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Actually Activating NiFe batteries?

 
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So I bought Nickle Iron batteries direct from a manufacturer in China about 3 years ago.  They arrived in Duluth MN and sat in storage and were moved from place to place a couple of times, sat out in the MN Winter, and a few of them may have been dropped in transit.  Now I am finally getting the chance to plug them in, and the manufacturer is trying to help me get them activated after storage.  They are 400 amp hour batteries, 1.2V, 10 in series.  Three of them seem to always measure a lower voltage than the rest, and it makes me nervous because that's probably about how many times one was dropped.  Anyway, the manufacturer says:

"charge 12 hours first, discharge to 1.0 V, and then continue several cycles, until the discharge time can reach 5 hours.

Regarding the charging voltage, please use 0.2C charging for 12 hours, and then measure the battery's voltage, make a note will be ok. Please kindly note that our charging methods is constant current 80A for 400AH.

Discharge method also takes 0.2C discharge, discharge for 5 hours, measure if the voltage is 1.0v,"

So I am trying to figure out several things.

And how am I going to get my solar controller to slam a full 400AH into these batteries?  It's an mppt controller, a a Tracer4215BN from Epever with an MT50 interface.  It seems like the batteries come up to full voltage really fast and my controller thinks they are full and stops charging.  I have it set as a 400AH battery, but the controller thinks they are lead acid.  It always seems to stop charging halfway through the day and I can't figure out why.  Just keep pumping out the amps lil controller!  I don't know why you wanna quit while the sun is still shining!  I've realized the voltage just responds differently on the NiFe batteries, and the Tracer thinks the battery is full.  I'm fairly certain there is no way, no setting that will work with my mppt.

Furthermore, I am broke as I've ever been...  So I really can't afford even a $100 controller.  I am thinking maybe a buck converter, like this one?  1500W 30A DC-DC Boost Converter, Aideepen 10-60V to 12-90V 30A Step Up Power Supply Module Constant Current LED Driver Voltage Converter Power Converter https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX51XQG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_RAmsDb8N9B8TM  I have a 900W solar array, . . .  3, 300W panels in parallel. But I've never seen them put out more than 20 Amps on my charger, so I'm not concerned about over-charging these NiFe, but it might on be on the edge for the buck converter. I have them in parallel currently. Maybe beef up it's heat-sink a little, or add a fan?  I'm thinking this thing could receive the ~36V from my panels, and put out the 16.5 Volts I hear the NiFe batteries like.  (Wondering if my inverter will still work if I get these things charged up all the way. . .  ?)  

But I don't know if it will work...  Any thoughts?  I would really love to prove that these NiFe batteries win the Sustainability Challenge against this new Lithium craze (even for home solar....  Yuck!  I guess mass production beats best application.).

Can you help me get these things activated?  I'm pretty sure they are currently float charging around roughly 5% state of charge since the controller will never put more than 20AH on them!  

Please forgive my babbling.  Looking forward to learning with you~
 
pollinator
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I don't have any experience with NiFe batts, but my Tracer based controller was a POS.

Specifically, it skipped absorb, jumping from bulk straight to float. I found reports from others of the same issue.

It also lacked a manual equalize option. Dumb.

The cheapo 'deep cycle' batteries I used with that controller did not fare well. An identical battery purchased at the same time which was used solo with a much cheaper PWM controller is in much better shape...
 
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You may need to use an industrial charger to get the procedure complete. This couldninvolve breaking the battery into halves or quarters to a voltage the charger can do.

Second you will likely need a generator or grid power. Not that you couldnt do it with pv, but 80a constant.... you do not have. Likewise you could break the battery down to a doable capacity for your pv.
 
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Hi,

I had a quick look at you Tracer manual here:
https://myshop.s3-xternal-3.amazonaws.com/shop4072000.images.Epsolar-MPPT-Solar-Charge-controller-New-Tracer-BN-Series.pdf

Is it possible that you can select "User battery" from the remote?  (page 5)

Then you can select from 9 to 17V
which is an excellent range for charging nickel iron batteries.

