NiFe battery with Outback system

A place to post images of your OutBack Power System

Moderators: OutBack, OutBack Moderator Team

pjrpd
Forum Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:20 am
My RE system: Remote off grid location monitored with OpticsRE. AXS_Port, inverter VFX3024E, charger Flexmax 80, Batteries 24 volt, 2000 amphr nickle iron batteries. 1800 watt solar panels. AXS_Port talks to wireless repeater over 30m ethernet cable.
Location: Gladstone, Queensland, Australia

NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by pjrpd » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:48 pm

My Nickel Iron batteries on a vanilla Outback System.
I am publishing this because I have had difficulty finding and understanding useful reliable information on the net about how to program my Outback system to suite my off-grid setup. I started off a complete novice, and still am. Suggestion are welcome. I hope this helps some other users.

Why NiFe.
I chose the batteries first. When setting up my off grid system, I was looking for something with proven robustness able to tolerate a fairly hostile environment. My house is off grid. We come and go often for long periods of time. It can get hot ÔÇô into the 40 Deg CÔÇÖs with high humidity, cyclones, and go down to just above zero in winter at night.
The NiFe/Outback system replaced flooded lead acid batteries running an old square wave inverter that came with the house. Cheap lead acid batteries were ÔÇ£cheapÔÇØ to replace but they lasted a bit under 3 years. There are better, my neighbours storage FLA's are dying at 14 years of age.
Chinese NifeÔÇÖs fit the bill. Old technology, lasting up to 100 years. Chinese manufacturers have been making the Nifes for 50 years plus and some of the original Chinese batteries are still in use in the USA. My supplier told me of a set of batteries that died after 20 years because the plastic cases had been installed in the open. There are multiple manufacturers and several Australian importers. Generic NiFeÔÇÖs are used by the Chinese military, railways and industry. They can be over charged, under charged, run dry then restored and topped up. They do not get thermal runaway according to the manufacturers. They do not burn. If the battery management system fails and I am a month away ÔÇô the batteries should be fine. The components ÔÇô nickel, iron, and potassium hydroxide electrolyte are all recyclable. If one cell fails, I can simply take it out of series and run the system as normal until a replacement is received. I do not have to replace the entire bank. And there are multiple manufacturers manufacturing to one standard.
The disadvantage was they are big. I chose 1000 Ahr units, and it takes ten in series to make 12 volts. They will need the electrolyte changed at some stage (no sign yet) and they are 70 kg each. Nife batteries are expensive, but if they last as long as advertised, I will be passing them on to my children in 40 years. I bought one set of batteries while working to last my retirement.
The biggest problem IÔÇÖve had is that despite first being put in mass production over 100 years ago, there is a large amount of misinformation about them on the WWW. A lot of contradictory information is published by people who have never owned them. My settings are consistent with Edison's published work.

The system
I chose Outback for the battery management system as they can be programmed to suite Nife batteries. It is advertised as being suitable for the local hostile environment. I like the support system and the OpticsRE cloud management. In addition, I have treated the system like a Lego set, adding bits when I was ready, spreading out the cost. There is a FM80 charger and a VFX3024E Inverter. Over time I have added a Hub4, a Mate3, replaced the Mate3 with an AXS_Port, a 4G wireless data connection to Optics RE and finally an FNDC. The Mate3 was bought to allow me to program the Inverter. It has never been able to reliably sustain a connection to Optics RE. I suspect itÔÇÖs not compatible with my local teleco. The ASX_Port connection to Optics RE is stable. Outback are looking into my Mate3 problem.
I recommend anyone with NiFe batteries get an FNDC to monitor loads and state of charge. I have found just using voltage to estimate SOC confusing in view of the required charging settings due to the internal resistance of the batteries. Within two days of putting in the FNDC, a whole range of system behavior suddenly became clear. I had considered putting in more solar panels, but the FNDC is telling me that I would be wasting my time on my current behavior. I wish I had got it earlier.
I live on the Tropic of Capricorn on an island on the Australian coast. I built a tin garden shed 3 meters x 1.5 meters and have the batteries on racks. There is a tiny 0.85 x 0.85 meter shed for the Outback electronics. The first 1000 amphours of batteries went in in January 2014 with a second 1000 amphours going in at the end of 2016. The system is nominally 2000 amphours at 24 volts. The battery energy storage does improve when used, and the harder the batteries are pushed, the more energy they store. When the second bank of batteries went in, they worked a lot harder than the first bank until they were broken in. That settled after 6 months. They banks have now balanced. Very different to lead acid. Ideally one day I would like to move to a 48V system, but this will mean a new inverter, and itÔÇÖs a bit beyond my budget at the moment. Being NiFe batteries, having two strings of 24 volt batteries should not hurt them.
My batteries do not contain Lithium. I checked the performance research, and took my supplierÔÇÖs advice. EdisonÔÇÖs recipe for alkaline battery electrolyte includes 20 gms Lithium per cell. I may need to replace the electrolyte from time to time. I am medically trained and the Lithium scares me. Lithium powder in the required quantity is nasty stuff for humans and is environmentally toxic. I will only lose a small percentage of battery capacity as a result, not enough to worry about.
The system is powered by 9 x 200 W solar panels, nominally 120V, most days about 105 V x 40 Amps for about 6 hours in winter.
There is a 12 volt LED lighting system in the house as backup through a Victron 24 to 12V transformer. Should the batteries discharge below 19V. The DC water pump runs directly off the batteries.
I have a 165 Farad Ultracapacitor that I bought cheap second hand as an experiment. There are research papers that they improve the efficiency of the power supply from the battery, an issue with the NiFe's internal resistance. To be honest, I am not noticing much difference. Research indicates also are supposed to extend the life of both NiFe and FLA batteries, enough of a reason to keep it connected.

