1 of 8 RE16-B

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JRHill
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1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:36 am

I've got a laggard in the string. And of that one its really just one cell. It's SGs are low on all cells but one in particular: 1.205/1.200/1.0x when the rest of the bank is normal. But of course, this bad guy is pulling things down. The bad cell comes up with heavy charging then drops right back down. OK, I don't want a new warranty replacement for whatever I can get - it's just silly to replace one of a 50 month old string. I thought I'd call the supplier to see if they have any serviceable RE16-B in the recycle pile. Here is what was said: "Out of hundreds of L16s each month we only get a few RE16-Bs for recycle. We have only 1 or 2 now and those are junk." Whoa, I thought the Bs were the next and upcoming hot stuff - at least that is what was told when I exchanged my original RE16-A bank.

For options he said he'd look through returns for serviceable L16's and asked me about using another brand: US Battery for the replacement (apparently they sell a BUNCH of them apposed to Trojans). He also asked if I was open to a new L16 of whatever brand that was an old but new straggler and couldn't be sold in a matched string. Apparently these can come cheap if your dealer is honest....

My plan was to get two if I can do so. One for the replacement and one as a backup if another goes down some time future.

So what do y'all think of a back up battery for the string? It could be year or months or days. But we know FLA deep cycles can't stay healthy sitting with a trickle charger. Its better than dead but without cycling, its a door nail. The other option is to rotate. Ah, not.

What would you do?

raysun
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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:53 am

I'd buy one quality exact-specifications replacement, put it in the string, and expect its service life to be that of the other monoblocks.

JRHill
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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:45 am

raysun wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:53 am
I'd buy one quality exact-specifications replacement, put it in the string, and expect its service life to be that of the other monoblocks.
That was my goal. But option are not leaning that way.

[BTW, we have canyon fires and stupid people starting them. Battery failures. Wife into town to the Dr. I left a gate open and the dogs killed our nanny. Life is good then it sucks.}

JRHill
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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:09 am

So I ended up with 2 US Battery L16HC (blue). They are 1+ year old and new, stragglers from unsold inventory. After replacing the worst of the Trojans and firing back up the FNDC SOC is expectedly off cal. A few adult beverages and I could continue on with the day after lifting that into the box. The next day I did the 2nd not as badly failing laggard. The system is responding well to the replacements. For me, the beverage enhancements wear off way too fast, sigh.

I am really disappointed in the Trojan RE16-B bank installed 8.22.15. The original RE16-A bank lasted much longer and when changed out had no failed cells, they were just tired 'cause I didn't charge (absorb) them correctly. I'm saving the better of the two Trojans for a backup because it still has SG readings in each cell. But this last Trojan bank had the advantage of the EU7000is for full charging and an autostart so the occurrence of low voltage shut downs was literally once or twice over the years. And with monthly efforts to exercise a deep draw (>55%) with a full recharge, SGs, H2O, etc., I sure didn't see the benefits of the maintenance. Hmmm.

Just a recap, FYI,
Jim

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:35 am

So after installing the two new US Battery L16HCs to replace the premature failing of two Trojans I know the FNDC is way off. Two days ago I did an extended absorb run and we actually had a 'lil bit of sunlight. Hit them with an EQ for an hour as well. Checked the batteries and, yup, they were close enough to say they were fully charged. Went down to the crawl space and unplugged the cable for 30 seconds to reset the FNDC and plugged it back in - all normal and started back up at 100%.

Oh my gosh.... The readings since have been nutsy cookoo. SOC runs up to 100% quickly then drops down to 8% then back up to 100% DURING the generator run. Log shows that 40+kWh were put into the batteries during the 4 hour run. A normal charge cycle is approx 5kWh. After the run the SOC would quickly dive to about 45% then come back up and stabilize around 50%. Shunt wiring and connections are fine so I've just unplugged it for now. Maybe it has had a heart attack?

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:51 am

Yikes! I think I'd be having a heart attack. If the shunts/wiring are OK, I wonder if there's some sort of corruption in the FNDC firmware or config data.

Maybe a reload of the latest Mate firmware (which I am guessing would include code for the FNDC), a factory reset, and reconfigure battery parameters.