For first charge, you can set it in the 16,5V region.
Later, you can set it to 15,5-15,6V region to get less water consumption. Absorb time is around 2 hrs
You can check. Float voltage around 14,3V

If you cannot get all the amps in one day (like having not enough solar panels), then is okay to charge them over
a time span of multiple days.

How much lower voltage are the dropped batteries?


 
Meni Menindorf
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Thanks for your feedback everyone.  

Interesting to hear you've had trouble with your Tracer.  I may be able to support your POS claim!  I had a new lead-acid battery go bad after 3 years with this controller (about 50% of expected life?).

Steven I was having trouble getting your link to load. . .  but yes, there is a User setting, but I have found it will not let me adjust the Voltage in the ranges you mention.  (might not be the exact same Tracer model?)  I concluded the same thing, that I might take many days to add 400AH to the batteries, but eventually they will charge up (assuming we use less power than we generate!  lol)  

I am still strongly thinking about trying something like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX51XQG/?coliid=I1M85YKJD1EWMR&colid=911ZE8P1JL7Y&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it
I am not very worried about over-charging the batteries.  Would this buck-converter be a totally stupid idea?  

Also I am happy to report I am no longer measuring lower voltages on certain batteries.  They seem to have normalized, so I have increased hope for this activation process!  I think I just need to get some Amp Hours into these babies~
 
Steven Di Maira
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Hi!

- Buck converter, I would not call it stupid. However there a caveat on this.

With this DC/DC converter you can set the output voltage (good), but you cannot alter the maximum output current.
The load (batteries) can take whatever current they want.
The risk is that you can overrun the max current the DC/DC converter can supply. (can be seen in some of the reviews )

It would require manipulating the charge voltage very carefully, in order to avoid overload/damage of the converter.

A bench power supply, something like this has the advantage that you can both set a limit to the voltage and the current.

https://www.amazon.com/Yescom-Precision-Variable-Digital-Adjustable/dp/B00SWK6M0M/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=power+supply&qid=1566072117&s=electronics&sr=1-3

A quick search on amazon gave this.
It's "only" 10 amps. But it would be more safe.
You might find a more powerfull one, with more research?

https://www.amazon.com/Yescom-Precision-Variable-Digital-Adjustable/dp/B00SWK6M0M/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=power+supply&qid=1566072117&s=electronics&sr=1-3


 
frank li
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One thing i failed to notice earlier, your array at 900w should be close to 50a charging near absorb voltage if all is well.

Another, that your battery is only 12v thought it was higher. In a guide for ukranian made edison batteries, they mention using one less cell if your gear cannot be set the the higher voltage. That cell could be cycled in periodicaly or left out until you get another controller.

In full sun.ypur array has higher power available than the control can pass. Its another great excuse for an upgrade controller!
 
Steven Di Maira
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@frank li

About solar capacity: good point!

If you respect the cable sizes, it is possible to wire a solar panel directly to the NiFe batteries.
I would not recommend to do this permanently. But if you just want to get the amps in (a one time pass)
it will work.

The battery will pull the voltage of the solar panel to it's own level (constant current charging).

Do keep an eye on the charge voltage and quit when needed. (at around 17,5- 18,5V)
They NiFe cells will boil the excessive charge as hydrogen. (don't use an airtight container for the batteries)
Check water levels.


 
Meni Menindorf
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Thank you all for your continued help!  

I found this buck converter which I think might handle the load from my solar array?  
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TWN44SZ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_6EhwDbH9SCXJF

Thing is. . .  according to my Tracer Controller read-out, my panels never put out more than 20A (at 14.4V) anyway. . .  I'm not sure if this is because the Controller is limiting the charge, but it is supposed to be a 30A charger.  It is for this reason I was thinking the 30A buck converter might suffice. . .  but I'm certainly more confident in the above listed 50A one.  It's $60, which is still cheaper than a controller.  They are older used panels, so I'm really not sure what they are putting out these days~

Believe me Steven, I've thought about wiring the panels direct to the batteries!  My fear is . . . .  the panels put out 36V.  Is this voltage way too high to charge the NiFe? Will it damage the batteries, or create too much Hydrogen for it to escape in time from the tiny vent hole?  (I could unscrew the caps if necessary. . .  but will it be a boiling situation?)  Definitely feeling itchy to try this now that you mention my inner yearning!  lol~