Settings
Here is where I ran into problems with being a newbie and listening to conflicting advice. The alkaline battery chemistry of the NiFe system gives a different set of charging characteristics to most batteries. Some points.
- There is a high internal resistance to both charging and discharge. This varies with the amount of use the batteries get and temperature. The voltage sags significantly with a high load, such as an electric kettle and the big microwave. It comes back quickly. On charge, a high voltage maybe required.
- Specific Gravity cannot be used to determine an absolute state of charge. I recently installed an FNDC to calculate the SOC based on current in and current out. This has made a big difference in my understanding of the system.
- If the voltage is set too high, the batteries start making lot of hydrogen. If the batteries are ÔÇ£boilingÔÇØ due to hydrolysis, your system is wasting power generating hydrogen. Drop the charge and float voltages a small fraction. Some people state that Nife batteries need to be charged hard. Tried this last summer. I used 60 litres of distilled water in six weeks! There was little to no significant difference in battery storage capacity ÔÇô the extra charge electricity went into making lots and lots of hydrogen. Whatever ÔÇô do not try and charge hard. Too much out-gassing or water consumption indicates the voltage is too high. There is plenty of information on how thirsty the batteries are. This depends on the user. My Australian battery supplier has been running off his batteries (in a cold climate) for 7 years, and never needed to top them up. I have adopted his charge profile. On his settings, I have stopped needing to top up the electrolyte.
- Potassium Hydroxide in the electrolyte will react with CO2 in the air. This results in carbonate precipitates. Eventually the electrolyte will need to be washed out and replaced. This is, from my reading, needed about every 10 years. I understand that I can extend this by making sure the free hydroxide levels are kept at normal levels.
- Quotes for the Efficiency Factor of NiFe vary from 65% to 80% with most people estimating around 75%. This depends on power draw. With my house empty and the big refrigerator left running, I have calculated an EF of 90%. At high current draw the EF drops dramatically. I have followed general recommendations and am using the lower EF 75%.
- Self discharge is quoted as a problem at 1% per day, however my batteries are doing much better than that. It seems to be a little higher than new lead acid batteries. I have a modern lightweight LiFePO4 battery in the camper, itsÔÇÖ self discharge is the about the same rate as the Nife batteries. As the NiFe and LiFePO4 batteries are always connected to the battery management systems and solar panels, this low rate of self discharge is not an issue.
- The batteries are just different enough to require care and attention in the selection of a battery management system. There are a couple, including the Outback system. Some others require a major work around.

Settings
From the various available manuals; Nominal battery cell voltage is 1.2 volts, using 20 batteries in a string = 24 volts. From the manuals, charge 1.7V x20 = 34 volts for up to three hours. Float 1.4V x20 = 28 V. Fully charged batteries sit at 26 volts under load. I use the following settings, with little loss in storage. My settings are a little more conservative to reduce electrolysis and improve life.

ÔÇó FM80 settings
Absorb Voltage 30 volts. This is adequate for my current energy consumption. Can be increased to the recommended 34 Volts. (1.7 Volts each cell x 20 cells)
Absorb time 2 hours. This can be pushed to 3 hours, but there has been very little increase in power stored from a 1 hour Absorb.
Absorb End amps 0 Volts
Rebulk voltage 26.8 volts. May be a little high, but with a float of 28V it has only kicked in once or twice.
Current Limit ADC 80 amps. Default.
Equalisation. I have left this at default. Not needed yet.
This gives me a full charge of 26 volts.

ÔÇó AXS_Port settings (same as Mate 3).
AGS disabled. Grid disabled (completely offgrid).

ÔÇó Inverter
AC Input Voltage limited to 6 amps from 240 V charger so the little 2000 kVa generator is not overwhelmed. I use this sometimes to run power tools in the shed.
Battery protection cut-out is 19 Volts, the lowest allowed limit on the VFX3024E with a cut in of 22V. The 12 volt house draw will run it lower, but once the first string of 24V was conditioned over a few months (It can be done faster, but water consumption is very high) the voltage has never sunk below 23.8V on high loads with lots of visitors.

ÔÇó FNDC
This is new. Initial results suggest it is going to be very helpful. It tells me that I am running between 100% to 97% SOC.
Shunts A = Other DC, B= Inverter, C = Charger.
C20 for Nife @ 20 hrs is about 2200 Amphrs. This is based on a paper from Scandia labs.
Return amps 2% of amphr = 40 amps
End of Charge voltage = 30V
Battery Charge Factor 75%. I may have to lift this to avoid over charging as the batteries seem to do better than this. However, the FNDC seems to be protecting the system.
Charge parameters Met = 1 min.

