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Battery Bank Life Span  RSS feed

 
Justus Walker
Posts: 69
Location: Siberia
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Greetings Fellow Permies! A quick question to the informed, the experienced, and to the notably non newbie!

How long will a battery bank last? How long did your battery bank last? I'm reading such wild and crazy ranges as to be useless for computing costs. Lets say if I am looking at my alt energy system costs over 20 years, how much will I need to plan on spending on batteries?

Deep Cycle 12v - 24v batteries?
Industrial (forklift) 12v - 24v batteries? Crown vs. GB or other??
NiFe batteries? China vs. USA??

I posted a long time back about how batteries seem to be the oft overlooked Achilles heel of alternative, off grid, energy. I'm still of that opinion. However there is no way around batteries. You can opportunity load, you can get very energy efficient, you can cook on gas (methane!!), but in the end, if you want a "modern" feel to your lifestyle, you are going to need some batteries. So it seems that the cost of batteries OVER TIME is the biggest question, cost wise, of a system. And just wild claims of 4 years to 20 years life spans have left my head spinning. Love to see all your thoughts!
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 507
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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I like the NiFe batteries for storage. We've been transitioning our conventional Lead Acid bank to NiFe over a couple years as funds become available. From what I can tell the 20 year lifespan seems relatively reasonable given the robust resiliency we've seen from our batteries. We initially purchased reconditioned Edison Batteries, and are looking at adding on a set of Chinese manufactured batteries. I'll let you know what we observe comparing the two. I think a 24 or even 48 volt system would be the way to go setting up new with inverters etc. (to maintain that "modern" feel). Our lead acid bank lasted right about 7 years, we're hoping for considerably longer from the NiFe batteries. We're four years into that experiment.
 
Troy Rhodes
Posts: 626
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golf cart batteries, well maintained, 5-6 years.

Fork lift battery (new) 7+ years


Nickel/Iron 20-50 years.


There is a common sentiment among the off grid people, everybody ruins their first set of batteries.

Of course, it's not always true, but it's frequently true. There is something to be said for getting a cheaper golf cart battery bank, in a smallish size, and use that for your learning curve. If you don't kill it in 2 years, Yay! You're the rare outlier on the bell curve. When it does finally crap out, feel confident when you buy the bigger, fancier, more expensive battery bank.

You'll (pretty much) never make electricity as cheap as the utility does it. They get all kind of subsidies and huge economies of scale that you don't.

But your electricity is generally better and greener and...it's yours.
 
Eric Hammond
Posts: 116
Location: SW Missouri
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There are far too many variables to answer that question. If you research batteries, the topic gets deep and you can lose serious amounts of sleep at night.

My g/f always tells me i make the best popcorn. My secret is i just follow the instructions on the container or bag...whichever it may be. Charging solar batteries is no different then making popcorn.

I'm running an outback flexmax 80 charge controller to a 24 volt battery bank of golf cart 6 volt batteries.

I can get on the Trojan website find the specific battery and it will tell you the exact charging specifications per cell for each charging stage, bulk, absorb, float, equalization. You take these numbers and program them into the charge controller and your done. The batteries will last a really long time if you just follow the instructions.... Which 80 percent of the population has no idea how to do.

After that Trojan will also tell you how many charge cycles you can expect to get by how deep you discharge them and some simple calculations will tell you how big of a battery bank to make to prevent over discharge and long life.

Currently golf cart batteries ARE the best value for your money. Trojan just came out with some renewable energy batteries with carbon in the plates that supposedly eliminates sufation but the price isn't right yet.

In my part of the country, to get electricity from the grid you must pay a fee to have the meter at you house every month, whether you use any electricity or not. This fee is around 15 dollars a month and will easily pay for your batteries over the life of the battery itself.

Goodluck
 
Justus Walker
Posts: 69
Location: Siberia
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Im under no delusions that home made power will be as cheap as grid power. But I still like to count my costs.

So far, it seems that battery banks will run as a constant system cost between $0.31/kW to $0.13/kW. depending on upfront investment (pay more up front, cheaper over time; pay less up front, much more expensive over time).

Add that to a constant depreciation cost of panels at $0.14-$0.29 per kW and yeah, no delusions.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 992
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Justin, in my situation, off grid power is way cheaper than grid. Here's what I figure....

