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Edison 240 batteries

 
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Hi, just found you guys and don't know anything about you yet but seems interesting so far.  I am trying to find out more about the Edison 240 batteries as I have an opportunity to buy 20 of them.  I want to have a simple system of solar and hydropower with grid-tie and backup. I have been playing around with a Harbor Freight system that gives me 200 or so of power/watts back to the grid. I have purchased an ABB 3,800 watt grid-tie inverter and a couple of Midnight Solar chargers.  I have been looking at battery storage and my wife doesn't like lithium batteries because of the scary talk around them. So I thought the Edison style is considered very safe and reliable but not very efficient. how say you? Thanks, Walt
 
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Hi Walter,

Those Edison batteries have some intriguing advantages and one or two whopping disadvantages.

First the major advantage:  Edison batteries, properly maintained, can last something like 20 years!  That is virtually unheard of in rechargeable batteries.

The major disadvantage is that they emit significant quantities of hydrogen, so proper ventilation is an absolute must.  Also, most battery chargers are not set up do be compatible with that type of battery chemistry.  That makes cheap batteries rather expensive when accounting for extra electronics required for usage.

I agree with your wife that Lithium-Ion batteries are not practical, pragmatic or cost-effective for an off-grid home.  Lithium-ion batteries, despite all the hype, are really niche performers, excelling in applications that require high power and energy densities in a small, light package.  These are just about perfect for laptop computers and power tools.  They would be great for Electric Vehicles if it were not for their high cost and limited charge-discharge cycles.  But a fixed application like a home requires neither a particularly high power or energy density.  Old, heavy, reliable batteries will do just fine.

Perhaps the best type of battery for your particular application is the Lithium Iron Phosphate (LIPO) battery.  These are a far cry from the better known Lithium Ion battery.  LIPO batteries are pretty light, have medium power and energy density, can be fully discharged and have something like 10,000 charge-discharge cycles, making them a long-term battery.  They are not cheap, but they are very reliable and don't have any of the stability (read as flammable and explosive) issues that Lithium-ion batteries do.  Also, standard battery charging electronics generally work just fine with them.

I don't know if this helps, but these are just a few of my thoughts.  Feel free to comment.

Eric

Edited for Correction:  P.S.,  All references to "LIPO should be read as LiFePO4.  These are two separate battery chemistries and I got my nomenclature mixed up
 
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Hi Walter,

Welcome to Permies.
 
Walter Racka
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Hi John F Dean, not trying to criticize Mark Twian but this is also a good maxim to live by.   Probably not quoting this right but "luck/success favors those who are more prepared. " or something like that. I'm just looking into my options so I am well prepared with the knowledge or at least more information.

Hi Eric Hanson, Yes I've looked into Lithium Iron Phosphate (LIPO) battery technology. There are some issues with charging in the cold weather we get here in Tennessee in the winter. They really want a heating pad to keep the above 32F.  I think I've seen where the different companies warn against charging that low causing degradation of the batteries.

The guy wants 600 dollars for 20 pieces of  240Ahr batteries. I can't get 1 BattleBorn 100 Ahr battery for this price. Then you have all the bottom charge, top charge worries to keep them balanced. And yes the Edison batteries are slow and dumb, that is why I like them. I was thinking that I could just have them around to be the load for the hydro or when the solar panels are at peak efficiency . Then feed the grid when things settle down at the end of the day.


Thanks to both of you for the quick response. I will certainly consider your input.

Thanks for the friendly welcome.

Walt

 
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Walter Racka wrote: I am trying to find out more about the Edison 240 batteries as I have an opportunity to buy 20 of them.



Here is a previous thread on ED-240's

https://permies.com/t/130801/information-Edison-Ed-Nicad-batteries#1036837

$600 sounds expensive to me.  I bought mine for scrap prices which in 2010 was $18 each.

Inspect each cell.  ......

1.)  If it is dry do not buy it.  You have no idea how long it has been dry, or if it was shutdown, emptied, and dried properly.

2.)  There is a date code on top.  First 4 digits = mfg mo/yr.

3.)  If it has lots of black scum sticking to the inner cell walls, either at the top or collected in the bottom .... don't buy it.  That is plate material that has softened and leeched out of the plate.

4.)  If the cell has red coloration it is rusty inside.  Iron Poisoned.  Don't buy it.

5.)  You are going to need gallons -n- gallons of distilled water on an ongoing basis.  Wally world distilled water will not cut it.  One bad gallon can ruin your day.  You will need to make your own on a large scale,  or locate a trusted source.  

6.)  You will have to change the electrolyte.   You will have to make the electrolyte yourself.  If you are unable, or unwilling, to do that then don't buy.
 
7.)  Check on the availability of  technical, or preferably re-agent, grade Potassium hydroxide (KOH) and Lithium Hydroxide (LiOH).  If you cannot get it,  then don't buy.

8.)  20 in series is a 24vdc battery.   You are going to need an alternate way to charge these cells to recover lost capacity due to Nickle phase shift, (folks commonly confuse this with "cell memory").   An ED-240 needs to be reconditioned charged at at least the C/10 rate which is 24 amps DC to a cell total of 360 ah.   You gonna have to recondition charge a minimum of 4 or 5 times  before you see any lasting improvement.  If you are not prepared to do that ..... don't buy.