Comments,
Working out available battery energy ( = (26V-19V)x2000Amphr) = 14 kWhr of usable energy, the solar panels are probably a little small and I could do with more. However, at current usage of 4 to 5 kWhr a day, I need not worry. We have enough power for several days of storms.
Would I recommend this setup? Sure. Like most people who own NiFe's :grin: , I think they are great. Make sure you get a good suitable BMS like the Outback system. If we ever move, I am tempted to take the batteries and entire Outback BMS with me. (I will of course have to replace it with some cheap system). I have lots of energy storage, reliable, low maintenance and long life if you look after them. If a cell fails, itÔÇÖs easily replaced without replacing the entire battery bank. The batteries are environmentally friendly. The batteries should out last me, saving me a lot of money in the long term despite the high upfront costs.

hendrik krijt
Forum Whiz
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:33 am
My RE system: pv=4.9Kw, 2xflexmax 80, 2x 24v-240v 50Hz outback inverters, fla's 12x Willard rt25 tubular 2v cells. rsa, kzn prov. (may change to aquion batteries)
Location: South Africa, KZN province

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by hendrik krijt » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:20 am

Hi pjrpd!

Thanks for your comprehensive write-up, I like your reasoning and your logic. I hope it will be some time before I need new storage, but would like to know more about where these NiFe cells are available, who makes them, to see if they are available in South Africa! Also to familiarize myself with their facts!

As a young lad I found some discarded NiFe cells and had years of fun cutting my teeth on electricity with them, charging, putting them to work (play!), recharging, and generally having a ball with them. ( playing with an old FLA lasted only 3 months! :lol: )

If you would not like to post that on this site, please private message me?

Lots of South African Southern Sunshine to you all!
Hendrik Krijt

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1586
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one FM80 (2007/2020 repl'd MX60)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied, no longer AC- coupled

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W (DC array input to SB charger)
- 3 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 225Ah total
- AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Mike Curran » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:17 am

Thanks for the post, pjrpd. I'm also interested in others' experience with FLA battery alternatives. My next (also first) battery changeout will likely be my last so hearing how these work with OB equipment is very helpful to deciding what to get next, if not FLA. Thanks again.
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

Saggy
Forum Member
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:01 pm
My RE system: Trace PS2512 with SWRC, Pulse Energy PC 250 with 60 amp PWM charge controller, Trace T240, 9- Siemens SP 75 panels on DPW pole mounts, 2-L16's and an Onan 2.5lk propane powered generator. Old school stuff.

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Saggy » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:06 pm

You have put them on my radar! Thanks for the write up.

pjrpd
Forum Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:20 am
My RE system: Remote off grid location monitored with OpticsRE. AXS_Port, inverter VFX3024E, charger Flexmax 80, Batteries 24 volt, 2000 amphr nickle iron batteries. 1800 watt solar panels. AXS_Port talks to wireless repeater over 30m ethernet cable.
Location: Gladstone, Queensland, Australia

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by pjrpd » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:49 pm

Reply to hendrik krijt. I used an Australian importer for my batteries. I went back (twice) because of good service and support.
here http://www.ironcorebatteries.com.au/
I have looked at the online documentation from Changhong Batteries, Iron Edison (USA) and other sites.
Ironcore buys generic Chinese NiFe batteries. There are multiple manufacturers in China. He will consolidate a set of orders, and import direct from the manufacturer. He looks at quality control. There is a wait, they are manufactured on order and then need to come by sea. If the Chinese Government has put in a big order, sometimes there is a delay. Two of my shipments went via him, and then were freighted up to me. The last shipment came direct to me from China with Ironcore dealing with Customs and the freight agencies.
Otherwise look at Alibaba.com

Good luck.

blackswan555
Forum Emperor
Posts: 2637
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:50 am
My RE system: Other peoples, VFX "E" versions, FLA`s, Generators.
Location: Ibiza Spain,

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by blackswan555 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:04 pm

Thanks for the comprehensive write up !, New one on me :grin:

Tim
My comments are based on my experience and research, They are not endorsed or checked by Outback.I am an independent British electrician living in Spain, So please take this into account when reading /acting on my post`s.

Boonys
Forum Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:28 pm
My RE system: 2)FM80s-1)FM60, 2)3648 Inverters.....

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Boonys » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:06 am

Nice batteries, but spending $12,000 for 500AH in a 48V system is out of the question.

I could be worth while....if I weren't already 62. Haha

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1586
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one FM80 (2007/2020 repl'd MX60)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied, no longer AC- coupled

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W (DC array input to SB charger)
- 3 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 225Ah total
- AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Mike Curran » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:55 am

Fyi, SimpliPhi (different chemistry, I know)sent me links to their guidelines for setting up OB equipment with their batteries. Attached below:
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

jainsw
Forum Expert
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:54 am
My RE system: My setup is a 48v system and is comprised of the following components:
12-ES190 Evergreen solar panels-pole mount non-auto tracking, 4 220 Volt GE panels fixed mount
9-Hanwha Q Peak 300watt panels
1-Outback FX60 PV Charge controller 60a MPPT, 12-60 vdc. 60a output
1-Outback FX80 PV CC, 80a MPPT
1-Outback VFX3648 3.6kw, 120vac output
1-Mate
1-Outback Hub
1-Outback FNDC
24-,Trojan L-16RE-2V lead acid 1110ah C20 batteries

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by jainsw » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:59 pm

I just got a quote directly from a Chinese manufacturer for 20- 1.2v 500ah NI-FE batteries delivered to Denver CO for $4830.00. I have a 48v system so I would need 40 of these and I'm not ready to buy and my current set of 24- 2v L17 FLA are still working pretty good, but thinking I will go with the Ni-FEs next time.

