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Author Topic: NiFe battery experience  (Read 618 times)

mike90045

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NiFe battery experience
« on: December 10, 2018, 07:13:28 AM »
Starting a new thread for this. 

My NiFe thinking:
 Long rainy winters - tough to keep FLA batteries up and non-sulfated
 Cold temps, all batteries loose capacity, so over-size the bank
 NiFe are high internal resistance compared to FLA and so another oversize to allow for that.
 Wide voltage swing full to low, select charge controllers and inverter that can allow for that voltage


Original install 2011
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.209715335768594&type=1&l=9747e4dde6

DIY battery lugs
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.209740049099456&type=1&l=22ca4be983
  (still in great shape)


This last summer, while feeling fit and strong, I hired Fred (red shirt) to help with the labor of refreshing the cells electrolyte
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2113125788760863&type=1&l=1988b7f97a


and the prime mover (after the fusion plant 93 million miles away)
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.224863967587064&type=1&l=cd69ef4dba


BruceM

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 08:15:24 AM »
Here's some more good NIFE info Mike provided in an earlier post:
The lousy charge/discharge efficiency wasn't a surprise to me but the incredible 10-12 gallons a month water filling/consumption was.


> Maintenance
  lots, every 2 weeks, I add 5 or 6 gallons distilled, 20 gall was too much to do at a time, so I'd shifted the cycles around so I'm only doing a quarter of the bank at any 1 time.

> Charge/Use cycles
 ?? I charge and use them

> Efficiency
  about 60%, that's why they use so much water.

> DOD - how far down do you run them?
 the bank is 40,800 watt hours, (51v [42 cells] * 800Ah). My running voltage at sunrise is about 52v in summer, and 49v winter (longer nights) I figure my nightime consumption runs about 5Kwh. I sized to properly allow for their high internal resistance, and to supply starting surge for deep well pump, so I generally have low voltage droop.  I charge below recommended voltage, because that would fry my inverter.

ajaffa1

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2018, 08:18:12 AM »
Wow Mike, that`s a lot of batteries. just did a quick search and that set up would now cost around US$30,000 equivalent to 40,000 Australian dollars just for the cells. You use a Listeroid with an ST head as primary mover, what do you use to charge the cells? I`m assuming you charge with solar during the day and only use the generator for high usage or dull days. When this happens do you run direct off the generator or feed the battery bank from the generator and then draw everything through an inverter?

Your batteries were commissioned in 2011 and required the electrolyte replacing in 2017, I believe. Twice the life expectancy of standard lead acid batteries. Did the battery bank come back to full/original capacity after changing the electrolyte?

I am guessing you either live a long way from the grid or you really hate power companies, wish I had he money to follow suit.

Bob


glort

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2018, 11:25:22 AM »

Bob,

In Sydney there is a crowd who do forklift batteries. They sell  ( and love to sell) them for home power use.  They also sell auto watering systems quite cheap and with one of these fitted will gaurantee the packs for 5 years. In emails I have had, they say realistic life expectancy in this application is 10-15 years.

Last time I looked a 30 KWH pack was about $2500. They seem to be about the best value HERE I could find being as you would well know we do not have the variety of things available to us the Americans do or anything like the price.

That said. I reckon with the resources you already have Bob, You could easily go off grid for about $3-4K if you wanted to. You don't need a large battery bank if you have the facility to recharge it often. You have space, sunshine, an abundance of cheap panels you could access and also a generator.
Inverters have come down a lot in price and for charging off the genny you just need a forklift battery charger which are available used cheap and a controller( s) for the solar input.


Mike, Can you not fit some sort of auto watering system to these batteries to lessen maintence like the lead acids have?
Do you make your own distilled water or just buy it?
Your battery pack is about 32 Kwh?


ajaffa1

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2018, 10:22:37 PM »
Hey Glort, now you are a mind reader. I`ve been looking into doing exactly what you say. A neighbor of mine is now off grid using solar and fork lift batteries. The only thing he has problems with is pumping large volumes of water so he`s looking for a cheap diesel pump.

