Author Topic: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage  (Read 22366 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« on: September 06, 2018, 06:34:23 am »
Three years ago I was planning to move to a different house, so I had disassembled my Solar Power System and stored it in the shed that the gear had been setup around. So it's been 3 years and I am realizing that I am staying here in this house, and now I am putting everything back up.

The old system was arranged around a shed that was at the opposite end of the house from the location that I was actually using the power at my computer desk in the living room. The wire to carry the power from the batteries was over 110 feet long. I have re-purposed this wire to carry AC power for the computer and entertainment system. The decision was made to move the Solar Power to the other side of the house so I don't need to run another long expensive wire along the house. The main power wire will be less than 20 feet long in this rebuild. I'm already pretty far along with this project and I may be using some power from it in a few days.

Last week I built a fairly large weatherproof cabinet that will contain the batteries and electronics, plus it will be the base to hold up the first 6 of 10 solar panels. Been waiting on the paint to dry on this so I can get the panels mounted on it, maybe this afternoon.

The two 6 volt Trojan T-105 batteries were only 1.5 years old when stored in a picnic cooler. But my exwife would never turn anything off and ran the batteries low frequently. When the system was shutdown the batteries were showing signs of problems and I was trying to sell a house and did not have time to try and fix it.

Yesterday I started looking closer, Voltage measured 2.3 volts, popped the tops off the batteries and hated to see Dry Plates in all six cells. Forgot to check the water over the years. Got some filtered water and was pleasantly surprised to see that the water was actually even with the plate tops and only small parts had dried out. The cell caps had a smoky looking residue on them

Grabbed a battery charger and charged each battery individually at 6 volts and then in series at 12 volts. Still working on all that but it is a simple charger, not even one switch on it. As soon as I can get the panels mounted I will start trying to drive the voltage up even higher.

Will be working on it today and will have some pictures and a report this evening . . .
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline bj

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 735
  • Karma: +23/-0
  • Lamont, Alberta, Canada
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2018, 07:07:13 am »
  Over the years,  I have been both amazed, and confused by batteries.  Some bounce back
from amazing abuse, and some die from one accidental flat discharge. 
  Hope yours will amaze you.
  I have seen that smoky residue as well, just scrubbed it off and put the caps back.  Never seems
to re-occur after that.
  Good luck.
"Even a blind squirrel will find an acorn once in a while"
bj

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2018, 08:18:33 am »
The charger is taking the batteries up to 5.9 volts and then they drop back to 5.5 volts.
Tropical storm Gordan is wandering around in the area and keeping things a bit rainy at times. It looks like I am On Track to have a few days of No Sun after I get the panels installed.
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2018, 08:40:57 am »
This project is going much faster than I thought it would, I guess it's because everything is already made. I am charging batteries now but don't have a way to use the power yet.



The Solar Panels were originally mounted on the shed on the lefthand side of this picture. Charge control and the batteries were inside the shed and there were four 12 gauge wires going all the way across the back of the house to my computer desk on the lower righthand side of the place. I'm not sure why I did it that way instead of what I am doing now as everything is much simpler this time.



Everything is now on the side of the house. I'm in the middle of a large neighborhood so the system is between two houses facing directly South. The main power cable to the Point Of Use will be less than 20 feet long this time compared to 110 feet from the shed.



I had to spend half a day clearing this area, not used at all, only go there to cut the grass. Placed brick on the ground to help keep the wood dry then built the cabinet on top. This is everything so far, and at this point it's a stand-alone 12 volt battery charger. There will be some doors added to the front openings. In this location it does not get full Sun till 10:30am because of a nearby Crepe Myrtle tree that really needs a good trimming. The tilt of the panels is easy to adjust, but think I'll set it on the Fall Equinox September 22 and leave it there year round as these Amorphous panels don't seem to be sensitive to angle very much. There will be 4 more solar panels added on each side of the fence to help get more Sun in the morning and evening.
Might be mildly concerned about theft since it's on the ground now.



The electrics are inside the cabinet. Two Trojan T-105 batteries are inside the picnic cooler providing 12 volts at 225 amphours. Still not sure about reviving these batteries yet. The cooler is propped open for Summer ventilation. The cabinet itself has plenty of airflow.
The box on the left provides fused inputs and outputs to the battery.
Center box is a power combiner with ten 4 amp solar inputs, Two 10 amp 50 volt bridge rectifier inputs and a 10 amp 1000 volt bridge rectifier input.
Righthand box is Charge control using a 2 stage Dumpload controller which is capable of about 300 watts of dumping into some 10 ohm resisters.