About that Hydrogen that is produced from over-charging these . . . .  anyone ever put that hydrogen into a pressurized system for use as a cooking gas?  Or is this . . . .  dangerous and laughable>?  Buuaahaaha!  
 
frank li
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Test
 
frank li
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Thing is, i would not quite trust the tracer read out......
someting is goofy with only 20a from 900w at 12v nominal, its 280ish watts depending on actual voltage at the time. In bulk mode you should have 60 or more amps available until after the early portion of absorbtion charge.

 
frank li
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As he said it will not be damaging at all unless you expose plates. Allow proper ventilation amd keep an eye on voltage. When you hit absorb voltage re-connect your controller.

This is exactly what a pv charge control does. In bulk mode your panels are directly connected to the battery. As long as array voltage is not over equalize voltage or more correct, when connected voltage is not higher than absorb it should never be an issue. With a low battery your array will drag down plenty from 36v better to bee in the 20v range if you cannot keep a close eye.

Tracers are suspect of not being an actual mppt control, so step down is likely provided by the battery being connected in bulk mode anyway, like a pwm control.

Nicole Alderman found the issue. Here is the original with a hyphen to make it post.

Thing is, i would not quite trust the tracer read out......
someting is goofy with only 20a from 900w at 12v nominal, its 280ish watts depending on actual voltage at the time. In bulk mode you should have 60 or more amps available until after the early portion of absorbtion charge.

Steve has you on track for ww2 U-boat style re-route of power to bypass the control (in question of proper operation wiring or electronics...) in order to connect to ample charging current.

As he said it will not be damaging at all unless you expose plates. Allow proper ventilation amd keep an eye on voltage. When you hit absorb voltage re-connect your controller.

This is exactly what a pv charge control does. In bulk mode your panels are directly connected to the battery. As long as array voltage is not over equalize voltage or more correct, when connected voltage is not higher than absorb it should never be an issue. With a low battery your array will drag down plenty from 36v better to bee in the 20v range if you cannot keep a close eye.

Tracers are suspect of not being an actual mppt control, so step down is likely provided by the battery being connected in bulk mode anyway, like a pwm control.

Hydrogen from your bank is mixed with air containing oxygen and so it is explosive (bang not flare!) In mixtures from 1%H to 90 plus percent H........ it means it is volatile and dangerously explosive unless its quite pure. By contrast gasoline and most fuels have a very narrow range where fuel air mixture could produce an explosion.
 
Steven Di Maira
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Hi all,

@Frank Li: Correct! PWM solar chargers etc.

One thing to add:
Do not allow a directly connected solar panel at night on your battery:
Reason:  When used this way, normally one adds a series diode.
This is to avoid discharging the battery trough the solar panel at night. (there is no voltage on the panel then...)

No need to unscrew the caps on the battery. The little hole will be adequate.
In fact to avoid any elektrolyte splatter (?), I would not unscrew them during heavy charging.
(they will bubble at that point, you will hear them )

Greetings,
Steven.



 
pollinator
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Hi Meni,
Having used a few tracers on small trailer systems I'm wondering if they are capable of doing the NiFe properly. They are a bare bones charger and I would not be surprised if they have built in algorithms for how a battery "should" act. I know when we have installed them on flooded lead the voltage never goes quite high enough for a good absorb cycle and would default to float too early. Their default seems to be a conservative agm type of voltage. Their flooded settings are low for surrettes and they would not even do that... NiFe has more internal resistance so you will need to push supplemental voltage into them. I know it's more money for a good controller but you have already made a significant investment in the batteries. An outback fm80 would make those puppies fly. Next would be the array size. Is it a 4 ×225 panel array? The tracer is rated at 560 watts max is it correct you have 900? That could make it do wonky things as well. If you could cut it to within specs so 2 panels and try that to see how it responds... that won't cost you money at all. My gut instinct says the tracer won't cut it no matter what. The buck boost... I've used small ones never one like that. Who knows.
Best regards,   David Baillie
 
frank li
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Good thing Dave! I did not want to keep hammering for a control upfit. People are not a good substitute for a controller..... short attention spans and that whole other things to do thing....