Bob

BruceM

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 12:12:03 AM »
Pumping large volumes of water is just the sort of sunny day only activity that begs for lots of PV panels.  Franklin now makes PV direct centrifugal submersible well pump controllers for single and 3 phase of all sizes. The pump speed is varied based on PV power available.

I was tempted to revise my inverter controller to allow for variable speed well pump operation of my 1400 watt pump, but after Modafinil blew up and I went back to my old foggy MS brain function I decided I really didn't need it.  It could be a big plus on very large pumps.


mike90045

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 02:01:11 AM »
Charging : either with the solar PV or the generator.  The generator  ( 6/1 & ST5 head ) feeds into the GEN input of the inverter  ( XW-6048 )  The inverter senses power and re-configures itself into a battery charger, so I crank the setting to 30A charging @ 62 V  and other loads run off the generator directly.  The Schneider XW series is really good at syncing to the listeroid and seamlessly switching load in or out. It also is programed to halt charging and assist the generator if the load exceeds programed generator limits.

Battery water, I buy from the water store, I use DI water, and it always has tested good, < 2ppm 
 I've bought a auto watering system, which has taken 3 months to arrive, because the caps are honking big, it requires adapters to convert the watering caps to fit the battery screw tops.  That's going to be a week long project to lace all the vinyl tubing and trim the pressure sensing tubes.
http://www.watermasterusa.net/how-we-do-it



glort

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 02:24:45 AM »
A neighbor of mine is now off grid using solar and fork lift batteries. The only thing he has problems with is pumping large volumes of water so he`s looking for a cheap diesel pump.

Bob

How much water is he looking to pump? is it to fill a dam or irrigate with?
There are 24V Pumps on fleabay that do up to 5000L Hr.
This one is a 3000 L hr and looks OK.

Hook this up to say 3-4 195W used panels in series and should be right to pump any time it's not raining.
With a couple of small batterys for ballast to run a controller off and a couple of 30A Programmable chargers, he would be set up. Probably going to be  a little cheaper than a diesel Pump ( depending on how much water he wants to move) and a lot quieter and less maintence.

Bruce,

Don't know what the pumps you refered to cost in the states but they are pretty inspirational here:

http://www.franklin-electric.com.au/price-lists.aspx

I would like to find a Chinese knock off of their inverters. They seem to be a direct solar input, AC output with no grid tie needed.
Bit pricy for $2k But I'm sure a Chinese copy would be a lot more reasonable.


mikenash

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 03:41:13 AM »
When they say 3000 L/Hr or 5000 L/Hr or whatever - you need to look at the performance curve for the pump.  if you are pumping to, say, 50 metres elevation to run a little micro-hydro with the stored water - you might only get 10% of the performance or some such.  "Research the curve numbers" is key.  Cheers

glort

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 03:56:48 AM »

I once bought a marine Bilge pump. took it out the box and pumped some water and was disappointing with the flow. Measured it and it was about 1/3rd the stated rating. Got on teh web to look them up and found a very recent article by a boating mag on Bilge pumps. Opened it up and the very first line said the first thing to know about all bilge pumps is the numbers have nothing to do with performance.
The ratings on those  really are nothing but fiction. Same article also had a chart on how much water a hole of different sizes in a boat would let in. Surprising. Suffice to say if you think a bilge pump would help you from sinking if you did punch a hole, you will want  several of the biggest pumps they make to have a hope.

I had silly idea of doing a shallow bore when I got here. Going down 9ft and still only seeing dust put that idea into perspective.
I had bought a bore pump with 150M head or something and decided to just use it in one of my tanks.  The thing is like a fire hose! Better than my petrol pump in fact.  Only use it at about 1M head but this thing has some pressure.
On a 3/4 Hose it really lays down some water fast. Love to get some 1" hose, the pump has a 1.5 Outlet so would carry it easily.
One of the best pumps I have come across. Been looking for another for the front tank.

Don't have to refil the thing or buy the fuel. More power this time of year than I know what to do with.

