Recommendation for New Batteries?

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Postby Brock on Wed Nov 16, 2005 9:26 am

I spent a bunch of time looking last night and it looks like the AGM Deka, Concorde and Trojan are the way to go. The Trojan’s seemed to be newer, while the Concorde have been around a bit longer. I will see what I can find locally. As my batteries have aged they definitely take more and more power to get them back full, so 98% would be amazing, right now on my Trimetric I am set for 89% and that was pretty close before I lost that battery.
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Postby Brock on Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:14 pm

I am torn now. I spoke with a place locally who sells batteries to the local RE place "Lake Michigan Wind & Sun" and he said they tried various AGM and went back to L16's. Of all the batteries they used the L16's have lasted the longest, including the Rolls 460 and 530.

I could just get 4 L-16's and have 1/2 the cells to maintain that I used to have and about the same initial AH's as my old bank. But then I couldn't go to 48v if I ever do that.

Oh the other thing he said which I thought was odd is that they don't recommend the L16 HC because they have less space above the plates for the electrolyte. Is that true? It sort of makes since because if it is the same body to get the extra power you need larger plates right?

Any thoughts?
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Postby Ecnerwal on Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:20 am

If you want 48V potential, you should think about stepping up to 8 L-16's, if you/your supplier finds L-16s to behave the best. I supose that doesn't do much for your maintenance, and it presumably more than doubles your cost over T-105s, which appear to be the cheapest per AH stored...
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Postby halfcrazy on Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:29 am

brock what brand L16's are they recommending? we have had good succes with the interstate brand of L16 i will curiusly watch this thread also i am going to be in the market this winter and still cant decide on what to get i have a friend that bought a set of the hup solar one batteries pricey but supposed to last a long time?
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Postby Brock on Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:26 pm

The place I spoke with said they use the Trojan version of the L16, the “original L-16” he pointed out.

A funny story, when I called Batteries Plus they said "Ya we have the L-16 for golf carts, they are $69.95” I asked if he was sure they were the L-16’s and what they might be rated at, he responded “They are rated at 200 milliamps". Yes he said milliamps. I asked if they had the larger size than that and he said no. I said thank you and hung up.

I believe Batteries Plus primarily carries East Penn / Deka, I should see if they do make an L-16 version.
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Postby Brock on Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:36 pm

I just looked it up and the part number for the Deka L-16 is 8L16. So I called Batteries Plus again and just asked about that part and it came back as their part # 6V370 at $159.50 The part number sounds correct, 6V for 6 volt and 370 for 370 amp/ah. That is the best price I have seen yet. Hummmmm...

I think I will go with 8 batteries since they are rated for 370 each, and Deka seems like a good solid name.
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Postby crewzer on Fri Nov 18, 2005 6:03 pm

Brock,

L-16’s have a deservedly great reputation, but AGM technology is catching on. Concorde Battery’s product line is exclusively AGM, East Penn / Deka (including MK) manufactures gel- and AGM batteries, and Trojan has added AGM’s to their product line. I’d love to see Trojan’s business case for making their AGM production investment!

Similarly, many reputable dealers now sell AGM batteries. Check listings at the following businesses, and note that while NAWS stopped selling gel batteries for a while due to warranty issues, they now sell gel batteries from MK:

http://www.backwoodssolar.com/Catalogpa ... m#CONCORDE
http://www.bitterrootsolar.com/battery/mk-agm.htm
http://www.cosolar.com/catalog/cat_batt ... ncorde.htm
http://www.mrsolar.com/Merchant2/mercha ... ry_Code=mk
http://store.solar-electric.com/batteries.html
http://www.scsolar.com/Batteries.html
http://www.sunwize.com/catalog/images/b ... ncorde.pdf
http://www.thesolar.biz/LIFELINE%20Batt ... d%20RV.htm

AGM’s are earning good reviews as well. See:

http://www.solar4power.com/pdf/concorde ... t-work.pdf
http://www.vonwentzel.net/Battery/06.Conclusion/
http://www.wagonmaker.com/newbatt.html

Finally, I believe the batteries pictured in Outback’s PS-1 photo are Concorde AGM’s. See: http://www.outbackpower.com/GT_Systems.htm

I have no doubt that many people have had problems with gel- and AGM batteries. They require charging voltages that are different from those commonly used for flooded-cell batteries, the VRLA charging voltages must be temperature compensated, and they don’t take well to being overcharged. They are not miracle solutions – maltreatment will kill any battery. Also, I suspect there may be some QC issues. For example, relatively inexpensive AGM batteries that I recently inspected at a Cabelas store were made in China.