Still need to put a hole through the cement block on the house to get a wire through to a power distribution box so I can actually use some of that power.
Amazingly enough there are No Clouds this morning so maybe it will have something to do today ?
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline bj

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 735
  • Karma: +23/-0
  • Lamont, Alberta, Canada
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2018, 06:33:42 am »
   Nice woof.  Lots of progress.
   Keeping fingers crossed for the batteries.
"Even a blind squirrel will find an acorn once in a while"
bj

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2018, 07:32:52 am »
Guessing that all the panels have about about 6 amps charging power combined. Monitored battery voltage all day yesterday, started at 11.3 volts in the morning and eventually worked up to 12.0 volts Max when the Sun was shining and 11.7 volts as clouds crossed over, then back to 11.3 volts this morning. So there was not any gain at all.

This morning I unhooked the series connection on the 2 batteries and connected  the charging cables to only one of the 6 volt batteries. So I'll see if I can push the voltage up past 6 volts on that battery today. Would love to get up to an equalizing charge of 8 volts on these two batteries. Want to see some vigorous bubbling in there.
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline DJ

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 82
  • Karma: +5/-1
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2018, 05:02:36 am »

I can't say I think your location of the panels will be very good for max yeild.
The proximity of the house next door looks like it will kill your winter generation and then there is the tree and the section of fence.

I would suggest you consider moving the panels to a clearer spot in the yard. The DC side is a lot less susceptible to fall off if you use suitable cable than AC is.  It does not look like you are pushing a lot of power anyway so even modest cable should carry the load without too much resistance.  You could leave the controllers where they are and just run a cable back to them. Looks like you have a suitable facing section of roof where you could split the panels easy west  so that may be a good place to put them as well.

That would have the advantage of giving you max hours of relatively even charge as against highest peak.  If you are using the power at night, always a good thing to start putting charge back in them as soon as possible.  You are probably missing out on a lot of valueable amps if your panels are not charging till 10 am.

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2018, 06:06:38 am »
It's been 10 days from my last update, but it has been more of the same battery revival as mentioned in my last post.
Plus have been working long hours at my job so haven't had much time to mess around with it.
So the plan has been to charge each 6 volt battery individually  to try and drive that voltage up to something that I can use.

Working with one battery at a time and alternating connection to each battery every 2 days. In the beginning each battery was sitting at 5.7 volts resting. During the days the panels will drive the voltage up to 6.2 volts max.  Over the past 10 days the resting voltage has gone from 5.7 up to 5.9. I have not tried to connect any loads to them so not sure about their ability to actually supply power.

When I get time I want to try some more drastic measures. I have an 80 volt transformer that has two 10 amp secondary outputs. I plan to put a single diode on the output and pulse the batteries with halfwave 60hz pulses that should be at 110 VDC peak, possibly using both secondary outputs for 20 amp pulses to try and wake them up that way.

Another thing to try would be trying to put drastic loads on them, or even pulse them with a 15000 volt neon transformer I have.
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline oztules

  • Forum Advisors
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: +105/-8
  • Village idiot
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2018, 06:16:23 am »
A few dollars will get a cheap SG tester ( bulb thing with the floating stick inside).

Without this, it is  very difficult to even guess at whats going on inside the batts..... I suspect not as much as we wish).

Fiendishly tidy set up there :-[

........oztules
Flinders Island...... Australia

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2018, 06:24:25 am »

I can't say I think your location of the panels will be very good for max yield.
The proximity of the house next door looks like it will kill your winter generation and then there is the tree and the section of fence.

I would suggest you consider moving the panels to a clearer spot in the yard. The DC side is a lot less susceptible to fall off if you use suitable cable than AC is.  It does not look like you are pushing a lot of power anyway so even modest cable should carry the load without too much resistance.  You could leave the controllers where they are and just run a cable back to them. Looks like you have a suitable facing section of roof where you could split the panels easy west  so that may be a good place to put them as well.

That would have the advantage of giving you max hours of relatively even charge as against highest peak.  If you are using the power at night, always a good thing to start putting charge back in them as soon as possible.  You are probably missing out on a lot of valueable amps if your panels are not charging till 10 am.

