Maintaining Solar Deep-Cycle Batteries During Self Quarantine and Stay-At-Home Orders

With stay-at-home orders in place in many states, homes utilizing deep-cycle batteries for power could be increasingly straining their systems. As more people stay home, more appliances and electrical accessories that would typically be off during the day will be used. Add to that the fact that storms could reduce the amount of energy being generated by solar panels.

To avoid putting additional strain on your battery storage system, there are several ways you can keep deep-cycle batteries in good working order.

1) Minimize your battery-packs depth-of-discharge (DOD) to no more than 50 percent. Draining past 50 percent DOD will ultimately shorten the lifespan of your battery pack. If possible, schedule times during the day when certain non-essential items can be turned off. This will help minimize the total discharge.

2) If your home is plugged into the electrical grid. Use this opportunity to charge your deep-cycle battery pack to keep them from discharging below 50 percent.

3) Perform an equalization charge. Equalization charging prevents the build-up of sulfates on the battery plates that can reduce capacity. The batteries should be fully charged before any equalization charge is added.

4) Check water levels on flooded lead-acid deep-cycle batteries. Make sure the batteries are fully charged first, then add water as necessary to fill each cell, ensuring the plates are fully submerged.

5) Keep your battery area clean and check for corrosion and proper battery connections. Check the cables to ensure they are tight. Remove any corrosion with a mixture of water and baking soda.

6) Double-check charging rates during cold temperatures. Flooded lead-acid batteries charge and discharge differently in cold and hot temperatures. During winter months, it may take longer for batteries to recharge. The best way to ensure the batteries are fully charged and not dipping below 50-percent DOD is to use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of each battery cell.

Battery manufacturers recommend using a simple correction factor to your hydrometer’s readings. Using 80-degrees as your baseline, subtract (.004) from your hydrometer reading for every 10-degrees below 80 °F (5.6-degrees below 27 °C). For example, if the temperature of the electrolyte is 50 °F and your battery specific gravity reading is 1.200, you must subtract .012 from your measurement. In this case, .004 for every 10-degrees equals .012. Subtract this from 1.200, and your corrected specific gravity reading is 1.188.

Paying closer attention to your renewable energy system’s deep-cycle batteries will ensure they will remain reliable and get you through what could be several weeks or months of having to stay indoors during this outbreak.

Renewable Energy Storage Options: AGM vs FLA Batteries

Energy-conscious businesses and homeowners who are looking to store energy from their wind or solar energy systems, often consider the differences between using a no-maintenance AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) and an FLA (Flooded Lead-Acid) deep-cycle batteries. While each type of battery has its advantages, here are some facts that can help you make the right decision for your particular application.

 

Higher Cost, Lower Maintenance

 

If you want a low maintenance renewable energy system’s battery bank, a set of AGM batteries are the ideal choice. Deep-cycle models can be successfully used for energy storage. Because they are sealed and featured glass matt separators that retain all of the electrolyte without water, there’s no need to periodically add water.

 

The drawback, according to U.S. Battery Senior VP of Engineering Fred Wehmeyer, is the cost. “AGM batteries typically cost from 25 to 50 percent more per watt-hour compared to FLA batteries,” says Wehmeyer. “Besides, AGM batteries may also not last as long as premium FLA batteries used in these types of applications.”

 

Lower Cost, Higher Maintenance

 

When lower total operating costs are the goal, FLA batteries offer the lowest cost per watt-hour than any other type of battery storage system available. According to Wehmeyer, deep-cycle FLA batteries are robust and have been used very successfully for energy storage for several decades. “Less expensive than AGM batteries, FLA batteries offer the best cost per watt-hour than any other energy storage method available,” says Wehmeyer.

 

If you’re not opposed to routine maintenance, Wehmeyer adds that premium FLA batteries (those with higher lead content) will last longer than AGM batteries. Because FLA batteries lose water from evaporation during charging, they need to be regularly replenished, as well as cleaning and checking the terminals. Wehmeyer also recommends to occasionally performing an equalization charge on FLA battery banks used for energy storage. “Equalization charging is extremely important to optimize the life of renewable energy batteries,” he says. “It is used to both balance the individual cells in a battery pack and to mix the electrolyte through gassing to prevent electrolyte stratification.”