Rob Bass
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:36 am
My RE system: Outback FM 80 Charge controller
MLT Drives 6kvA inverter
Victron 3kvA inverter (standby)

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Rob Bass » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:50 am

Your blog regarding NiFe batteries is of particular interest to me.

Our Lead/Acid battery pack comprising 24 x 2v cells is now approaching 10 years old.

We are completely off-grid, so the batteries are the only energy storage system we have.

They cycle once every day, so are nearing the end of their useful life.

With so many different energy storage alternatives available these days, I would like to investigate the best option for our situation.

We will need a battery pack between 1000 to 1200ah. Do we go Li ion, NiFe, or some other?

What is the latest on the super capacitor?

All comments welcome.

jainsw
Forum Expert
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:54 am
My RE system: My setup is a 48v system and is comprised of the following components:
12-ES190 Evergreen solar panels-pole mount non-auto tracking, 4 220 Volt GE panels fixed mount
9-Hanwha Q Peak 300watt panels
1-Outback FX60 PV Charge controller 60a MPPT, 12-60 vdc. 60a output
1-Outback FX80 PV CC, 80a MPPT
1-Outback VFX3648 3.6kw, 120vac output
1-Mate
1-Outback Hub
1-Outback FNDC
24-,Trojan L-16RE-2V lead acid 1110ah C20 batteries

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by jainsw » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:34 am

Glad to hear you are getting 10 years out of your 2v-24 FLA batteries. Mine are just over 4 years old at this point and I have some concerns about their longevity, especially after a day of not reaching the absorb point or floating. This particular fall/winter, I am practically daily running our generator to either push it to the absorb settings or simply taking loads off of the batteries.

Regarding NiFe batteries, it appears there are multiple very large applications throughout the world using NiFe batteries such as these listed on the Changhong Battery website:ÔÿàSino-Germany financial KFW cooperation projects
Hundreds of 50 KVA~ 300 KVA on-gird and off-gird PV power system solutions for Qinghai, Yunnan, Xinjiang and Gansu.
ÔÿàMW PV-gas mixed energy storage power station demonstration project, California
Total capacity: 2MW*2h
Ôÿà3KVA-20KVA residential energy storage systems
ÔÿàState grid corporation of China 20KWH energy storage demonstration projects

Having some of the members on this forum who are actually using these batteries would be a great help to us all.

Rob Bass
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:36 am
My RE system: Outback FM 80 Charge controller
MLT Drives 6kvA inverter
Victron 3kvA inverter (standby)

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Rob Bass » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:38 am

:eek: Hi Jainsw,

Thanks for responding with some info.
Your winter is our summer. It's only in winter that off-grid PV systems take strain.

It's not necessary that your system goes to 'absorb' each day.

So long as you have a battery status monitor in your system, there should be no worries. A Victron BMV-700 is a good one.

We don't allow our system to drop below 70-75% SOC & when it' threatens to do so, run the genset to reach about 85%.

NiFe batteries are a new concept for me, so too Lithium Ion, Carbon-Ion, & Ultra capacitors.,

Will take a look at those websites you offered.

Have a good week.

RB

jainsw
Forum Expert
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:54 am
My RE system: My setup is a 48v system and is comprised of the following components:
12-ES190 Evergreen solar panels-pole mount non-auto tracking, 4 220 Volt GE panels fixed mount
9-Hanwha Q Peak 300watt panels
1-Outback FX60 PV Charge controller 60a MPPT, 12-60 vdc. 60a output
1-Outback FX80 PV CC, 80a MPPT
1-Outback VFX3648 3.6kw, 120vac output
1-Mate
1-Outback Hub
1-Outback FNDC
24-,Trojan L-16RE-2V lead acid 1110ah C20 batteries

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by jainsw » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:47 am

I assume you have your set points for absorb and get there every few days? If so, do you see a significant drop (faster/deeper) of either voltage or SOC over night when you don't reach absorb? Just curious when you started noticing your batteries weakening since mine are just over 4 years old and seem to be much weaker than just a year ago.

pjrpd
Forum Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:20 am
My RE system: Remote off grid location monitored with OpticsRE. AXS_Port, inverter VFX3024E, charger Flexmax 80, Batteries 24 volt, 2000 amphr nickle iron batteries. 1800 watt solar panels. AXS_Port talks to wireless repeater over 30m ethernet cable.
Location: Gladstone, Queensland, Australia

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by pjrpd » Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:59 pm

This is an update to my comment 30/Aug/2017. It answers some questions above.