I guess that I didn't mention the way that this system is used.
At this time I have 150 watts of panels and this system is designed to provide 12 DC power and I use the power that way. Everything runs on 12 volts.
Radio, TV, Lights, Fan, Modem, Router, Phone Charger, Laptop, Etc.
I have a 400 watt inverter available for the refrigerator in case of a power outage. I expect that I save about $3.oo a month on my electric bill, but when the power goes out it is priceless.

So this is pretty much a Hobby System that supplies power for nonessential loads.  Yes, my neighbors house is rather close to mine and the shadow of the roof peak may cross the panels for awhile at noon in the Winter, but I'm good with that and will enjoy the power that I can get. Sure, I will maximize this location as its is the best spot that I have, Trim back that Crepe Myrtle tree and add 4 more panels in better locations for morning and evening Sun.

If you want more detailed information about the components you can visit this link to the previous installation of this system in the shed.
timmythy.home.mindspring.com/re-power.htm


----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2018, 06:31:50 am »
A few dollars will get a cheap SG tester ( bulb thing with the floating stick inside).

Without this, it is  very difficult to even guess at whats going on inside the batts..... I suspect not as much as we wish).

Fiendishly tidy set up there :-[

........oztules

Oh my goodness, why didn't I think about that, will get one of those very soon, Thanks !
When I transported the batteries from the shed, 70 feet to the new location, I was hoping that the rough motion would stir it up to make a difference but I don't think it had any effect.
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline WooferHound

  • Technowhiz
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 897
  • Karma: +40/-3
  • Huntsville Alabama USA
    • My personal webpage
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2018, 10:50:12 pm »
Working on the batteries for 4 days. Can Not get the voltage to go above 12.5 on this pair of batteries.

They sat all night at 12 or 11.9 volts. I hooked up my inverter and ran a 120v 100w incandescent bulb, should have been about a 10 amp battery load. In a few minutes the voltage dropped down to 11.4 volts and ran for half an hour before dropping to 11.3 then another half hour before reading at 11.2 and I turned it off. So there is some usable power but it is almost too low voltage. I  don't even need a charge controller right now.

On the Other RE Forum a user talked about reviving batteries by pulsing them with 10 times their rated voltage. So that is my plan for tomorrow. I have a transformer with two 80 volt 10 amp secondaries. 80 volts AC power will peak at 112 volts which is almost 10x12 volts. I plan to halfwave rectify those outputs and feed the battery with 60hz pulses for a second or so to see if they can Wake Up some.
----- W o o f e r h o u n d -----
My Renewable Energy Projects

Offline bj

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 735
  • Karma: +23/-0
  • Lamont, Alberta, Canada
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2018, 05:55:29 am »
  might work woof,  but I just had to warn you to be careful.  I blew up a battery in the shop
and it can be, for lack of a better word, spectacular.
  It was a poor connection spark that caused mine.
"Even a blind squirrel will find an acorn once in a while"
bj

Offline oztules

  • Forum Advisors
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: +105/-8
  • Village idiot
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2018, 07:08:42 am »
I'm a long way away... so from here looks like a plan..... if I were closer, then maybe no so flash... but you never know.

The internal resistance/impedance of the battery and the transformer will dictate just how exciting this may get. If the battery has sloppy impedance, then the voltage may rise easily, and the current flow fairly benign, or if the internal impedance of the 80v secondary is high, then the current  will not be intense perhaps... so suck it and see is a viable option.

Make sure sparks are unlikely to occur (connections into and out of the battery region),and keep a good idea of the temp rise,(battery and transformer) and it should be safe enough...... standing in the next zip code may be worthwhile too :o
A fuse some distance from the battery may be a good investment too.

Oh, and check your water level before you start this... plenty of water over the plates


..........oztules
Flinders Island...... Australia

Offline Pete

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 385
  • Karma: +19/-1
  • Mount Barrow Tasmania
Re: Rebuilding my Solar Power System after 3 years Storage
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2018, 04:57:56 pm »
If you have access to an electric fence unit I have heard that they can do the job of desulphating batteries.
Like others have said be very careful with sparks while charging batteries.
I too have had a battery blow up in my face, it is very spectacular and took quite a while for a new thumbnail to grow and for my ears to stop ringing.
Good luck with the batteries, I have not had much luck myself with old batteries, They usually end up at the recyclers.