 

Gaining Optimum Performance From Both

 

No matter what type of batteries you choose for your renewable energy storage, deep-cycle batteries work best when the depth of discharge of your battery bank is kept to 50-percent. “For best performance and longest life, the batteries should be fully recharged regularly,” says Wehmeyer. “Depending on the source of recharge provided (solar, wind, generator, or AC power), full charging may not always be possible every day. Most batteries can operate efficiently in a partial state of charge condition as long a full charge is done at least every 30 days.”

US L16HC XC2 Deep Cycle Battery

A Solar Energy Battery Storage Bank Made To Last 16 Years

Low Amperage Draw And Impeccable Maintenance Kept A Battery Energy Storage Bank Operable For More Than A Decade

Grover, Wyoming resident Jody Jenson, isn’t living “off-grid,” but his home is in a rural part of the state, where water comes from a well and delivered to the home by electric pumps. After several power outages, he didn’t want to rely on the city’s power grid to have fresh water, so he built a 48-volt solar system with U.S. Battery Deep-Cycle batteries for energy storage that have provided 16-years or reliable service.  “I did not like the vulnerability of relying on the grid for our drinking water,” said Jenson. “I spent over $12,000 on this system, including digging a new 100-ft. well. It definitely wasn’t to reduce costs, but more about having freshwater availability.”

To supply power to the pump system Jenson utilizes four 120-watt solar panels mounted together and wired to provide 24-volts and is connected to a circuit breaker and charge controller.  To store energy, he uses eight US L16HC XC2 batteries. “The system powers the well-pump that draws 4-amps, depending on groundwater level, but it’s pretty consistent,” he says. “It takes about 18-hours to fill the 1200 gallon cistern. The system normally runs about 12-hours between low and full tank levels.  From the cistern, there’s another pressure pump that draws six amps for approximately three minutes after starting, providing roughly 30-gallons between cycles.”

 Even though the system doesn’t draw huge amounts of amperage, Jenson never expected that the US L16HC deep-cycle batteries would last 16-years. “When I bought them, I remember being told that with proper maintenance, they should last something like five years,” said Jensen. “I knew with care, they would last longer.”

Jenson has taken exceptionally good care of his deep-cycle batteries, demonstrating how cost-effective flooded lead-acid batteries can be with proper maintenance. His routine includes weekly and monthly procedures. “Every week I go to check the system, including the water level in the cistern, corrosion on the battery posts, charging rate,  and battery voltage,” he says. “The batteries are still showing 26.5-volts fully charged. Once a month, I also check battery water levels and the amperage draw of the two pumps. This gives me any clues as to any problems that might be occurring. Quarterly, I add distilled water to the 24 individual cells.” 

While most people would consider this an impeccable maintenance routine, Jenson also includes periodic equalizing charges. “After adding water, I equalize the bank of batteries with the charge controller for a period of two hours at a maximum of 16-amps,” says Jensen. “I have never equalized without the batteries being fully charged. I’ve totaled up all the water I have added over the years, and as of today, from February of 2003 to now, I’ve added 63-gallons of water to the 24-cells!”

In addition to Jensen’s unique system and maintenance procedures, U.S. Battery L16 HC deep-cycle batteries feature the company’s XC2 formulation that uses Diamond Plate technology, highly efficient synthetic tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) crystal structures that enhanced performance, charging, and extend battery life. U.S. Battery also manufactures a line of Renewable Energy Batteries that are specifically designed for energy storage and feature Defender Moss Shields that reduce mossing and sulfation conditions, and Outside Positive Plates that mitigate the effects of plate sulfation.

While receiving 16-years of service from a set of deep-cycle batteries is not common, Jenson’s theory of having a large battery bank with a relatively low amperage draw, does demonstrate what low depth-of discharge and proper maintenance procedures can do to extend the life of deep-cycle batteries used for energy storage.

Charging station logo

U.S. Dept. Of Energy Supports Study For Lead Battery EV Charging Stations In Missouri

Funding provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program is supporting plans and research investigating advanced lead battery energy storage alongside EV charging points in gas stations in the state of Missouri.

According to the Battery Council International, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) is in charge of the feasibility study and is preparing to try the lead-acid battery charging stations in at least two locations. “This project aims to demonstrate how advanced lead battery energy storage, linked to EV charging stations, can help manage electricity demand fluctuations and store electricity when it is less costly, before supplying it at a time when electric car drivers need to charge their vehicles,” says CBI Director Dr. Alistair Davidson. “It highlights the important role lead batteries can play in assisting governments around the world to roll-out charging infrastructure and meet energy needs.”