BruceM

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 07:12:49 AM »
Yes, Franklin is very proud of their PV direct inverters, and the price isn't cheap in the US either.  It made me feel good about my homebrew 5 step sine inverter development.

+1 MikeNash's comment on pumps. Any pump you buy should have a head vs flow rate performance chart so you know just what to expect.  If a pump is sold as 3 meters of head, and 12 LPM flow rate, the former means zero flow at that 3 meters, and the latter means 12 LPM at zero head or lift.  You will be very disappointed if you think that meant 12 LPM at 3 M. There should be no surprise if you understand the usual marketing approach used for pumps, and get the actual performance chart so you can find the flow rate at your intended head or pressure.  If they don't have a flow- head performance chart, pass on the pump.

The problem with automatic watering systems is that the batteries must be in an outside ventilated enclosure or you could have a Brown's gas explosion risk on your hands.  If you're in a cold winter climate, that doesn't work well with water filled tubing.

Any time you have high battery water use in lead acid batteries, you must be seriously overcharging. I have a hard time believing Mike's NIFE battery water use is also not caused by gross overcharging...either excessive current or voltage, but I must assume he has confirmed this as normal from other NIFE users.  I'd be monitoring gas bubbling, current and voltage throughout the charge cycle to try and figure out what's going on. If I had no other way of doing it, putting some cloth on the PV to reduce charging current would be useful to see if there's a level below which they will charge without gassing so darn much.  Clamp on DC amp meters are not that expensive now and most are adequate. 



glort

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 11:36:25 AM »

I was wondering what would make the batteries use so much water but figured it must be a chemical reaction particular to those sorts of cells which I know nothing about.
Wouldn't that much over charging kill the batteries in months if not sooner?

I have a policy when charging batteries, always have a fan going aimed towards the battery. Had 3 or 4 blow up on me now, One actually wasn't being charged, it had solidly contacted terminals and let go when I was cranking an engine.

mike90045

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2018, 01:17:51 AM »
Water usage.   I'm not over charging, I'm well under the suggested charge rate, and several volts under the suggested charge voltage (because I bought 2 spare batteries to be able to swap in, in case of a failure, but the maintenance required to keep a spare, was more than just wiring them up, but that bumped my string voltage up 3V, and thats above my inverter OVP shutdown).   In the summer, it takes about 3 days of good hard charging to get the capacity up enough that my charge amps start to taper off.   I've got a 800ah battery, charging at no more than 50A with both arrays full blast on a clear cold day.  NiFe is advertised at 75% efficient, but it's closer to 60% and the efficiency loss is in the electrolyzing water to gas.

BruceM

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2018, 06:49:53 AM »
A 50A charge rate is only 10 amps over the suggested minimum charge rate from Iron Edison!  Yikes.  They really are water hogs and there's nothing to be done about it but the automatic waterer. 

The summer charging scenaro you listed is 1200 AH or so into a lightly discharged battery, so it seems NIFE also has a big fall off in efficiency for the last 10% of charge. That's not a show stopper nor a big deal since sulfation is a non-issue for NIFE.

Very interesting, thanks, Mike.


glort

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Re: NiFe battery experience
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2018, 07:40:15 AM »

Found some local forklift battery packs.
These things are laughably cheap compared to the home battery packs, especially those Tesla Power ballsup things.

Some I found:

$1900, 24 Ah which would definitely get you through the night with plenty to spare.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Solar-Battery-Lead-Acid-Traction-48V-500AH-Excellent-Condition-Best-For-Home-Sys/223150359082?hash=item33f4cc422a:g:CmIAAOSwg7pa9M-t:rk:8:pf:0


Bigger and newer, $3500, 37 Kwh, about the size of Mikes batterys.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Solar-Battery-Lead-Acid-Traction-48V-775AH-Like-New-Condition-Best-For-Home-Sys/223148892165?hash=item33f4b5e005:g:KWUAAOSwKfFbnt2E:rk:2:pf:0

And a bit cheaper,
Starter pack For Bob...