But you quite layed it out "like it is". Tracers are hard to pass up for the 15-20$ they cost, bit this is the 10th or so tracer botchery ive seen or heard of.

The only one ive installed or handled directly has the same issue and is about to kybosh a set of 4 perfectly good golf car batteries for a friend who couldnt justify budget on a reliable control. The same guy also didnt see the need to attatch modules.... to anything, too expensive.
He picks them up and patches the wires every now and then though..... two storeys! Hasnt broke one yet, so maybe im a flashing and rail snob ;)

In this case however she says it is not affordable to do, a totally different situation. Not the same as trading a 500 dollar investment in battery to get that sweet deal on a 20 dollar controller.

I have learned a similar lesson the hard way also. Harbor freight panels..... they work ok, but cost a pile for nota lota watts, $250 for 45 whole watts of solar madness! nuff said.
 
David Baillie
pollinator
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Hey Frank, how much does a tracer cost? I believe the model we used was in the 200-300 canadian range.  They would probably do ok charging a pair of golf cart agm batteries which given their trailer feel makes sense. I dont have the gear to analyze it but it sure as hell acts like a pwm charger not a true mppt.
Cheers,  David
 
frank li
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A low budget install with a missouri wind generator and unfastened modules!

This photo was taken mid install and the tracer is top left.
20171203_181603.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20171203_181603.jpg]
 
David Baillie
pollinator
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Ugh... I'm supposed to go to one like that thursday.
I think its more like this one here: So that makes sense why there is a price difference. Now I can sleep.
David
http://hespv.ca/hesproductspecs/HES/EPS-mppt-10-20-30-40.pdf

 
frank li
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Yes, totally different control.

Hey, you know youve got the good stuff when it has the "auto work" feature!
You guys are probably fine. Its a different beast.

The OP is having trouble with settings or had cell voltage dis-association that was short cycling the charge modes.

It will be interesting to find out. Those 20$ "tracers" are definitely not great and the one in the photo is already bypassed onto the harborfreight controller in the image, taken a year or more ago.

 
Steven Di Maira
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Meni Menindorf wrote:Thank you all for your continued help!  

About that Hydrogen that is produced from over-charging these . . . .  anyone ever put that hydrogen into a pressurized system for use as a cooking gas?  Or is this . . . .  dangerous and laughable>?  Buuaahaaha!  



That's actually something that is under development at TU Delft (The Netherlands)

Here:
https://www.technischweekblad.nl/nieuws/battolyser-stap-dichter-bij-demonstratiemodel/item11387



 
Meni Menindorf
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So I've had my panels connected straight to the batteries for about a week now.  I have never seen the voltage go above 16.0.  And the voltage usually drops back down to ~15 ish by the evening time (maybe the panels pulling back energy in the dark, eh?).  My panels are only getting a few hours sun per day, so I'm not sure if the batteries are really charged up yet.  (900W of solar, 400AH batteries). I am thinking of draining the batteries back down slowly now, in order to continue the activation process, thus, breaking them in.

I noticed when the voltage goes to 16, a fan on the inverter comes on...  So I've been switching the inverter off during the day.  Definitely time for an upgrade to the inverter.  Anyone have thoughts about this: 8000W LF Split Phase Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter DC 12V to AC 110V&220V 60Hz, with BTY Charger/UPS/LCD display-10.0V https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JNNB5MR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_MsyADbBM4NGQR.

Is this much wattage at $400 too good to be true?  Not sure if it would be better to go for a 12 or 24V model?  Or if there is an inverter out there that accepts either?  

It's amazing to listen to these batteries sizzle!  And yet a very miniscule amount of water loss.  I was able to capture a tiny bit of hydrogen in a balloon and make a tiny explosion.  Impressive!  I am more curious than ever to capture this as cooking/heating fuel.  I have read that the main issues are Hydrogen's invisible flame, and odorless properties make it risky.  But it seems like an outdoor application might be a safe option?  If there is a leak, it will not cause any issue.  

Now the question is, how do I (safely) add a little pressure to the system?  I don't think the batteries would pressurize any container themselves...   I am possibly imagining a rigid container with a balloon on it to regulate pressure, like on many methane generators.  But ...  Maybe a tiny pump would be better?  Or...  Try to talk me out of my Hindenberg situation here?  Haha!  
 