FNDC
The FNDC was new when I wrote up the system. As mentioned, it has provided me with a lot of useful information on usage. However, the FNDC controls the SOC of the batteries, and it is not compatible with NiFe batteries. I asked the help desk. The result is that even if the Efficiency Factor is set way low, the effective total charge of the battery drops over time (weeks) until there is barely any battery charge left. Looking at manuals, the Efficiency Factor varies with voltage, and demand. It is not linear. For the FNDC to be accurate, it would need the variable EF programmed into the box. It isn't. SO the FNDC is normally run disconnected and I connect it for brief periods when I want to study patterns of usage, this resets the endpoints.

Ultracapacitor.
The Maxwell ultracapacitor 48V165F just sits there. Only in the long term will I find out if it is doing its primary job of extending the life of the battery.
Meanwhile. I did a quick test on the ultracapacitor with a ring clamp ammeter. I tested on a sunny day, with a bulk charge running at 31V X 44amps. I used a 750 W belt sander as a load on a 250 V mains circuit. The ultracapacitor is connected in parallel to the two main battery banks. The baseline current flow on the DC 31V circuit was a charge of 0.2 amps going to the Ultracapacitor and 44 amps going to the main batteries. (0.4% of the charge). There was no other load to my knowledge. Turning on the belt sander gave an instantaneous current at the ammeter of 24 amps, falling to a sustained current of 3 amps. I couldn't measure the current from the battery, but calculated load, 750 Watts/30 volts = 25 amps. This fell back quickly to a sustained 3 amp load (90Watts). I ran the quick test four times, with a run of thirty seconds each time. Voltage drop with demand was approximately 1 volt (31V to 30V), a big contrast to drops when first installed (not yet conditioned), on a smaller load. After the test, the system was still charging at 44 amps x 31 volts, but the proportion going to the capacitor was .3amps after the first test, steadily going up to a sustained 0.8amps (24 watts) after the final test.
Conclusion, the Ultracapacitor is doing it's job in smoothing out energy supply, important in batteries with a high resistance. A 24 kW system running a bigger load used to see a big voltage sag. I expect this will extend battery life.

The NiFe batteries
Interesting. First installed 24kWhr at the start of 2014. Second bank of 24kWhr in 2016. System runs at a nominal 24 volts. The manufacturers literature (multiple manufacturers) suggest that with increased demand, the capacity increases. I have been retired one year, and we are spending more time in the off grid house. We are not doing without, there is a washing machine, TV, oversized refrigerator, microwave, electric kettle, and two laptops for my wife and I, on a GSM network. My wife tells me one daughter when visiting will secretly use a hair straightener. Then there is my little workshop with drills, sander, grinder etc. Capacity is definitely, at year four, going up (if I leave the FNDC disconnected in normal use). With no alterations to the system, the charged voltage at sunset has gone from just on 26V if lucky, to well over 27V. We went to bed the other night at 11pm (4 hours of lights, TV and a laptop), with a voltage of 27V, whereas it used to drop to 24 volts.
I mentioned excess battery water consumption with the wrong settings in my first note. With the settings from the August/2017 article above, there is minimal water consumption. At current rates, if we have another couple of hot summers, I may have to "top up" in two to three years. I used to set the charging voltage to 28V when we were away, but I've stopped doing that, it drops battery capacity.
Recently a cyclone passed by up North. This gave us high winds, thick dark clouds and a lot of rain (full tanks! :). So charging was impaired. One day we just had to do washing, and I fired up the 2kW Honda generator and cut appliance use. Honestly, I do not think I should have bothered, and I didn't in the days that followed.

Mate 3
This device went through a firmware upgrade just before my first comment. OpticsRE went through an upgrade a few months later. The Mate 3 now works with OpticsRE. The ASX_Port that I was using was excellent, but the Mate3 gives me a constant live screen. I ran a 30m ethernet cable underground from the Outback System shed to an office in the house. Magic. I still have all the functionality of Optics RE on my phone and computer.

FM80, VFX3024E, settings unchanged. They are still great.

Would I go with this set up again. Well... I have a house in town. Grid electricity costs are doubling every two years. Our Queensland State Government is promising to Get With The Flow and copy best practice in the rest of Australia, which should see us with the most expensive electricity in the world. We used to have some of the cheapest. It hurts. In a few years, even a basic grid tie system would be super expensive to run. I have looked at battery costs for new tech batteries, but they have much shorter lives (on estimate 25% of mine) with rapidly declining charge capacity. Reference, warranties available on line. And expensive (more than my NiFe!). So yes, I am seriously considering a second system similar to this one, but I am retired. I hope so. An Outback/NiFe system can be installed in steps, is cost effective and is reliable.

hendrik krijt
Forum Whiz
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:33 am
My RE system: pv=4.9Kw, 2xflexmax 80, 2x 24v-240v 50Hz outback inverters, fla's 12x Willard rt25 tubular 2v cells. rsa, kzn prov. (may change to aquion batteries)
Location: South Africa, KZN province

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by hendrik krijt » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:44 pm

Thanks pjrpd!

I very much appreciate your feedback and experiences.

When my current batteries expire I will definitely look at nife cells. Have not yet seen a possible supplier in RSA. But will get there when we get there!

Lots of South African Southern Sunshine to you all!