Assuming that AGM’s are less forgiving than regular ol’ flooded-cell models, I’m still working on fine-tuning my charging system. I’ve got the RTS connected to my MX-60, I’ve reduced cable lengths between the controller and the battery terminals, the cables are “diagonally connected” to the batteries (+ to battery #1, - to battery #4) and I’ll soon upgrade the breaker-to-battery cables to 2/0 AWG. Most of the improvements were made to reduce the voltage drop in the battery cables while charging at 40 A, and the final charger settings will be based on voltage measurements taken at the battery terminals.

But, so far, so good with my new AGM batteries, and initial performance results are very encouraging indeed. And, the higher charging efficiency translate can translate into system cost savings. For example, everything else being equal, a system comprised of a 710 W array, an MX-60 controller and an 800 Ah AGM battery bank (assumes 89% battery energy charging efficiency) should perform as well as an 800 W array, an MX-60 controller and an 800 Ah flooded-cell battery bank (assumes 79% battery energy charging efficiency).

At $4.50 / W, that’s a $400 cost savings for the smaller array – an amount that more than covers the marginal cost of the AGM batteries.

Ramblin’, ramblin’, ramblin’… I’m thinkin’ about sellin’ my ol’ hydrometer on Ebay :wink:. My suggestion would be to consider new, name-brand AGM batteries, and then make the decision that’s right for you. Here's a link to specs for Deka's L16 batteries; note that they're flooded-cell, not VRLA: http://www.eastpenn-deka.com/products/pdfs/0919b.pdf

HTH,
Jim / crewzer

P.S. I don't know the details of the physical differences between the Trojan L16P and the L16H, other than the H model is heavier.
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Postby Brock on Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:38 pm

All very good points as usual. Since the closest place locally is Batteries Plus I will likely get them there to avoid shipping. Batteries Plus carries the East/Penn or Deka line.

So I am back to the four of the Deka AGMs 4D 200 amps (8G8D) at $225 each or $900 for 800 amps or $1.125/amp. This one is odd, he insisted they were 8D and not 4D but were rated at 200 amps, so I am calling them 4Ds.

The Deka L-16 (6V370) are $160 each or $960 for 1110 amps or $.8648/amp

What is the cycle life for each of them? I can't seem to get a real number from the Deka site. From what I can tell the AGMs life in the Trojan line are about 2/3 that of the vented version. I am willing to pay more for them sealed, but don't really also want to give up on overall life.

And yes I agree that many of the early AGM's died early due to unknown charging abuse and likely some of the growing pains with the AGM batteries themselves.

I admit the thought of watering, cleaning and testing 24 cells 3 to 4 times a year is not something I look forward to. That alone might convince me.
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Postby crewzer on Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:26 pm

So I am back to the four of the Deka AGMs 4D 200 amps (8G8D) at $225 each or $900 for 800 amps or $1.125/amp. This one is odd, he insisted they were 8D and not 4D but were rated at 200 amps, so I am calling them 4Ds.

Brock,

The East Penn/Deka 8G8D battery is physical size 8D, but it's a gel battery -- the "G" in 8G8D stands for gel. The Ah rating for gels is typically lower than that for similar size AGM's. If you're looking for big AGM batteries from Deka (or MK), you'll need to look for the 8A4D or the 8A8D, where the "A" stands for AGM.

East Penn/Deka's MK division has some pretty good spec sheets on their batteries, including a DoD vs cycle chart. Here's a link to the specs for their 8A8D models:

http://www.mkbattery.com/images/8A8D-LTP.pdf
http://www.mkbattery.com/images/lagm.pdf

Here's a link to similar info about the MK gel batteries:

http://www.mkbattery.com/images/gel.pdf

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
090805 System Configuration: 966 W STC (849 W CEC PTC) 48V PV array, FM80, 24V x 400 Ah AGM battery bank, FX2524T w/ BTS, Hub-4 & Mate; Link-10 w/ BTS, & E-Panel.
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Postby Brock on Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:59 pm

Great catch Jim! I didn't really think about that letter when he told me the number, but now that makes since about the reduced AH on the 8D size. The trick is to get the Batteries Plus guys to get me the correct batteries.

Acording to those discharge charts they look darn close to L-16's. You have me sold on AGM's, again ;)
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Postby crewzer on Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:29 am

Brock,

One additional detail to consider -- though hopefully a minor one -- is the batteries' terminal style. I wanted lug terminals (like the ones on the MK 8A8D-LTP), but could only find regular ol' SAE-post models locally. I bought a bunch of brass marine terminal adapters from Solar Seller and everything worked out well enough.