David Baillie
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Hi Meni, if you have your heart set on running the panels directly to the batteries you might think of going with a 24 volt system. The panels run at about 30 to 32 volts so right now at 16 volts you are only taking advantage of half of your available watts... yes you won't produce amps as early or as long but that will be more then made up for by the extra watts mid day... as a compromise if you added a very inexpensive pwm controller or used your existing controller at 24 volts you would have a safety to prevent over charging and over voltage. A lot of 12 volt equipment will not function properly above 18 volts. It has not been an issue for you so far but as the batteries become broken in it will be.at 24  volts your existing charger would be right in its sweet spot... as to collecting hydrogen at low pressure a bag system would probably work well for you. 2 sealed bags, one for accumulating one for using. Add a series on shutoffs and weigh down the full bag to give it line pressure... Really dangerous of course...
 
Steven Di Maira
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Hi Meni,

Amazing
I am really happy you are able to charge the batteries.
It's cool that you are able hear them bubbeling  

David Baillie has given a good explanation of why you go to 16V.

I will try to cover a few other things:

For daily usage a more relaxed voltage in the region of 15,4-15,6v can be used.
(less hydrogen)

As far as capturing the hydrogen: yes, outside would be a good idea for safety.
I never tried to capture the hydrogen from my NiFe batteries.
Very clever to put a ballon on top of the vent cap.

You could try some tubing wired to get all of the hydrogen outside.
It has never been done before (like the research project Battoliser)

An advantage of the alkaline nature of these batteries is, that the hydrogen does not smell like "rotten eggs" like
it does on lead-acid.

About inverter you gave a link to:

Please note the following limits on it's specification.


Iinput Low Voltage Alarm: 10.5-11V
Input Low Voltage shutdown: 10V
Input High Voltage Alarm: 15V
Input High Voltage shutdown: >15V



For Ni-Fe you want a low voltage alarm at 10V
Cut off at 9V
10,5-11V are lead acid battery values.

At 11V a lot of capacity is still left.
(another way to think about this: AA 1,2V NiMh/NiCad batteries: common discharge is also like 1V per cell)

Shutdown at 15V -> Would want around 17V. otherwise the inverter would shut down during charging.




 
Meni Menindorf
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After the first charge-up to 16V, I decided to go through a discharge round again.  Rather than doing it fast and hard like the manufacturer recommended, I decided to do it slowly through my families normal daily usage.  It took about 4-5 days to drain the batteries back down to 10V.  This is interesting because when I was originally designing the system, I was hoping these 400AH batteries would give me power for 4-5 days of little-to-no sun during the Winter . . .  so I'm on par; however, our current usage does not include a 12V refrigerator like I was originally budgeting for.  So I am hoping there is still some breaking-in to be done.  Even after several days of being full during the first charge round, I never measured the voltage above 16.   Upon a second full recharge, I noticed the batteries now charging up to 16.5V, so it does seem to be wearing in the system. . .   Awesome!  

I am designing a ghetto cartridge system for collecting Hydrogen.  I'm using a 1 Gallon rigid plastic bottle, with two I/O ports, each with a shut-off valve and a quick connect fitting from an air compressor.  This will allow me to fill a small cartridge of fuel near the batteries, and then transport it to another part of the property where I wish to burn the fuel.  Hopefully the small cartridge will improve the safety of the system.  I plan to blow a balloon up with my breath and then connect it to the system to create line pressure.  I'm going to start by using this test-cartridge with 5 out of 10 batteries to. . .  you know. . .  pretend I'm proceeding carefully

Steven, do you have an inverter (make/model) that you are using happily with your NiFe batteries?  
 
David Baillie
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Meni, the only criterial for choosing an inverter with your NIFE Batteries will be that you choose one where you can program in the low voltage disconnect, high voltage disconnect, charge voltage and absorb time if it has an internal charger. Most of the less expensive units are programmed for default safe voltages that cannot be altered by the end user. Depending on your budget The Schneider, Magnum, outback and sunny boys are the usual choices. If you do find a less expensive one with programmable values please post a link.
Cheers,  David
 
Steven Di Maira
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Meni Menindorf wrote:

Steven, do you have an inverter (make/model) that you are using happily with your NiFe batteries?  