Hendrik Krijt

HiltonT
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:35 am

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by HiltonT » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:48 am

I'm just starting to have a serious look into bettery technologies (and the rest of an off-grid PV system) and am very much interested in a 48V NiFe system. pjrd, your input here is extremely relevant considering I, too, live on an island off the Qld coast (Macleay Island, just inside North Stradbroke Island) and am considering my options (yet to build a house,but it will be either grid-connected for feed-in tariff rebates if there are any left, or completely off grid (currently, the preferable, though pricey option).

NealP
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:51 am
My RE system: 1 x mate2, 2 x FNDC, 2 x inverters (need to confirm model), 5kw solar, 1x 12kva generator & 5kw wind turbine soon to be installed with additional FNDC.

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by NealP » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:01 am

Great information. I am looking at replacing dry cell lead acid batteries after recent failure of a few cells in second set of batteries which is not aided by battery manufacturer claim “in appropriate charge regimes” despite all settings being as per information given.
Not sure I understand the issue with non-compatibility of FNDC’s with Edison cells so will investigate further.
Mine is a 48 volt system and usage in the order of 25kw per/day so will be expensive with 1000A/hour batteries but, hopefully in the longer term the right solution.

FryedSparky
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:22 pm
My RE system: Selectronic SpPro 482 inverter.
40 Ni Fe 1000amph batteries
3 FM80 solar regs
10kw solar aray

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by FryedSparky » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:07 am

Hi all.
It's good to see others are starting to see the benefits of NIFE Batteries. I have been using them for over 50years.
The first set my farther got from a ww2 US sub. These were already over 20years old dad got them. We used them on the sheep station in South Australia for many years will little or no problems. The second set was in 1982 these were stamped Exide battery co. And had a glass case. These were also second-hand coming from a BHP Locomotive. This bank required an electrolyte change and away they went like brand new. As far as i know they are still going. Im on my third set. I live off grid on a small property in western Australia. This bank is a 48volt system consisting of 40 1000amp batteries. I was surprised to read that lithium was not added to your electrolyte. The lithium producers co2 in the reaction. This gas being heavier that oxygen and hydrogen sits on top of the electrolyte and prevents oxygen coming into contact with the potassium hydroxide. This can prolong the life of the electrolyte by as much as 5 years.

dRdoS7
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:45 pm
My RE system: 40 (-1) x 200Ah NiFe 48V
5KW Inverter & MPPT
7.2KW Solar
Location: SE Australia

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by dRdoS7 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:44 pm

Hi,

I have 40 x 200Ah NiFe cells, which I bought & installed in 2016.

Early last year I started having cells fail to hold charge. I happened to be up early, and saw the voltmeter on one group of 10 cells was lower than the other 3.

I tested each cell's voltage, also noticed that some had a layer of black debris in the bottom, in one it was up to the plates.

The voltages in them would drop to 0.6V, then -0.2V as the bank was discharging.

Also they were really bubbling, even though no charging was occurring. Charge going from the good cells into the bad?

Actually, checking back through my log of daily charge/discharge Ah readings, I found mention of a few that had problems, but that was short term, and they were OK once I'd had them for a while. They've been really good since mid 2017, and even better after I upgraded the inverter, and added 4KW of solar to the existing 3KW in 2018.

The seller sent me a bag of KOH, which I used to replace the electrolyte. I gave 6 of the cells a good flush, and got them totally clean before replacement.

After putting them back, and several charge/discharge cycles, I started testing. Then another went -0.2.

So now I've had 7 now go "bad".

I then really overcharged the 7 of them (1.9V / cell). More testing , 4 didn't recover, 3 possibly did. The last bad one I didn't clean out or renew.


Here's some pics:

IMG_20190503_122448-smaller.jpg
This the worst of the cells.

IMG_20200115_075528_3-small.jpg
This the crud in the bottom. Don't ask why there's no plates!
I will add that I have only 39 now. :oops:

These are the last lot of readings:
7 39 cells test.jpg


Anyway, the reason for the post is to ask if any other NiFe owners have seen this.

Be interested to know, there seem to be a few owners here, and some have had experience with them for a long time.

The seller is going to replace 4 cells, as soon as he has some.

My concern is what will happen in the future. Of the 40, only 3 have no crud in them.

I am assuming the crud is from the anodes and/or cathodes disintegrating.

I've been Googling, but found no mention of my experience.

Many thanks,

dRdoS7

Whoopsy1
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:41 am
My RE system: Solar Charge controller FM 60 & FM 80

Outback Inverter Model VFXR3024E

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Whoopsy1 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:34 pm

Hi dRdos7

I have a NiFe system, the batteries are the old Edison ones approximately 50 years old. I bought them from a decommissioned Telecom repeater station in the 80's and have used them with an Outback FM60 since then.

I had the same problem of cells going bad so researched the original Edison Patent. For cells that go bad he recommended that each bad cell be rejuvenated as follows.

Take out the battery, and whilst the electrolyte is still in, wire the positive and negative terminal together, then apply a 12 volt circuit using the case as a the negative and connect the positive to the joined positive and negative terminals. He then says "leave this on for a cycle" whatever that may mean. I left mine on for 12 hours. Its supposed to drive the build up off the plates and it settles in the bottom

After the end of the cycle disconnect the 12 volt circuit tip out the electrolyte - it should be dark grey or black and on one occasion it was very reddish. After tipping it all out then wash the battery several times to get the gunk out. Once the rinse water is clear, its ready for new electrolyte. I give a mix of 3:1 Hydroxide to distilled water, then charge at 1.65v per cell either through the Outback,(when I have enough cells) for a full day.

