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Battery Maintenance

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    Any solar-powered equipment relies on healthy and happy batteries. Battery maintenance is vital to the reliable operation of any solar power system. Battery life and performance is dependent on a number of factors including manufacturer, power capacity, usage level, and operating conditions. Batteries are particularly sensitive during periods of inactivity and cold weather which makes maintenance during off-periods and winter months particularly important. Here are some tips to prolong the life of your batteries. 

    Although it's not always possible, all battery-related solar power issues can be avoided by utilizing a grid power source. Sometimes this may require more time spent searching for an ideal location for the equipment with power, or result in choosing a less ideal location in exchange for the reliability of consistent power.

    Charging:

    At a minimum, ensure that your batteries are stored fully-charged!

    Batteries naturally discharge when not in use, so it is important to that they are charged regularly, or otherwise maintained during periods of inactivity.

    There is some lack of clarity in regards to whether it is better to keep batteries consistently on float (fully charged) or let them cycle down a little then recharge them fully. Professionals we've talked to lean toward the former and some intelligent chargers will cylce a battery up and down.

    To maintain batteries at float you can either connect them to a charge controller and solar panel, or connect them to a battery charger/maintainer. AGM batteries need to be at 13.2 volts in float. So a solar panel and charge controller, or battery charger should be able to maintain your batteries at this level. Never let your batteries drop below 75%, or around 10V. Check every 90 days and recharge if neccessary.

    We recommend professional-grade battery chargers that will charge, monitor, maintain and attempt to repair damage to batteries. Some chargers will allow you to set the voltage of your batteries which should generally be 13.2V. If you can set the voltage, bringing the batteries up to 14.4V for a few hours before storage or maintenance at 13.2V will ensure that the batteries are being stored in peak condition. Most intelligent battery chargers will do this automatically.

    Parallel Circuits:

    If you are charging more than one battery, you will want to be sure that that the batteries are connected in parallel, and that you're connections are attached to the first and last batteries in the circuit. If these options are not available, somewhat regular (once a month) recharging of batteries will help keep them in tip-top condition.

     

    Types of battery chargers/maintainer:

    Note: If planning to charge large numbers of batteries in parallel circuits, please consult a battery care professional for advice. The service desk at Promariner is very helpful - promariner.com

    One battery

    ·         For about $1-150, most high quality deep cycle battery chargers will have AGM capability and some level of intelligent control. See MotoMaster Eliminator Intelligent Battery Charger (January 2016). Professional grade chargers will do a better job of maintaining your batteries - see below.

    One to five batteries

    ·         Promariner ProSport Series- Prosport8 is good for 2-5 batteries, depending on the model your choose and their amperage. Choose the appropriate models (amperage) for your application. promariner.com

    ·         The chargers listed below will also work for smaller battery banks.

    More than five batteries

    ·         Promariner PronauticP- Choose the appropriate models (amperage) for your application. Pronautic1250P should handle banks of 12 or more batteries. promariner.com

    ·         Iota (the cream of the crop) - Choose the appropriate models (amperage) for your application.  Iota DLS-75 should handle large banks of 12 or more batteries. iotaengineering.com/12vdc.htm.

    Other Chargers:

    NOCO chargers (https://no.co/products/charging)

     

    DUDS: Duds can be detrimental to a parallel circuit as bad batteries suck the life out of good ones. Keep an eye out for duds in the charging/recharging process and use them accordingly, or replace them as neccessary.

    Winter Use: Cold weather, fewer hours of sun, and low sun angle are all determintal to a solar system. If you are operating stations in the winter it is good practice to double your expected power needs. In order to maintain operation during low-light periods, we currently reccomend using a 100W solar panel and up to 2 batteries, or the equivalent of about 150 Amp hours. It can also be useful to fill any dead space in your battery or storgae box with foam insulation that will trap and hold any heat generated from the batteries and receivers. 

    Cleaning Terminals: Corrosion, or the accumulation of acidic powder, can sometime occur on battery terminals. This can affect the performance of the battery and conductivity of the terminals and cables. Terminals can be cleaned with a baking soda and water paste and scrubbed with a toothbruth.

    Other Tips:

    ·         Store batteries in a cool, dry place, no cooler than 0°, no higher than 30°.

    ·         Do not leave batteries on bare concrete

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