expensive. The maintenance free aspect might be good for her peace of mind as well.

I think I'm going to have to educate myself on solar systems and see what components she's using now.

I know my Shorai lithium battery in my bike needs a special charger, one that will not go into "desulfate" mode as I understand it, like other chargers do.

I'm not even sure if she's running a 24V or 12V battery array. I seem to recall it being 24V? Does that sound right?

John



[Edited on 11-30-2021 by John Harper]
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 09:12 AM


John Harper gave a shout out to Shorai LiFe batteries.

I too highly recommend Shorai Lithium Iron batteries, at least for motorcycles. One of mine is close to a decade old with no issues. Super light, plenty of power, and similarly priced to a stock battery (eBay). Just disconnect it when not in use for extended periods and it will remain fully charged probably indefinitely. The one time I left a headlight on and discharged one of them I was able to charge it back up with a standard charger (although it sounds like this might not be recommended).

I am no expert on solar battery storage systems, but these are so good that I would hope this technology or something similar would be an option.




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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 11:27 AM


Hopefully she’s running a 24v system at least, 48v is even better, more efficient. Comparing motorcycle batteries to home solar system batteries is a stretch, many more components in a home solar system and larger group lithium batteries are 3-5x more expensive for same capacity than flooded lead acid and that’s just for the battery. Northern Arizona Wind and Sun is a renewable energy company that sells to the public and are knowledgeable and super helpful with any questions you may have.

[Edited on 11-30-2021 by WestyWanderer]
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John Harper
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 11:57 AM


Yes, perhaps I should find out what components she's using now, and then I can figure out storage capacity from there. She does have 4 six volt batteries so max would be 24V from that array, which I believe is what it's configured as.

Currently, she has 4 Trojan T105 Plus batteries installed.

John
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 12:35 PM


Does she have a voltmeter? Has she measured the voltage of each individual battery a day after charging? You can usually access if there is a bad battery/cell that way. When my lead acid batteries stop taking water is when they are usually on their last legs. She should also try and unhook and charge each battery individually (6volt charger) or in pairs with a 12 volt charger, then hook back up and see if that helps.
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 12:45 PM


Hey John,
This Will Prowse Fella has been a great source of information as I have been researching solar setups for my overlander. He has dozens of videos on U Tube , besides design, set up and basic education, he often tests and disects various batteries etc, and points out special buys. - i find him very helpfull, maybe he can help you out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adFGmOlDM-Y&t=92s
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John Harper
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 12:46 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Timinator  
Does she have a voltmeter? Has she measured the voltage of each individual battery a day after charging? You can usually access if there is a bad battery/cell that way. When my lead acid batteries stop taking water is when they are usually on their last legs. She should also try and unhook and charge each battery individually (6volt charger) or in pairs with a 12 volt charger, then hook back up and see if that helps.


She does not have any of that, but I do have a multimeter and hydrometer. It looks like she's going to have to wait till I can come down and do some diagnosis at the end of December.

Disconnecting all the cables, cleaning, and reconnecting is also on the list.

John
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John Harper
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 12:48 PM


Quote: Originally posted by caj13  
Hey John,
This Will Prowse Fella has been a great source of information as I have been researching solar setups for my overlander. He has dozens of videos on U Tube , besides design, set up and basic education, he often tests and disects various batteries etc, and points out special buys. - i find him very helpfull, maybe he can help you out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adFGmOlDM-Y&t=92s


Thanks, Karl! I'll check it out.

Look forward to meeting up with you in Wyoming this summer!

John
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 02:43 PM


I watch him all the time. He has been the easiest to listen to although a lot of tech talk is way over my head he gets to the simple truth on a lot of solar stuff. When I was updating my batteries he thought highly of Battle Born batteries so I called them and got 4. He now has other favorites but uses the Battle Born as a bench mark for build quality, warranty and price.
Home page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoj6RxIAQq8kmJme-5dnN0Q
edit again: Here is one he has recently recommended -
https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/lithium-batteries.html

Just couldn't help doing more research. Here is what I would upgrade to today - https://www.signaturesolar.us/products/24v-200ah-lcd-battery... There is a video prompt at the top that our guy explains just how good these are.





[Edited on 11-30-2021 by Russ]




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Bob and Susan
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[*] posted on 11-30-2021 at 02:57 PM


those are "golf cart" batteries...they ONLY last 5 yrs TOPS

you need 2 of these...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/303409142774
if you buy 2 they deliver to your door...UPS ground

your "girlfriend lives in a travel trailer i'll bet....a house could not use ONLY 2 batteries
and i'll bet she has a 12v system

your old batteries have dead cells///you need a good hydrometer not a voltage tester

end the pain...dont "cheap out" ,,,
get 2 good solar 12v batteries for xmas


[Edited on 11-30-2021 by Bob and Susan]




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John Harper
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[*] posted on 12-1-2021 at 06:27 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Bob and Susan  
those are "golf cart" batteries...they ONLY last 5 yrs TOPS

you need 2 of these...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/303409142774
if you buy 2 they deliver to your door...UPS ground

your "girlfriend lives in a travel trailer i'll bet....a house could not use ONLY 2 batteries
and i'll bet she has a 12v system

your old batteries have dead cells///you need a good hydrometer not a voltage tester

end the pain...dont "cheap out" ,,,
get 2 good solar 12v batteries for xmas


I mentioned above she has 4 batteries, and that I have a multimeter and a hydrometer. I'm just not able to get down there until after Xmas. I'm very familiar with the use of both, as I work on motorcycles all the time, battery issues are common.

She has an actual house, had it since 1972 when her parents built it. It has a bank of 4 Trojan T105 batteries, and I forget if it was wired for 24V or 12V on the few times I watered up the cells. I keep thinking it was 24V when I examined the system long ago. I have a strong curiosity about solar systems in Baja.

I will check out the Ebay site you posted, thank you!

From my research, it looks like AGM might be the way to go, less for her to worry about, and heavy so they can't easily be stolen. The light lithium batteries are not only expensive but probably very easy to carry off in case of a break in, which happens occasionally in her Campo.

Thank you all, this is really helpful for me.

John

[Edited on 12-1-2021 by John Harper]
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John Harper
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[*] posted on 12-1-2021 at 08:21 AM


https://www.ebay.com/itm/303409142774

Interesting. The T105 is rated at 225 Ah, and I know she does not really put much load on the system, so these might be a nice alternative, and less wiring to deal with, and it's assorted problems.

I see "free shipping" as well, and also see they weigh 116 pounds each!!!! That would make them quite tough to walk off with. And, cheaper than buying 4 Trojan 105s.

John

[Edited on 12-1-2021 by John Harper]
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Russ
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[*] posted on 12-1-2021 at 09:56 AM


Also available on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/200Ah-Replacement-Battery-Casil-CA122...



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John Harper
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[*] posted on 12-1-2021 at 10:06 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Russ  
Also available on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/200Ah-Replacement-Battery-Casil-CA122...


Looks to be the same battery for $20 less??

John

[Edited on 12-1-2021 by John Harper]
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[*] posted on 12-1-2021 at 10:49 AM


If batteries temps are kept constant, you'll have longevity issues.

Store them underground.




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