Image

I just hope that you now have enough useful information to make an informed decision, and that whatever batteries you end up buying will perform as expected. HTH, and good luck with your decision and purchase!

Regards,
Jim / crewzer
090805 System Configuration: 966 W STC (849 W CEC PTC) 48V PV array, FM80, 24V x 400 Ah AGM battery bank, FX2524T w/ BTS, Hub-4 & Mate; Link-10 w/ BTS, & E-Panel.
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Postby sparky on Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:59 am

Since it is Sunday I want to give a big thanks to all the people who are doing the beta testing of AGM's ect. It is nice to know that there will be a group of people who will know (someday) that these are good in the long run.

By the way, the gels I saw fail were never from the usually suspected "high charging voltage" It was from the sales people telling the
user these were so bullet proof there is no need to limit max charge current. Took one apart on an island in the Caribbean and the plates were bent up in waves.

Have you heard that Toshiba is coming out with a laptop with an 8 hour run time and 1 hour recharge. Wonder if they will last 10 years.........
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Postby rplarry on Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:13 am

Brock
I have never regretted spending the extra money on my batteries, its kind of boring around here now with no watering, corrosion cleaning, or equalizing to worry about. If I didn't have to rotate the pv array a few times a day, I wouldn't have anything to do.
You'll wonder why you didn't upgrade your batteries sooner.
Good luck with your batteries,
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Postby sparky on Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:17 pm

Larry,
I hope you didn't mistake my post as there having anything to do with money. I just want to see someone tell me they have been running a set of any type of battery 8 to 10 years off grid. 15 years is certainly doable now with the single cell Rolls and others.

Where are you in the greater Bay of LA ? Is there still a Taxi?
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Postby Brock on Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:53 pm

Crewzer, good to know about the adapters, but I will deal with that. I know I can get regular ones locally, think the brass ones help that much?

Larry, I even bought a distiller to make my own water, I use it for other things, but won’t use it much now.

Hopefully I can get over there Monday to get the order in so they get them on the next delivery; he said they are up about every 10 day with a delivery. And I have to make sure they can get the right ones.
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Postby crewzer on Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:14 pm

think the brass ones help that much?

No good technical reason to offer... just haven't ever liked the soft lead ones.

Regards,
Jim / crewzer
090805 System Configuration: 966 W STC (849 W CEC PTC) 48V PV array, FM80, 24V x 400 Ah AGM battery bank, FX2524T w/ BTS, Hub-4 & Mate; Link-10 w/ BTS, & E-Panel.
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Postby Ecnerwal on Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:56 am

If you have lead battery posts, the lead ones are probably better, in the sense that they are not as prone to corroding due to galvanic action. Then again, perhaps they just move the point of likely corrosion up to the wire-connector junction.

In any case, grease them up good, whatever you use for connectors. If you can find silicone grease (or best, IMHO, silicone high vacuum grease) it works quite well (and lasts forever), though vaseline or axle grease are common enough (but more prone to drying out).
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Postby rplarry on Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:43 am

sparky
All I meant was that usually gels and agm's are more expensive than flloded lead acid, but in my opinion it is money well spent. Thats all,
Larry
Also I would imagine that the battery life is determined by the care that they are given. I would not be surprised to see a properly sized and well cared for gel or agm battery bank last 15 years.
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Postby Brock on Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:57 pm

Well it turns out Batteries Plus can not order or get the 8A8D and they did indeed give me the info on the Gel cell. They insisted the AGM and Gel were the same thing, both sealed.

So I went to another vendor about 60 miles from here. They can get the Deka 8A8D and as luck would have it the guy I spoke with has relatives about 5 miles from here so he will drop them off once they are in (2 to 4 weeks) when he gets back up here.

So Jim and Larry what numbers are you actually running for bulk and float (no more EQ for me) I thought it was 14.4 for bulk 30-120 min and 13.2 float?
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Postby crewzer on Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:03 pm

Brock,

I just learned today that Battery Plus' orginal shop is in Green Bay! Too bad about your local dealer... gel and AGM are indeed both VRLA, but they're not quite the same.

I've "fine tuned" my MX-60 to the following settings:

Absorb: 14.3 V {MK / East Penn recommendation for "optimal" is 14.4 V at 20C/68F, and, applying their temp comp formula for 12 V batteries (-0.03 V/C), which is the same as the MX-60's, 14.25 V at 25C/77F.} The "Absorbing" value at the battery terminals eventually reaches 14.25 V (temperature corrected) as the charge current drops to ~12 A or lower. The voltage as measured at the terminals reads a bit low at first due to the high-current voltage drop between the controller and the battery bank, primarily in the breaker, fuse and shunt.

