Battery charging

Discussion about the OutBack Energy Cell Batteries
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mevenable
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My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:13 pm

I have three banks of four NC106 batteries, the first two were installed in December when I got the system, and the third bank in March since they were back-ordered. We integrated the new bank in march with no issues, I floated the original batteries for 48 hours as per instructions, and then we added the third bank, which had initial charges of 12.1 to 12.5 V when I received them. Everything charged up with the normal cycle and worked fine.
However, one of the batteries in the initial two banks had started corroding badly on one terminal, and in early April Outback approved replacement under warranty, and told me this should be done asap. Unfortunately, it was never possible to get the replacement battery or even find out what was happening with it. After almost three months I gave up and bought a battery. The local supplier only had one left, and the civil unrest made it difficult to get back and forth, so I took advantage of an opening to get into Managua last Saturday and got it. I just wanted the whole thing to be over, even if it cost me, and not risk damage to the other > $3000 worth of batteries. The original batteries were 7 months old by this time, and new batteries are best added within 6 months.
The new battery I picked up measured 12.4 V when I received it, which was well within specs. After floating the other batteries for 48 hours again, I switched the corroding battery for the new one on Monday and then put the system through 2 hours of absorption followed by ten hours of flotation (I continued to float them with the inverter after the sun went down until about 10;30 pm when I went to bed). I noted that the new battery was still only at 12.5 V while the other batteries around it were at 13.05 V, I ran about 2.5 kWh of load over the next 8 hours, at which point the new battery was at 12.1 V and the other batteries in the string were at 12.35 V. The I put it through the charge cycle again, 2 hours absorption followed by flotation. I checked the voltage a lot, and discovered that the new battery never got above 12.9 V during absorption, while it should have been at 14.4 V. The other batteries in the string were measuring up to 14.9 V, which I found worrying since this might damage them. In the end, I switched back to the old battery, since I could not get in touch with anyone that could help me either at outback or the local installer. The new battery was only at 12.65 V when I took it out of the string.

I do not think it is the contacts. I had cleaned all the terminals when I put the new battery in, and when the battery did not seem to be charging well last night, I cleaned and even sanded the terminals to ensure good contact.

I have no idea how to proceed, time is running out for putting in a replacement battery, this one seems not to be working, and there are no others in the country. Is there anything I can do that might make this battery work? If I keep it in the string to see what happens, will the high charge on the other batteries in the string damage them?

Mike Curran
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My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
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Westinghouse Solar - Barn roof: (2012)
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Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
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- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from both rows of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

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

Re: Battery charging

Post by Mike Curran » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:42 am

If you have (or can borrow) a 12 volt charger you could try charging the new battery alone for awhile to see if you can bring the voltage up. Not being familiar with AGMs I can't say how long...
Last edited by Mike Curran on Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Vic
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Re: Battery charging

Post by Vic » Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:31 pm

Hi mevenable,

Hope that someone at Outback has contacted you, with an offer to help.

Outback used to, and may still have very good customer support.

Hope that OB can step up and get something happening, or, at least some advice.

Good Luck, please let us know how things are going for you ... we do help folks design systems, and your results will help us know more about how these batteries are working out, how Outback supports Warranty issues etc.

Vic
4/20/08: 18 Shell SQ 175-106 Vmpp, Stacked 5548 SW+, 1350 AH Surrette 4KS25's, MX-60, Kubota SQ-3250 25 KVA Polyphase Diesel genset. Thanks OutBack for this Forum + the great Support and Service.

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:26 pm

I tried to post a reply, not sure what happened to it - will try again here. Now worries about the wording Mike, all help is good and no offense taken, the political situation here is pretty unusual and is making the already difficult situation with the battery issues in a remote location even more difficult.

A fellow on the NAWS forum suggested that I could let the other three batteries run down below the voltage currently on the new battery, then charge just that string and it might work better. I am not too sure that will help, but might give it a try.

We will also try to get to the nearby town of Masaya in the coming days and try to find a battery charger or a place that can charge the one battery. Masaya is smaller than Managua but much closer. Although it has been the epicenter of the unrest and violence in the past months, in recent days it has been calmer, and it is fairly easy to get to the edge of town at least. I don't suppose that using jumper cables to charge it from the car would work? Maybe not the right kind of battery for that?

I have not heard back from Outback or from Ecami (the local company) either by email or by phone. sigh. Although overall it works well, there are other issues with the system that I have been trying to resolve for months, but the battery is the only really urgent one. Any advice is appreciated.