The CBI reports that detailed plans will identify potential funding sources to fully develop each site, which can then be used as a model for future lead battery-supported EV charging stations across the state. CBI aims to establish demonstration sites in the fall of 2019.

US REGC2H XC2

Expert’s Offer Tips On Energy Storage

Alternate Energy Magazine Talks With U.S. Battery Manufacturing Regarding Deep-Cycle Batteries Used For Energy Storage

Alternate Energy Magazine, one of the leading online trade publications for solar, wind, biomass, fuel cell and other alternate energy sources, spoke with U.S. Battery’s Senior VP of Engineering Fred Wehmeyer on energy storage trends and solutions.

Some of the topics discussed concern utilizing energy storage solutions closer to the point of use, such as in individual homes, subdivisions and communities. Wehmeyer also discusses the differences and advantages of utilizing flooded deep-cycle batteries versus AGM batteries, as well as the important differences between flooded lead-acid batteries over lithium-ion for home energy storage. Read the entire Alternate Energy Magazine Article HERE.

Children participating in Physics Bus experiments

U.S. Battery Manufacturing Continues Support For Physics Factory’s Efforts To Educate Students Using Renewable Energy

US 12VXZ XC2

On National Battery Day, The Battery Industry Focuses On The Ongoing Discussions Regarding Lead Batteries As The Future Of Energy Storage

While National Battery Day (February 18) is observed to appreciate the convenience of batteries on everyday life, the future of batteries and the role they play in energy storage was the subject of a briefing held on February 12 on Capitol Hill. The event featured a panel of leading science and business leaders who shared highlights on innovative lead battery research and expressed the need to continue support, as the results will meet the growing needs of energy storage, sustainable manufacturing, and in the automotive industry.

Among the representatives attending were California Rep. Mark Takano (Democrat) and New York Rep. Chris Collins (Republican) who serve as co-chairs of the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus. “Energy storage is the future of renewable energy,” said Takano. “Cheap grid-scale storage means that renewables can compete with fossil fuels on cost alone.”

Rep. Collins also stated that energy storage means energy independence, noting that the current downside of solar and wind power is that environmental conditions aren’t always available. ”We have to store the energy in a way that’s real and sustainable, and the technology is not quite there,” said Collins…“We need breakthroughs.”

Takano also applauded the lead battery industry’s efforts in recycling. “As we have honest conversations about batteries, battery storage, and renewable energy, we cannot ignore the environmental life cycle of these [lead] batteries. I commend the leading science and business leaders who are pioneering developments on battery research. Together, we can pave the way for a sustainable future for every community.”

Dr. Tim Ellis, president of Dallas-based RSR Technologies, was one of several experts who shared highlights on innovative lead battery research, citing ongoing research at Argonne National Laboratory to better understand the performance of lead batteries at the molecular level, leading to better dynamic charging acceptance and improved cycle life.

According to the Battery Council International, the need has never been greater for innovative storage solutions, especially advanced lead batteries. The BCI noted that lead batteries have a 150-year proven track record and are poised to meet growing demand and future applications.

On National Battery Day, the Battery Industry also wants to remind consumers to recycle all forms of batteries, being careful not mix lead and lithium batteries together. For more information on where to find a battery recycling center visit the Call2Recycle website.

US REL16 XC2

Experienced Off-Grid Homesteaders Believe Flooded Lead Acid Batteries Are Still The Best Choice For Renewable Energy Systems

Batteries used for energy storage are necessary for any off-grid homestead or cabin. For experienced off-grid homesteaders, managing power storage from renewable energy sources is something they become good at, and over the years, the choice of batteries for experienced homesteaders like Allan Sindelar, a licensed electrician, and homesteader who has been living off-grid for more than 25 years, he still prefers deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries (FLA) for the job. “Few off-grid installers have been selecting, installing, and maintaining batteries long enough to learn from entire battery life cycles,” said Sindelar in his article The Best Batteries For Your Off-Grid Battery Bank that was published in Mother Earth News. “Without much long-term data, we tend to use what has worked previously, rather than trying new and possibly expensive approaches.”