9.)  You need to be able to measure the health of these cells.  You do that by titrating the electrolyte for potassium carbonate,  measuring the specific gravity, and monitoring cell voltage and current.   If you not willing to do that ..... especially the titration part .... don't buy.

All of those things being said .....  I have a 920ah 48v solar bank that is on average 35 years old.  It currently produces about 75% of its OEM capacity.  I have had this bank in production for 8 years.  I am extremely satisfied with it.

The manual linked in the thread I referenced earlier can teach you how to do all of the above.


Hope this helps


Edited P.S.

Keep in mind that the calendar age of these cells is by in large deceptive.  Most ED-240's were in rail service.  Backing up switching gears and road crossings.   They sat for decades under float charge, usually in a good structure, with  routine maintenance and checks mandated by the Railroads.



 
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Eric Hanson wrote:I agree with your wife that Lithium-Ion batteries are not practical, pragmatic or cost-effective for an off-grid home.  Lithium-ion batteries, despite all the hype, are really niche performers, excelling in applications that require high power and energy densities in a small, light package.  These are just about perfect for laptop computers and power tools.  They would be great for Electric Vehicles if it were not for their high cost and limited charge-discharge cycles.  But a fixed application like a home requires neither a particularly high power or energy density.  Old, heavy, reliable batteries will do just fine.

Perhaps the best type of battery for your particular application is the Lithium Iron Phosphate (LIPO) battery.  These are a far cry from the better known Lithium Ion battery.  LIPO batteries are pretty light, have medium power and energy density, can be fully discharged and have something like 10,000 charge-discharge cycles, making them a long-term battery.  They are not cheap, but they are very reliable and don't have any of the stability (read as flammable and explosive) issues that Lithium-ion batteries do.  Also, standard battery charging electronics generally work just fine with them.



I am glad to see someone understanding the distinction between Lithium Ion and Lithium Iron Phosphate!  Most people have no clue.

However, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) is abbreviated LFP not LIPO.  LIPO is lithium polymer and is a VERY different animal.  LFP is the one you want for off grid energy storage.  I am selling tons of them to RV, boat, and golf cart owners in addition to off-grid solar applications.
 
Eric Hanson
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Jason,

I stand corrected on my nomenclature.  LiFePo4 it is then.  And I should have known better as I am also familiar with Lithium Polymer batteries (and yes, they are very different animals indeed).  My mistake.

Eric
 
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 Thanks Mark Cunningham for posting all the good about our Edison batteries, I just don't see where people can't get there forever batteries. Lithium is the new fad, just make sure you keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter because they are little babies.
 
Walter Racka
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Thanks All for the info. I'm not ready to commit to all the work that appears necessary to buy and bring these batteries back to life. Would love to do it but...I'm a newbie to all this and just want to get my feet wet not get in over my head.  Thanks again, Walt
 
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Walter Racka wrote:Thanks All for the info. I'm not ready to commit to all the work that appears necessary to buy and bring these batteries back to life. Would love to do it but...I'm a newbie to all this and just want to get my feet wet not get in over my head.  Thanks again, Walt



That is probably best.

The real value of ED-240's is that they can be rebuilt .... within reason.   Everything is designed to be removed and replaced.

They only make sense for someone who has the know how, tools, and extra cells for spare parts.


Good luck.
 
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You can get regular Lead Acid Batteries, you can get 1000 discharge out of them so , if the grid only goes down, 50days per year, they will last your 20years. Now if you were completely off-grid with a daily charge and discharge they would have only lasted you 3yrs (3x265 is about 1,000ish)

It sounds like you have 3 different sources of power:
1) The Grid
2) Solar Panels
3) Hydro

Can you tell me how much KWH your hydro system will produce per day or per hour?
How many KWH your solar system will produce per day, I am going to assume that you get the max of 4hrs per day for the East Coast.
You you by any chance also have a regular fossil fuel backup generator already, how much wattage is it rated for

If the grid goes down for a day or two how much power would you use per day? How much do you use on a regular when the grid is up and working?

If you usually use 100KWH per day and your battery+solar+hydro can only provide 2KWH per day, you are going to be in for a rude awakening.

How will you convert the DC power that the battery+solar+hydro is providing into useable regular AC current for the house?    
 
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Lithium batteries (LiFePO4) are safe (sealed in most cases), maintenance-free, smaller and more light-weight, provide 1000's of cycles (4k to 8k), and are pretty much the right technology to move towards. You can literally move these into your house and sleep with them (put them in a secure, temp-controlled environment, like your house). All scare stories are pretty much FUD-mongering.

FLA is older technology, comes with a 50% penalty on how much capacity you can utilize, is heavier and bulkier, maintenance-intensive, more dangerous due to fumes and acid. Many will say it's less expensive in the short run, but if you go this route, be prepared to repay the savings several times over in all of these hidden expenses, including shorter cycle life (be prepared to kill your first set, due to improper maintenance and usage). FLA is, or should be, on its way out ... great for car as a starter battery, but not for solar, even in solar form-factors. Do not keep buying into it ...

At the very least, do more research into it. diysolar.com has tons of info on the latest technology (LiFePO4), and tons of historical info on older tech, such as FLA, Edison, etc.
 
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