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Filling Solar Batteries

 
Posts: 17
Location: Appleton, ME
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I just replaced the 24-volt lead-acid batteries powering my PV system and am having difficulty figuring out how high to fill the water in the cells. The water level in the old batteries was much easier to visualize. Does anyone have a good method for keeping batteries filled to the right level and not overfilling?
 
pollinator
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Location: out in the woods of Maine
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I took a 5-gallon food-grade bucket. I drilled a hole near the bottom and mounted a brass faucet. Then I connected about 8' of clear fuel line, and I put a plastic beer keg tap faucet on the end.

I was using a hydrometer that looks like a turkey baster. That process was very slow and my knees were in pain from kneeling on my batteries so much. This bucket works much better for me.
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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Galen,
Thanks. I'm having trouble visualizing what you describe. Can you post a photo?
My biggest challenge is filling the batteries to the correct level. Inside each cell is a lip, and my understanding is that the height of the water should be at this lip, but even with a flashlight, it's difficult to see the true height of the water.
 
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Arlene Marcia wrote:Galen,
Thanks. I'm having trouble visualizing what you describe. Can you post a photo?
My biggest challenge is filling the batteries to the correct level. Inside each cell is a lip, and my understanding is that the height of the water should be at this lip, but even with a flashlight, it's difficult to see the true height of the water.



I usually use a dipstick of some kind when I need a liquid level that I can't see.
 
pollinator
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Location: North central Ontario
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Arlene Marcia wrote:I just replaced the 24-volt lead-acid batteries powering my PV system and am having difficulty figuring out how high to fill the water in the cells. The water level in the old batteries was much easier to visualize. Does anyone have a good method for keeping batteries filled to the right level and not overfilling?

what kind of batteries are they. Can you post a picture...
 
Galen Young
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Here are photos of my watering bucket, the faucet and my battery bank
20200409_161203.jpg
bucket
bucket
20200409_161219.jpg
faucet
faucet
20200409_161537.jpg
battery bank
battery bank
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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David Baillie wrote:[

what kind of batteries are they. Can you post a picture...

They are Rolls S6 L16-EX.
PV-Batteries.jpg
Battery bank
Battery bank
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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Galen Young wrote:Here are photos of my watering bucket, the faucet and my battery bank


Thanks! Looks like an efficient set-up!
 
pollinator
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I have just relocated mine for that reason.
When they were installed, refilling the cells was not considered.
BUT, you can purchase an automatic filler, I have seen them advertised.
https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk01OyxKzTZdcK9pw9ACWh1UyEwFJFA:1586477068094&q=deka+battery+watering+system&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjc8tnQx9zoAhX5zTgGHdMCCEYQ1QIoAXoECA0QAg&biw=1900&bih=1007
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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John C Daley wrote:I have just relocated mine for that reason.
When they were installed, refilling the cells was not considered.
BUT, you can purchase an automatic filler, I have seen them advertised.
https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk01OyxKzTZdcK9pw9ACWh1UyEwFJFA:1586477068094&q=deka+battery+watering+system&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjc8tnQx9zoAhX5zTgGHdMCCEYQ1QIoAXoECA0QAg&biw=1900&bih=1007


Thank you, John!
 
David Baillie
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Arlene Marcia wrote:

David Baillie wrote:[

what kind of batteries are they. Can you post a picture...



They are Rolls S6 L16-EX. Good, a known battery...
Open up the lid. you will see a plastic tab that is about 3/4 of an inch long in the battery. Fill the water to about 1/2 inch bellow the bottom of the plastic tab. Run a full charge cycle after filling the water...
David
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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David Baillie wrote:

Arlene Marcia wrote:

David Baillie wrote:[

what kind of batteries are they. Can you post a picture...



They are Rolls S6 L16-EX.

Good, a known battery...
Open up the lid. you will see a plastic tab that is about 3/4 of an inch long in the battery. Fill the water to about 1/2 inch bellow the bottom of the plastic tab. Run a full charge cycle after filling the water...
David

Hi David,
Thanks. The person who installed the batteries told me to fill them to the bottom of the red plastic tab, which is what I've been trying to do. But the opening is small, and the light reflects off the water, so it's hard to tell where the level actually is. This is the problem I'm trying to solve. Is it important to run a full charge cycle after each time I fill the batteries? I am equalizing them about once a month, so I could coordinate this with the battery fill.
 