...The power company told us it would cost $30,000 to bring power to our house. Electrician, hookup, etc would be above that. So we purchased and installed a solar system for $22,000, thus saving a chunk of money the moment we started generating power.
...Our system currently uses 12 golf cart batteries, purchased from Costco. These batteries should last us 6-7 years. The previous battery bank were Trojan L-16s, which lasted 6 1/2 years. Golf cart batteries are more economical, plus important to us, weigh a heck of a lot less. Those L-16s were a chore to lift and move.
...An estimate from the power company projected our electric use and cost per month, if we were hooked to the grid, to be $150 to $200. Electricity is expensive here in Hawaii.

Based upon the above, we are financially far better off being off grid. But that means that we had to learn about generating our own power, fixing our own problems, and maintaining the system. We firmly believe it has been totally worth it. We never, ever want to go back to being on the grid.

By the way, we did indeed ruin our first battery bank, but we were forewarned and started out with used batteries. We cut our teeth, so to speak, on those old batteries for a few years before totally killing them, then invested in a new battery bank. We've done much better keeping our batteries happy and healthy.

One other nice plus....when the grid goes down, we are not without power. Of course there us always the possibility that an inverter will die, but to date both of our inverters are doing fine. Yes, we have two systems. The main system, and a smaller workshop system. So if the house inverter dies, we could run a few things on the shop system until we are able to ship in and install a replacement inverter. Having the two systems in comforting insurance. Were in the process of moving the two Stecas (frig & freezer) off the house system and to their own solar panel, two batteries, and charge controller. Just another bit of insurance so that we wouldn't lose any food if the main inverter dies.
 
Justus Walker
Posts: 69
Location: Siberia
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Su Ba, I can only agree with you. Sounds like you made the right choices and are reaping the benefits. A huge benefit to me, and no way can it be quantified monetarily, is the benefit of self reliance. Knowing how to make your own power, how to troubleshoot and fix problems, make you, somehow, more alive. And if the set up fee of getting grid power is more than or at least the same as the initial set up cost of an alternative energy system, then you are really in that small category of people who are even making an economically astute choice.

The thing of it is, is that I am looking at my current situation (hooked up to the grid) and desperately trying to make a case for the economical reasons to set up an alt energy system, and they are not there. But we are planning on moving within the year, to set up a new homestead and large farm (about 200 acres) and that land has no power, and getting power will cost between $25,000 and $100,000 (we are looking at several properties) and when we do make the move, oh I really want to set up my own electrical system.

I do understand the "lifestyle" aspect for me, but it at least has to make some marginal sense economically, for me, as well.

But thank you so much for your input!!
 
Luke Hairs
Posts: 4
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The life span on the Aquion batteries seem promising, maybe worth to take into your comparison ...

https://www.altestore.com/store/Deep-Cycle-Batteries/Batteries-Saltwater-Technology/Aquion-Energy-M110-LS83-Pre-wired-306kWh-Battery-Module-48V/p11988/
 
Justus Walker
Posts: 69
Location: Siberia
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Luke, thanks for the link. The Aquion batteries do look promising. They would com in at (full lifetime of use) at about $0.16/kw. But they are all prewired, on a pallet package so that is nice.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 228
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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You are asking for information that can't really be given. Storage temperature, charge rates, discharge levels, maintenance, type of charging and a host of other factors go into battery life beyond manufacturing factors.

Assuming they are matched to the system with decent storage conditions and well maintained probably 5 to 7 years for industrial rated batteries. Forklift batteries are designed for more abuse typically so should have a longer life.

 
Justus Walker
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Location: Siberia
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C, I realize what you say is true, too many factors. It's like trying to get a grip on how many hours the motor one is using for a CHP system will last. Almost impossible. But I like to have at least a ballpark figure.
 
dan simon
Posts: 30
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Some things to consider.
1. White leds, there is a company that makes led bulbs with an edison base. This means less AC and more DC. This reduces your power needs.
2. Use less power. Build with that in mind. Reduce your dependancy on electricity. Use DC appliances and cut out the inverter. Install more windows. Build smaller. Get rid of the tv.
3. Buy the cheap batteries. I have 3 years on mine. Ive been neglectful. Too many things to do and i forget to check them. Most of us do. So will you.
4. Plan well. Be patient. Learn how to care for your batteries. They are like children.
 