I am using the Studer XTS (24V model). + RCC02 (remote)
https://www.studer-innotec.com/en/products/xtender-series/
https://www.studer-innotec.com/en/products/xtender-series/xts-1200-24-300

It allows you to freely define your values for absorb/float/lvd/high voltage/rebulk (and many more settings)

Like David said, it is one of the more expensive units. Build quality however is excellent.
The other brands he mentions are equally good. (I just don't have them)

I have some of the other components from them as well:
- Charge controller
- Volt/Current shunt/meter

I am not sure you are on 230V or 110V? Because Studer = only for 230V

Regarding slower charging/discharging for breaking in the batteries: seems fine for me too.



 
pollinator
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as a dedicated bargain hunter, I have lots of experience with Chinese junk , and finally good chinese stuff--I had that white "tracer" and liked it's features, but now only use it with panels close to my battery voltage to keep from overcharging bats, and running loads without draining my bats. It is not MPPT  The other EPEVER tracer  is good, you can actually see the increased amps to the battery over the amps coming from high voltage panels.

As far as the  " pure" sine wave inverters, you get what you pay for, and cost is a good indicator of whether it is a pure sine wave or not.  I settled on  Reliable Power  They are very helpful , even if you do something stupid (correct wording would be I did something stupid) out of warranty, they are quick with repair videos and knowledgeable assistance. even replacement parts.   Also, there are numerous utube videos that teach some theory while they tear down different psw inverters-both  cheap and expensive--similar videos exist for controllers, and again , it would seem you get what you pay for.

Doing the Utube searches  can both teach a lot and save money and time.
 
Meni Menindorf
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So I'm on round 3 of the activation process, and I can tell that the capacity is increasing.  The second time I drained the batteries it took about 4 days of normal use.  This time it took ... 7?  I'm loosing count! 

These batteries are pretty awesome.  I am indeed learning that it's pretty much impossible to determine SOC from Voltage.  I measure the voltage: 15.00V, then I make a bunch of juice with my Omega at 230W ....  Wait an hour to account for the voltage-slump to recover ....  Check the voltage: 14.99.  Lol!  A little bit suspect? 

I have yet to see these batteries go above 16.5V, during strong charging.  (Could it be I have more activating to do before they charge to higher voltages, 17.5, etc?). Also, I notice that after the sun leaves the panels, they drop back down to 15V.  Normal, I assume? 

It was also strange on this discharge round....  Since my inverter doesnt work below 11.5V, I'm using a car head-light to trickle drain the batteries down to 10v to complete their discharge cycle.  I had this head light connected for a full 24 hours and checked the voltage (head-light still connected) and it was 10.8 ...  So I figured I had a ways to go still, since NiFe still have useful capacity down to 10v.  Then I checked 8 hours later, and the voltage was 4.6v!  Woah!  ....  Hopefully I didn't damage these batteries?  Once I disconnected the light, the voltage recovered up to 6v.  Then with 3.5 hours of charging off my 900w panels (All we are getting this time of year), Voltage read 13.5.   Seems a little fast for such a strong recovery? 

Lastly, I just want to say that the Hydrogen sizzling out of these things gives me such a feeling!  ....  Like potential energy ~ totally going to waste!  Irk!  And I'm still buying propane like a chump...  Seems like all the Hydrogen cooking I can find online is someone trying to sell some system with a crazy HHO generator hooked up to a burner.  There must be a way to capture and use this stuff...  It's driving me crazy with failed attempts.  Glue and calking mixed with brass fittings and plastic bottles = not air tight after a couple days.  I'm starting to think about a 4" or 6" PVC pipe, though I hate PVC with all my existence.  ....  There must be a way.  Maybe even a reproducible way...  Wouldn't every off-gridder with batteries want to be doing this?  Or is it really only practical with NiFe?  Still seems like free heating and cooking fuel...  Why am I the only one excited about this? 

Thank you for all your tips on Inverters!  I am hoping to find a 220-240V inverter with the right parameters.  I am still a little stumped about the right Inverter to fit my needs.  The Reliable ones definitely fit the budget better.  But do they have the proper low/high voltage for Nife batteries?  I will inquire further with the company...
 