David Baillie
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Arlene Marcia wrote:

David Baillie wrote:

Arlene Marcia wrote:

David Baillie wrote:[

what kind of batteries are they. Can you post a picture...



They are Rolls S6 L16-EX.

Good, a known battery...
Open up the lid. you will see a plastic tab that is about 3/4 of an inch long in the battery. Fill the water to about 1/2 inch bellow the bottom of the plastic tab. Run a full charge cycle after filling the water...
David



Hi David,
Thanks. The person who installed the batteries told me to fill them to the bottom of the red plastic tab, which is what I've been trying to do. But the opening is small, and the light reflects off the water, so it's hard to tell where the level actually is. This is the problem I'm trying to solve. Is it important to run a full charge cycle after each time I fill the batteries? I am equalizing them about once a month, so I could coordinate this with the battery fill.Arlene, the most important part is not running an equalizing charge until you fill the water... once a month equalizing seems like a lot. Do you have a small array or do a lot of partial charging with a generator?
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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Arlene, the most important part is not running an equalizing charge until you fill the water... once a month equalizing seems like a lot. Do you have a small array or do a lot of partial charging with a generator?

Hi again, David,
My PV panels can generate about 2750 watts. In the summer, they supply all the electricity needed for my household. In the winter, a propane generator comes on intermittently, triggered by the AGS system when the charge on the batteries falls below 52%.
It sounds like you are very knowledgeable about solar energy. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. I've been handicapped for the seven years I've lived off the grid by my limited understanding of photovoltaic systems and inconsistent support from local professionals.
 
David Baillie
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Arlene Marcia wrote:

Arlene, the most important part is not running an equalizing charge until you fill the water... once a month equalizing seems like a lot. Do you have a small array or do a lot of partial charging with a generator?

Hi again, David,
My PV panels can generate about 2750 watts. In the summer, they supply all the electricity needed for my household. In the winter, a propane generator comes on intermittently, triggered by the AGS system when the charge on the batteries falls below 52%.
It sounds like you are very knowledgeable about solar energy. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. I've been handicapped for the seven years I've lived off the grid by my limited understanding of photovoltaic systems and inconsistent support from local professionals.yup. So some basics... what voltage is your system running at, what inverter are you using and which charge controller.  Finally where abouts are you?
8nquiring minds want to know ..
David
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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David Baillie wrote: yup. So some basics... what voltage is your system running at, what inverter are you using and which charge controller.  Finally where abouts are you?
8nquiring minds want to know ..

I realize I miswrote the capacity of my PV panels. Should have said 2500 watts. The system is 24-volt, with an Outback inverter and a Magnum charge controller. Here's a photo of the system. I'm located in midcoast Maine.

PV-System.jpg
[Thumbnail for PV-System.jpg]
 
Posts: 826
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Arlene, I've got Rolls batteries, and yeah, not sure that red thing is very helpful.   If we call that black neck that the red cap screws into the throat, it should come up below the bottom of that throat, which is where the red marker is.  It is important not to over fill, because when the batteries equalize the contents might be pushed out from under the cap, losing some of that important battery fluid.

If you have one of the headlamps, a stretchy headband with a couple of LED lights on the front of it, the red marker is more obvious, and it leaves your hands free to fill with a funnel and a container, or however you want to do it.

The good thing about these newer Rolls batteries is that when the cap is snugged down, they don't need as much distilled water as they used to.
 
Arlene Marcia
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Location: Appleton, ME
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Cristo Balete wrote:Arlene, I've got Rolls batteries, and yeah, not sure that red thing is very helpful.   If we call that black neck that the red cap screws into the throat, it should come up below the bottom of that throat, which is where the red marker is.  It is important not to over fill, because when the batteries equalize the contents might be pushed out from under the cap, losing some of that important battery fluid.

If you have one of the headlamps, a stretchy headband with a couple of LED lights on the front of it, the red marker is more obvious, and it leaves your hands free to fill with a funnel and a container, or however you want to do it.

The good thing about these newer Rolls batteries is that when the cap is snugged down, they don't need as much distilled water as they used to.



Thanks for your advice, Cristo!
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