John Benham
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The Tesla powerwall battery system looks promising as well. Both Tesla and Aquion offer pretty good warranties on their products. Tesla has a 10 year warranty, but I can't find where it says what kind of warranty. Aquion has upgraded their warranty to 8 years(5 full replacement and 3 pro rated). Aquion seems to the more eco friendly version, but the Tesla seems like it may be the better deal for dollars per kwh. Aquion seems like their batteries may be more abuse tolerant and can in fact be discharged all the way. I don't think Teslas can(or they would probably be advertising it). I think a combination of the two is what I am going to shoot for. This CNN article http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/01/technology/tesla-home-battery-price/ states that the average home uses 943 kwh per month. Divided by 30 days=31 or so kwh per day. The Aquion M110-LS83 stack alledges to be pretty close to this, but for $15K you can probably be pretty deep in golf cart/forklift batteries.
 
Eliza McNannay
Posts: 25
solar trees woodworking
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We live off-grid with a 2.7kw solar system and 24 deep-cycle Rolls S460 batteries in 3 strings of 8.
Baby do we baby these!! Want to get the most out of this investment possible.
The grid is 1.5 miles away up a winding canyon road. It is not coming without an investment of over $100K and we do not want the option anyway.

Regular maintenance is key! Know how your system operates and monitor, monitor, monitor.
Equalize at least twice each year, as the main season changes happen.
During the hard part of winter we cannot leave the property - no vacations in the tropics.
Our generator is also connected to the battery bank and we rely on this interconnected system for all our electric power needs.

On the MAJOR positive end of this - when our little local town has been without power for up to a week, we were fully operational with freezer, fridge, lights...
Cook on a beautiful wood cookstove, too.
Getting snowed in is not a burden!

Also, I do quite a bit of work in the RE field as a consultant primarily for small commercial (think small/med ag and small rural business) funding opps. Love the tech side and the LOW-tech side equally.

We are 4 years in on this grand adventure and keep learning lessons along the way.
Would not trade this life for anything!!

Always love hearing about what people are doing. Love reading/lurking on the permies site for all kinds of great info and insight!
 
Robert Harrow
Posts: 2
Location: Valencia Spain
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I notice that several people recommend fork lift truck batteries for use in solar systems, as does my solar adviser/supplier!
I run a 24v system using 4 Rolls Surette 6v batteries wired in series together with an Outback voltage regulator. I made the decision to use Rolls batteries which I now regret.
As stated my batteries are wired in series and have all been enthusiastically maintained and topped up as necessary. They have been set up exactly as per their very detailed manual.
However, after 4 years of use, one battery remains as thought it were brand new and the other three have gone duff. Rolls agreed to replace one last year, at a slightly reduced price and so far that one is performing well. The two remaining are well down on Specific Gravity and will not budge with equalising.
I should add that we live in Spain and there is no shortage of sunshine. I have always used a generator to keep the batteries topped up when we have had a couple of dull days. Acid levels, too, have been checked and topped up with distilled water as necessary!
Rolls do not reply to my letters and my advice to anyone is DON'T BUY ROLLS if you want a guarantee and after sales service.
Bobharrow
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1281
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Haha, we bought some total lemons of batteries two years ago. Probably from the twin brother of your Rolls friends! The previous battery bank had lasted about 10 years in great shape and then one or two years declining badly, so a total of 12 years. The next bank lasted less than two, and the batteries competed with each other to conk out and not hold a charge, though a few were replaced by the company in the first year, but the rest died in the second year out of warranty. So we got yet another new batch, so far so good. But these are all lead-acid
 
Robert Harrow
Posts: 2
Location: Valencia Spain
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Robert Harrow wrote:I notice that several people recommend fork lift truck batteries for use in solar systems, as does my solar adviser/supplier!
I run a 24v system using 4 Rolls Surette 6v batteries wired in series together with an Outback voltage regulator. I made the decision to use Rolls batteries which I now regret.
As stated my batteries are wired in series and have all been enthusiastically maintained and topped up as necessary. They have been set up exactly as per their very detailed manual.
However, after 4 years of use, one battery remains as thought it were brand new and the other three have gone duff. Rolls agreed to replace one last year, at a slightly reduced price and so far that one is performing well. The two remaining are well down on Specific Gravity and will not budge with equalising.
I should add that we live in Spain and there is no shortage of sunshine. I have always used a generator to keep the batteries topped up when we have had a couple of dull days. Acid levels, too, have been checked and topped up with distilled water as necessary!
I have recently received a reply from Rolls and they have agreed to replace my two defective batteries at a reduced price!
 