 $1500, 36 AH.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/FORK-LIFT-OR-SOLAR-Battery-Lead-Acid-Traction-36V-1000AH-Deep-Cycle-battery/312368873955?hash=item48baa2c1e3:g:UqsAAOSwtXxbQtOW:rk:55:pf:0


There is another aspect to these LA batteries, they are very much cheaper still.
With scrap battery prices around .50C KG atm, that would make the above battery worth over $600 in scrap value alone.
Even when the thing is done, you can cash it in and ( ATM) get almost half the price back! That has to be good value!

If it cost you say $700 and you got even one year out of it, you'd be well ahead but if you got 3-5 years, you are laughing on power costs  and likely the scrap price will have gone up as well!
Hopefully the ancillary equip like chargers and inverters would go 3 years but even if they didn't, it's getting pretty easy to go off grid viably even here.
Factor in some maintence costs and would be doable.

Been looking at my power use and I'm only using under 25 Kwh per day ATM.
Before anyone gasps and says they use a 1/4 of that, I am ALL electric and have pumps running 24/7 . Water heating, home heating, cooking etc is ALL electric.   Today I didn't run the hot water as it got topped off yesterday and no need to run the air either being overcast as hell all day and only made 18 Kwh.  That was enough to put me 5 Kwh ahead AND I shut down one small array due to water ingress in the connections which I have looked at but need to look at again.  With that running, probably would have been 10Kwh up so a very power economical day and shows that you can make decent power with solar even in adverse conditions.

I think if I ever did go off grid I would have a virtually flat array in the mix. They just work so well when you need them the most and when the sun is out, they still work well if not as well as possible.

When I kick in the air and the hot water ( and some cooking) we can pull 40Kwh+. If a person were off grid this could be economized with gas or wood for heating and cooking.  If I take out either the hot water or the home heating, I will be power positive in winter with 20 Kwh of panels.
Sounds a lot but here they can be picked up easily for $100 Kw  and less.  I don't normally pay $100 Kw but I might now start updating some of my panels and going to 250W as a minimum.  Doesn't make any difference though really, just a few less to screw down for the same output. I also find panels like 195s tend to be the most popular atm for people selling to update their systems.

With a bit of care I think a 24 Ah battery reserve would do most households.  With sufficient panels to meet higher day demands and a reduced power consumption at night, a pack this size would certainly just get a household of a couple through with pretty light DOD on the pack before recharge started in the morning or worst case scenario, a genny fired up.  That could be set  so a controller took a reading at say 3PM and if the cells weren't at a certain voltage, the thing would fire up and run till the pack was sufficiently charged.

I read on the Cheque book doer forums all about these Commercial battery packs and NONE of them are near economical and will give a return.
Putting systems like this together have a lot of margin to be worthwhile and even cheaper than being on grid atm.  So many though want pay and forget systems ( although non of the commercial ones seem to be like that in reality) and things like this are more for real men who don't have to all an electrician to unplug the solar feed connectors off an inverter ( yeah, someone really did that!) and are not afraid that a bit of battery acid is going to dissolve them.

I might start working towards this a bit more.
Feeling...... not too terrible, I was out the back at 7 Am moving vehicles and trailers around from behind my shed which has become a dumping ground ( already) and getting over grown. Moved a lot of shit I put there when I arrived, some just because I didn't have time to take it to the tip. Bad move but anyway.  Cleaned a LOT of that up today and like the moron I am, actually realised how much space is up there.  No wonde my place looks smaller than everyone elses, I can only see 3/4 of it at a time.

PLENTY of room to put another shed up there for machinery and a great place for a power house.  It's far away from all the neighbours as can be, would be pretty out of site and would be a place to put ..... MORE PANELS! The likley roof pitch would be east/ west so perfect for battery charging being a lower constant rather than a higher peak generation. Probably about $1500 in running some 6MM cable back down to the house but doable without too much upset to things.

Main consideration would be How do I get 1 Ton of batteries in there in one pack?  Maybe batteries go in front shed and everything else goes in the back and is just wired up ?  Will they deliver with a forklift?