Not really a solidly predictable fix, but better in the near term than thinking there is something bizarre going on in the battery physics.

Best wishes for a simple solution!

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:41 am

Yeah, there are some wonky things going on right now. I expect a simple but inverse solution and that is $$$$. And why? I last purchased the better to the Trojan L16RE-A bank. I added the AGS to avoid/minimize the dreaded-too-deep scenarios but still still controlled periodic heavy amp to lower draws (>50%) with heavy full charges following - quarterly with a genset that could deliver the full 20aac while maintaining internal loads. And I regularly checked SGS.

Full disclosure: the weirdness began after one day when doing an extended Absorb in the standard voltage range and temp compensated. Shortly afterward I had a cell go dead in one battery with another in another battery go weak. Before I got the replacements the weak cell in the 2nd gave up the ghost. But those have been changed out. Now things are completely unpredictable in performance.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:15 am

It's a weird thing for sure. I guess I'd try a quick voltmeter measurement of each monoblock when the wild SOC gyrations show up.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by sodamo » Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:24 pm

Strange stuff
David
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JRHill
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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:15 am

Things are going the best they can be with the replacement batteries. But the wife is growling at me that the generator is running too often and using too much gas. She's partially right as it IS running more often but I can tell with a glance at the inverter graph that its not running as long. So I took a look at the inverter graph from a year ago. Sure enough, the generator is running about twice as much. Below the From Gen and To Load buttons the totals for current day vs. a year ago are similar. In other words, the bank is hitting Absorb much faster and when finished it drops much faster. The worst, to me, is hearing it run, more cold starts and consequently a little less efficient. So I thought about getting hard data. Seems the only way is from the SD card?

Question: where can I find the description of the columns in the .csv files on the SD card. I found a link in an older thread but it's broken and I can't find an equivalent in the support documentation area? Or is there an easier way to find historical Gen run time in OpticsRe that I'm not thinking of....

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Thu Dec 19, 2019 11:31 am

I'm not sure about the .CSV data headers.

I'm pretty sure a common symptom of battery capacity loss is a quicker charge and discharge cycle. The smaller bucket just doesn't hold as much juice.

You might be able to find a decline in the historical data, but the here-and-now is the situation to deal with. I think I'd try a good, old-fashioned capacity test on the battery.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:13 am

I finally heard back from my battery dealer in Portland on the two failed L16RE-B's: Northwest Battery Supply. I had been holding my breath a bit from other attempts on battery warranties (not them) over the years. This case was every bit as disappointing.

They credited me for $37.30 each plus cores on the 7 year warranty of which I was less than 5 years service after purchase. I was floored and asked why so low. He told me that it was my fault as both the batteries had failed middle cells and the cause was they boiled dry. I couldn't get him to say how he arrived at that determination. I told him that I faithfully check electrolyte levels and regularly take and document SG readings. His immediate response: "What's SG?" I said "Specific Gravity." He said "Oh, I'm not good with acronyms."

I asked if he really wanted to take this position, that I have spent just shy of $10k there in the last ten years and I regarded them as a sole-source vendor and this was a relationship damaging position, esp. since I KNOW the batteries had not been boiled out. He wouldn't budge.

Sigh. I am sure they get all kinds of stories from customers. But I also expect that when I have a history of purchases and documentation of maintenance that the determination is able to be debated and I should have a voice it is "NOPE."

I could go looking for another vendor but from past experience battery warranties just plain suck.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:28 am

Precisely why I take the modern Lithium battery warranties with a very large grain of salt.

Even if the companies survive long enough to honor warranties, there are a 1000 and 1 failure modes that are not likely to be covered.

"It appears the charging voltage exceeded limits by 0.001V for more than 1 microsecond. This voids the waranty... "

I had two VRLA battery blocks from a well-known vendor fail about 1 week before the replacement period expired. I took them out, tested them according to requirements, and filled out the claim form. I never sent it in, however, as it would have needed to go through their corporate technical review committee, and I would have ended up paying shipping on 2 batteries to Hawaii. The time it would have taken would have been excessive (months by my reckoning) so I bit the bullet and bought 2 blocks outright to replace the failed units.