David Ewing
Posts: 5
Location: Branson, MO 65616
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RE: Aquion Battery, I use the Aquion saltwater battery module in off-grid installs & I've looked at probably all competing products over the years. There is no apple to apple comparison on the different technologies available because they all have their specific advantages & disadvantages depending on the requirements of the particular installation. I like the Iron Edison batteries & Redflow flow batteries as well as others, but I do residential off-grid consulting so I'm helping normal homeowners say in a 2000sqft 3Br house cut their ties to the power co & do their own thing. Someone mentioned they come on a pallet & yes, that's what I normally install. The latest Aspen 48M is 30.6 kwh of storage which can easily get you through summers where you have mostly sun, but it's more efficient to parallel at least 2 or 3 of these & I'll be doing videos & articles explaining some of these issues about charge / discharge cycles on Aquion's blog & others each month besides my own YT channel at http://bransonoffgrid.com . Here is my first Aquion article just posted 11/23/2016 - http://tinyurl.com/zdt3auw & the first system I designed using the 30kwh module - 
  These batteries have been on the market since mid 2014, so they have a track record in large industrial settings, but few in residential just yet because they are just gaining momentum in that market. Your typical local solar installer doesn't usually embrace new technology when it first comes out no matter how good it looks. They usually wait for the commercial installers to get systems using the technology up & running; then after a few years they get feedback from these people to see if they should use it based on how the tech is working. So maybe in 2-5 years from now your local solar installer will offer Aquion, IE, & Redflow as options to Lead acid. I'm sure the Tesla Powerwall will sell a good number as well, but I just do off-grid systems & don't think Lion in any of the current formats is better than the 3 I just mentioned. Your results may vary. If you're really going to be off-grid then you should talk to someone who lives off-grid & learn from then in the same way that if I want to learn permaculture I come here to learn from people who have actually been doing it.
 
thomas rubino
pollinator
Posts: 883
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Haven't tried these yet, but they are on my list.  Freeze proof ! Can live outdoors all winter ... expected but not yet proven life of 20 years !  Dump them in your garden after they are dead. Completely non hazardous to ship ! Cost is higher than trojans but trojans only last 7 years.  Here is a link   http://www.siliconebatteries.ca/gs.html ; here is a link to my local A.E. supplier www.backwoodssolar.com/
 
David Ewing
Posts: 5
Location: Branson, MO 65616
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Can't find even a picture of any of these batteries on their own website. No videos, whitepapers, trials, university papers, no installs, etc. So I think everyone knows what that means. Show us something real that we can evaluate & then we can compare to Aquion & others. Their own comparison is to Lead Acid, but the batteries for off-grid solar are migrating away to other technologies. We need a comparison to those as well to make a purchase decision..

thomas rubino wrote:Haven't tried these yet, but they are on my list.  Freeze proof ! Can live outdoors all winter ... expected but not yet proven life of 20 years !  Dump them in your garden after they are dead. Completely non hazardous to ship ! Cost is higher than trojans but trojans only last 7 years.  Here is a link   http://www.siliconebatteries.ca/gs.html ; here is a link to my local A.E. supplier www.backwoodssolar.com/
 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 481
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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Here is a warning tale about battery maintenance. The fellow suffering this education has maintained his home (a boat) for years and while not a tech guru is more than competent in matters of build/setup/repair - including gathering info and reading instructions. It appears he was laid low by assumptions about how his battery charger performed and by a lack of very specific (and necessary) info about charging behavior of his batteries.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/liveaboardlist/kC-AURKsPN4

The moral of the story appears to be: Full, detailed and complete  info and understanding is _very_ important.

1) one must obtain specifics about the proper charging cycle and other maintenance needed by the exact batteries you will use

2) then examine in great and exacting detail the behavior of your charging system under all conceivable conditions

Mate #1 and #2.

Unfortunately, it appears such info can be hard to come by and most available products might not CYA right out of the box.


Rufus

 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 481
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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New battery charge control regulator design to safeguard the health of large battery banks. This is version 3. Of interest to those in the solar industry (it will include integrating an prioritizing multiple charge sources) or responsible for batteries charged from vehicle alternators (which may include some home brew systems). Some engine control features are included in the design.

It attempts to provide better sensing of battery state than presently available voltage-only "smart" chargers offer - thus providing the battery bank a full acceptance charge before switching to float. There is some history to the project, which began four years ago, available through the links on the main page. Assembled units may be available later 2017.

https://arduinoalternatorregulator.blogspot.com/

This post is  FYI. Questions and interest s/b directed to the designer/fabricator at his blog.


Rufus

 
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