I'm still twiddling with this setting, and I may end up revising the MX-60 to 14.4 V. I hope that the "next generation" MX-60 includes a battery voltage sense feature. I don't like the Optimization / Vbatt Calibration feature because (I think) it uses the same offset for MPPT & Absorbing (high current) as it does for Float (low current).

Float: 13.4 V

Absorb Time Limits: 30 min MIN and 2 hr MAX

End Amps: 10 A. I set this just below 1-1/2% of my ~800 Ah bank capacity to avoid a false "end" if the Absorbing current is to briefly drop below 12 A. Your bank of four each 8A8D's will be rated at ~1,000 Ah, so you might want to try a 12 A or 13 A setting.

Good luck with your new batteries, and, at 158 lbs. each :shock: , make sure you get someone to help you move 'em!

Regards,
Jim / crewzer
090805 System Configuration: 966 W STC (849 W CEC PTC) 48V PV array, FM80, 24V x 400 Ah AGM battery bank, FX2524T w/ BTS, Hub-4 & Mate; Link-10 w/ BTS, & E-Panel.
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Postby RobL on Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:14 pm

A note to Sparky

My first set of wet cells lasted 14 years. They were 8V, 8D form-factor 200AH marine engine starting batteries, 14 wired in series for 120VDC.

My second (current) set were the same design, but 12V and only 8 of them (two sets of 4 in parallel) to make 48V. This set is on year 9 and I hope to replace sometime in the next year.

I almost never go below 50%DOD, usually recharge at 60. Solar in summer and hydro in winter. There is a clear and relentless drop in capacity and efficiency over the later years, but the power's there when needed.

Average worst-case (summer/fridge on) daily load is around 3KWH.

Despite my good luck, I would like to move up to Surrette (Rolls) S-530's next time.

Rob
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Postby halfcrazy on Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:35 pm

i called my local dealer today on trojan L16's 220 bucks eack i can get interstate L16's for 145 whats the difference in the two? i know a lot of people in my area that use the interstate batteries they are readily available. i think i want one more set of regular lead acids before i go to the agm's just really want to learn all i can first before i make that leep
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Postby crewzer on Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:06 am

1/2,

It might be worth asking your local dealer about which L16 models he's offering.

The regular capacity Interstate UL16 is rated at 375 Ah (20 hr) and RC 810 (25 A).
The regular capacity Trojan L16P is rated at 390 Ah (20 hr) and RC 805 (25 A).

The high capacity Interstate UL16HC is rated at 415Ah (20 hr) and RC 890 (25 A).
The high capacity Trojan L16H is rated at 420 Ah (20 hr) and RC 885 (25 A).

The Interstate models require a lower charging voltage (7.2 V) that do the Trojans (7.4 V).

Links to specs:

http://www.ibsa.com/www_2001/content/pr ... _6volt.asp
http://www.trojanbattery.com/Products/P ... ?Name=L16P
http://www.trojanbattery.com/Products/P ... ?Name=L16H

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
090805 System Configuration: 966 W STC (849 W CEC PTC) 48V PV array, FM80, 24V x 400 Ah AGM battery bank, FX2524T w/ BTS, Hub-4 & Mate; Link-10 w/ BTS, & E-Panel.
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Postby halfcrazy on Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:24 am

crewzer the intertstates are the regular capacity as where the 200 dollar trojans seems like dollar for dollar i will be as far ahead with the interstates?
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Postby crewzer on Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:49 am

1/2,

$150 ea for the Interstate L16's sound pretty good... you'd be able to build a 24 V x 750 Ah bank for 8 x $150 = $1,200... that's about the right size for your array. Trojan is a powerful brand name, but I've had good luck with smaller Interstate batteries. My SRM-27 (12 V, 105 Ah) goes through an average 6% discharge/charge cycle everyday, and it's now 4-1/2 years old. I equalize and add water to it 2X a year.

8 each L16's means 24 cells to maintain. FWIW, you might try scouting around for a bank of more efficient and essentially maintenance-free AGM batteries. My ''local" battery warehouse has East Penn / Deka 8A8D's (12 V, 245 Ah) for $240 each (qty 5+) plus tax/shipping. For a 24 V x 735 Ah bank, that would be 6 x $240 = $1,440.

Good luck with your decision, and I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving Holiday!
Jim / crewzer
090805 System Configuration: 966 W STC (849 W CEC PTC) 48V PV array, FM80, 24V x 400 Ah AGM battery bank, FX2524T w/ BTS, Hub-4 & Mate; Link-10 w/ BTS, & E-Panel.
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