Every 3-4 years I replace the electrolyte with a fresh batch and only occasionally top up the water.

Iv'e had this system working 30 years . Apart from constantly having to clean the terminals and connectors from some sort of build up that seems to be green from the copper connecting strips, its served me very well as a stand alone system. I have 22 cells in each bank ( 11 in series and each bank in parallel) so can have a 12 volt system, but Ive never found out what amperage they are. I sue the latest SMC Inverter which Obtained before Christmas..

Id be very interested in the correct settings for my Outback as apart from a 17.5 volt for the absorb sequence I have no idea what else I should be adjusting such as absorb time max amps etc etc.

For those who wish to critique, I am not an electrician have very little experience with comparing batteries, other than a very expensive fail using LiPo4 batteries with my Outback and even after connecting the BMS still only lasted two years.

Any comments appreciated and I can send a copy of Edisons notes if necessary in case I'm reading them incorrectly.

Whoopsy 1

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1586
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one FM80 (2007/2020 repl'd MX60)
- 6 (2×3) ALEO S79-300's into one FM80 (2017)
- 2 grid-tied GVFX3524's classic stacked for 120/240VAC (2007)
- 12 Surrette/Rolls 2V x 1766Ah (2007)
- Hub10.3, Mate3s, FNDC, RTS, OpticsRE. Tigo Energy ES maximizers on each PV module.

Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
- 30 (2x15) 235W panels with Enphase M215 microinverters, grid-tied, no longer AC- coupled

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W (DC array input to SB charger)
- 3 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 225Ah total
- AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules

All self-designed and self-installed
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Mike Curran » Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:41 am

FryedSparky wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:07 am
Hi all.
It's good to see others are starting to see the benefits of NIFE Batteries. I have been using them for over 50years.
The first set my farther got from a ww2 US sub. These were already over 20years old dad got them. We used them on the sheep station in South Australia for many years will little or no problems. The second set was in 1982 these were stamped Exide battery co. And had a glass case. These were also second-hand coming from a BHP Locomotive. This bank required an electrolyte change and away they went like brand new. As far as i know they are still going. Im on my third set. I live off grid on a small property in western Australia. This bank is a 48volt system consisting of 40 1000amp batteries. I was surprised to read that lithium was not added to your electrolyte. The lithium producers co2 in the reaction. This gas being heavier that oxygen and hydrogen sits on top of the electrolyte and prevents oxygen coming into contact with the potassium hydroxide. This can prolong the life of the electrolyte by as much as 5 years.
This link https://fleetsubmarine.com/battery.html says WWII sub batteries were FLA's...
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

dRdoS7
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:45 pm
My RE system: 40 (-1) x 200Ah NiFe 48V
5KW Inverter & MPPT
7.2KW Solar
Location: SE Australia

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by dRdoS7 » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:25 pm

Hi,
Whoopsy1 wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:34 pm
I have a NiFe system, the batteries are the old Edison ones approximately 50 years old. I bought them from a decommissioned Telecom repeater station in the 80's and have used them with an Outback FM60 since then.

I had the same problem of cells going bad so researched the original Edison Patent. For cells that go bad he recommended that each bad cell be rejuvenated as follows.

Take out the battery, and whilst the electrolyte is still in, wire the positive and negative terminal together, then apply a 12 volt circuit using the case as a the negative and connect the positive to the joined positive and negative terminals. He then says "leave this on for a cycle" whatever that may mean. I left mine on for 12 hours. Its supposed to drive the build up off the plates and it settles in the bottom

After the end of the cycle disconnect the 12 volt circuit tip out the electrolyte - it should be dark grey or black and on one occasion it was very reddish. After tipping it all out then wash the battery several times to get the gunk out. Once the rinse water is clear, its ready for new electrolyte. I give a mix of 3:1 Hydroxide to distilled water, then charge at 1.65v per cell either through the Outback,(when I have enough cells) for a full day.
Mine have a plastic case, Edison case is metal isn't it?

Mine already have plenty of build up in bottom, I don't want, or need more. :lol:

Don't want to empty, flush, and renew the electrolyte in another 30 odd cells either. My arms were hanging weakly by my side, and elbows very sore after I finished 6 late last year.

A normal renew, wouldn't require all that flushing.

From your post, a black build up can occur. But, in your case it was done on purpose, mine has appeared by itself. Don't know how long ago it started as I only check the level.

Nobody mentioned anything like this, certainly not sellers of NiFe.

Thanks,

dRdoS7

dRdoS7
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:45 pm
My RE system: 40 (-1) x 200Ah NiFe 48V
5KW Inverter & MPPT
7.2KW Solar
Location: SE Australia

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by dRdoS7 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:00 pm

Hi,
Whoopsy1 wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:34 pm
Its supposed to drive the build up off the plates and it settles in the bottom...

....tip out the electrolyte - it should be dark grey or black and on one occasion it was very reddish. After tipping it all out then wash the battery several times to get the gunk out. Once the rinse water is clear, its ready for new electrolyte.
I should have asked you how much gunk did you get? Roughly.