Battery warranties suck.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:07 pm

You bring up a good point: logistics. I have to admit that your's are definitely worse than mine. Even when shutting down to pull a battery/batteries, load, 2 hrs to the city and 2 back, replace and fire up, its done in a day. Multiple days/weeks/months are not an option. Sodamo running his genset for 72 hrs strain had to be a teeth clenching thing. Oil changes after a week or less suck too. But I love synthetic drain oil for bar/chain lube in the winter. It works really well. But y'all don't have to thin oils in winter months....

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by sodamo » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:10 pm

Sorry to read that JR.
As said, pretty common. My installer was telling me of a few warranty issues they had with Rolls. Results - they now longer recommend them.

I didn’t get warranty on my Aquions due to bankruptcy. Not counting heavily on the SimpliPhi warranty but I do have fingers crossed on their performance.
David
Please visit http://vacation.ninolehawaii.com

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:17 pm

30W oil all year baby!

The logistics here are anything but paradisical. After calling every supplier on the Big Island, I finally found an installer who had a supply of replacement batteries. I had to drive 200 miles round trip into the jungles of Puna to pick them up. No problem. Today the same trip would be a problem. The volcanic eruption last year buried his property in 20 feet of lava.

I had a 100 day stretch where generator use was a daily affair. I was concerned 2.5 micron volcanic ash would kill my Honda 7000, but it came through like a trooper.

It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye, then it's just games.

Aloha!

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:04 pm

The bottom line here is Batteries Suck. You cant live with them or without them.

If you take this further you do so at your own peril....

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B > Total change out

Post by JRHill » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:18 pm

The writing is on the wall: this season will be a new set of batteries. I am profoundly disappointed in this necessity as I definitely learned from the first set about how to properly charge the new bank. The misfortune was when two blocks of the new bank (2015) had one cell each expire just after the four year mark. I experimented with new L16 replacements but not exactly in kind and that's not working so well. But even if I had bit the bullet and got exactly the same it would've cost 2x+ and I would still have two new blocks into a four+ year old bank. At this time its consistent each day: I put 8kwh into them but can only harvest 3kwh or less - that really sucks. That does count the power going in while charging and that's further insult.

Here is the question: with both the original and the replacement bank they were new in the fall when put into service. I've also learned that it takes a certain number of full cycles for new batteries to "break in." So I'm thinking of changing them out an approx. month earlier. I can then load to exercise them and have good enough solar to get them properly charged back. And I can do it before generator season when I have to cut back the absorb time. If there's any down side it would be late summer heat spells. But that's why God created Temperature Compensation so probably a non issue.

Lastly, the battery dealer where I have purchased all along really dinged me on the warranty saying they died because they were boiled dry. Well, that's just BS. There was no discussion allowed despite documentation, which I grant is suspect to them. But we have history. But they blew it off. But they f**ked me and so I'm done with them. I think it would be a nice drive to Arlington, WA to get a bank from some folks who might treat me better if there was a problem. I was thinking of the EnergyCell FLA line, 525FLA. What ever I get needs to be in an L16 package or I've got headaches....

So as I plan the 2020 season, any insights?

Thx as always,
Jim

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:57 pm

The breakin cycles will serve to bring the battery to full capacity and the normal course of cycling the battery will serve to make that so.

My pet theory about premature battery aging is that under-using the battery is as wearing as over-using it. Being a local subject matter expert, I get calls from folks who have battery issues from driving them into the ground. I also talk to folks who have battery issues from leaving them parked in the garage, exercising them only lightly.

The former folks are more-or-less incorrigible, I tell them to buy the cheapest they can find with two-year replacement warranties, and drag them into the dealer after year one.

The latter folks have a more subtle issue to address, IMO. My neighbor with the big bank of L16s uses about 20% of the capacity daily, and charging is an equally light affair. After about 6 months in use, i was taking care of their garden while they were away, and being the busybody nerd that I am, checked their battery and the logs. The battery was being faithfully charged to 100%, and AH in to AH out was rational, but many cells showed low SG. I let them know what I found, and suggested some changes to charging voltages, Absorb time, etc. It helped, but the die, I'm afraid, is already cast.