David Baillie
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Hi Meni, Glad to hear that things are going well. As to the Hydrogen well it is a path I won't deny it. Annoying people like me would point out that the efficiency is just is not there. You are over voltaging your batteries so that they very inefficiently electrolyse more water then they normally would. This heats the plates more then necessary and can shorten lifespan. You are turning your hard to generate electricity into mostly heat and some hydrogen along with a lot of oxygen. Finally the oxygen and hydrogen are mixed so it is a ticking time bomb as far as storage, compressing and using is concerned. If you want to go down that path I would suggest once your battery break in period is done you simply build yourself a simple electrolyser. Not an HHO unit which mixes the oxygen and hydrogen but a split cathode anode type. You will use about 3x the electricity power as you could recover from the hydrogen but sometimes that is not such a bad thing as it could extend your battery. Most people when they have worked through it have opted for direct usage of the extra electricity at times of plenty like electric cooking, hot water, laundry, etc...
Cheers, David
 
Steven Di Maira
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Hi!

Sorry for the late reply, but maybe you can still read it?

>These batteries are pretty awesome.  I am indeed learning that it's pretty much impossible to determine SOC from Voltage.  I measure the voltage: 15.00V, then I make a bunch of juice with my Omega at >230W ....  Wait an hour to account for the voltage-slump to recover ....  Check the voltage: 14.99.  Lol!  A little bit suspect? 



Yes, I have observed that too. I have a SOC meter on mine for that. Altough running under a load can also give a good estimate. Just open voltage is indeed a bit tricky.


> Also, I notice that after the sun leaves the panels, they drop back down to 15V.  Normal, I assume? 



Indeed that's a normal observation.
Seen that with LA batteries too (at a different voltages)


>It was also strange on this discharge round....  Since my inverter doesnt work below 11.5V, I'm using a car head-light to trickle drain the batteries down to 10v to complete their discharge cycle.  I had this >head light connected for a full 24 hours and checked the voltage (head-light still connected) and it was 10.8 ...  So I figured I had a ways to go still, since NiFe still have useful capacity down to 10v.  Then I >checked 8 hours later, and the voltage was 4.6v!  Woah!  ....  Hopefully I didn't damage these batteries?  Once I disconnected the light, the voltage recovered up to 6v.  Then with 3.5 hours of charging off >my 900w panels (All we are getting this time of year), Voltage read 13.5.   Seems a little fast for such a strong recovery? 


Question: how much amps did the head light draw?
1V per cell is based on the C5 discharge rate. A lower discharge rates, the end voltages will be higher (* See manual), and when there is a big load connected, voltage can then collapse quite fast below 1V.
You have not damaged your batteries by doing this, but I would not make a practice of this. But your batteries will be fine Just don't ever to that to a lead acid battery
Overdischarging does mean the next charge should be overcharging more. (Pretty honest I think ? )


>Lastly, I just want to say that the Hydrogen sizzling out of these things gives me such a feeling!  ....  Like potential energy ~ totally going to waste!  Irk!  And I'm still buying propane like a chump...  Seems >like all the Hydrogen cooking I can find online is someone trying to sell some system with a crazy HHO generator hooked up to a burner.  There must be a way to capture and use this stuff...  It's driving me >crazy with failed attempts.  Glue and calking mixed with brass fittings and plastic bottles = not air tight after a couple days.  I'm starting to think about a 4" or 6" PVC pipe, though I hate PVC with all my >existence.  ....  There must be a way.  Maybe even a reproducible way...  Wouldn't every off-gridder with batteries want to be doing this?  Or is it really only practical with NiFe?  Still seems like free heating >and cooking fuel...  Why am I the only one excited about this? 


Yead find that very interesting to read. Does anyone makes/sell a hydrogen cooking furnace with a proper storage tank?
Don't you think there should be a market for this?

I think most of the break is done.
Your voltages sound generally fine. The more the batteries get used, they wil still gain a little bit of capacity.
Can take up to a year in my experience. But really depends on usage / cycle count.