I have nearly 1/2" in the bottom of many cells.

From emptying the electrolyte initially, I got nearly a 2 litre container full from 6 cells. Quite a lot went with the 3rd flush onwards.

At a guess, I flushed each one at least 6 times, probably much more. I should have counted.

Seems an awful lot.

Thanks,

dRdoS7.

Whoopsy1
Forum Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:41 am
My RE system: Solar Charge controller FM 60 & FM 80

Outback Inverter Model VFXR3024E

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by Whoopsy1 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:32 pm

Hi dRd0S7

Yes, the old Edison Cells are either nickel or steel cases, so quite easy to use the case as the Anode

Regarding how much gunk came out when I put the batteries through the "rejuvenation process".

Differed for each battery, and it was not solid gunk as I used first the electrolyte then water as the flushing agent. The amount of suspended Gunk diminished each flush. I guess I should have let the flushing water and electrolyte settle but didn't think of it at the time. Should have let the discharged liquid settle, and see how much solids were there.

Before I carried out the rejuvenation the "bad" cells read only .2v but after the rejuvenating process they began at 1.2v and after some months, after a full charges read 1.39v - 1.42.

Problem with NIFE's is that they do not seem to hold their charge as long as any other batteries I have tried, but as I advised in my prior post, I place 11 batteries in each bank to ensure I have a "good 13.9v+" As I have over 100 of the old batteries, I've never been short of a reliable battery bank. Its just the time, ( and as you point out) the weight of constantly moving them around that gets to me.

I use 6 X 200w LG panels in one particular set up with 2 banks of 22 cells. This runs a full time fridge, house lights and occasional cement mixer. Other banks serve as power for 12 volt water pumps, lights and entertainment system, but have their own bank of panels.

Id be interested in any readers comments who have used the Outback MP60 with Lithium Phosphate batteries with individual cell safeguard separate battery management system. The Batteries were "Winston" Brand My experience was not very good - 2 years and after than they either would not hold their charge or the Outback went permanently into "Sleeping" mode.

Tried an imitation Outback by the name of "]Fangpusen[/u][/i][/b][/b]" - looks identical apart from the name. Started acting up after 6 months, not worth the $300 savings.

Whoopsy1

dRdoS7
Forum Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:45 pm
My RE system: 40 (-1) x 200Ah NiFe 48V
5KW Inverter & MPPT
7.2KW Solar
Location: SE Australia

Re: NiFe battery with Outback system

Post by dRdoS7 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:57 pm

Hi,
Whoopsy1 wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:32 pm
Yes, the old Edison Cells are either nickel or steel cases, so quite easy to use the case as the Anode

Regarding how much gunk came out when I put the batteries through the "rejuvenation process".

Differed for each battery, and it was not solid gunk as I used first the electrolyte then water as the flushing agent. The amount of suspended Gunk diminished each flush. I guess I should have let the flushing water and electrolyte settle but didn't think of it at the time. Should have let the discharged liquid settle, and see how much solids were there.

Before I carried out the rejuvenation the "bad" cells read only .2v but after the rejuvenating process they began at 1.2v and after some months, after a full charges read 1.39v - 1.42.
Slipped my mind that you wouldn't be able to see the gunk! :roll:

I only kept mine as evidence!

You're lucky getting .2V, mine go minus: " When they're good, they're really, really good. When they're bad they're horrid". :lol:
Problem with NIFE's is that they do not seem to hold their charge as long as any other batteries I have tried, but as I advised in my prior post, I place 11 batteries in each bank to ensure I have a "good 13.9v+" As I have over 100 of the old batteries, I've never been short of a reliable battery bank. Its just the time, ( and as you point out) the weight of constantly moving them around that gets to me.
Interesting you say that about holding charge as I was surprised when I turned my system off to go on holiday for about 8 weeks. When we returned they had hardly dropped. Can't remember the exact figures, but they were > 48V for the 40 cell bank of 200Ah.
I use 6 X 200w LG panels in one particular set up with 2 banks of 22 cells. This runs a full time fridge, house lights and occasional cement mixer. Other banks serve as power for 12 volt water pumps, lights and entertainment system, but have their own bank of panels.
I have 7.3KW, found 3KW wasn't enough to run stuff, and charge the NiFes. Not too bad when I had AGMs, but then they failed, so I went against the grain, and didn't buy LiFePO4 (read like that's a double negative). We have a pretty constant 500W, run mostly same as you, except for lights. Never wired them up to my system. I'm thinking of getting that done soon. Also would let me connect a generator for the coming Apocalypse (no Zombies, hopefully).
Id be interested in any readers comments who have used the Outback MP60 with Lithium Phosphate batteries with individual cell safeguard separate battery management system. The Batteries were "Winston" Brand My experience was not very good - 2 years and after than they either would not hold their charge or the Outback went permanently into "Sleeping" mode.

Tried an imitation Outback by the name of "]Fangpusen[/u][/i][/b][/b]" - looks identical apart from the name. Started acting up after 6 months, not worth the $300 savings.
Can't help you there, as I use a (looks over shoulder, and whispers) Midnite Classic 200. SHHHH! & an MPP Inverter/MPPT charger. I think MN are a sprig off the Outback tree.

Thanks,

dRdoS7

Post Reply