I suggested they work their battery harder, charge it more robustly, and run a monthly EQ. I'd make the same suggestion to anyone using those big FLA lumber wagons.

The 'compromise' winter charging, using a reduced Absorb time to save generator runtime, has a potential for trouble, IMO. The undercharge issue raises red flags.

The high cost and unproven-in-the-real world switch to Lithium has me hesitating to pull the trigger, but with their fast charging and love of being in a partial state of charge, I'd think your operation would be the poster child for that battery technology.

Just my $0.02

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B > Total change out

Post by provo » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:06 pm

JRHill wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:18 pm

I was thinking of the EnergyCell FLA line, 525FLA. What ever I get needs to be in an L16 package or I've got headaches....
That 525FLA looks like a green version of the Rolls-Surrette S6 L16, 390Ah at the 20h rate.
S6 L16 .pdf
(744.86 KiB) Downloaded 286 times
Nice battery, I bet. They have two larger L16's also (same size, slightly heavier), a 445Ah and a 487Ah. There is also a 371Ah L16 in the 4500 series, that supposedly lasts longer even at deeper DOD's, looks like 4400 cycles at 30% DOD! Let us know what you choose -- you can be the guinea pig for my next set!

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:00 am

raysun wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:57 pm
..
I suggested they work their battery harder, charge it more robustly, and run a monthly EQ. I'd make the same suggestion to anyone using those big FLA lumber wagons.

The 'compromise' winter charging, using a reduced Absorb time to save generator runtime, has a potential for trouble, IMO. The undercharge issue raises red flags.

The high cost and unproven-in-the-real world switch to Lithium has me hesitating to pull the trigger, but with their fast charging and love of being in a partial state of charge, I'd think your operation would be the poster child for that battery technology....
My winter compromise still involves an extended absorb but not every day. Once a week or so I swap the generator plug to the 3000w inverter gen after I hit abs voltage and let it idle away. That's about the best I can do to not run a 7kw genset at 500 watts and still exercise the smaller unit. You do make a good point in loading. Our loads are light and consistent and recharging is limited to the 20aac in during the low light season.

As for LI, I agree. But off grid applications have some catching up to do from what I've seen on these forums. And, my gosh, they are pricey. Seems I'm stuck in this rut. I've done a lot of experimenting over the years but I have to be more conservative these days.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:54 am

The inverter charger provides about 1.7kW on my inverter, I'd imagine yours is about the same. That's about 9% of the C20 AH capacity of the L16RE-b. A bit on the low end of normal, but not out of bounds.

The good thing about FLA, is the ability to check cell health via SG. If the weekly full Absorb is getting the cells to full charge, then that's good. I'd keep a close eye on cell to cell SG variation at full charge. If more than 0.030, then an EQ charge will likely be needed.

I hear you on lithium. The $$$$$ are a major issue. Sadly my 1st born is an adult so has no market value. :(

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:02 am

The usual multiple string stuff just came up in another thread. Since it's new stuff it may not be part of anyone's system yet but what the heck happens with multiple strings of LI batteries. Will the management system control them reliably? Hmmm.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by raysun » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:08 am

JRHill wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:02 am
The usual multiple string stuff just came up in another thread. Since it's new stuff it may not be part of anyone's system yet but what the heck happens with multiple strings of LI batteries. Will the management system control them reliably? Hmmm.
Most lithium batteries are designed to tolerate parallel connections. Internally, the cells are arranged in many parallel strings as a matter of course.

For example the SimpliPhi batteries are to only be stacked in parallel and the installer must be mindful to use identically conducting cables to tie them to common bus bars. They act as independent current sources on discharge.

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Re: 1 of 8 RE16-B

Post by JRHill » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:09 pm

raysun wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:08 am
...the installer must be mindful to use identically conducting cables to tie them to common bus bars. They act as independent current sources on discharge.
I am less and less wanting to be the LI poster child. I actually like checking EQs. I wish more things in life could be detected with a squeeze bulb.

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