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:04 am

I have another idea - see what you guys think. If my husband can't find a battery charger in town today, maybe we can disconnect the cables from the charge controller and just connect the cables from the inverter to the battery bank. The house would run on the grid, with the battery bank still available for backup if the grid goes down. Then I can adjust the CC settings to single battery levels, and charge the new battery using the solar panels. If I can get the voltage on the battery up to 14.4 V for a couple of hours, it should behave normally when integrated into the system - the problem so far is that when I am charging it as part of the battery bank, it never gets much above 13V even when it SHOULD be in 14.4 (system is in 57.6)

Mike Curran
Forum Emperor
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:28 pm
My RE system: Outback - Garage roof:
- 8 (2x4) Evergreen 180's into one MX60 (2007)
- 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.

Outback Skybox - Barn roof: (2019)
- 14 (2x7) Talesun 275W
- 2 SimpliPhi 3.8 batteries, 48V, 150Ah total
- future AC coupled input from both rows of Westinghouse AC modules*
- future AC coupled input from 14 Talesun 275W, Enphase M215 modules*
* waiting for firmware update from OB

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

Re: Battery charging

Post by Mike Curran » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:36 am

That might just work. Worth a try, anyway. I would be careful to limit the charging amps to 10 - 20% of the battery C20 rating by setting the current limit of your FM80. Also, monitor the battery temperature while its being charged - if it starts to feel hot, or you start to hear what sounds like gassing, stop the charge.

Lots of programming and wiring changes, though. A separate plug-in charger would be a lot simpler.

In any event, you might want to disconnect that 3rd string of batteries (the one with the bad 12V battery in it) until you can get it squared away. It doesn't sound like it's too far out of whack compared to the others, but I have no experience with a battery string that has one battery that's underperforming...

Good luck!
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https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:58 am

Thanks

That is the odd thing really - the string with the battery with a corroding terminal is, by every measure I have been able to make, performing better than the other two strings. Even the third string which was installed in late March is a little less brilliant overall. That is one reason that I have been reluctant to disconnect it. The other reason is that our house is full of relatives from Managua and other people, and we have a much heavier load at night than normal - even with three strings, I put the timed grid setting on so that we use grid from 6-9 pm. I figure it is best that way - it always went below my target cutoff voltage in the early morning with our current heavy load, and if the system tried to flip to grid at 3 am and for some reason the grid was down, that would stress the batteries overmuch.

John from Outback actually suggested back in March that I disconnect the string with the "bad" battery until the new one came in - but if I had done so, I would have been without it all this time, using the grid more as a result, and also I would have had the other three batteries sitting there without being used for three months and counting, which also would not have been good for them. It is an imperfect world, and I had to make the best call I could. Also, one of the problems that we had which John figured back in March was caused by the battery was actually a result of a different problem, which I managed to solve. So, the only symptom that the "bad battery" is displaying is the corrosion on one terminal, which I try to clean off regularly.

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:28 am

ps - obviously all that disconnecting and changing of settings will be a last resort. I am hopeful that we might find a battery charger we can buy, and am desperately hoping that the battery guy at Outback gets back to me soon and tells me the exact charging strategy I should use in this case. Outback Tech support already admitted that they can't help me with battery questions and I have to speak with George, but he doesn't ever answer his phone or return emails. I got him once a couple of weeks ago and he told me he would get back to me about the status of the replacement battery, but never did, and I haven't been able to get him since. I was even in the states for a week in early June, and tried to get them to call me to let me know what was happening with the replacement battery, but they didn't call. One guy from tech support who is really nice did call, but I missed him and never could get him back, but he emailed that he couldn't help me anyhow. Only George. Outback was very supportive up through early April, but they seem to have dropped into a black hole after that - not sure if they are having some problems, maybe a shortage of trained manpower?

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:20 pm

looks like I am off the hook. The guys from Ecami, the local company, agreed to charge the battery for me, I just have to get it into Managua.

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:16 am

The local guys at Ecami just got back to me, the battery is not any good. That is why it would not charge. At this point, since I still have not heard anything from Outback, I am SOL. By the time there are new batteries in the country that I can buy, it will be too late to change them out. My entire set of 12 batteries is potentially compromised by this, but there is little to be done. I will just keep cleaning the terminal regularly and hope for the best.

shelton
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Re: Battery charging

Post by shelton » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:05 pm

I don't pop on here much unfortunately but I just saw this. I am in Tola but just have a single string of the 106NC. I hope you managed to work around your issue and are still hanging in there.
take care.

mevenable
Forum Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
My RE system: GS 8048 inverter, FM80 charge controller, 2 strings of 4 NC200 batteries, soon to be 3, 15 panels 270W each (4 kW), Mate3s

Re: Battery charging

Post by mevenable » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:57 am

So far, so good, Tola. Would love to trade experiences with you, my email is mevenable@fastmail.fm

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