Sindelar recalls when early homesteaders were using two car batteries 30 years ago, but once the FLA batteries became more affordable, off-grid homesteaders settled on using the L16 FLA batteries for their performance and reliability. “These are well-sized for small-to-medium systems and are available at a relatively low cost.” Sindelar also says in his article that experienced homesteaders are often better at performing routine maintenance which can lead to FLA batteries lasting greater than six years or more.

With other battery types trickling into the off-grid industry, Sindelar believes the data isn’t there to determine if they are a better solution over the long-run. “While tremendous advances are taking place in battery development, most are based around increasing a battery’s performance and energy density per pound, that is, lightweight, high-capacity batteries for electric vehicles and portable applications,” says Sindelar. “In homestead systems, weight isn’t a key factor. For most homesteaders, conventional flooded lead-acid batteries still fit this bill best.”

The appeal of batteries with no maintenance is big among new homesteaders, but Sindelar believes there are drawbacks. “Sealed batteries are substantially more expensive and more susceptible to damage from overcharging,” says Sindelar. “They’re well-suited to homeowners who don’t want to perform their own battery maintenance, as the charge for professional service several times each year adds up. This group might include many newcomers to off-grid living, who value the benefits but don’t desire the DIY involvement of earlier generations.”

As battery technology increases Sindelar believes it’s a good idea to use tried-and-true flooded lead-acid batteries until the various choices of batter types become clear in this form of use. “Homesteaders may want to consider waiting through one more set of batteries before trying lithium or other emerging technologies. Superior technologies are coming, and prices will drop as PV module prices have dropped in recent years, but we’re not there quite yet.”

Conversion van solar panels

U.S. Battery Supports Sprinter Build Out International’s Project Adventure Camper

With more than 16,000 members, Sprinter Build Out International is a growing group on Facebook that provides tips and answers to Sprinter owners who are building their vehicles as multi-use camper, sports, and work utility vehicles. The group’s administrator and creator Rick Griffin is also in the process of building out his Sprinter van to use for both work and camping.

Griffin reached out to U.S. Battery Manufacturing to get more information on storing power for a solar system he’s installing for the vehicle. “I am the superintendent of a construction company and I’ve become familiar with batteries and battery storage,” says Griffin. “When it came to energy storage, I shopped around and talked to a variety of manufacturers, and came across U.S. Battery. After polling some of our members, U.S. Battery came up high on the list for reliability and customer service.”

USBattery2224AGMsU.S. Battery liked Griffin’s ideas and helped by providing two 2224 AGM 6-volt Batteries for his solar project. Running the 6volt batteries in series to support a 12volt system. “We’re running a refrigerator, TV, and other accessories and the vehicle battery wasn’t enough,” said Griffin. “So we found a battery tray built by Adventure Wagon that would accept two 6volt batteries and we’re connecting three solar panels from Renogy solar. We’re hoping that this will give us more than enough energy to power our accessories when out on adventures.”

U.S. Battery AGM deep-cycle batteries are a maintenance-free design that uses absorbed glass matt plates (AGM) that don’t require adding water, won’t spill or be damaged if frozen. In addition, these batteries are designed to be stored for longer periods of time are often used in aircraft applications and enclosed spaces.

Griffin has also added a dinette bed conversion and used high-tech honeycomb aircraft material that is strong but lightweight. According to Griffin, he wants the Sprinter to be usable for work and adventures but doesn’t want to add unnecessary weight. The U.S. Battery AGMs will also help with keeping the system light, but also maintenance free.  More information on Sprinter Build Out International’s project can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SprinterBuild/

 

More information on U.S. Battery’s line of deep-cycle AGM or flooded lead-acid batteries for a variety of applications can be found on the U.S. Battery website at www.usbattery.com.

Renewable Energy Storage Linked To Success In Statewide Plans

An article in Alternate Energy Magazine.com, an article by Megan Ray Nichols points out how renewable energy is continuing to outperform expectations. In Colorado, for example, Nichols showcases the states largest utility company Xcel Energy, planned to double its renewable energy capacity and in 2016 began a plan to shut down two coal plants and add 700 megawatts of solar energy, one gigawatt of wind, and 700 megawatts of natural gas.

To do this, the importance of energy storage was also a major factor in the distribution of energy. According to Xcel Energy, adding storage from batteries helped to mitigate the effects of generating power only in the sunshine or in windy conditions. According to Nichols the plan is still in the works and is moving to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for approval.