>Thank you for all your tips on Inverters!  I am hoping to find a 220-240V inverter with the right parameters.  I am still a little stumped about the right Inverter to fit my needs.  The Reliable ones definitely >fit the budget better.  But do they have the proper low/high voltage for Nife batteries?  I will inquire further with the company...

I use the Studer system. Has all the required voltages. Not cheap however. But very good quality.


 
bob day
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I recently noticed that Reliable makes an 18v input PSW inverter, although a low wattage on this particular item, past conversations with them lead me to believe they might be a good place to suggest that sort of development for NiFe inverters.


 
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Meni Menindorf wrote:

It's amazing to listen to these batteries sizzle!  And yet a very miniscule amount of water loss.  I was able to capture a tiny bit of hydrogen in a balloon and make a tiny explosion.


Isn't that Hydrogen - Oxygen mixture?

Caveat:Once while driving my van I heard a 'whomp'. I stopped and looked under the hood. The top quarter of the battery was blown to smithereens. I believe that the voltage regulator was badly-grounded or otherwise over -charging, then a spark got close enough to the battery. Battery acid went everywhere. Hydrogen-air mixtures can, I understand, ignite at virtually any mixture, so even a wisp far away can be lit and conduct ignition back to the battery/hydrogen source.

Meni Menindorf wrote: Impressive!  I am more curious than ever to capture this as cooking/heating fuel.  I have read that the main issues are Hydrogen's invisible flame, and odorless properties make it risky.  But it seems like an outdoor application might be a safe option?  If there is a leak, it will not cause any issue.  

Now the question is, how do I (safely) add a little pressure to the system?  I don't think the batteries would pressurize any container themselves...   I am possibly imagining a rigid container with a balloon on it to regulate pressure, like on many methane generators.  But ...  Maybe a tiny pump would be better?  Or...  Try to talk me out of my Hindenberg situation here?  Haha!  

 
Meni Menindorf
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I want to thank you all for your support!  So many good ideas here.  Also, sorry I have not posted on this topic in a long time!  I recently moved to a new space, where we again have Internet (at least on our cell phones) at home.  Also, we have a lot more sun here!  And we are getting back into the season where my NiFe are sizzling nicely every day.  So all this has me wanting to reach out for feedback again from this knowledgeable community!

First on my mind.  I am still charging these batteries using the panels straight to the batteries (no controller) and I recently installed a voltage readout and a switch so I can manually turn charging on and off.  I am still somewhat financially challenged, so I can't afford a high end controller with user modifiable parameters.  (Seems like these are all in the $500+ range?). My question: am I damaging my batteries charging them like this regularly?  Or is there a certain approach with my handy manual on/off switch that would help prevent harm?  I have read that these batteries can safely charge up to 17.5V.  I very rarely see mine go above 16.5v (though we will see what the Summer brings). Does this mean I can continue to charge like the neglegent off-gridder I am, and sit on my couch expecting my NiFe to last 80 years?  Or with them sizzling away all the time like an HHO generator, should I expect them to have a 5 year life?

Speaking of HHO.  While I continue to be interested in capturing and storing the gas coming off my NiFe, I also recognize that any attempt to store the H is perhaps for those more advanced in the wonders of Hydrogen?  I am thinking about buying an HHO cell like this and piping it into my propane stove with an H backflash arrestor.  I am so sick of burning propane all the time, when electrolyzed Hydrogen could be a clean burning solution right at my finger tips!  But my financial limitations want me to ask you all if you have experience before I start buying things

HHO cells seem simple enough to diy, but maybe better to go with an affordable manufactured one?  
HydroCell https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003XRZIA4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_b.lOEbMZTGH1A

I am wondering how to set this up as a gas generator to cook with.  Wire it to my batteries with a simple pwm knob for control?  I guess what I am wondering is... Wired direct to my batteries, this thing is likely to get too hot, bubble too much, and draw more current than I want. (Am I right?) Would a PWM be a good solution for this?  If so, does it need a certain amp rating to handle the loads needed for cooking?  Why am I asking this here...?  Two birds with one stone?  Lol~. Let me know if I should repost an HHO cooking/heating thread~. For now, my 4 yr old demanands me 😁

Thank you all!  Sending the love through the virusless virtual~
 
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